The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (the PID Act) replaces the Whistle Blowers Act 1994. The PID Act aims to ensure that government is open and accountable by providing protection for those who speak out about wrongdoing or in other words, make a public interest disclosure (PID). Making a public interest disclosure is sometimes referred to as ‘whistle blowing'.
Council is committed to encouraging the reporting of wrongdoing and the protection of those who report wrongdoing from reprisals.
What is a Public Interest Disclosure?
A Public Interest Disclosure (PID) is a report of a suspected wrong doing or danger. For an allegation, to be considered a PID and attract the protections under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010, it must be:
• Public interest information about substantial and specific wrongdoing or danger
• An appropriate disclosure
• Made to proper authority
What can a PID be about?
Any person, including public sector officers, may disclose information about:
• A substantial and specific danger to the health or safety of a person with a disability
• A substantial and specific danger to the environment (as set out in the PID Act)
• Reprisal action following a PID
A public sector officer may also disclose information about:
• Official misconduct by another person
• Maladministration that adversely affects someone's interest in a substantial and specific way
• A substantial misuse of public resources
• A substantial and specific danger to public health or safety
• A substantial and specific danger to the environment
What is a reprisal?
Reprisal occurs if a person causes or attempts to cause detriment to you, because they believe you:
• Have made, or intend to make a PID; or
• Have participated in, or intend to participate in procedures under the PID Act.
Is McKinlay Shire Council the proper authority for my PID?
McKinlay Shire Council would be authorized to receive a PID where:
• The disclosure is about the conduct of Council or its employees; or
• Council is responsible for investigating particular issues (e.g. the Crime and Misconduct Commission can receive PIDs about Official Misconduct)
Does McKinlay Shire Council have a policy regarding PIDs?
McKinlay Shire Council has adopted a Policy and Management Plan to ensure the appropriate handling of PIDs.
How do I make a PID?
A PID can be made orally or in writing.
• To make your PID in writing you can, if you choose, use the Public Interest Disclosure form and address your PID to the Chief Executive Officer and clearly mark the sealed envelope as Public Interest Disclosure – Private and Confidential.
• You can also phone Council on 07 4746 7166 and ask for the Director of Corporate Services.
• The Director of Corporate Services will assess your disclosure, and if it does not fit the criteria of a PID, it will be dealt with under Council's complaints management system.
What if I want to make an anonymous PID?
You can make an anonymous PID. Remaining anonymous means you do not identify yourself as the discloser at any stage to anyone. However, anonymous PIDs are often more difficult to investigate. Council strongly encourages disclosers to identify themselves if possible.
If you do identify yourself to the person who receives your PID, Council shall make every effort to keep your identity confidential. Remember that Council will not be able to inform you of any action it takes if you remain anonymous.
Disclosures to other Agencies
Alternatively, you can make your disclosure to the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) if it concerns misconduct, the Queensland Ombudsman, if it concerns maladministration or a waste of public funds or a Member of Parliament.
Crime and Misconduct Commission
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
By letter: Crime and Corruption Commission
GPO Box 3123
Brisbane Qld 4001
By Phone: 07 3360 6060
1800 061 611 (toll free outside Brisbane)
Level 2, North Tower Green Square
515 St Pauls Terrace
Brisbane Qld 4001
Level 18, 53 Albert Street, Brisbane
GPO Box 3314, Brisbane Qld 4001
Telephone: 07 3005 7000 Freecall: 1800 068 908 (toll free outside Brisbane)
Strict confidentiality requirements apply to PIDs. Confidential information can be recorded or disclosed:
• To administer the PID Act or to discharge a function under another Act (for example, to investigate something disclosed by a public interest disclosure).
• For a proceeding in a court tribunal
• With the consent
• Of the person the information relates to (or if the consent of the person cannot be reasonably obtained, if the information is unlikely to harm the interests of the person) or
• If it is essential under the principles of natural justice and reprisal is unlikely.
What are my responsibilities as a discloser?
When making a PID, you have a responsibility to:
• Provide honest and accurate information – deliberately providing false or misleading information is an offence;
• Provide all information currently in your possession – you must not seek to investigate the matter yourself; and
• Make the disclosure to someone you reasonably believe is the proper authority to receive the disclosure.
Those who make a PID will be afforded reasonable protection from reprisals:
• When a disclosure is made, the Council will assess the risk of reprisal and offer the discloser appropriate support. If the discloser has been involved in the wrongdoing they may be subject to criminal proceedings and disciplinary action.
• No protection is afforded to those who make disclosures to the media or via means not stated in the Act.
Where do I get more information?
For more information refer to Council's PID Policy and PID Management Plan, or alternatively contact Councils Director of Corporate Services via:
Phone: 07 4746 7166
The Queensland Ombudsman is the oversight body of Public Sector agencies for PIDs and fact sheets and information guidelines regarding PIDs and your rights and obligations under the PID Act are available from www.ombudsman.qld.gov.au
Information regarding Ethics in the public service can be accessed from the Queensland Government Website.