In February 2013, new legislation was implemented by the State Government to introduce integrity reforms in Victoria. A Protected Disclosure is a complaint of corrupt or improper conduct by a public officer or body.
In February 2013, new legislation was implemented by the State Government to introduce integrity reforms in Victoria. The reforms include the creation of the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC), a body established to promote integrity and accountability across the Victorian public sector, the Victorian Inspectorate, whose role is to oversee both the IBAC and the Ombudsman, and the new Accountability and Oversight Parliamentary Committee which has oversight over the Ombudsman.
The former Whistleblowers Protection Act 2001 was repealed and replaced with the Protected Disclosure Act 2012 (the Act). The Protected Disclosure Act 2012 enables people to make disclosures about improper conduct within the public sector without fear of reprisal. The Act aims to ensure openness and accountability by encouraging people to make disclosures and protecting them when they do.
What is a 'Protected Disclosure'?
A Protected Disclosure is a complaint of corrupt or improper conduct by a public officer or body.
How does Council treat 'Protected Disclosures'?
Council does not tolerate corrupt or improper conduct by the organisation, its employees, officers, members, Councillors nor the taking of reprisals against those who come forward to disclose such conduct.
Employees and members of the public are encouraged to report known or suspected incidences of corrupt or improper conduct.
Council will take all reasonable steps to protect people who make such disclosures from any detrimental action in reprisal for making the disclosure. It will also afford natural justice to the person or body who is the subject of the disclosure.
How do I make a 'Protected Disclosure'?
Protected Disclosures may be made by employees or by members of the public.
Part 2 of the Act provides that a person may make a disclosure:
• In writing;
• Electronically; or
Protected Disclosures may relate to corrupt or improper conduct by:
• The organisation
Council can only receive disclosures that relate to Ballarat City Council. Protected Disclosures about Councillors must be addressed to IBAC.
How will Council protect a person making a 'Protected Disclosure'?
Council will take all reasonable steps to protect a person who makes a protected disclosure.
All correspondence, phone calls and emails from persons making a protected disclosure are referred to the Protected Disclosure Coordinator or a Protected Disclosure Officer.
The Protected Disclosure Coordinator or Officer and will take all necessary steps to ensure that the identity of the person making a protected disclosure and the person who is subject of the disclosure are kept confidential. Where necessary, the Protected Disclosure Officer or Coordinator will arrange for appropriate welfare support for the person making a protected disclosure.
What happens next?
If the Protected Disclosure Coordinator or Protected Disclosure Officer determines that the complaint is a Protected Disclosure, Council will notify the IBAC within 28 days of receiving it for IBAC assessment. The person making the complaint will be kept informed of action taken in relation to their disclosure, and the time frames that apply.
Disclosures should be made confidentially to the Protected Disclosure Coordinator or a Protected Disclosure Officer. All written correspondence, other than email, should be addressed confidentially to the Protected Disclosure Coordinator or one of the Protected Disclosure Officers detailed below and posted to Ballarat City Council, PO BOX 655, BALLARAT VIC 3353. Emails can be sent to the personal email address of the Protected Disclosure Coordinator or a Protected Disclosure Officer listed below.
These procedures are designed to complement normal methods of submitting complaints to Council and existing communication channels between supervisors and employees.
For more information
In accordance with Section 58 of the Protected Disclosures Act, Council has a detailed procedure to support the reporting of disclosures of improper conduct and response to detrimental action taken by Council or its employees, Councillors, officers or members.
For further information and guidance on the new legislation or any other matters, please refer to the Protected Disclosure Act 2012 Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission Guidelines for making and handling protected disclosures at the IBAC Website.