Public Interest Disclosure
What is the Public Interest Disclosure Act?
The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1994 [external link] (PID Act) was established to provide protection for public officials disclosing corrupt conduct, maladministration, waste and government information contravention in the public sector;
- provides rights and protection for people who report corrupt, illegal or improper conduct or substantial waste of public resources
- ensures that NSW government agencies deal with disclosures and act on substantiated disclosures.
What behaviour can be reported under the Public Interest Disclosure Act?
The protected disclosure can concern one of four specific categories of wrongdoing outlined in the PID Act.
- corrupt conduct
- serious and substantial waste of public money
- government information contravention.
To be covered by the Act, the public official making the report has to honestly believe on reasonable grounds that the information shows or tends to show one of these four categories of wrongdoing.
For further information please see FRNSW's Public Interest Disclosures Policy (PDF).
Other reports of wrongdoing may not meet the definition of "protected disclosures", however FRNSW supports and encourages such reports, as we do not condone or tolerate wrongdoing in the workplace.
Why report unethical or corrupt conduct?
FRNSW is proud of our commitment to the services we provide and our reputation in the community. This reputation can be adversely affected by any unethical or corrupt behaviour. Such behaviour can also affect the trust and respect the community has for the NSW Public Service.
As a public employee you are obliged under the Public Sector Management Act to report corruption, fraud or maladministration. This enables the public sector to address problems and improve the way it carries out its responsibilities.
The PID Act supports the reporting of wrongdoing in the public sector. It is in the public's interest that disclosures are made - unethical and corrupt conduct lets everyone down.
Who can you make a Public Interest Disclosure to?
A public disclosure must be made through an authorised officer known as a Public Interest Disclosure Officer. Going outside official channels means that protection provided by the Act will not apply. There are also penalties for providing false or misleading information.
A public disclosure may be made to any of the following Nominated Disclosure Officers:
- Deputy Commissioner, Emergency Management
- Deputy Commissioner, Corporate Services and Governance
- Director Greater Metropolitan Operations
- Director, Regional Operations
- Director, Specialised Operations
- Director, Community Safety
- Director, Human Resources
- Director, Education and Training
- Director, Strategy and Planning
- Area Commanders
- Staff Officer to the Commissioner
- Staff Officer to the Deputy Commissioner, Emergency Management
- Staff Officer to the Deputy Commissioner, Corporate Services and Governance
- Assistant Director, Workplace Standards (Public Disclosure Co-ordinator)
- Manager, Workplace Standards (Conduct)
- Manager, Drug and Alcohol, Workplace Standards?
If I am a Nominated Disclosure Officer, what do I need to do?
When a Nominated Disclosure Officer receives a disclosure he or she will:
- ensure the disclosure is received and recorded in a private and confidential manner
- receive the disclosure impartially and act in an appropriate and fair way towards the person making the disclosure
- briefly put in writing and date a disclosure received verbally and have the person making the disclosure sign the written record if the person does not wish to put the matter in writing themselves. A disclosure may be made to a Nominated Disclosure Officer via the telephone, however the person making the disclosure will be required to sign the transcript of their complaint
- explain to the person making the disclosure what the process will be once the disclosure has been received
- take all necessary steps to ensure the identity of the person making the disclosure and other persons named in the disclosure are kept confidential
- refer the information from the disclosure to the Disclosure Co-ordinator (Assistant Director Workplace Standards)
- afford procedural fairness to all parties involved including any persons against whom allegations have been made
What happens after I make a public disclosure to a Nominated Officer?
A Nominated Disclosure Officer will not make the determination as to whether a disclosure is granted protected status. This determination is made by the Commissioner following recommendations from the Disclosure Co-ordinator.
A Nominated Disclosure Officer cannot give an indication or assurances to a person making a disclosure about whether or not the disclosure will be treated as a public interest disclosure. Once a decision has been made regarding protected status of a disclosure the Nominated Disclosure Officer may be asked to report back to the person making the disclosure.
FRNSW's Public Interest Disclosures Policy details the process and what to expect following your public disclosure.
If I am the subject of a Public Interest Disclosure what are my responsibilities?
The responsibilities of staff who are the subject of a report of wrongdoing include:
- Only discussing the matter with authorised people
- Not seeking to identify the internal reporter
- Assisting those dealing with the report, including supplying any information on request
- Not taking reprisals against another staff member whom they know or suspect has reported wrongdoing
- If necessary, seeking support from their manager or supervisor or any available external organisations
Where can I get more information about public interest disclosures?
- Public Interest Disclosure Act 1994 [external link]
- NSW Ombudsman's website [external link]
- Professional Standards Branch on (02) 9265 2826 or firstname.lastname@example.org