A public interest disclosure is made when a person discloses information to a proper authority that tends to show past, present or proposed future improper conduct by a person of public authority in the exercise of their public function, such as corruption or irregular conduct.
A matter may include improper conduct, irregular use of or substantial mismanagement of public resources, or substantial or specific risk of injury to public health or prejudice to public safety.
A person must believe on reasonable grounds that the information they are reporting is or may be true or has reasonable grounds on which to form a belief about the truth of the information.
A person may report to another authority such as the police, the Crime and Corruption Commission or other authorities.
The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2003 opens in a new window supports the disclosure of public interest information and those who are the subject of such disclosures. The act affords any person against whom an action is to be taken, the opportunity to make a submission, either orally or in writing, in relation to the matter.
The Public Interest Disclosure Act (2003) requires the Chief Executive Officer of an organisation to prepare and make public internal procedures relating to their obligations under the act. The act gives power to public authorities such as local governments to investigate and take action in relation to a matter of public interest disclosure.
There is an onus on local government authorities to promptly investigate information that has been reported. The officer for responding to the issue will either prevent the matter to which the disclosure relates from continuing or occurring in the future, refer it to another authority such as the police or Crime and Corruption Commission, or take disciplinary proceedings against the person responsible for the matter.
A person who reports anything perceived as corruption, or any information the person considers to be true, is protected under the act. However once reported, the person reporting the matter no longer ‘owns’ the information reported and an investigation will be commenced to establish if there is sufficient evidence to support carrying the matter forward.
If a person who has reported a matter refuses to assist with an investigation, or discloses information of the matter to another person, their protection under the act is forfeited.
Any person who is threatened or is the subject of detrimental action is protected under the act. A person who threatens, victimises or causes another person detrimental action is liable to a fine of $24,000 or imprisonment for two years. If a person who is the subject of a matter reported, incites another person to threaten or cause detrimental action to the person who reported the matter, that person is also liable to a fine of $24,000 or imprisonment for 2 years.
A local government is not permitted to reveal the identity of a person who has raised a matter while the issue is under investigation, for that person’s safety.
If you wish to make an oral or written report to the City of Cockburn contact the City’s Governance Department or Executive Governance & Strategy on 08 9411 3444 or at [email protected].
Please note that a person who knowingly reports a matter that is misleading or false, commits an offence and is liable to a fine of $12,000 or imprisonment for one year.
For more information on how to report a minor misconduct please read the Public Sector Commission fact sheet opens in a new window.
Please view the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2003 opens in a new window for more information or contact the City’s Governance Department on 08 9411 3444 or at [email protected].