The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2018
The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2018 (the PID Act) strengthens transparency and accountability in government by:
- establishing a scheme that encourages and facilitates the appropriate disclosure of public interest information to certain persons or authorities
- providing protections for those who make appropriate disclosures of public interest information and setting out processes for dealing with those disclosures.
The PID Act provides:
- protections for any person wishing to report public interest information on environmental and health matters
- protections purely for public servants wanting to disclose allegations of public sector maladministration, corruption or misconduct.
DCS Policy 052 Public Interest Disclosure sets out the Department’s position in relation to public interest disclosure and guides decision making and the management of disclosures.
Guideline 029 Public Interest Disclosure sets out the process for making a public interest disclosure and how your disclosure will be assessed and actioned.
What is public interest information?
There are two types of public interest information:
- environmental and health information means information that raises a potential issue of a substantial risk to the environment or to public health and safety
- public administration information means information that raises a potential issue of corruption, misconduct or maladministration in public administration.
Who can make a public interest disclosure?
Anyone can make a disclosure of environmental and health information.
Anyone can make a disclosure of public administration information however, only public officers who make an appropriate disclosure of public administration information are eligible for the protections provided by the PID Act.
What is an appropriate disclosure?
For the purposes of the PID Act a person makes an appropriate disclosure of:
- environmental and health information if the disclosure is made to a relevant authority and the person:
- believes on reasonable grounds that the information is true; or
- is not in a position to form a belief on reasonable grounds about the truth of the information but believes on reasonable grounds that the information may be true and is of sufficient significance to justify its disclosure so that its truth may be investigated.
- public administration information if the disclosure is made to a relevant authority and the public officer reasonably suspects that the information raises a potential issue of corruption, misconduct or maladministration in public administration.
To receive the protections under the PID Act, you must have disclosed the public interest information to a relevant authority. A list of relevant authorities is available in the PID Act and in guidelines published by the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC).
Refer to the department’s Guideline 029 Public Interest Disclosure for more information about what constitutes appropriate disclosure.
You can make a disclosure about matters that occurred before 1 July 2019 and still receive protection under the new PID Act.
How am I protected?
A person who makes an appropriate disclosure of public interest information is protected and their identity must be kept confidential unless the informant has consented to their identity being disclosed.
ICAC Guideline Three: Informant Confidentiality sets out some exceptions to maintaining confidentiality including in cases where it may be necessary to reveal the identity of an informant to prevent or minimise an imminent risk of serious physical injury or death to any person.
The PID Act creates offences for breaches of confidentiality, for hindering or obstructing someone from making an appropriate disclosure and for victimisation of those who make an appropriate disclosure.
Refer to the department’s Guideline 029 Public Interest Disclosure for more information about how you are protected.
What happens if I disclose information inappropriately?
If you disclose information inappropriately, this could be considered misconduct and you may face disciplinary action. If you disclose information knowing that it is false or misleading, you may face a maximum penalty of $20,000 or 2 years imprisonment.