Public Interest Disclosure Policy

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (PID Act) applies to Australian Government agencies, Commonwealth companies, public authorities and Commonwealth contracted service providers.

The PID Act is a mechanism for AASB/AUASB (together, ‘the Offices’) current and former staff, contactors and board members to safely report any conduct engaged in by an agency, public official or contracted service provider that involves illegal conduct, corruption, maladministration, abuse of public trust, wastage of public money, unreasonable danger to health and safety, danger to the environment, or abuse of position or grounds for disciplinary action.

To make a disclosure under the PID Act and receive the protections and immunities in the PID Act, certain criteria must be met and the disclosure must be made to a person who is authorised as a PID officer to receive it, under the PID Act.

Authorised officers are public officials working within Australian Government agencies who have been appointed to accept public interest disclosures (PID) about their agency and from the officials, who belong to it. Under the PID Act, authorised officers are responsible for receiving, assessing and allocating the PID to the Principal Officer, or an appropriately delegated PID investigator who is allocating PIDs.

The AASB-AUASB PID Officers are:

Justin Williams
Managing Director
jwilliams@aasb.gov.au

Matthew Zappulla
AUASB Technical Director
mzappulla@auasb.gov.au

Further information about the PID Act can be found at:

The AASB and AUASB Chairs are the PID Principal Officers and appoint the PID Authorised Officers.

It is important to note that the Procedure for investigating conduct under the provisions of the PID Act is not the same process that applies to matters of concern relating to the Appropriate Workplace and Fair Treatment at Work Policy, as described elsewhere in this document.

Who can make a PID?

A current or former public official can make a disclosure. This includes:

A public official also includes any other person deemed by the authorised officer to be a public official for the purposes of the PID Act.

 Application Process

Once the information relating to Disclosable Conduct is received, it will then be investigated in accordance with the Procedure below.

This Procedure facilitates and deals with public interest disclosures relating to the AASB-AUASB under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013. It is to be read in conjunction with that Act and the section references have been included, throughout the Procedure.

 Procedure:

Step 1. Information is disclosed by a public official to an Authorised Officer. If another person (for instance an employee's supervisor who is not an Authorised Officer) receives the information and the person reasonably believes the information to concern Disclosable Conduct, the person must give the information to an Authorised Officer (s 60A).

Step 2. An assessment is conducted by the Authorised Officer and a decision made as to whether the information relates to Disclosable Conduct. If the Authorised Officer's decision is that the information does not relate to Disclosable Conduct, the discloser will be provided with reasons for the decision and any alternate avenues that might be available to the discloser (s 44(3)).

Step 3.  If the Authorised Officer decides that the information does relate to Disclosable Conduct, the Authorised Officer must inform the discloser that the information may be dealt with under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013, the process involved and any restrictions that may affect the disclosure (s 60).

Step 4. The Authorised Officer is to investigate the matter by making the necessary enquiries to determine whether the disclosure ought to be allocated to the Chair and CEOs of the AASB-AUASB or to the Principal Officer of another agency and this decision ought to be made within 14 days of the disclosure (s 43). The other agency must consent to the allocation prior to it being allocated (s 43).

Step 5. If allocated, the Authorised Officer will keep the Chair and CEOs and the Principal Officer of each agency (where the disclosure is allocated) informed of the nature of the disclosure (s44). The Authorised Officer will also inform the Commonwealth Ombudsman and the discloser of the allocation.

Step 6. The Chair and CEO or the Principal Officer may decide not to investigate the disclosure further if the disclosure does not meet the requirements under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013, is already being investigated under another law or for other prescribed reasons (s 48). The Chair and CEO or the Principal Officer will inform the Commonwealth Ombudsman of this decision and will provide reasons for the decision to the discloser (s 50).

Step 7.

If the investigation proceeds it will be conducted in a way that the Chair and CEO or the Principal Officer see fit . It will be concluded within 90 days after the disclosure was received, unless this timeframe is extended by the Commonwealth Ombudsman (s 52). Within this timeframe, a report must also be prepared and a copy of the report be given to the discloser with any appropriate redactions made (s 51).

Step 8.  The discloser may pursue external disclosure if the discloser believes, on reasonable grounds, that the investigation or response, was inadequate (s 26).

 Assessing risks that reprisals may be taken against the discloser

A risk assessment must be conducted by the Authorised Officer or the Chair, to determine the risk of reprisals being taken against the discloser. The following elements form a framework that may be used to assist in assessing the risk of reprisals being taken against the discloser:

Identifying – are reprisals or related workplace conflict problems currently in the workplace, or do they have the potential to eventuate?

Assessing – what is the likelihood and consequence of reprisals or related workplace conflict?

Controlling – what strategies should be put in place to prevent or contain reprisals or related workplace conflict?

Monitoring and reviewing – have the strategies been implemented and were they effective?

It is an offence to take a reprisal, or to threaten to take a reprisal, against a person because of a public interest disclosure (including a proposed or a suspected public interest disclosure).

Confidentiality of PID investigation

Disclosures may be made anonymously and every aspect of the Procedure reasonably able to be complied with in relation to an anonymous disclosure must be complied with.

The investigation of the disclosure must be conducted in as confidential a manner as possible.

In particular, the identity of both the discloser and the person alleged to have engaged in the Disclosable Conduct should not be revealed except where this is reasonably necessary for the effective investigation of the disclosure (including because of the need to afford procedural fairness).

Any interviews conducted as a part of the investigation should be conducted in private.

Record keeping

Upon deciding to allocate the disclosure to an agency under Step 4 of the Procedure, the Authorised Officer must make and keep a written record of:

In respect of the obligation to inform the discloser under Step 5, the Authorised Officer must make and keep records of:

Support for public officials

AASB/AUASB will take active steps to support and protect disclosers under this Policy. The support provided by the Offices may include, but is not limited to:

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