Public interest disclosure procedures
The Public Interest Disclosures Act 2012 (Vic) (‘PID Act’) aims to encourage disclosure of improper conduct in the public sector, and to protect individuals from detrimental action in connection with making a disclosure.
State Library Victoria recognises the value of transparency and accountability in its administrative and management practices. The Library is committed to the aims of the PID Act and encourages employees and members of the public to make disclosures about improper conduct. The Library also recognises that the welfare and protection from detrimental action of persons making disclosures is essential for the effective implementation of the PID Act and supports the Library to provide a safe working environment.
The Library’s Public Interest Disclosure procedures are prepared in accordance with the PID Act and the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (‘IBAC') Guidelines for making and handling protected disclosures.
What is a disclosure under the PID Act?
In the context of the Library, a ‘disclosure’ under the PID Act may include a report about:
(a) improper conduct of the Library’s employees, officers, Board members, and other individuals whose conduct may be adversely affecting the honest performance of the Library or intended to adversely affect the Library’s effective performance; or
(b) detrimental action against a person in reprisal for making a disclosure.
Improper conduct includes corrupt conduct, dishonest performance of functions, conduct that constitutes a criminal offence, intentional or reckless breach of public trust, intentional or reckless misuse of information or material acquired in the course of the performance of functions, and substantial mismanagement of public resources. Conduct which is trivial will not meet the threshold of improper conduct.
Detrimental action includes actual or threatened:
(a) action causing injury, loss or damage;
(b) intimidation or harassment;
(c) discrimination, disadvantage or adverse treatment in relation to a person’s employment, career, profession, trade or business, including the taking of disciplinary action,
and includes circumstances where a person has incited or permitted someone else to engage in detrimental action.
The PID Act protects disclosers (being individuals who make genuine disclosures under the PID Act) from legal consequences which might otherwise arise in connection with disclosing certain information. The PID Act also makes it an offence to do certain things which would detrimentally affect a discloser, for example, it is an offence for a person to take or threaten action in reprisal when another person has made, or intends to make, a disclosure.
Who can make a disclosure about the Library?
An individual (including employees and members of the public) can make a disclosure if they have information which would lead a reasonable person to believe that the information shows, or tends to show, improper conduct or detrimental action has occurred, is occurring, or will occur.
A disclosure must be made in private, and may be made:
(a) in person;
(b) by phone;
(c) by leaving a voicemail message;
(d) in writing by post, personal delivery or email;
(e) by completing the online form available on the IBAC;
(g) individually or by a group of individuals.
Who can a disclosure about the Library be made to?
A disclosure should be made to IBAC. IBAC's contact details are:
Level 1, North Tower, 459 Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3001
Phone: 1300 735 135
Where an individual attempts to make a disclosure to the Library, the Library will notify the individual to contact IBAC. A disclosure made to IBAC will be protected by the PID Act.
The PID Act does not permit a disclosure to be made directly to the Library. However, the Library may become aware of a report to IBAC, for example, if IBAC investigates a disclosure or refers a complaint to the Library for resolution.
The Library’s Process
The welfare of all staff involved in disclosures will be considered by the Library.
The Head of Policy, Risk and Legal is responsible for managing and recording information about disclosures under the PID Act, including communications from IBAC.
Where IBAC investigates a disclosure or refers a complaint to the Library for resolution, the Head of Policy, Risk and Legal will:
(a) directly receive communications regarding the matter.
(b) limit sharing of information about the matter to members of the Executive, the Board, and committees reporting to the Board, as appropriate and necessary.
(c) maintain information barriers to enable the identity of the discloser, and the content of the disclosure, to be kept confidential from staff.
(d) assess the circumstances and potential risks to relevant individuals, which could include the discloser and other individuals (for example, witnesses participating in an investigation).
(e) identify appropriate controls to mitigate risks and to support welfare of relevant individuals.
- individuals may support this process by suggesting to the Head of Policy, Risk and Legal what they consider to be appropriate controls. For example, an individual could request a temporary transfer to another team within the Library if they reasonably believed that the transfer would avoid, reduce or eliminate the risk of detrimental action.
- staff in another team could be consulted in relation to potential controls. For example, the expertise of an HR advisor could be sought on welfare arrangements.
(f) consult relevant individuals, as appropriate and as permitted by law, before implementing controls.
(g) monitor controls.
(h) encourage staff to consider accessing the independent Employee Assistance Program (EAP) as appropriate.
Awareness of these procedures
As part of creating and supporting a workplace culture where the making of public interest disclosures is valued and taken seriously, the Library will:
- provide regular training on the reason for having these procedures and the responsibility of all staff in supporting the aims of the PID Act;
- encourage staff to maintain confidentiality if they choose to make a disclosure under the PID Act;
- make clear its position that disclosers will be protected and the importance of staff refraining from any activity that is, or could be perceived to be, vilification and reprisal; and
- ensure that these procedures are available to all staff.
The Library will report annually on its compliance with the PID Act.
These procedures will be reviewed annually.
The Library’s contact for Public Interest Disclosures is Nids Mackin, the Head of Policy, Risk and Legal, who can be contacted on (03) 8664 7000 and [email protected].