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Public interest disclosure

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (PID Act) commenced on 15 January 2014. The legislation created a public interest disclosure scheme that promotes integrity and accountability in the Australian public sector. It does this by:

  • encouraging and facilitating the disclosure of information by public officials about suspected wrongdoing in the public sector
  • ensuring that public officials who make public interest disclosures are supported and protected from adverse consequences
  • ensuring that disclosures by public officials are properly investigated and dealt with.

Public interest disclosure is overseen by the Commonwealth Ombudsman and the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security for intelligence agencies.

What classifies as a disclosure?

A disclosure is information that tends to show, or that the public official reasonably believes tends to show, disclosable conduct. Disclosable conduct is conduct engaged in by an agency, public official or contracted service provider. Types of conduct include:

  • illegal conduct
  • corruption
  • maladministration
  • abuse of public trust
  • deception relating to scientific research
  • wastage of public money
  • unreasonable danger to health and safety or to the environment.

Disclosable conduct excludes conduct that relates only to a policy or proposed policy of the Commonwealth Government and/or associated expenditure, or action taken, or proposed to be taken by a Minister, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, or the President of the Senate.

Who can make a disclosure?

A disclosure can be made by a current or former public official. This includes public servants (ongoing, non-ongoing and casual) and parliamentary service employees, service providers under a Commonwealth contract, statutory office holders, staff of Commonwealth companies and temporary employees engaged through a recruitment agency. 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.

Please note that a disclosure can be made only if the information was obtained during the period in which the individual was a public official.

Authorised Officers

A disclosure can be made to an authorised officer of the OTA if you reasonably believe the conduct relates to disclosable conduct.

The OTA’s authorised officer is the Chief Operating Officer and can be contacted by:

Making an internal public interest disclosure to the APSC

An internal disclosure may be made by a current or former public official of the OTA anonymously, verbally and/or in writing to an authorised officer of the OTA. An authorised officer will be responsible for allocating your disclosure in accordance with the Australian Public Service Commission's Public Interest Disclosure Scheme.

You can also read about Public Interest Disclosure on the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s website.