Who can report misconduct?Anyone can report misconduct, as long as the complaint is received in writing.
Can I make a complaint anonymously?
Yes, we are able to accept anonymous complaints, but we prefer having a contact name as it lets us check information. You can also make a complaint in your name but ask us to keep your identity confidential in any of our dealings with it.
What does the Integrity Commission do that is different to the Ombudsman?
The focus of the Integrity Commission is on misconduct in Tasmania's public sector, as defined under the Integrity Commission Act 2009. It promotes propriety and integrity and deals with complaints about misconduct. Our legislation requires the Commission to have a strong focus on education and misconduct prevention.
The fact that you disagree with a public authority's actions, or a public officer has made a mistake or makes a decision that is wrong, does not necessarily constitute misconduct under the legislation.
The Ombudsman deals with administrative actions of public authorities and ensures that they are lawful, reasonable and fair.
What is misconduct?
The Commission deals with misconduct as defined under its legislation. Misconduct involves the exercise of functions or powers in a way that is dishonest or improper, the misuse of information, or behaviour that could be expected to lead to a public officer losing his or her job or being charged with a criminal offence. For a more comprehensive legal definition of misconduct please refer to the Integrity Commission Act 2009.
Who else deals with integrity issues in Tasmania?
The State's integrity entities include the Ombudsman and the Auditor-General. The President of the Legislative Council and the Speaker of the House of Assembly are Parliamentary integrity entities.
Do agencies have to report misconduct to the Integrity Commission?
No, there is no mandatory reporting under the Integrity Commission Act 2009, but the Commission does seek voluntary notifications from agencies to assist in developing a clear picture of possible misconduct across Tasmania.
I have made a complaint to another agency. Can I still complain to the Integrity Commission?
Yes. The Integrity Commission can accept complaints even if they have been made to another agency. However, it is a principle of operation that the Integrity Commission does not duplicate or interfere with work that it considers has been undertaken or is being undertaken appropriately by another agency.
I have been served with a Notice to attend and give information to the Integrity Commission. What are my rights?
Attached to each Notice is information for recipients which sets out your rights and your obligations. A copy of the information is available here.
Procedural fairness during an investigation.
The Commission has prepared guidelines to assist persons involved in an investigation, understand procedural fairness. A copy is available below.
I have been called as a witness by the Integrity Commission. What does that mean and what will happen?
The Commission has developed a brochure to assist witnesses who have been served with a notice to help them understand the process involved in giving evidence to the Commission. A copy is available here.
If I am interviewed, can I get a transcript of my evidence?
If you are required to attend the Commission to give evidence by interview, that evidence will be recorded. The Commission makes a transcript of each recorded interview. If you, or your legal representative, require a copy of the transcript, you may advise the Commission at the conclusion of the interview. Alternatively, at any other time you may make a request in writing to the Commission.
The timing of the provision of such a transcript is at the Commission's discretion, but will usually occur after conclusion of all interviews in an investigation. In exceptional circumstances, the Commission may determine it is not appropriate to provide a transcript. When the Commission provides a transcript, confidentiality in accordance with s 98 may also apply to the circumstances which the transcript can be used or communicated.
If you have attended, are attending or are due to attend before the Commission to give evidence or to produce a document or any other thing and, because of this, you consider that you need to consult a medical practitioner, psychologist or psychiatrist, or your employer's Employee Assistance Program, you are at liberty to do so.
Can I get compensation if my complaint is justified and I have suffered?
It is not part of our role, and we do not have the legislative power to grant compensation.
Will the person be punished if they have done something wrong?
When the Commission finishes an investigation, it can refer its findings to the police and to the agency employing the person to take whatever action they consider appropriate. The Commission itself is not able to take people to court or impose any punishment.
Can I make an appointment to come and talk about my concerns to someone?
We are able to discuss your concerns over the phone, but in general we do not hold face to face discussions with people considering making a complaint. This is because we are a very small agency, and must use our time as effectively as possible . In any event, the Act requires that all complaints must be in writing.
We can make arrangements for those who have trouble completing the forms for reasons of disability. If you need this kind of assistance, please contact the Commission by phone.
Why should I report my concerns? There seems to be no benefit to me.
The complaints that we receive are important for several reasons:
- we can use the information to guide our education and misconduct prevention programs ;
- agencies concerned can be made aware of conduct which appears to be not meeting the required ethical standards (even if this is a perception, not a fact, it is important to know so that improvements can be made) ; and
- it is in community's interest that misconduct is identified and dealt with effectively.
What if the issue happened many years ago?
The Act says that you should make the complaint within a year of becoming aware of the possible misconduct, unless you can provide a satisfactory explanation for the delay. Events which occurred a long time age are also more difficult to investigate.
Do I have to fill out the complaint form?
The information we need from you is set out on the form. It is a very useful tool for checking that you have included the details that are required, and also helps us to understand the exact nature of your complaint. You can apply the headings in the form to another document or add supplementary pages to the complaint form if you need more space. If the information is not provided clearly we may have get back to you for more information or we may misinterpret your complaint.
Tasmania is a small state where everyone knows everyone. What is to stop your staff passing information onto people they know?
Several checks are in place to provide reassurance that Commission staff treat information confidentially:
- the Act states that heavy fines or prison sentences may be imposed for breaches of confidentiality ;
- staff are required to obtain national security clearances ; and
- procedures are in place to identify and manage possible conflicts of interest are in place and closely monitored .
What standard of proof is applied to investigations?
The standard of proof used by Commission investigators when making factual findings is the civil standard, that is, on the balance of probabilities. This requires only reasonable satisfaction as opposed to satisfaction beyond reasonable doubt, as is required in criminal matters.
In considering whether or not to make a particular finding of fact, an investigator will bear in mind what was said by Dixon J in Briginshaw v Briginshaw (1938) 60 CLR 336 at 362:
'...reasonable satisfaction is not a state of mind that is attained or established independently of the nature and consequence of the fact or facts to be proved. The seriousness of an allegation made, the inherent unlikelihood of an occurrence of a given description, or the gravity of the consequences flowing from a particular finding are considerations which must affect the answer to the question whether the issue has been proved to the reasonable satisfaction of the tribunal. In such matters "reasonable satisfaction" should not be produced by inexact proofs, indefinite testimony, or indirect inferences.'