How do I raise a matter with the Integrity Commission?
If you want a matter to be considered by the Integrity Commission, you will need to submit a ‘complaint’. Merely ‘referring’ a matter to us may not result in direct action.
The Integrity Commission Act 2009 (the Act) requires that complaints be made in writing. You can make a complaint:
- on behalf of another person (for example, a member of the public), or
- from an anonymous source (it may be more difficult for us to investigate a complaint from an anonymous source).
You should state that you want the matter handled as a complaint under the Act.
Information about how to submit a complaint, including a complaint form, is available in Making a complaint.
The Commission’s jurisdiction
We have jurisdiction over misconduct and serious misconduct allegedly committed by public officers. This includes those within the state and local government sectors and Members of Parliament. It may include people who have since left or retired from the public sector.
Our jurisdiction does not cover alleged misconduct by Members of Parliament in connection with 'a proceeding in Parliament'. A proceeding in Parliament means: 'all words spoken and acts done in the course of, or for purposes of or incidental to, the transacting of the business of a House of Parliament or of a committee'. This includes:
- the giving of evidence before a House or a committee, and evidence so given
- the presentation or submission of a document to a House or a committee
- the preparation of a document for purposes of or incidental to the transacting of any such business, and
- the formulation, making or publication of a document, including a report, by or pursuant to an order of a House or a committee and the document so formulated, made or published;
More information about our jurisdiction and the definition of misconduct is available on What is misconduct.
The Commission is required under the Act to carry out its work in private. We cannot do this effectively if a complainant publicises that they have submitted, or intend to submit, a complaint.
Our Chief Commissioner, Greg Melick AO SC, has previously commented on this issue:
[There have been] some occasions when the making of a complaint to us became the subject of political comment. Indeed, there were occasions on which a public commitment was made to refer a matter to us but nothing eventuated.
It is of great concern that public statements have been made by Members of Parliament about possible or actual complaints to the Integrity Commission. There are sound reasons why we discourage it.
It is more difficult to conduct an investigation if the matter has been publicised and needless and unwarranted reputational damage often accompanies such statements.
We recognise we have an obligation to tell people about our work but our approach is to do so when we have something substantive to say, not when we are simply commencing an investigation.
We generally will not confirm or deny the existence or any aspect of a complaint or investigation, and will only comment in exceptional circumstances or when it is in the public interest to do so. Our approach on responding to or commentating publicly on matters before the Commission is provided in our Media centre.
What happens to a complaint?
Complaints submitted to the Commission initially go through a triage process. Depending on the nature and type of complaint, we will take one of a number of actions, including:
- dismissing the complaint
- assessing the complaint
- referring the complaint to an appropriate person.
If we assess the complaint, we will conduct preliminary inquiries to help us decide whether to investigate the complaint. We may also take other actions at the end of an assessment, such as dismissing it or referring it to an appropriate person. Investigated complaints can also proceed to an integrity tribunal.
If we dismiss the complaint, we may not tell anyone about it. This protects the privacy and reputations of those being complained about, particularly if we have determined that the matter does not warrant further investigation.
When might the Commission contact a Minister or the Premier?
We may contact a Minister or the Premier for several reasons including to:
- obtain information
- comply with our legislative responsibilities
- keep you informed.
Like all other public officers, we may request information from you.
We may serve a coercive notice on you, requiring you to provide information as part of an assessment or investigation. These notices are usually subject to the confidentiality provisions under the Act. If so, you are not permitted to discuss the notice with anyone unless you have a ‘reasonable excuse’. The notice will explain how this works.
Complying with our legislative responsibilities
A Minister may also be contacted when we are or have completed an assessment or investigation into a public officer that falls under their portfolio.
For example, we must give formal notice of the outcome of an assessment to the ‘principal officer’ of a public authority. In some instances, the principal officer is a Minister or the Premier.
We may also choose to send a report to the responsible Minister at the end of an investigation.
Keeping you informed
We may also contact a Minister informally during an assessment or investigation. This may occur when an investigation could inadvertently become public, such as when we undertake a search of premises. You do not need to do anything in response to this contact. We would expect the contact to be kept confidential.
A Minister is also likely to be contacted if we intend to publicly report on a public officer within their portfolio.