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Making disclosures to the Integrity Commission

This information is for public sector employees (including contractors); who wish to disclose matters to the Integrity Commission, under the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2002 (PID Act).

This guidance is not for members of the public who wish to make a complaint to the Integrity Commission.

What is a disclosure?

The PID Act is Tasmania’s ‘whistle-blower’ legislation. The PID Act provides protection for certain people that make complaints – called ‘disclosures’ – of improper conduct by a public officer or public body.

The processes for managing a disclosure under the PID Act are different to the processes for managing a complaint under the Integrity Commission Act 2009 (IC Act).

Disclosures to the Integrity Commission

We assess every complaint we receive under the IC Act to determine if it is also a disclosure under the PID Act. We then decide whether to deal with the complaint under the IC Act or under the PID Act. A person does not need to say that they are making a disclosure for it be a disclosure under the PID Act.

We can receive disclosures about:

  • public bodies other than the Police Service (see section 4 of the PID Act)
  • public officers (see section 4 of the PID Act)
  • State Service Agencies, and
  • persons employed under the provisions of the Parliamentary Privilege Act 1898.

However, some disclosures must be made directly to the Ombudsman. These include disclosures about, for example, local government councillors or the Commissioner of Police. This is covered under section 7 of the PID Act.

Disclosures made directly to the Commission may still receive the full protections of the PID Act while the matter is with us. However, we can only take action if the disclosure contains a complaint about ‘misconduct’, as defined in the IC Act. Otherwise, we may refer the disclosure to the Ombudsman or a public body.

What protections are available?

Different protections are provided to complainants under the IC Act and the PID Act. The IC Act provides protections for anonymity, but may not protect a person from reprisals. Making a disclosure under the PID Act protects a public officer from:

  • civil or criminal liability or any liability arising by way of administrative process (including disciplinary action) for making the disclosure (see section 16)
  • committing an offence by disclosing information that an Act imposes confidentiality over (section 17(1)(a))
  • breaching an obligation to maintain confidentiality over the information disclosed (section 17(1)(b)), and
  • reprisal for having made a disclosure (section 19).

What can be disclosed?

A public interest disclosure is a disclosure of ‘improper conduct’ that is ‘serious or significant’. Improper conduct may include:

  • illegal activity
  • corrupt conduct
  • endangering public health, safety or the environment
  • misusing or wasting government funds
  • maladministration, and
  • breaches of professional codes of conduct.

‘Serious or significant’ is determined in accordance with the Ombudsman’s guidelines.

What will the Integrity Commission do with a disclosure?

When we receive a disclosure, we can:

  • deal with it under the IC Act, noting the protections under the PID Act, or
  • refer the disclosure to the Ombudsman or a public body as if the disclosure had been made to the Ombudsman or that public body.

If we choose to deal with the disclosure under the IC Act and later refer it to a public body, we will tell the public body that we assessed the complaint to be a disclosure under the PID Act. However, the public body must make its own decision about whether the matter is a disclosure under the PID Act.

Sometimes a disclosure will be made to the Ombudsman or a public body that involves misconduct. In these circumstances, the Ombudsman or public body can refer the disclosure to us as if the disclosure had been made directly to the us in the first place.

‘Improper conduct’ is different to ‘misconduct’

'Improper conduct’ has a broader definition than ‘misconduct’. Misconduct can sometimes be improper conduct as well. There are several important differences between ‘improper conduct’ under the PID Act and ‘misconduct’ under the IC Act.

Notably, improper conduct may relate to a public body, but misconduct can only be committed by a person. See our website for the definition of misconduct.

Examples

Officer A solicits a bribe to make a decision on who to award a contract.

  • This could be improper conduct.
  • This could also be misconduct.
  • A disclosure about this can be made to the Ombudsman, the Integrity  Commission or the public body where Officer A is employed.

Agency B fails to adequately perform its functions.

  • This could be improper conduct.
  • This is not misconduct.
  • A disclosure about this can be made to the Ombudsman or the agency.

Officer C prints a document on 30 single-sided pages instead of 15 double-sided pages.

  • This is not improper conduct (it is not serious or significant).
  • This is not misconduct .

Manager D unfairly terminates Officer E’s employment.

  • This could be improper conduct.
  • This could also be misconduct.
  • A disclosure about this can be made to the Ombudsman, the Integrity Commission or the public body where Manager D and Officer E are employed.

Councillor E votes in favour of their own application at a council meeting.

  • This could be improper conduct.
  • This could also be misconduct.
  • A disclosure about this can be made to the Ombudsman only (given that  disclosures about certain officers such as councillors must go to the  Ombudsman). You could make a complaint about this to the Commission, but  we could not deal with it under the PID Act.

This page was last updated on 10 Sep 2021.