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Protected disclosures

The Protected Disclosure Act 2012 replaced the Whistleblowers Protection Act 2001 and enables people to make disclosures about improper conduct by public officers and public bodies. The Protected Disclosure Act 2012 aims to ensure openness and accountability by encouraging people to make disclosures and protecting them when they do.

A protected disclosure is a complaint of corrupt or improper conduct by a public officer or a public body. Parks Victoria is a “public body” for the purposes of the Protected Disclosure Act 2012.

Improper or corrupt conduct involves substantial:

  • mismanagement of public resources; or
  • risk to public health or safety or the environment; or
  • corruption.

The conduct must be criminal in nature or a matter for which an officer could be dismissed.

One can make a protected disclosure about Parks Victoria or its board members, officers or employees by contacting the Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC) on the contact details provided below.

Please note that Parks Victoria is not able to receive protected disclosures.

Parks Victoria has established procedures for the protection of persons from detrimental action in reprisal for making a protected disclosure about Parks Victoria or its employees.

You can find out more about Parks Victoria’s procedure on Protected Disclosure below.

For further information contact the Chief Legal Counsel, Parks Victoria, Level 10, 535 Bourke Street, Melbourne 3000.

Alternatively contact the Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC) Victoria, Level 1, North Tower, 459 Collins Street, Melbourne Victoria 3000 or via www.ibac.vic.gov.au

Parks Victoria’s commitment and role

Parks Victoria’s commitment

Parks Victoria is committed to eliminating corruption and improper conduct from its workforce.  Parks Victoria is also committed to training its staff so there is a clear understanding of appropriate standards of conduct.  It is also committed to holding staff to account if behaviours fall below those standards.

Parks Victoria’s role

For the purposes of the Protected Disclosure Act 2012:

  • Parks Victoria is a public body and its staff are public officers; but
  • Parks Victoria not a body that is empowered to receive protected disclosures.

That is, Parks Victoria and its staff can be the subject of a disclosure.

Parks Victoria staff can make a protected disclosure as can members of the public.

Parks Victoria does not have a formal role in assessing reported conduct. It does from time to time, receive complaints or information regarding improper conduct by it or its staff via correspondence, phone calls, emails, or in person by a staff member or a member of the public.

Referral to the IBAC

Parks Victoria will refer the complainant directly to IBAC.

Parks Victoria’s Chief Executive can refer corrupt conduct to IBAC for investigation.

IBAC will then decide if the disclosure is a protected disclosure and if the matter warrants investigation.  It may also refer the matter to the Ombudsman for investigation.

Parks Victoria can undertake its own investigations

The new regime does not preclude Parks Victoria from undertaking its own investigations into what might constitute corrupt conduct or refer the matter to the police if it involved potentially criminal conduct.

Additionally Parks Victoria may need to provide welfare for protected disclosers and other involved in an investigation undertaken by IBAC or the Ombudsman.

The issue of detrimental actions must also be considered.

What is corruption and improper conduct?

Improper conduct can be corrupt conduct or specified conduct.

Corrupt conduct

Includes:

  • The dishonest performance of a public officer or public official of their functions
  • Knowingly or recklessly breaching public trust
  • Misuse of information obtained by a public officer or public official then in that capacity
  • A conspiracy to commit or attempt to commit the above conduct
  • Conduct that implies:    
    • a substantial mismanagement of public resources
    • a substantial risk to public health or safety
    • a substantial risk to the environment
  • Conduct adversely affecting the honest performance of a public officer or public official of their functions

Specified conduct

Specified conduct is conduct that would, if proved, constitute a criminal offence or reasonable grounds for dismissal.

What is protected disclosure?

Protected disclosure means a disclosure of improper conduct which attracts the protections of the Protected Disclosures Act 2012, namely that the identity of the discloser remains confidential and that the discloser has statutory remedies in the event that anyone takes detrimental action (as defined in the Protected Disclosures Act 2012) against the discloser (or potentially a witness) for making the disclosure.

Detrimental action is action taken against a person who has made a protected disclosure including:

  • action causing injury , loss or damage
  • intimidation or harassment, and
  • discrimination, disadvantage or adverse treatment in relation to a person’s employment, career, profession, trade or business including the taking of disciplinary action.

Your rights and responsibilities

What to do if you observe improper conduct?

Staff or members of the public need to be aware of the definition of improper conduct so that they can make a disclosure themselves if they observe a colleague or the organisation engage in improper conduct.

Confidentiality

If a staff member becomes aware or suspects that another staff member or a member of the public has made a protected disclosure, they must keep the identity of that person confidential.  They must also not take any detrimental action against that person.  The taking of detrimental action can be a criminal offence.

Parks Victoria may be requested to assist IBAC or the Ombudsman in an investigation.  All information pertaining to the investigation must be kept confidential.  Breaching the confidentiality can be a criminal offence.

Any records relating to a protected disclosure, a discloser or an IBAC or Ombudsman investigation, must be kept confidential and kept in a secure filing cabinet.

No detrimental action

There are statutory remedies to prevent detrimental action against anybody making a disclosure.

Further queries

All queries concerning the information contained in this procedure should be directed to the
Chief Legal Counsel,
Parks Victoria
Level 10 535 Bourke St
MELBOURNE Vic 3000