Public Interest Disclosure

A person who suspects serious wrongdoing within a government agency can make a complaint. This is called a public interest disclosure (PID).

All ACT Government agencies have responsibilities under the PID Act to investigate suspected wrongdoing and take appropriate action.

The ACT Public Sector Standards Commissioner oversees the management of PIDs in the ACT public sector. For more information see the Public Sector Standards Commissioner Public Interest Disclosure Fact Sheet 2017.

People who make a PID are making a report of wrongdoing. In the ACT protection is provided to those people by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2012 (PID Act).

What is a Public Interest Disclosure?

Activities that can be the subject of a PID include activities that are:

  • illegal
  • corrupt
  • misuse or waste public money or resources
  • an abuse of public trust
  • dangerous to the health or safety of the public or the environment.
What is not a Public Interest Disclosure?

Conduct relating to individual employment and industrial matters are not considered to be a PID. These include:

  • isolated allegations of bullying or harassment
  • individual performance management concerns
  • individual workplace health or safety concerns.
Who can make a Public Interest Disclosure?

Any person suspecting serious wrongdoing within a government agency can make a disclosure. This includes ACT Public Service employees, contractors and members of the general public.

People who disclose information about serious wrongdoing in a government agency receive protection under the PID Act. There can be serious consequences for people or agencies who take revengeful action against a person for making a disclosure under the PID Act.

Who can receive a PID?

Every ACT government agency has a designated disclosure officer who is appointed to receive PIDs.

If you feel the matter is so serious that you cannot discuss it internally, you should inform the Public Service Standards Commissioner, the ACT Auditor-General or the ACT Ombudsman.

How to make a disclosure or a complaint to the ACT Ombudsman

We can:

  • receive disclosures
  • investigate 'disclosable conduct' of the Head of Service of the ACT Public Service
  • investigate complaints about how a PID has been investigated or handled by an agency.

You can make a disclosure or a complaint about the handling or investigation of a PID by an ACT government agency to the ACT Ombudsman by emailing us at PID@ombudsman.gov.au or calling us on 02 6276 3777.

When writing a disclosure it is important to keep it simple and stick to the main facts. Be as specific as possible when recalling dates, names and other important details.

You can make your disclosure anonymously. It is important to be aware this may make it more difficult for the appropriate agency to investigate your disclosure.

What we do when we receive your disclosure or complaint

If you make a disclosure to the Ombudsman we will decide if your disclosure meets the criteria under the PID Act. If we decide your matter meets the criteria, we will provide your disclosure to the appropriate agency for investigation. If your information does not meet the criteria, we will explain reasons for our decision.

If you make a complaint to us, we will consider whether to investigate. If we decide to investigate, we will consider whether the agency’s actions and decisions were consistent with its obligations under the PID Act. Generally we will not reinvestigate the matters disclosed in the PID.