The City of Fremantle does not tolerate corrupt or other improper conduct, including mismanagement of public resources, in the exercise of the public functions of the City of Fremantle, its officers, employees and contractors.
The City will take all reasonable steps to provide protection to anyone who makes such disclosures from any detrimental action in reprisal for the making of a public interest disclosure.
The policy and guideline provide for the manner in which the City will comply with its obligations under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2003.
Public interest disclosure
What is a public interest disclosure?
A public interest disclosure is a disclosure which is made by a person who discloses to a proper authority (in local government that is the Public Interest Disclosure (PID) officer), information which tends to show past, present or proposed future wrongdoing by a public body when performing a public function.
What is a public body?
Public bodies include:
- a public authority (includes a state government organisation, local government, regional local government, or a public university)
- a public officer (includes a state public service officer, an employee of a public authority, a minister, a member of parliament, a judicial officer, a police officer, a holder of office under the state, or an officer of the Commonwealth exercising a function on behalf of the state)
- a public sector contractor (a person or organisation engaged by a public authority, or a subcontractor of this person, for the supply of goods and services or the performance of a public function).
What should be disclosed (reported) under this Act?
A disclosure must show the public body's involvement in one or more of the following:
- improper conduct (generally a breach of the standards of conduct that a reasonable person would expect of a person or body, knowing their duties, powers and authority, in the circumstances of the case)
- action which may constitute an offence under a written law
- substantial, unauthorised or irregular use of, or substantial mismanagement of, public resources
- a substantial and specific risk of injury to public health, prejudice to public safety or harm to the environment
- a matter of administration that can be investigated by the Ombudsman.
A disclosure must relate to a matter of public interest and show wrongdoing by a public body when performing a public function. The Act does not apply to information that someone has, or is, engaging in criminal behaviour that is unconnected with their employment. A disclosure is more than a general complaint about dissatisfaction with a product or service or a decision by government, and is more than a personal grievance that can be resolved by agreement between parties. In order to be covered by the Act, the information needs to relate to a matter of public interest.
Who can make a disclosure?
A disclosure can be made by anyone and may be made anonymously. Anyone (including employees of public bodies or members of the public) who believes, on reasonable grounds, that the information that they have is true can make a disclosure. It must always be in the public interest to report it.
Protection for the person making a proper disclosure
If disclosures are made in accordance with the Act, the person making them is protected from reprisal. This means that the person enjoys immunity from civil or criminal liability and is protected from any disciplinary action or dismissal.
Confidentiality of disclosures
Subject to a number of exceptions, the identity of the discloser and the identity of any person to whom a disclosure relates, is to be kept confidential.
Making a disclosure
Before making a disclosure you should contact the PID officer to find out more about:
- how to make the disclosure and who you should disclose to
- your rights and responsibilities
- the protections that will apply
- whether the information you have is covered by the Act.
If your information is not covered by the Act you can still make your complaint to the public authority concerned using its grievance process (if you are or were an employee at the time the incident occurred) or its complaints management process (if you are a member of the public).
Once you have been informed about the Act and your rights and responsibilities, you must make it clear that you have chosen to make your disclosure under the Act. Generally the PID officer will have a PID lodgment form for you to sign.
If you choose to make your disclosure under the Act you must ensure you do not discuss the matter with anyone other than the PID officer or the person conducting the investigation, you may lose your immunity under the Act and breach the confidentiality provisions which may incur a penalty if you do.
Obligations of PID officer
The Act requires a PID officer to investigate the matter unless the matter is trivial, frivolous or vexatious, there is no reasonable prospect of obtaining sufficient evidence due to the time elapsed or the matter has already been properly investigated by another person. You should receive notification within three months of any action taken or proposed to be taken in relation to your disclosure.
False or misleading disclosure
A person who makes a false or misleading disclosure commits an offence and is liable to a significant fine or a term of imprisonment.
Who to contact
For disclosures concerning the City of Fremantle, please contact the PID Officer:
T 08 9432 9641