The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2003 enables people to make disclosures about wrongdoing within the State public sector, local government and public universities without fear or reprisal.

A public interest disclosure is a disclosure which is made by a person who discloses to a property authority (in local government that is the Public Interest Disclosure (PID) Officer) information that tends to show that a local government, a public officer (ie an employee of the local government) or a contractor may be involved in an activity which constitutes:

• improper conduct; or
• action which may constitute an offence under a written law; or
• a substantial unauthorised or irregular use of, or substantial mismanagement of, public resources; or
• a substantial and specific risk of injury to public health, prejudice to public safety or harm to the environment; or
• a matter of administration that can be investigated by the Ombudsman.

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. The information must relate to the performance of a public function of the local government or employee. For example, the Act does not apply to information that an employee of the local government has engaged in criminal behaviour unconnected with their employment.

Anyone who believes on reasonable grounds that the information they have is or may be true can make a disclosure. 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. A disclosure can be made anonymously, provided you make it to a proper authority (the local government PID officer) and you clearly indicate that you are intending to make a disclosure under the Act.

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.

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.

For more information, on the Act and disclosures generally, visit the Public Sector Commission’s website.

For disclosures concerning the Shire of Carnarvon, contact us on (08) 9941 0000.