Whistleblowing and Reporting Corruption
If you have good reason to believe that an employee or Councillor intends to or has engaged in improper conduct, Mornington Peninsula Shire encourages you to speak up. This page and the Procedures-for-Making-and-Handling-Public-Interest-Disclosures-November-2023.pdf(PDF, 473KB) document contain important information for anyone considering making a disclosure.
Public Interest Disclosures
A Public Interest Disclosure (PID) is a report about suspected improper conduct in the public sector, often referred to as whistleblowing.
The Mornington Peninsula Shire is subject to the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2012 (the Act). The purpose of the Act is to facilitate the making of disclosures of improper conduct by public officers and public bodies, including the Mornington Peninsula Shire, its Councillors and employees. The Act provides protections for those who make a disclosure about suspected wrongdoing in the public sector and sets out requirements for how a disclosure is handled.
The Mornington Peninsula Shire is committed to the aims and objectives of the Act. It recognises the value of transparency and accountability in its administrative and management practices and supports the making of disclosures that reveal improper conduct. It does not tolerate improper conduct by the organisation, its employees or Councillors, nor the taking of reprisals against those who come forward to disclose such conduct.
What is improper conduct?
The definition of Improper Conduct is specified by the following categories:
- corrupt conduct
- criminal offence
- serious professional misconduct
- dishonest performance of public functions
- intentional or reckless breach of public trust
- intentional or reckless misuse of information
- substantial mismanagement of public resources
- substantial risk to health or safety of a person
- substantial risk to the environment
- conduct of any person that adversely affects the honest performance by a public officer of their functions
- conduct of any person that is intended to adversely affect the effective performance by a public officer of their functions for the benefit of the other person.
What is a disclosure and in what circumstances is it protected?
A disclosure is a report made by a person or group of people about:
- improper conduct of the Mornington Peninsula Shire, its Councillors or employees; or
- detrimental action that the Shire, its Councillors or employees takes against a person in reprisal for making or cooperating in the investigation of a protected disclosure.
The conduct may have occurred in the past, is currently occurring or may happen in future.
It is not a disclosure if the complaint or allegation is already in the public domain.
It may be assessed by the Independent broad-based anti-corruption commission (IBAC) and deemed a protected disclosure if:
- it has been made by an individual or group of people;
- it is made verbally (in private) or in writing to a person authorised to receive a disclosure;
- it is about conduct which has, is or will adversely affect the honest performance of the Mornington Peninsula Shire, its Councillors or employees official function; and
- there is information which shows or tends to show improper conduct or detrimental action; or
- there are reasonable grounds for the discloser to believe that there is information which shows or tends to show improper conduct or detrimental action.
How can a public interest disclosure be made?
Disclosures about Mornington Peninsula Shire employees can be made directly to IBAC or to Mornington Peninsula Shire.
Disclosures about Councillors must be made directly to IBAC.
Disclosures may be made by employees or members of the public.
Disclosures can be made in writing via post or email, via telephone and in person.
Who should a public interest disclosure be made to?
Disclosures about the Shire or its employees can be made to the Shire and to IBAC.
Disclosures about Councillors can be made to IBAC.
Disclosures made to the Shire can be made to:
- The Public Interest Disclosure Coordinator
- The Chief Executive Officer
- Manager or supervisor of the discloser
- Manager or supervisor of the person who is the subject of the disclosure
Public Interest Disclosure Coordinator (Manager Legal and Governance)
By mail: Private Bag 1000, Rosebud VIC 3930
By phone: 5950 3237
By email: email@example.com
Chief Executive Officer
By mail: Private Bag 1000, Rosebud VIC 3930
By phone: 5950 1400
By email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC)
By mail: GPO Box 24234, Melbourne VIC 3000
By phone: 1300 735 135
All disclosures about Councillors must be made directly to IBAC.
What does the Shire do after a disclosure is received?
The Public Interest Disclosure Coordinator will assess disclosures received to determine whether the conduct constitutes improper conduct or detrimental action.
The Public Interest Disclosure Coordinator will determine, in consultation with IBAC as necessary, if a disclosure is required to be referred to IBAC. The Shire has 28 days from the time the disclosure was made to assess the report, determine how it will be handled, report back to the discloser in writing, and if required, notify IBAC.
If referred to IBAC, IBAC will conduct an assessment and communicate the result to the discloser in writing within a reasonable timeframe. If they determine it is a public interest disclosure, they can decide to either dismiss, investigate or refer the investigation to another body (such as the Ombudsman).
If not referred to IBAC, or IBAC determines that it is not a public interest disclosure, the Public Interest Disclosure Coordinator will consider the matter in accordance with relevant Shire policies, including the Complaints Handling Policy and Employee Code of Conduct.
What protections are provided for people who make a disclosure?
Protections apply to disclosures made in accordance with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2012. They apply from when the disclosure is made, regardless of whether the matter is referred to IBAC, and includes the subsequent provision of any further information. These include:
- a person is not subject to civil/criminal liability or administrative action;
- a person is not committing an offence against any legal Act which imposes obligations of confidentiality or restrictions on information disclosure;
- a person is not breaching any other confidentiality obligation made by oath, rule or law or practice; and
- a person cannot be held liable for defamation in relation to information provided.
There are also welfare obligations related to public interest disclosures. The Shire must provide welfare support to a discloser or witness as the circumstances require.