The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (the PID Act) commenced on 15 January 2014.
The PID Act creates a public interest disclosure scheme that promotes integrity and accountability in the Australian public sector by:
- encouraging and facilitating the disclosure of information by public officials about suspected wrongdoing in the public sector
- ensuring that public officials who make public interest disclosures are supported and protected from adverse consequences
- ensuring that disclosures by public officials are properly investigated and dealt with.
The public interest disclosure scheme extends beyond the Australian Public Service to a wide range of Commonwealth entities, including Commonwealth companies and authorities, and contracted service providers.
The PID Act places a number of obligations on agencies including the establishment of procedures to deal with public interest disclosures, the appointment of authorised officers to handle disclosures, the proper investigation of disclosures and the protection of staff from detriment or threats of detriment if they make a disclosure.
The Commonwealth Ombudsman is responsible for promoting awareness and understanding of the PID Act and monitoring its operation. The Ombudsman has prepared a range of information sheets, guides and presentations about the public interest disclosure scheme. In particular, the Ombudsman has issued a guide to making a disclosure under the PID Act which includes information about:
- who can make a public interest disclosure
- what information can be disclosed (that is, what is ‘disclosable conduct’)
- who can a public interest disclosure be made to
- what happens once a public interest disclosure has been made.
These publications can be found on the Commonwealth Ombudsman website.
The Tribunal encourages and supports the reporting of wrongdoing by current or former public officials in accordance with the PID Act, and will take active steps to support and to protect persons who make disclosures under the PID Act.
‘Public official’ is a broad term which includes any person who is or was employed or appointed by the Australian Government (including members of the Defence Force and the Australian Federal Police), staff of Commonwealth companies, Commonwealth authorities and statutory agencies, the Parliamentary Service, statutory officeholders and service providers under contract to the Commonwealth.
Making a public interest disclosure
Public interest disclosures concerning the Administrative Appeals Tribunal may be made by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to any of the AAT’s Authorised Officers:
- the Registrar
- the Executive Director, Registry Operations
- the Executive Director, Review Support
- the Executive Director, Strategy and Policy
- the Executive Director, Corporate Services
- the IAA Senior Reviewer
In addition to receiving public interest disclosures, Authorised Officers are also able to provide information about how to make a public interest disclosure and about the protections given to disclosers under the PID Act.