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Protected Disclosure Act

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Protected Disclosure Act 2012 (replacement of Whistleblower Act)

The Protected Disclosure Act 2012 enables people to make a "disclosure" about improper conduct by Councillors and Council officers. The Act also provides protection to people who make such disclosures and provides for such matters to be properly investigated. Disclosures may also be made about “detrimental action” taken (or suspected may be taken) in reprisal against a person in connection with a disclosure made about improper conduct.

The Act provides definitions about improper conduct and detrimental action. For more information about what those terms mean refer to Council’s Protected Disclosure Procedures.

As required under the Act, Banyule has established procedures to facilitate and encourage the making of disclosures under the Act, and how the Council handles any such disclosures received by it. The Council’s Protected Disclosure Procedures are available on our website or by inspection during normal office hours at Council’s services centres. The Council’s Protected Disclosure Procedures contain detailed information about who can receive disclosures, for example, the Council, the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) and the Ombudsman, and how you can go about making such disclosures to us or to those bodies.

What is a Protected Disclosure?

People making a disclosure must believe, on reasonable grounds, that the Councillor or Council employee has engaged in, or proposes to engage in, improper conduct. The conduct must be serious enough to constitute a criminal offence or reasonable grounds for dismissal.

Examples of such a disclosure may include:

  • An officer taking a bribe to grant a permit.
  • An officer ignoring or concealing evidence of an illegal activity being conducted in the municipality.
  • A Council officer selling or revealing confidential information to enable someone to gain advantage such as information about a tender.
  • A substantial mismanagement of public resources
  • A substantial risk to public health or safety
  • A substantial risk to the environment

Please note that disclosures can be made anonymously, however this creates potential difficulties in being to assess whether a complaint is a disclosure.

How to make a Protected Disclosure

Who can make a disclosure

Can only be made by certain persons

How to make a disclosure

Must be made verbally, in writing, or online if making directly to IBAC/Ombudsman’s Office

Who to make disclosures to (about staff)

Chief Executive Officer

Protected Disclosure Co-ordinator - Gina Burden

Protected Disclosure Officer - Vivien Ferlaino

Manager or supervisor of the Discloser

Manager or supervisor of the person who is the subject of the disclosure

Who to make disclosures to (about councillors)

IBAC

Ombudsman

Who disclosures can be made about

Must be made only about the conduct of public bodies or public officers performing public functions, this means any staff member of Banyule

What disclosures can be made about

Must be about improper conduct or detrimental action taken against a person

Who to contact at Banyule?

The Council has appointed a Protected Disclosure Coordinator and Protected Disclosure Officers to handle enquiries about its obligations under the Act. If you wish to obtain further information about the Council’s Protected Disclosures Policy or Procedures, or if you wish to arrange a confidential meeting to discuss any matters of concern or make a report, the contact details are as follows:

In writing:

By Phone:

Confidential and Private

Protected Disclosure Coordinator
PO Box 94
GREENSBOROUGH VIC 3088

Ms Gina Burden

Manager Governance and Communication

Phone: 9490 4260

Confidential and Private

Protected Disclosure Officer
PO Box 94
GREENSBOROUGH VIC 3088

Ms Vivien Ferlaino

Governance Co-ordinator

Phone 9490 4252

If the Council believes a disclosure may be a protected disclosure made in accordance with the Act, it will notify the disclosure to the IBAC for assessment. The IBAC will then deal with the disclosure. A person wishing to make a report about Councillors must do so directly with IBAC or the Ombudsman’s Office.

Reports to IBAC or the Ombudsman

IBAC

Ombudsman

1. completing the IBAC secure online form

2. download a complaint form from IBAC and return by email, fax or post; or

3. telephone IBAC on 1300 735 135 to request a form be sent to you.

More information on IBAC is available on their website: www.ibac.vic.gov.au.

person can lodge a disclosure either:

1. in writing (including via email or the internet)

2. in person

3. or by telephone. Email: ombudvic@ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Telephone: (03) 9613 6222

Address:

Level 2, 570 Bourke Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

When making a disclosure it is important for the person to state that it is their intention to lodge a protected disclosure.

  • Disclosers should also provide the following information when making the disclosure:
    what is the alleged improper conduct?
  • what are the grounds for believing that the conduct occurred?
  • copies of any supporting documentation.

More information on the Ombudsman is available on their website www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Confidentiality

Banyule takes its obligations under the Act seriously. This includes the requirement to protect the identity of the discloser and the matters disclosed by a discloser. Maintaining confidentiality in relation to protected disclosure matters is crucial, among other things, in ensuring reprisals are not made against a discloser. It is a criminal offence under the Act to disclose information connected with a disclosure made in accordance with the Act, including the identity of the discloser. The penalties for breaching confidentiality obligations include financial penalties and imprisonment.

 

You can also find out more information about our general complaints handling process by clicking on the following link: http://www.banyule.vic.gov.au/Council/Governance/Complaints-Management

 

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