Public Interest Disclosures Internal Reporting Policy
Describes an internal reporting system for disclosing suspected corruption, serious maladministration or serious and substantial waste or breaches for the GIPA Act.
- Policy statement
- Every staff member of the NSW Department of Education has an ethical responsibility to report suspected unlawful, corrupt, negligent or improper conduct, serious maladministration or serious and substantial waste of public money.
- The department's Public Interest Disclosures Internal Reporting Policy establishes the commitment and framework to support and protect staff who report wrongdoing.
- A public interest disclosure is an allegation of corruption, serious maladministration, serious and substantial waste or breach of the GIPA Act made by a public official and about a public official.
- Audience and applicability
- The internal reporting system is for the guidance of all public officials who wish to make an allegation of corruption, serious maladministration, serious and substantial waste or breaches of the GIPA Act within the department. It is also for the guidance of staff within the department who are delegated to receive public interest disclosures.
- This policy coupled with the Public Interest Disclosures Management Guidelines sets out the manner in which the department meets its obligations under the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994 (PID Act).
- Organisational commitment
- The department is committed to creating and sustaining a positive ethical climate with accountable behaviour. This comes from leadership that encourages and strongly supports the disclosure of unlawful, corrupt, negligent or improper conduct, serious maladministration or serious and substantial waste of public money.
Staff should be able to report suspected wrongdoing with the confidence their disclosure will be appropriately managed and they will be supported and protected in doing so.
The principle of natural justice (procedural fairness) will apply to all investigations of matters the subject of public interest disclosures. The department is committed to treating the disclosure appropriately and making the process fair for both the reporter and the person who is subject of the disclosure.
The department commits to:
- encouraging the internal reporting of alleged wrongdoing
- providing the resources necessary for those responsible for managing public interest disclosures, including awareness and training
- responding to disclosures thoroughly and impartially
- ensuring that public interest disclosures, including those made anonymously, are properly assessed and appropriately dealt with
- providing the reporter a copy of the department’s Public Interest Disclosures Policy and Public Interest Disclosures Management Guidelines within 45 days of the report being made
- keeping the identity of the reporters of wrongdoing confidential, wherever possible and appropriate
- protecting the integrity, wellbeing and career interest of all persons involved
- protecting the reporter from any adverse action as a result of making a disclosure
- where some form of wrongdoing has been found, taking appropriate action
- keeping the reporter informed of the progress and outcome of investigation of their disclosure
- appropriately dealing with anyone who takes reprisal action against a person who made a public interest disclosure.
- Protection against reprisals
- The PID Act provides protection for people reporting wrongdoing by imposing penalties on anyone who takes detrimental action proven to be substantially in reprisal for them making the public interest disclosure. The department will not tolerate any reprisal action against staff who report wrongdoing. The criminal penalties that can be imposed include imprisonment or fines. Detrimental action is also misconduct that justifies disciplinary action. People who take detrimental action against someone who has made a disclosure can also be required to pay damages for any loss suffered by that person. Detrimental action means action causing, comprising or involving any of the following:
- injury, damage or loss
- intimidation or harassment
- discrimination, disadvantage or adverse treatment in relation to employment
- dismissal from, or prejudice in, employment
- disciplinary proceedings.
- Procedures for managing public interest disclosures
- The Public Interest Disclosures Management Guidelines set out the procedures to implement this policy and identify the roles and responsibilities of all department staff in making and/or receiving public interest disclosures. These guidelines are based on the paramount consideration that any staff member reporting wrongdoing will be supported and protected from reprisal in doing so.
- Options available to make a public interest disclosure
- To enable staff to make a report in a confidential and supportive environment, the department has identified a number of positions as disclosure officers. The occupants of these positions are able to accept disclosures from staff who believe their report should be a public interest disclosure. These disclosure officers occupy a broad range of positions in varying locations to provide alternatives for staff to make a report outside of their immediate workplace. The positions which act as disclosure officers are outlined in the Public Interest Disclosures Management Guidelines.
- Responsibilities and delegations
- All department employees are encouraged to report known or suspected incidents of corrupt conduct, serious maladministration, serious and substantial waste and/or breaches of the GIPA Act within the Department.
- Disclosure officers
- Are to ensure the allegations are assessed and treated in the manner determined by this policy and associated guidelines, whether or not the reporter has requested protected status.
- Public interest disclosures coordinator (Director Investigations, Employee Performance and Conduct Directorate)
- Is to ensure that there is compliance with the provisions of this policy.
- Public interest disclosures manager (Executive Director, Employee Performance and Conduct Directorate)
- Is responsible for the department's management of public interest disclosures and reports of actual or suspected corrupt conduct to the Secretary.
- Is obligated to report actual or suspected corrupt conduct to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) under s.11 of the ICAC Act.
- Monitoring and review
- The Executive Director, Employee Performance and Conduct Directorate (as public interest disclosures manager) is responsible for monitoring the implementation of this policy reporting to the ICAC and annually to the Board of Management.
- Policy contact officer
- Director, Investigations
02 7814 2285