2. How the public interest disclosure scheme works

2.1 About the PID Scheme

The Public Interest Disclosures Scheme (PID Scheme) is a Victorian Public Sector ‘whistleblowing-system’ which operates under the PID Act to facilitate and provide a legal framework for reporting corruption and other misconduct by public bodies and public officers within the VPS.

‘Blowing the whistle’ on public sector corruption and misconduct, now known as making a public interest disclosure, is important in maintaining the integrity of the VPS as it enables corruption and other types of misconduct to be identified, investigated and, where possible, rectified and prevented.

The PID Scheme encourages the making of public interest disclosures, by providing a number of protections to people who make their disclosures in accordance with the PID Act. The PID Scheme also establishes a system for public interest disclosures to be investigated and any rectifying action to be taken.

Under the PID Scheme, every VPS body is required to have personnel and procedures to assist and enable persons to make public interest disclosures. IBAC plays a central role within the PID Scheme as it receives and is notified about the majority of disclosures made. This assists IBAC in its primary role of identifying, investigating, exposing and preventing corruption and other types of wrongdoing within the VPS.

The PID Scheme is also supported by a number of other entities, including the VI, that receive disclosures and, where appropriate, notify those disclosures to IBAC for further review and investigation.

2.2 About the PID Act

The PID Act provides a legal framework for making a public interest disclosure.

The purpose of the PID Act is to promote the integrity and accountability of the Victorian public sector, by:

  • encouraging and facilitating the making of disclosures about the wrongdoing of Victorian public bodies, their officers and people who have or who intend to adversely affect the honest or effective performance of a Victorian public body or officer
  • providing protection for persons who make disclosures and persons who may suffer detrimental action in reprisal for those disclosures
  • ensuring those disclosures are properly assessed and, where necessary, investigated, and
  • providing for the confidentiality of the content of those disclosures and the identity of persons who make those disclosures.

2.3 The VI’s role

The VI’s role within the PID Scheme includes:

  • acting as the sole body responsible for receiving and investigating public interest disclosures about IBAC, IBAC officers, Public Interest Monitors, the Office of the Special Investigator (OSI) and OSI officers
  • receiving public interest disclosures about all other entities that are not required to be made to another entity under the PID Act, for the purposes of notifying those disclosures to IBAC for further review and investigation (where appropriate)
  • overseeing the performance by IBAC of its functions under the PID Act, and
  • reviewing the public interest disclosure (PID) procedures that IBAC, the Victorian Ombudsman and the Judicial Commission of Victoria are required to establish under the PID Act.

2.4 Reforms to the whistleblowing scheme

On 31 December 2019, the Protected Disclosure Act 2012 (PD Act) was amended to make Victoria’s public sector whistleblowing scheme more accessible and more effective by better aligning it with Australian and international best practice principles, to encourage reporting of public sector corruption and wrongdoing.

Part of these reforms included the PD Act being renamed the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2012 (PID Act).

Other key reforms included:

  • adopting the terms “public interest disclosure” and “public interest complaint” in place of “protected disclosure” and “protected disclosure complaint”
  • clarifying, simplifying and increasing the pathways for making a public interest disclosure
  • expanding and clarifying the types of public sector improper conduct that a person can disclose in a public interest disclosure
  • simplifying the requirements for making a public interest disclosure about detrimental action in reprisal for a public interest disclosure
  • protecting public interest disclosures made to persons and bodies outside of the integrity system (i.e. external disclosures) in limited circumstances
  • simplifying confidentiality obligations that apply to people who make and handle public interest disclosures, including to allow access to support services
  • protecting disclosers from legal costs in the event that they are unsuccessful in a claim for compensation under the PD Act.