Public Interest Disclosure
Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (PID Act) legislation promotes accountability and integrity in the Commonwealth public sector by creating a framework which:
- encourages the disclosure of information about suspected wrongdoings
- protects people who make disclosures from adverse consequences
- requires agencies to take action on disclosures.
Note: If you are a member of the community or your matter relates to a visa or citizenship offence, use our Border Watch online form to make your report.
What is a public interest disclosure?
A public interest disclosure is a report, made by a public official, of a suspected wrongdoing in the Commonwealth public sector.
Public officials include current and former:
- Commonwealth public servants
- Commonwealth contractors
- staff of Commonwealth contracted service providers.
Disclosures can be made about conduct by an agency or public official which:
- contravenes a law
- is corrupt
- perverts the course of justice
- results in waste of public funds or property
- is an abuse of public trust
- unreasonably endangers health and safety or endangers the environment
- is misconduct relating to scientific research, analysis or advice
- is maladministration, including conduct that is unjust, oppressive or negligent.
Making a public interest disclosure
If you are a current or former Commonwealth public servant, Commonwealth contractor or staff member of a Commonwealth contracted service provider, disclosures can be made to an authorised officer of the Department. You can also make your disclosure to the
Commonwealth Ombudsman. You must make a disclosure to an authorised officer of the Department or at the Commonwealth Ombudsmans office to gain the protection available under the PID Act.
For information about your options for reporting in unusual circumstances, refer to the Commonwealth Ombudsmans guide:
Speaking up about wrong doing.
We prefer to receive disclosures in writing, but you can provide your disclosure by telephone.
To lodge a disclosure or make an enquiry regarding the Departments PIDs please contact an authorised officer.
1800 572 217 (Australia-wide freephone)
+61 2 6275 6896 (International)
Public Interest Disclosures
Department of Home Affairs
PO Box 25
Belconnen ACT 2616
Mark your correspondence as private and confidential.
Information to include in your disclosure
Depending on your circumstances, you should consider providing as many of the following details as possible in your disclosure to help us determine how to proceed:
- your name and contact details (recommended)
- the nature of the wrongdoing
- who you think committed the wrongdoing
- when and where the wrongdoing occurred
- relevant events surrounding the issue
- if you did anything in response to the wrongdoing
- others who know about the wrongdoing and have allowed it to continue
- whether you believe your information is a public interest disclosure under the PID Act (you do not have to state that your information is a public interest disclosure for it to be considered as such, but it will assist the agency if you do)
- if you are concerned about possible reprisal as a result of making your disclosure.
Be clear and factual. Avoid speculation, personal attacks and emotive language as they divert attention from real issues. If you have any supporting information, such as correspondence, documents, files, notes or a diary of events, you should provide these to the authorised officer. You can also include the names of any people who witnessed the conduct or who may be able to verify what you are saying.
You should not investigate a matter yourself before making the disclosure because this may hinder any future investigation.
Can I remain anonymous?
Yes, you can make an anonymous disclosure. Identifying yourself enables us to provide you with the protection, support and updates you are entitled to receive. Providing your details also allow investigators to contact you to clarify details of your disclosure or ask for any new information. We have the discretion not to investigate if you do not provide your name and contact details or are unable to give further information or assistance if it is needed.
Protection for disclosers
You cannot be subject to any civil, criminal or administrative liability (including disciplinary action) for making a disclosure in accordance with the PID Act. No contract to which you are a party can be terminated on the basis that your disclosure is a breach of contract.
You remain liable for your own conduct. By making a disclosure, you do not gain immunity from investigation of your own role in any wrongdoing.
You are protected against reprisal. It is an offence for any person to cause you any detriment because they suspect or believe that you made, or will make a public interest disclosure. Detriment includes any disadvantage to you, including dismissal, injury, discrimination or alteration of your position to your disadvantage.
Unless you consent to your identity being disclosed, your identity will be protected.
The PID Act protection never expires.
Commonwealth Ombudsmans Office is responsible for oversight of PIDs. It has published a series of guides and fact sheets.