The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (PID Act) promotes accountability and integrity in the Commonwealth public sector by creating a framework which:
- encourages the disclosure of information by public officials about suspected wrongdoings within the Commonwealth public sector
- protects public officials who make disclosures from adverse consequences relating to the disclosure and
- ensures that disclosures by public officials are properly investigated and dealt with by Commonwealth agencies.
Note: If you are a member of the community or your matter relates to a visa or citizenship offence, make your report using our
Border Watch online form.
What is a public interest disclosure
A public interest disclosure (PID) is a report (disclosure), made by a public official, of a suspected wrongdoing (disclosable conduct) in the Commonwealth public sector.
Public officials include but are not limited to, current and former:
- Commonwealth public servants
- Service providers under a Commonwealth contract.
What is disclosable conduct
Disclosable conduct, which may be the subject of a PID, includes but is not limited to, conduct that:
- contravenes a law of the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory
- involves corruption
- perverts the course of justice
- results in wastage of public funds or property
- is an abuse of public trust
- unreasonably results in a danger to health and safety or the environment
- falsifies scientific research
- constitutes maladministration
- is an abuse of a public official’s position
- if proved, could give reasonable grounds for termination of the public official.
not disclosable conduct
- Personal work-related conduct (i.e. conduct that relates to interpersonal conflict such as bullying and harassment, or conduct relating to the terms and conditions of engagement and disciplinary action), unless it is a reprisal action or relates to systemic wrongdoing.
- Disagreements with government policy, action or expenditure.
- Conduct in connection with Courts or Commonwealth tribunals.
- The actions of parliamentarians.
- The proper activities of intelligence agencies.
Making a public interest disclosure
You can make your disclosure to an authorised officer (AO) of the Department if you are a:
- current or former Commonwealth public servant
- Commonwealth contractor or
- staff member of a Commonwealth contracted service provider.
You can also make your disclosure to the
You must make a disclosure to an AO of the Department or at the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s office to gain the protections available under the PID Act. If you are a current public official, you can also make a disclosure to an AO through your supervisor.
For information about your options for reporting in unusual circumstances, refer to the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s guide:
Speaking up about wrong doing.
You can make a disclosure to an AO by telephone, or in writing (i.e. by email).
To lodge a disclosure or make an enquiry regarding the Department’s PID process, contact an AO on the contact details below.
1800 572 217 (Australia-wide free phone)
+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 Department if you do)
- if you are concerned about possible reprisal as a result of making your disclosure
- the names (and contact details, wherever possible) of any people who may have witnessed the conduct, who may be able to verify what you are saying, or who were involved in the wrongdoing.
We recommend that you 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 AO.
You should not investigate a matter yourself before making the disclosure. This may hinder any future investigation. You should also not discuss your disclosure with anyone. This will compromise your confidentiality and may increase your risk of reprisal.
You can choose to make an anonymous disclosure. However 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.
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.
The PID Act protects you against reprisal. Under the PID Act it is an offence for any person to cause you any detriment because they suspect or believe you made or will make a public interest disclosure. Detriment includes any disadvantage to you, including:
- discrimination or
- alteration of your position to your disadvantage.
The PID Act does not protect against reprisal if the conduct caused is reasonable administrative action.
You remain liable for your conduct. By making a disclosure, you do not gain immunity from investigation of your own role in any wrongdoing.
The PID Act also protects your identity. It is an offence for someone to disclose your identifying information without your consent. The Department may share information with another agency if the Department considers the information or document is relevant to that agency’s functions.
Protection for witnesses
If you are a witness (i.e. providing assistance by giving information or providing documents in relation to a disclosure), the PID Act offers the same protections against reprisal and immunity from civil, criminal and administrative liability as disclosers. Reprisal includes:
- harm or injury to a person and
- any damage to a person’s property, reputation or business/ financial position.
Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman is responsible for oversight of your complaint and the Public Interest Disclosure scheme. Visit their website to view a series of
guides and fact sheets.
The PID Act can be found on the
Federal Register of Legislation.