Public interest disclosure policy

Small boats and the jetty at Flinders

1. Purpose

The purpose of the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2012 ('Act') and this policy is to encourage and facilitate the making of disclosures of improper conduct by public officers and public bodies, including Sustainability Victoria (‘SV’), its staff and Board members.

2. Scope

A person (i.e. not an organisation or company) may make a disclosure under the Act. The person may come from within SV, or any member of the public.

A disclosure can be made about public officers and public bodies, including SV, its staff and Board members. Certain protections are provided to a person who makes a public interest disclosure.

3. Background

On 10 February 2013, the Protected Disclosure Act 2012 came into operation, replacing the Whistleblowers Protection Act 2001. The Protected Disclosure Act 2012 was updated on 1 January 2020 and is now called the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2012.

SV is a public body subject to the Act, but is not authorised to receive a public interest disclosure. Any disclosure about SV must be made directly to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (‘IBAC’).

4. Definitions

Act means the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2012.

IBAC means the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission.

Public Interest Disclosure Procedures means the procedures established by SV to facilitate and encourage the making of disclosures under the Act, and how SV will manage the welfare of persons connected with public interest disclosures, as required under the Act.

SV means Sustainability Victoria.

5. Legislation

Public Interest Disclosures Act 2012

6. Policy Statement

SV is committed to the aims and objectives of the Act. It recognises the value of transparency and accountability in its administrative and management practices, and supports the making of disclosures that reveal improper conduct. It does not tolerate improper conduct by the organisation, its employees, officers or Board members, nor the taking of detrimental action in reprisal against those who come forward to disclose such conduct.

7. What can disclosures be made about?

Disclosures may be made about 'improper conduct' on the part of a public body or its staff and Board members. Disclosures may also be made about 'detrimental action' taken (or suspected to be taken) in reprisal or in connection with a disclosure made about improper conduct.

The conduct or action being disclosed may have taken place, still be occurring, or may be believed to have occurred or be occurring.

The Act provides definitions about improper conduct and detrimental action. For more information about what those terms mean, see SV's Public Interest Disclosure Procedures (see further below 'how to make a disclosure' about how to access or obtain a copy of those procedures).

8. Who can make a disclosure?

Any individual (i.e. not an organisation or company) may make a disclosure under the Act. The individual could be a person within SV or any member of the public.

Disclosures may be made in a number of ways set out in the Act, including anonymously, in writing or verbally. A discloser need not identify the person or body about whom the disclosure is made.

9. How to make a disclosure

SV is not permitted to receive disclosures made under the Act. Therefore, if you wish to make a disclosure about SV, its officers, Board members or employees, you will need to make that disclosure directly to the IBAC. If SV believes a disclosure may be a public interest disclosure made in accordance with the Act, it will ask you to make that disclosure to the IBAC. The IBAC will deal with the disclosure.

10. Role of SV

It is important to note that the IBAC is not required to contact SV about any disclosure you make so you should not discuss any disclosure you make to the IBAC with SV or any person in SV unless you have first obtained the permission of the IBAC to do so, or unless the IBAC has directed you to do so, or the IBAC has contacted SV to provide it with information in order to allow SV to provide you with any necessary welfare and support.

As required under the Act, SV has established procedures to facilitate and encourage the making of disclosures under the Act, and how SV will manage the welfare of persons connected with public interest disclosures. SV's Public Interest Disclosure Procedures are available at www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/About-us/Legal-and-policies/Public-Interest-Disclosure-Procedures or by inspection during normal office hours of SV at Level 28, 50 Lonsdale Street Melbourne.

If you are not able to access an online copy or would like a copy sent to you, please contact the Public Interest Disclosure Coordinator on 8626 8700 or info@sustainability.vic.gov.au so we can provide you a copy of our Public Interest Disclosure Procedures.

11. Confidentiality

SV 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 public interest 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.

12. For more information

For more information about protected disclosures or the Victorian integrity system generally, also see https://www.ibac.vic.gov.au/reporting-corruption/public-interest-disclosures.

In addition, you can find out more information about our general complaints handling process from:

SV Customer Service Officer
Sustainability Victoria
Level 28, 50 Lonsdale Street
Melbourne 3000

or by email at feedback@sustainability.vic.gov.au.