What is a Protected Disclosure?
A Protected Disclosure is a complaint of corrupt or improper conduct by a public officer or body.
‘Corrupt’ or ‘improper conduct’ must be distinguished from a complaint which would be considered to be routine in the normal course of business. Protected Disclosures relate to conduct that is so serious that the conduct would result in the dismissal or termination of an officer’s employment or would constitute a criminal offence punishable by a jail term.
A ‘whistleblower’ is a person who makes a disclosure under the Protected Disclosure Act.
What is the Protected Disclosure Act?
The Protected Disclosure Act, 2012 enables people to make disclosures about corrupt or improper conduct within the public sector without fear of reprisal. The Act aims to ensure openness and accountability by encouraging people to make disclosures and protecting them when they do.
How does Hepburn Shire Council treat Protected Disclosures?
Hepburn Shire Council does not tolerate corrupt or improper conduct by its employees, officers or members, nor the taking of reprisals against those who come forward to disclosure such conduct.
Employees and members of the public are encouraged to report known or suspected incidences of corrupt or improper conduct.
Hepburn Shire Council will take all reasonable steps to protect people who make disclosures without the fear of reprisal or detrimental action.
Hepburn Shire Council will also afford natural justice to the person who is the subject of the disclosure.
How Does Hepburn Shire Council protect persons making a ‘Protected Disclosure’?
All correspondence, phone calls and emails from persons making disclosures are kept confidential by the staff member receiving the disclosure. Council takes all necessary steps to ensure that the identity of the person making a protected disclosure and the person who is the subject of the disclosure are kept confidential.
Where necessary, the Protected Disclosure Coordinator will arrange for appropriate welfare support for the person making a protected disclosure. Reprisals or detrimental actions are also not permitted in relation to the person making a disclosure, and steps are in place to prevent that from happening.
What If I Want to Make a ‘Protected Disclosure’?
Disclosures may be made by employees or by members of the public and may be made orally, in writing, electronically or by post.
Protected Disclosures may relate to corrupt or improper conduct by:
- The Council
- Employees of Council
Hepburn Shire Council can only receive disclosures that relate to Hepburn Shire Council staff, officers and councillors.
Who Do I Contact?
Disclosures must be made to:
- Council’s Protected Disclosures Coordinator, Chief Executive Officer or or any supervisor or manager of the a staff member whi is the subject of the disclosure OR
- The Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC) OR
- The Victorian Ombudsman
Protected Disclosure Coordinator
Hepburn Shire Council
PO Box 21
Daylesford Victoria 3460
Phone: (03) 5321 6407
Disclosures may also be made directly to IBAC or the Victorian Ombudsman:
Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC)
Address: GPO Box 24234, Melbourne Victoria 3000
Phone:1300 735 135
Level 9 North Tower
459 Collins Street
MELBOURNE VIC 3000
Telephone 0396136222 or 1800806314
Any disclosures about Councillors must be directed to IBAC.
What Happens Next?
If it is believed that the disclosure is a Protected Disclosure, Hepburn Shire Council will refer the matter to IBAC for assessment and investigation. The person making the disclosure will be kept informed of action taken in relation to his or her disclosure, and the time frames that apply.
Alternatives to making a ‘Protected Disclosure’
These procedures are designed to complement normal methods of submitting complaints to Hepburn Shire Council and existing communication channels between supervisors and employees.
Members of the public are encouraged to contact Council with any complaints or concerns about Council or Council employees.