Public Interest Disclosure

Download PDF

Purpose

The aim of this document is to describe how Australian Hearing will comply with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (PID Act). The PID Act aims to promote integrity and accountability in the Australian Public Sector by encouraging the disclosure of information about actual or suspected wrongdoing, protecting people who make disclosures and ensuring that disclosures are properly investigated and dealt with.

Audience

The audience for this policy is:

  1. current and former Australian Hearing Staff members;
  2. current and former Australian Hearing affiliates. Affiliates include a person associated with Australian Hearing but who is not a staff member. Examples are contractors, consultants, secondees, or students or trainees, and
  3. current and former staff of contracted and subcontracted service providers to Australian Hearing, i.e.:
    – individuals who are contracted or subcontracted to provide goods or services to Australian Hearing when they are entering into or carrying out the contract or subcontract
    – officers and employees of companies that are contracted or subcontracted to provide goods or services to Australian Hearing when the officers and employees are entering into or carrying out the contract or subcontract.

Note: each of the persons described above are known as Public Officials for the purposes of this Policy

Key Message

Australian Hearing supports the aims of the PID Act which promotes integrity and accountability in the Australian Public Sector by encouraging the disclosure of information about actual or suspected wrongdoing, protecting people who make disclosures and ensuring that disclosures are properly investigated and dealt with.

The PID Act established the Public Interest Disclosure Scheme (‘PID Scheme’). Information on the Public Interest Disclosure Scheme can be accessed via the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s website.

Date Published: 1 June 2014

  1. Purpose
  2. Scope
    1. What can be disclosed under the PID Scheme?
    2. What protections are provided to a discloser under the PID Act?
    3. Who can make a PID under the Australian Hearing PID Scheme?
    4. How can a PID be made?
    5. How will a PID be managed?
    6. What if I am not satisfied with the handling of my disclosure?
  3. Allocations from other Commonwealth agencies
  4. More information
  5. Responsibilities & Incumbents
  6. Review for this Procedure
  7. Definitions and Abbreviations

1 Purpose

The aim of this document is to describe the way in which Australian Hearing complies with the requirements of the PID Act.

Back to top

2 Scope

2.1 What can be disclosed under the PID Scheme?

A Public Interest Disclosure (PID) may be made about information that a discloser believes on reasonable grounds tends to show ‘disclosable conduct’ engaged in by:

  • a Commonwealth agency (such as Australian Hearing);
  • a Public Official, in connection with his or her position as a Public Official; or
  • a service provider that Australian Hearing has entered into a contract or relationship with.

‘Disclosable conduct’ includes conduct which:

  • breaks a law
  • is corrupt
  • perverts the course of justice
  • results in wastage of public funds
  • is an abuse of public trust or position
  • is maladministration, including conduct that is unjust, oppressive or negligent
  • unreasonably endangers health and safety or endangers the environment
  • is misconduct relating to scientific research, analysis or advice (e.g. falsifying scientific research)

Back to top

2.2 What protections are provided to a discloser under the PID Act?

The PID Act imposes duties on Australian Hearing in relation to the way it handles and investigates disclosures about ‘disclosable conduct’. Public Officials who make a PID are immune from civil, criminal and administrative liability (including disciplinary action) that might otherwise arise from making the disclosure. They will also be entitled to certain levels of protection from having their identity disclosed without their consent and protection from threats of reprisal and actual reprisal.

To gain these protections the discloser must comply with the requirements of the PID Act. If a Public Official makes a disclosure to someone who is not authorised to receive it, the public official may not be protected by the PID Act.

Back to top

2.3 Who can make a PID under the Australian Hearing PID Scheme?

Public Officials, which include:

  • current and former Australian Hearing staff members,
  • current and former Australian Hearing affiliates. Affiliates include a person associated with Australian Hearing but who is not a staff member. Examples are contractors, consultants, secondees or students or trainees, and
  • current and former staff of contracted and subcontracted service providers to Australian Hearing, i.e.:
    – individuals who are contracted or subcontracted to provide goods or services to Australian Hearing when they are entering into or carrying out the contract or subcontract
    – officers and employees of companies that are contracted or subcontracted to provide goods or services to Australian Hearing when the officers and employees are entering into or carrying out the contract or subcontract.

Back to top

2.4 How can a PID be made?

It may be made in writing (addressed to an Australian Hearing PID Authorised Officer or by email to PID@hearing.com.au or orally.

In order to be covered by the legal provisions of the PID Act, a public interest disclosure can only be made to Australian Hearing’s PID authorised officers. These are:

Alternatively, for people currently working at Australian Hearing, disclosures may also be made to their Manager. Your disclosure should contain as much information as possible to assist a decision to be made on an appropriate investigation. Ideally, this would include:

  • your name and contact details
  • the nature of the disclosable conduct
  • who you think committed the disclosable conduct
  • when and where the disclosable conduct occurred
  • relevant events surrounding the issue
  • if you did anything in response to the disclosable conduct
  • others who know about the disclosable conduct and may have allowed it to continue
  • names of any people who witnessed what happened or who may be able to verify what you are saying
  • if you are concerned about possible reprisals as a result of making the disclosure
  • information (such as supporting correspondence or other documents including file notes or a diary of events) you have to support the disclosure.

Public Officials may remain anonymous, however this will reduce an investigator’s ability to investigate the matter, and the outcomes of the disclosure or investigation may not be able to be reported back to the discloser. If you advise that you wish to remain anonymous, the PID Authorised Officer will make all endeavours to keep your contact details and identifying information confidential.

You may also make an emergency disclosure if you reasonably believe there is a substantial and imminent danger to health, safety or the environment.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman’s website provides further information on making a disclosure.

Back to top

2.5 How will a PID be managed?

All disclosures will be handled confidentially. Identifying information will only be used for the purposes of the PID Act (including the investigation) unless you consent to some additional use.

Within 14 days after you make a disclosure, an Australian Hearing PID Authorised Officer will communicate to you whether the disclosure will remain with Australian Hearing for handling, or the reasons why your disclosure has not been allocated for further action.

If your disclosure is allocated to Australian Hearing for action, an Australian Hearing PID Authorised Officer will advise you of estimated time for the investigation of the disclosed conduct.

Investigations must be completed within 90 days unless the Ombudsman grants an extension. If the disclosed conduct will not be investigated, an Australian Hearing PID Authorised Officer will provide reasons and suggest other courses of action that might be available.

The investigation, if any, will be conducted in accordance with the PID Act. You may be contacted if more information is required, and you will be provided with a copy of the investigation report. The investigation report may be reviewed and redacted by Australian Hearing prior to its release to you to address confidentiality and privacy requirements

Back to top

2.6 What if I am not satisfied with the handling of my disclosure?

If you are not satisfied with the handling of your disclosure, you may complain to the Commonwealth Ombudsman about a decision not to allocate or investigate your disclosure or about the way that your disclosure has been handled or investigated. If your concern satisfies specific conditions, you may also make an external public interest disclosure. To make an external public interest disclosure (other than an emergency disclosure), you must first make an internal disclosure (e.g. through the Australian Hearing PID Scheme). In addition, it must not be contrary to the public interest to make an external public interest disclosure. In addition, the investigation must have exceeded the time limit, or you reasonably believe that the investigation or its outcome was inadequate.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman’s website provides further information on making an external or emergency disclosure.

Back to top

3 Allocations from other Commonwealth agencies

Other Commonwealth agencies who propose to allocate a public interest disclosure to Australian Hearing should first contact an Australian Hearing PID Authorized Internal Recipient at PID@hearing.com.au

Back to top

4 More information

For more information about the PID Act see “Speaking up about Wrongdoing: A guide to making a disclosure under the PID Act” published by the Commonwealth Ombudsman. Further information, including information sheets and guides, can also be obtained from the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s website.

Back to top

5 Responsibilities & Incumbents

Document Controller: Head of Legal and Procurement
Document Owner / Reviewer: Head of Legal and Procurement
Document Champion: Chief Operating Officer and Company Secretary

Back to top

6 Reviews for this Procedure

12 monthly

Back to top

7 Definitions and Abbreviations

Australian Hearing PID Authorized Officer: Refer to paragraph 2.4 of this Policy
Commonwealth Ombudsman: Refer to the Commonwealth Government’s website www.ombudsman.gov.au
Disclosable conduct: Refer to paragraph 2.1 of this Policy
PID Act: means the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 which aims to promote integrity and accountability in the Australian Public Sector by encouraging the disclosure of information about actual or suspected wrongdoing, protecting people who make disclosures and ensuring that disclosures are properly investigated and dealt with.
Public Interest Disclosure: means a disclosure concerning disclosable conduct made in accordance with this Policy.
Public Interest Disclosure Scheme: means the disclosure regime set up under the PID Act.
Public Officials: means a person entitled to make a public interest disclosure, refer to paragraph 2.3 of this Policy.

Back to top