Public Interest Disclosure Scheme

Last updated: 24 Apr 2018

This page is: current

Public Interest Disclosure

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (PID Act) commenced on 15 January 2014. The legislation creates a public interest disclosure scheme that promotes integrity and accountability in the Australian public sector. It does this by:

  • encouraging and facilitating the disclosure of information by public officials about suspected wrongdoing in the public sector
  • ensuring that public officials who make public interest disclosures are supported and protected from adverse consequences
  • ensuring that disclosures by public officials are properly investigated and dealt with.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman (and the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security for intelligence agencies) has responsibility for the PID Scheme and further information is available at www.ombudsman.gov.au/pages/pid/.

What classifies as a disclosure

A disclosure is information that tends to show, or that the public official reasonably believes tends to show, disclosable conduct. Disclosable conduct is conduct engaged in by an agency, public official or contracted service provider. Types of conduct include:

  • illegal conduct
  • corruption
  • maladministration
  • abuse of public trust
  • deception relating to scientific research
  • wastage of public money
  • unreasonable danger to health and safety or to the environment.

Disclosable conduct excludes conduct if it relates only to a policy or proposed policy of the Commonwealth Government and/or associated expenditure, or action taken, or proposed to be taken by a Minister, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, or the President of the Senate.

Who can make a disclosure

A disclosure can be made by a current or former public official. This includes public servants (ongoing, non-ongoing and casual) and parliamentary service employees, service providers under a Commonwealth contract, statutory office holders, staff of Commonwealth companies and temporary employees engaged through a recruitment agency. A public official also includes any other person deemed by the authorised officer to be a public official for the purposes of the PID Act.

Please note that a disclosure can be made only if the information was obtained during the period in which the individual was a public official.