The purpose of this circular is to advise agencies about the effect of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (PID Act) on the APS whistleblowing scheme. The APS whistleblowing scheme is set out in section 16 of the Public Service Act 1999 (Public Service Act) and Division 2.2 of the Public Service Regulations 1999 (the Regulations).
The PID Act received royal assent on 15 July 2013 and will come into operation no later than 16 January 2014. The legislation creates a public interest disclosure scheme that promotes internal reporting of suspected wrongdoing in public sector agencies by providing a framework and protections for public officials who make qualifying disclosures under the scheme. The jurisdiction of the public interest disclosure scheme extends beyond the APS.
The Commonwealth Ombudsman (and the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security for intelligence agencies) has responsibility for overseeing the scheme, and further information about the scheme will be published on the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s website as it becomes available. The most recent advice can be found on the Ombudsman's website.
What should agencies do in the meantime?
The PID Act repeals section 16 of the Public Service Act. However, the changes to the APS whistleblowing framework made by the Public Service Amendment Act 2013 and the related changes to the Regulations which commenced on 1 July 2013 will remain in place until the PID Act comes into effect in January 2014.
The Australian Public Service Commission (the Commission) has developed a series of advices to assist APS agencies to understand the changes that came into effect on 1 July 2013. The advices are available on the Circulars and advices page of the Commission’s website.
Advice 2013/8: Legislative changes affecting whistleblowing in the APS informs agencies of changes to the APS whistleblowing framework in the Public Service Act and the Regulations and the action that agencies will need to take to implement the changes.
The Public Service Act 1999, the Public Service Regulations 1999 and the Australian Public Service Commissioner’s Directions 2013 are available on the Comlaw website.
This circular should be read in conjunction with:
The Commonwealth Ombudsman may be contacted at ombudsman [at] ombudsman.gov.au or by telephone on 1300 362 072.
APS employees who have queries about how the changes will affect them are asked to contact the HR area in their agency.
Group Manager, Ethics
Australian Public Service Commission