Public Interest Disclosure Act

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (PID Act) is a legislative scheme for the reporting and investigation of suspected wrongdoing in the Commonwealth public sector. The scheme supplements existing avenues for dealing with complaints and allegations of misconduct.

Who can make a public interest disclosure?

You must be a current or former public official to make a disclosure under the PID Act.

Public official is a broad term which includes:

  • public servants (ongoing, non-ongoing and casual)
  • parliamentary service employees
  • service providers under contract to the Commonwealth (including their employees who work on the contract)
  • statutory office holders
  • staff of Commonwealth companies
  • temporary employees engaged through a recruitment agency.

What type of wrongdoing can be reported?

You can disclose information that you believe on reasonable grounds tends to show disclosable conduct. In general, this means conduct by a Commonwealth agency, public official (in connection with their position) or a contracted Commonwealth service provider (in connection with entering into, or giving effect to the Commonwealth contract) that:

  • contravenes a law
  • is corrupt
  • perverts the course of justice
  • is maladministration, including conduct that is unreasonable, unjust, oppressive or negligent
  • is an abuse of public trust
  • results in a wastage of public funds or property
  • unreasonably endangers health and safety or endangers the environment, or
  • could, if proved, give rise to disciplinary action.

Disagreement with government policy, action or expenditure does not constitute disclosable conduct.

How can a public interest disclosure be made?

Public interest disclosures can be made openly or anonymously, orally or in writing, to an authorised officer under the PID Act.

There are a number of departmental officers, including AGS officers, that have been appointed as authorised officers under the PID Act for the Attorney-General’s Department, of which AGS is a part.

To email your public interest disclosure or request assistance in making a disclosure, contact the department's PID Contact Officer by emailing PID@ag.gov.au.

Alternatively, you can send your public interest disclosure to:

Public Interest Disclosure Contact Officer
c/- Attorney-General's Department
3-5 National Circuit
BARTON ACT 2600

A current public official may also make a public interest disclosure to their supervisor who must pass it on to an authorised officer.

If you make a public interest disclosure, your identity and contact details, as well as the content of your public interest disclosure, will be protected in accordance with the PID Act.

If you wish to remain anonymous this should be clearly stated in your public interest disclosure. You should be aware that in these circumstances:

  • it would make further consideration of your disclosure difficult as we would not be able to contact you to seek any necessary additional information
  • we would not be able to update you on the progress of the matter.

Protections offered under the PID Act

If you make a disclosure under the PID Act:

  • you cannot be made subject to any criminal, civil or administrative liability, or action for breach of contract, provided that you do not disclose the wrongdoing to someone who is not authorised to receive it – i.e. to someone other than an authorised officer or your supervisor – or knowingly make a statement that is false or misleading
  • a person cannot take or threaten to take an action against you because you made a disclosure – otherwise they will be potentially subject to criminal penalty
  • unless you consent to your identity being disclosed, your identity will be kept confidential as far as practicable.

Information required when making a public interest disclosure

You should provide as much information as possible, including:

  • your name and contact details (unless you wish to remain anonymous)
  • the nature of the wrongdoing
  • who committed the wrongdoing
  • when and where the wrongdoing occurred
  • relevant background information and events
  • if anything has been done in response to the wrongdoing
  • if you are concerned about possible reprisal as a result of making a disclosure.

More information

More information on the PID Act is available from the Commonwealth Ombudsman's website.