M2011-12 Strengthening Whistleblower Protections

Status: current

The Government is committed to continually improving the integrity of public sector administration and protecting public officials who make disclosures about wrongdoing in the public sector.

The Protected Disclosures Act 1994, which has been renamed the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994 (Act), sets out a comprehensive framework for protecting public officials who disclose wrongdoing in accordance with the Act.

The purpose of any protected disclosures system is to promote integrity and to enable agencies to fix problems. Those who work for an agency are often the best placed to identify and report problems. It is therefore in the public interest, and in the agency’s interests, that members of staff are encouraged to come forward with information of this kind, and are supported when they do so.

Legislative changes to strengthen protections for public officials who disclose wrongdoing will take effect on 1 July 2011.

These changes apply to all public authorities which include:

  • State Government agencies;
  • local councils;
  • state-owned corporations;
  • universities; and
  • Parliamentary Departments.

Public authorities will need to ensure that they:

  • are aware of the changes and make sure staff throughout the organisation are aware;
  • operate in accordance with the new strengthened procedures that apply from 1 July 2011; and
  • adopt a policy for receiving, assessing and dealing with protected disclosures by 1 October 2011.

The Ombudsman has established a new team, the Public Interest Disclosures Unit, to help agencies by providing education, advice and assistance. Additional information about the legislative changes is available at www.ombo.nsw.gov.au or email pid@ombo.nsw.gov.au

All Government agencies (if they have not already done so) should nominate a person who will have responsibility for implementing the changes, and forward their name and contact information to the Ombudsman.

It would be appreciated if Ministers could ensure that this memorandum is brought to the attention of all Government agencies within their portfolios.

Barry O’Farrell MP

Issued: Department of Premier and Cabinet
Contact: Catherine Chang, Principal Legal Officer, Legal Branch
Email: catherine.chang@dpc.nsw.gov.au
Telephone: (02) 9228 5545  
Date:  29 June 2011

This Memorandum has not superseded any other Memoranda