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Service Agreement Information Kit for Funded Organisations

3.17.8 Protected Disclosure Act 2012

The Protected Disclosure Act 2012 (external link, opens in new window) provides for the disclosure of improper conduct by public bodies and public officials and the protection for those who come forward with a disclosure. It also provides for the investigation of disclosures that meet the legislative definition of a protected disclosure.

The purposes of the Act are to:

  • encourage and facilitate disclosures of improper conduct by public officers, public bodies and other persons, and of detrimental action taken in reprisal for making a disclosure
  • provide protection for persons who make disclosures and persons who may suffer detrimental action in reprisal for making a disclosure, and
  • provide for the confidentiality of the content of disclosures and the identity of persons who make those disclosures.

The Act recognises that improper or corrupt conduct by employees, officers or other staff within the public sector, or actions that involve reprisals against any person making a protected disclosure, will not be tolerated.

'Improper conduct' is defined as corrupt conduct, or certain ‘specified conduct’ that is not corrupt conduct but that if proved, the conduct would constitute:

  • a criminal offence, or
  • reasonable grounds for dismissing or dispensing with, or otherwise terminating, the services of the officer who was, or is, engaged in that conduct.

Specified conduct is conduct—

(a) of any person that adversely affects the honest performance by a public officer or public body of his or her or its functions as a public officer or public body; or
(b) of a public officer or public body that constitutes or involves the dishonest performance of his or her or its functions as a public officer or public body; or
(c) of a public officer or public body that constitutes or involves knowingly or recklessly  breaching public trust; or
(d) of a public officer or public body that involves the misuse of information or material acquired in the course of the performance of his or her or its functions as a public officer or public body, whether or not for the benefit of the public officer or public body or any other person; or
(e) that could constitute a conspiracy or an attempt to engage in any conduct referred to in paragraph (a), (b), (c) or (d); or
(f) of a public officer or public body in his or her capacity as a public officer or its capacity as a public body that—

(i) involves substantial mismanagement of public resources; or
(ii) involves substantial risk to public health or safety; or
(iii) involves substantial risk to the environment.

Every public body, including departments and their associated statutory authorities, must establish a set of written procedures to facilitate the making of disclosures under the Act, investigate the disclosed matters, and protect the maker of the protected disclosure from reprisals. If your organisation meets the definition of a 'public body' under the Act, your organisation is required to comply with the Act. Public bodies within the meaning of the Act include (but are not limited to):

  • public sector bodies within the meaning of section 4(1) of the Public Administration Act 2004 (external link, opens in a new window) (including the Department of Health and Human Services)
  • bodies, whether corporate or unincorporated, established by or under an Act for a public purpose, including universities
  • bodies that perform a public function on behalf of the State or a public body or public officer (whether under contract or otherwise)
  • any other body or entity prescribed as a public body under the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 or the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission Act 2011.

A copy of the Protected Disclosure Act 2012 (external link, opens in a new window) can be found at Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents website.

The Independent Broad-Based Anti-corruption Commission’s (IBAC) guidelines in relation to the Act are available on the IBAC website (external link, opens in a new window).

Further information on protected disclosures is also available on the former Department of Human Services' Protected Disclosures web page (external link, opens in a new window) or by contacting the Department of Health and Human Services' Manager, Corporate Integrity on 9096 8529.