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Protected Disclosures (Whistleblowers)

Protected Disclosures Act 2012

In February 2013, new legislation was implemented by the State Government to introduce integrity reforms in Victoria. The reforms include the creation of the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC), a body established to promote integrity and accountability across the Victorian public sector, the Victorian Inspectorate, whose role is to oversee both the IBAC and the Ombudsman, and the new Accountability and Oversight Parliamentary Committee which has oversight over the Ombudsman.

The former Whistleblowers Protection Act 2001 was repealed and replaced with the Protected Disclosure Act 2012 (the Act). The Protected Disclosure Act 2012 enables people to make disclosures about improper conduct within the public sector without fear of reprisal. The Act aims to ensure openness and accountability by encouraging people to make disclosures and protecting them when they do.

What is a 'Protected Disclosure'?
A Protected Disclosure is a complaint of corrupt or improper conduct by a public officer or body.

How does Council treat 'Protected Disclosures'?
Council does not tolerate corrupt or improper conduct by the organisation, its employees, officers, members, Councillors nor the taking of reprisals against those who come forward to disclose such conduct.
Employees and members of the public are encouraged to report known or suspected incidences of corrupt or improper conduct.

Council will take all reasonable steps to protect people who make such disclosures from any detrimental action in reprisal for making the disclosure. It will also afford natural justice to the person or body who is the subject of the disclosure.

How do I make a 'Protected Disclosure'?
Protected Disclosures may be made by employees or by members of the public.
Part 2 of the Act provides that a person may make a disclosure:
 - Orally;
 - In writing;
 - Electronically; or
 - Anonymously

Protected Disclosures may relate to corrupt or improper conduct by:
 - The organisation
 - Employees
 - Councillors

Council can only address disclosures that relate to our organisation and our employees. Protected Disclosures about Councillors must be addressed by IBAC.

How will Council protect a person making a 'Protected Disclosure'?
Council will take all reasonable steps to protect a person who makes a protected disclosure.
All correspondence, phone calls and emails from persons making a protected disclosure are referred to the Protected Disclosure Coordinator.

The Protected Disclosure Coordinator will take all necessary steps to ensure that the identity of the person making a protected disclosure and the person who is subject of the disclosure are kept confidential. Where necessary, the Protected Disclosure Coordinator will arrange for appropriate welfare support for the person making a protected disclosure.

Who do I contact?

Warrnambool City Council
Disclosures should be made to the Protected Disclosures Coordinator:

Ms Anne-Maree Neal
Postal Address: Warrnambool City Council, 25 Liebig Street, Warrnambool, 3280
Email: aneal@warrnambool.vic.gov.au
Direct phone: (03) 5559 4404
Mobile: 0407 525 401

Alternative Contacts
Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC)
Address: IBAC, GP Box 24234, Melbourne Victoria 3000
Internet: www.ibac.vic.gov.au
Phone: 1300 735 135
Note: All disclosures about Councillors should be directed to IBAC.

Victorian Ombudsman
Level 9, North Tower
459 Collins Street
Melbourne Victoria 3000
Telephone: 03 9613 6222
Toll free: 1800 806 314
Email: ombudvic@ombudsman.vic.gov.au

What happens next?
Once it is determined that the complaint is a Protected Disclosure, Council will investigate the matter. The person making the complaint will be kept informed of action taken in relation to their disclosure, and the time frames that apply.

Alternatives to making a 'Protected Disclosure'?
These procedures are designed to complement normal methods of submitting complaints to Council and existing communication channels between supervisors and employees. Members of the public are encouraged to contact Council with any complaints or concerns about council or council employees.

For more information
In accordance with Section 58 of the Protected Disclosures Act, Council is required to have available a Protected Disclosure Procudure to support the reporting of disclosures of improper conduct and response to detrimental action taken by Council or its employees, Councillors, officers or members.

Download the Protected Disclosure Procedure from the Relevant Files section at the top of this page

IBAC Guidelines
For further information and guidance on the new legislation or any other matters, please refer to the IBAC Protected Disclosure Interim Guidelines and the IBAC website linked to this page.

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