Protected disclosure

Protected disclosure (formerly known as Whistleblower Protection)

Reporting improper conduct

The Protected Disclosure Act 2012 encourages and assists people in making disclosures of improper conduct by public officers and public bodies. The Act provides protection to people who make disclosures about improper conduct in the public sector without fear of reprisal. These disclosures are called 'protected disclosures'.

Anyone can make a protected disclosure against the Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT). This includes employees and members of the public.

The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) has responsibility for receiving and investigating disclosures. These procedures explain how to make a protected disclosure about VIT to IBAC and how VIT protects people who make protected disclosures.

The VIT does not tolerate improper conduct by employees, or the taking of reprisals against those who come forward to disclose such conduct. It is committed to ensuring transparency and accountability in its administrative and management practices and supports the making of disclosures that reveal corrupt conduct, conduct involving a substantial mismanagement of public resources, or conduct involving a substantial risk to public health and safety or the environment.

The VIT does not tolerate detrimental action against those who make, or co-operate with, protected disclosures about VIT. The VIT will take all reasonable steps to protect people who make such disclosures from any detrimental action in reprisal for making the disclosure.

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What is a protected disclosure?

The Protected Disclosure Act creates a framework for dealing with protected disclosures and the people who make them; its purpose is to:

  • encourage and assist people to make a disclosure of improper conduct and detrimental action by public officers and public bodies
  • provide certain protections for people who make a disclosure, or those who may suffer detrimental action in reprisal for a disclosure
  • ensure that certain information about a disclosure is kept confidential – the identity of the person making the disclosure, and the content of that disclosure.

A protected disclosure is a report made by a person about improper conduct of public bodies or public officers performing public functions.

  • Improper conduct includes corrupt conduct, the dishonest performance of public functions, knowingly or recklessly breaching public trust, misuse of information, substantial mismanagement of public resources or conduct involving substantial risk to public health or safety, or to the environment.

A protected disclosure can also be made about detrimental action against a person by public bodies or public officers in reprisal for the making of a protected disclosure.

  • is actual or threatened adverse treatment of a person because the person made or intends to make a disclosure, or has cooperated, or intends to cooperate, with an investigation of a disclosure.

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How to make a protected disclosure

Who can make a disclosure?

A disclosure can be made by an individual or group of individuals. A disclosure cannot be made by a business or a company.

What can I make a disclosure about?

Improper conduct engaged in, and / or detrimental action taken by, public bodies or public officers performing public functions. This includes VIT and / or its officers.

You may make a protected disclosure about information that shows / tends to show or that you believe on reasonable grounds shows / tends to show:

  • a person, public officer or public body;
  • is engaging in, or proposing to engage in;
  • 'improper conduct' and / or 'detrimental action'.

The conduct you are disclosing must be the performance of a person or body's function as a public officer or public body.

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Who can I make a disclosure to?

If you wish to make a protected disclosure about VIT or any VIT employee, you must make the disclosure directly to Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC):

Under the Protected Disclosure Act, VIT cannot receive disclosures about VIT or its employees that alleges improper conduct or detrimental action. Employees of VIT and members of the public can make disclosures directly to IBAC:

Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC)
Level 1, North Tower, 459 Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000
GPO Box 24234, Melbourne, VIC 3001
Phone: 1300 735 135
Fax: (03) 8635 6444
Website: www.ibac.vic.gov.au

IBAC can also be contacted through the National Relay Service (NRS).

  • TTY users phone 1800 555 677 then ask for 1300 735 135
  • Speak and Listen users phone 1800 555 727 then ask for 1300 735 135
  • Internet relay users connect to the NRS then ask for 1300 735 135.

See IBAC's website for more information on making a protected disclosure.

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How do I make a disclosure?

You may make a disclosure to IBAC:

  • in person
  • in writing (including by using IBACs complaint forms on their website)
  • by telephone (including by leaving a voicemail message)
  • by email.

You may not make a protected disclosure by fax.

You may make a disclosure anonymously.

Welfare management

The VIT is committed to ensuring the welfare of those who make, or co-operate with, protected disclosures. As VIT cannot receive protected disclosures under the Protected Disclosure Act, VIT may not be aware someone has made a protected disclosure about VIT.

IBAC will only notify VIT of a protected disclosure made about VIT if it decides it is necessary. If IBAC does notify VIT of the identity of a discloser, or someone cooperating with an investigation, such notifications are confidential and VIT is responsible for providing that person with reasonable welfare support.

Where relevant, VIT will consider appointing a welfare manager when a person has made a protected disclosure or is cooperating, or intending to cooperate, with an investigation of a protected disclosure.

A welfare manager is responsible for:

  • examining the discloser and / or witness' immediate welfare and protection needs and, where that person is an employee, fostering a supportive work environment;
  • providing practical advice and support;
  • advising the discloser and / or witness of the protections available under the Act;
  • receiving and responding to any disclosures of detrimental action in reprisal for making the disclosure (e.g. harassment, intimidation or victimisation);
  • ensuring that the discloser and / or witness' expectations of the process and outcomes are realistic
  • maintaining confidentiality; and
  • operating discreetly to protect the discloser and / or witness from being identified as being involved in a protected disclosure.

In determining whether to appoint a welfare management in any particular case, VIT will consider:

  • whether the disclosure has proceeded, or is likely to proceed, to an investigation;
  • whether there are any real risks of detrimental action against the persons involved, taking into account their particular circumstances;
  • whether the VIT can provide effective support to the persons involved, including keeping them informed of the progress of the disclosure; and
  • whether it is within VIT 's power to protect the person/s involved from suffering repercussions.

The VIT may appoint an internal person as welfare manager or engage a contractor to provide welfare services. The VIT will also consider referring an employee to its Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

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Criminal offences

There are a number of offences set out in the Protected Disclosure Act relating to breaches of the requirements of the Act.

The four key offences to be aware of are:

  1. It is an offence to take detrimental action against another person in reprisal for a protected disclosure.
  2. It is an offence to disclose the content, or information about the content, of a disclosure that has been notified to IBAC or information which is likely to lead to the identification of the person who made that disclosure unless permitted to by the Act.
  3. It is an offence for any person to:\
    1. provide false or misleading information, or further information that relates to a protected disclosure, that the person knows to be false or misleading in a material particular, intending that the information be acted on as a protected disclosure;
    2. claim that a matter is the subject of a protected disclosure knowing the claim to be false; and
    3. falsely claim that a matter is the subject of a disclosure that IBAC has determined to be a protected disclosure complaint.
  4. It is an offence for any person to:
    1. disclose that a disclosure has been notified to IBAC for assessment unless permitted to do so by the Act; and
    2. disclose that a disclosure has been determined to be a protected disclosure complaint unless permitted to do so by the Act.
      1. These procedures are designed to complement usual methods of submitting complaints to the VIT.
      2. Members of the public are encouraged to communicate complaints or concerns with the services provided by the VIT. More information on how to make a complaint is available under Our service standards.
      3. Employees are encouraged to raise matters with their supervisors and managers at any time.

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Co-operation with IBAC

The VIT co-operates with IBAC. This includes facilitating any review of these procedures by IBAC; responding – where required – to recommendations made by IBAC; and providing assistance to IBAC or any other external investigations.

Reporting

The VIT must provide information about how to access these procedures in its annual report.

Review

These procedures are reviewed regularly to ensure they meet the objectives of the Protected Disclosure Act and are consistent with IBAC's guidelines.

The responsible officer

Any enquiry about this document or protected disclosure generally may be directed to Geoff Coates, Manager Governance, email: geoff.coates@vit.vic.edu.au