Public Interest Disclosures

The Public Interest Disclosure (PID) scheme promotes the reporting and investigation of allegations of serious wrongdoing in the Commonwealth public sector.

Public Interest Disclosure Act (PID Act)

The PID Act removes barriers that prevent people who work in the public sector from speaking up about serious problems by:

  • encouraging and facilitating the disclosure of information by public officials about suspected wrongdoing in the public sector
  • making sure public interest disclosers are supported and protected from negative consequences
  • making sure disclosures by public officials are properly investigated and dealt with.

Suspected wrongdoing may include conduct that:

  • contravenes a law
  • is corrupt
  • perverts the course of justice
  • results in a wastage of public funds or property
  • is an abuse of public trust
  • unreasonably endangers health and safety or endangers the environment
  • is maladministration, including conduct that is unjust, oppressive or negligent
  • is an abuse of a public official’s position
  • if proven, could give reasonable grounds for disciplinary action resulting in termination of the official’s engagement or employment.

Public interest disclosures are about matters where investigation and correction is in the public interest. This does not include personal work-related conduct or disagreements with government policy or expenditure.

Making a public interest disclosure

Public interest disclosures can be made by a public official. This includes:

  • any person who is, or was, employed by the Australian Government
  • individuals employed by any Commonwealth companies, authorities and statutory agencies, the Parliamentary service, statutory officeholders
  • service providers under contract to the Commonwealth and anyone employed by them.

Public interest disclosures can be made verbally or in writing:

  • by an employee to their supervisor
  • to an Authorised Officer
  • by email
  • in very limited circumstances, to a person outside the government other than a foreign official.

You can also report anonymously, however:

  • we cannot ensure you are protected from reprisal
  • it can make further investigation difficult
  • we cannot provide you with updates on the progress of the investigation.

Contact us

Services Australia Authorised Officers can be contacted by email.

Protections under the PID Act

If you make a disclosure you will:

  • not be subject to any civil, criminal or administrative liability for making a disclosure, unless the disclosure is knowingly false or misleading or a designated publication restriction is contravened without reasonable excuse
  • have no contractual or other remedy enforced or sanction imposed on you on the basis of making the disclosure
  • have absolute privilege for the purposes of defamation proceedings in respect of the public interest disclosure
  • not have a contract to which you are a party terminated on the basis of the disclosure
  • have your identity protected.

Information required when making a 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
  • contact details for anyone else who is aware of the wrongdoing and has allowed it to continue
  • whether you believe the information is a public interest disclosure under the PID Act. However, it does not need to be described this way for it to be treated as a public interest disclosure
  • if you are concerned about possible reprisal as a result of making a disclosure.

More information

You can read more about Public Interest Disclosure on the Commonwealth Ombudsman website.

Page last updated: 28 June 2024.
QC 25256