A checklist for making a public interest disclosure
If you have information about wrongdoing in the public sector, follow these steps to decide if it could be a public interest disclosure and how to report the wrongdoing.
Step 1: Is this a public interest disclosure?
Under the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2010, only some kinds of information are 'public interest disclosures'.
Any person, including a public sector employee, can make a public interest disclosure about:
- danger to the health or safety of a person with a disability
- danger to the environment caused by commission of an offence or contravention of a condition in certain environmental legislation
- reprisal after making a public interest disclosure.
A public sector officer can also make a public interest disclosure about:
- corrupt conduct
- maladministration that adversely affects someone’s interests in a substantial and specific way
- a substantial misuse of public resources
- a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety
- a substantial and specific danger to the environment.
Find out more about 'what is a public interest disclosure'.
Step 2: Who can I make a public interest disclosure to?
You can make a public interest disclosure to:
- the public sector agency in which the wrongdoing has occurred
- a public sector agency that has the power to investigate the wrongdoing
- the Crime and Corruption Commission if the public interest disclosure involves corruption
- the Office of the Queensland Ombudsman if the public interest disclosure involves maladministration.
If the public interest disclosure is about corrupt conduct or reprisal by a judicial officer, the matter can be reported to the Chief Judicial Officer of the court or tribunal, or the Crime and Corruption Commission.
A public interest disclosure can also be made to any Member of the Queensland Parliament.
Step 3: How do I make a public interest disclosure?
All public sector agencies should have procedures for public interest disclosures published on their website. Agencies should also have information on their website about how to make a complaint. Check the 'contact us' page of the agency's website for contact details.
Some options for making a public interest disclosure include:
- using the agency's online complaint form (if they have one)
- by sending an email (to the attention of the Chief Executive Officer of the agency)
- by telephone (explain you wish to make a public interest disclosure and ask to speak to a senior officer).
Report corruption to the Crime and Corruption Commission or make a complaint to us.
Step 4: What do I include in a public interest disclosure?
When making a public interest disclosure, provide as much information as possible, including:
- the name and job title of the person who is the subject of the disclosure
- information about relevant events, dates and places
- the names of people who may be able to provide additional information
- your name and contact details so you can be informed about the assessment of your public interest disclosure and the outcome.
A public interest disclosure can still be made even if you do not have all this information. For example, you may have information about an event, time and place but not know the names of the officer/s.
When you make a public interest disclosure, you have a responsibility to:
- provide honest and accurate information
- provide all information currently in your possession
- make the disclosure to someone you reasonably believe is a proper authority to receive the disclosure.
Deliberately providing false or misleading information is an offence under the Public Interest Disclosure Act.
Frequently asked questions
Can I make an anonymous public interest disclosure?
You can make a public interest disclosure anonymously. However, if you are anonymous the agency cannot contact you to ask for additional information or keep you informed about progress in handling the disclosure.
Will my public interest disclosure be confidential?
Under the Public Interest Disclosure Act, identifying information about a person making a disclosure, the person/s alleged to have engaged in wrongdoing and details of the disclosure are all confidential. It is an offence to reveal confidential information except in certain circumstances, such as:
- if it is required under the Public Interest Disclosure Act
- if it is required under another Act
- for a proceeding in a court or tribunal
- to protect the health or safety of a person
- if the person to whom the confidential information relates agrees in writing
- if it is essential under the principles of natural justice and reprisal is unlikely.
What can I expect after I make a public interest disclosure?
After making a public interest disclosure, you can expect to receive:
- confirmation of the receipt of the public interest disclosure from the agency
- a description of the action taken or proposed to be taken by the agency (which may be referral to another agency)
- if the agency believes no action is required to be taken, the reasons for that decision
- appropriate support and protection.
The agency should advise you the details of a contact officer or support person.
What protection is available for making a public interest disclosure?
Under the Public Interest Disclosure Act, it is an offence to take reprisal action against a person for making a disclosure or against a person for helping with an investigation of a public interest disclosure.
If you are a public sector officer, you cannot be disciplined for making a public interest disclosure.
Learn more about the support available for people who have made public interest disclosures.
What am I expected to do after making a public interest disclosure?
After you have made a public interest disclosure you have a responsibility to:
- keep confidential the fact that you made a public interest disclosure, the information you disclosed and the identity of anyone referred to in the disclosure
- help the investigation of the disclosure by providing further information if requested.
Who can review public interest disclosure decisions?
If you are dissatisfied with an agency's handling of a public interest disclosure, you can ask for the decision to be reviewed by the agency under its complaints management system (CMS). Details of the agency's CMS can be found on its website.
If you are dissatisfied after the agency has reviewed its decision, you can make a complaint to the Office of the Queensland Ombudsman.