TAFE Queensland is committed to upholding the principles of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 and giving appropriate consideration to the interests of people who report wrongdoing affecting the organisation.
Provides a process for the receipt, assessment, and management of TAFE Queensland public interest disclosures.
TAFE Queensland is committed to fostering an ethical and transparent workplace culture. In pursuit of this, TAFE Queensland values the disclosure of information about suspected wrongdoing in the public sector.
TAFE Queensland will promote the public interest by facilitating public interest disclosures (PID’s) of wrongdoing.
TAFE Queensland will ensure that PID’s are properly assessed and, when appropriate, properly investigated and dealt with in accordance with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld).
TAFE Queensland will also ensure that suitable protections are provided to employees who make disclosures about suspected wrongdoing to a proper authority within TAFE Queensland and that appropriate consideration is given to the interests of employees who are subject to a PID.
The Chief Human Resources Officer is accountable for ensuring the management and maintenance of this procedure, including ensuring its continued appropriateness to the business, compliance with legislation and external requirements, and periodic review.
TAFE Queensland Executives are responsible for administering PID’s under the terms of this procedure.
3.1 This policy applies to TAFE Queensland's;
4.1 Employees who are prepared to make disclosures concerning public sector misconduct, wastage of public funds, suspected unlawful activity or danger to health, safety or the environment can be the most important sources of information to identify and address problems in public sector administration. TAFE Queensland supports the disclosure of information about wrongdoing because:
4.2 When making a PID the discloser receives the protections provided under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld), including:
4.3 Under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld), any person can make a disclosure about a:
4.4 In addition, TAFE Queensland employees and other public officers of public sector entities can make a disclosure about the following public interest matters:
4.5 A discloser can have either a ‘reasonable belief’ that wrongdoing has occurred, or provide evidence which tends to show the wrongdoing has occurred.
4.6 A disclosure amounts to a PID and is covered by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld) even if the:
4.7 A PID can be made verbally or in writing to a proper authority, and may also be provided anonymously. Disclosers are encouraged to make a disclosure to an appropriate public officer of TAFE Queensland in the first instance. If the matter is not resolved, or the discloser is concerned about confidentiality, the disclosure may be made to another appropriate agency.
Who to Contact Within TAFE Queensland:
Other Agencies that can Receive Public Interest Disclosures:
Any person (including employees) can make a disclosure to:
· A manager, supervisor or Director
· A member of a Human Resources unit
· A General Manager/Executive
· The Chief Human Resources Officer
· The Chief Executive Officer
· The Chairperson or a member of the Board
Disclosures can be made to an agency that has a responsibility for investigating the information disclosed:
· Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) for disclosures about corrupt conduct including reprisal
· Queensland Ombudsman for disclosures about maladministration
· Queensland Audit Office for disclosures about a substantial misuse of resources
· Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women for disclosures about danger to the health and safety of a child or young person with a disability
· Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors for disclosures about danger to the health and safety of a person with a disability
· Office of the Public Guardian for disclosures about danger to the health and safety of a person with a disability
· Department of Environment and Science disclosures about danger to the environment
· A Member of the Legislative Assembly (MP) for any wrongdoing or danger
· The Chief Judicial Officer of a court or tribunal in relation to a disclosure about wrongdoing by a judicial officer
4.8 To assist in the assessment, and any subsequent investigation of a PID, disclosers are requested to:
4.9 An anonymous disclosure will be treated in the same way as disclosures made by individuals who identify themselves when making the disclosure. It should be noted, however, that anonymous disclosures are often more difficult to investigate.
4.10 Where an employee receives a PID from a member of the public, it should be forwarded to the Chief Human Resources Officer (this may occur through a regional Human Resources/People and Culture team or Executive as appropriate) as soon as possible.
4.11 TAFE Queensland’s preferred avenues for receiving PID’s are:
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
By post: Chief Human Resources Officer
PO Box 1910
Carindale Qld 4152
Phone: (07) 3514 3648
4.12 A person must not intentionally make false and misleading disclosures. Discloser protections are not extended to those who intentionally make a PID that they know is false or misleading. The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld) imposes sentences of up to two years imprisonment for such offences and, in addition, an employee who makes a false, misleading or vexatious disclosure may be subject to disciplinary action under the Disciplinary Procedure.
4.13 Under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld) a discloser may make a PID to a journalist if a valid PID was initially made to a proper authority and the proper authority:
(a) Decided not to investigate or deal with the disclosure;
(b) Investigated the disclosure but did not recommend taking any action; or
(c) Failed to notify the discloser within six months of making the disclosure whether or not the disclosure was to be investigated or otherwise dealt with.
4.14 A person who makes a disclosure to a journalist in these circumstances is protected under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld). However, disclosers should be aware that journalists are not bound under the confidentiality provisions of section 65 of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld).
4.15 Upon receipt of a disclosure of information by a proper authority that potentially could be a PID, the proper authority is to notify the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) as soon as practicable. A Corrupt Conduct/Public Interest Disclosure Complaint Assessment Form should be completed by the local region Human Resources Unit and forwarded to the CHRO along a copy of the disclosure (if available) and all relevant material or evidence relating to the disclosure.
4.16 The CHRO performs the role of ‘PID Co-ordinator’ for TAFE Queensland.
4.17 The CHRO will assess whether the complaint constitutes a PID using the Corrupt Conduct/Public Interest Disclosure Complaint Assessment Form and determine the most appropriate action to deal with the disclosure:
4.18 The disclosure will be assessed in accordance with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld), the PID standards, this procedure and any other relevant procedures.
4.19 If there is any doubt as to whether a matter is a PID, further information may be obtained by the CHRO to inform the decision. If doubt still remains, the matter will be considered and managed as a PID.
4.20 Mere disagreements over policy do not meet the threshold for a PID under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld).
4.21 The existence of a PID does not preclude a manager from taking reasonable management action.
4.22 If after assessment the CHRO determines that the disclosure is not a PID, the CHRO will advise the discloser in writing:
4.23 If the discloser is dissatisfied with the decision they can request a review by writing to the Chief Executive Officer of TAFE Queensland within 28 days of receiving the written reasons for decision.
4.24 The Chief Executive Officer (or delegate) will conduct a review and determine whether to confirm or overturn the decision that the disclosure is not a PID. The discloser will be advised of the review decision and the reasons for the decision in writing.
4.25 If after assessment the CHRO determines that the disclosure is a PID, the CHRO will conduct a risk assessment with the PID Support Officer (see section below) and will advise the discloser in writing:
4.26 If the PID has been made anonymously and the discloser has not provided any contact details, TAFE Queensland will not be able to acknowledge the PID or provide any updates.
4.27 Upon receipt of a PID, the CHRO and the PID Support Officer will conduct a risk assessment to determine the level of protection and support required in relation to the risk of reprisal action against the discloser (or witnesses or affected third parties) as a result of having made the disclosure. This assessment will take into account the actual and reasonably perceived risk of the discloser (or witnesses or affected third parties) suffering detriment, and will include consultation with the discloser (where required).
4.28 A risk assessment will be undertaken if the discloser is anonymous on the basis of information available in the PID. The risk assessment will also take into account the risk to persons who may be suspected of making the PID.
4.29 Consistent with the assessed level of risk, the CHRO and PID Support Officer will develop and implement a risk management plan and arrange any reasonably necessary support or protection for the discloser (or witnesses or affected third parties). Protective measures may include, but are not limited to, suspension or temporary relocation.
4.30 Where appropriate, a PID Support Officer will be assigned to the discloser. The PID Support Officer will assist the discloser to access information about PID’s, protections available under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld) and the PID management process.
4.31 The PID Support Officer will proactively provide regular follow-up contact with the discloser and, where safe to do so, maintain records of the details of all PIDs.
4.32 Information and support will be provided to the discloser until the matter is finalised.
4.33 The PID Support Officer will regularly reassess the risk of reprisal while the PID is being managed, in consultation with the discloser, and review the risk management plan if required.
4.34 The discloser must advise the nominated internal PID Support Officer or their manager if they believe that reprisal action is being, or has been, taken against them.
4.35 An individual may make a PID if they believe that a person has caused, attempted to cause or conspired to cause detriment to another person in the belief that the person or someone else has made, or intends to make, a PID.
4.36 If notified that reprisal action may be or has been taken, the CHRO will attend to the safety of the discloser (or witnesses or affected third parties) as a matter or of priority and refer the matter to the CCC for assessment and advice as to the action to be taken. The PID Support Officer will then make contact with the discloser to review the risk of reprisal and implement any necessary protective measures.
4.37 An allegation of reprisal action will be managed as a PID and/or disciplinary matter in its own right.
4.38 If the CHRO decides there is another proper authority that is more appropriate to deal with the PID, the CHRO may refer the PID to that agency. This may be because:
4.39 Before referring the PID to another agency, the CHRO will conduct a risk assessment, and will not proceed with the referral if there is an unacceptable risk of reprisal.
4.40 It may also be necessary to refer the PID to another agency because of a legislative obligation, for example, refer a matter to the Crime and Corruption Commission where there is a reasonable suspicion that the matter involves or may involve corrupt conduct (as required by section 38 of the Crime and Corruption Act 2001).
4.41 The confidentiality obligations of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld) permit appropriate public officers of TAFE Queensland to communicate with another agency about the referral of a PID. Public officers will exercise discretion in their contacts with any other agency.
4.42 The CHRO will advise the discloser, in writing, of the action taken by TAFE Queensland.
Request for Review - Declining to Take Action on a Public Interest Disclosure:
4.43 Under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld), TAFE Queensland may decide not to investigate or deal with a PID in various circumstances, including:
4.44 If a decision is made not to investigate or deal with a PID, the CHRO will give the discloser written reasons for that decision.
4.45 If the discloser is dissatisfied with the decision they can request a review by writing to the Chief Executive Officer of TAFE Queensland within 28 days of receiving the written reasons for decision.
4.46 The Chief Executive Officer (or delegate) will conduct a review and determine whether to confirm or overturn the decision not to investigate or deal with a PID. The discloser will be advised of the review decision and the reasons for the decision in writing.
4.47 While TAFE Queensland will make every attempt to protect confidentiality, a discloser’s identity may need to be disclosed to:
4.48 TAFE Queensland will ensure that communication with all parties involved will be arranged discreetly to avoid identifying the discloser wherever possible.
4.49 Disclosers should be aware that while TAFE Queensland will make every attempt to keep their details confidential, it cannot guarantee that others will not try to deduce their identity.
4.50 Any person who acquires confidential information as a result of their involvement with a PID must not make a record of or disclose the information to anyone other than:
4.51 If a decision is made to investigate a PID, this will be done with consideration for the:
4.52 If as a result of investigation, the information about wrongdoing provided in the PID is substantiated, appropriate action will be taken.
4.53 Where the investigation does not substantiate the alleged wrongdoing, TAFE Queensland may review systems, policies and procedures to identify whether there are improvements that can be made and consider if staff training is required
4.54 TAFE Queensland acknowledges that for employees who are the subject of a PID, the experience may be difficult. TAFE Queensland will protect the rights of subject officers by:
4.55 Information and support will be provided to a subject officer until the matter is finalised.
4.56 In accordance with its obligations under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld) and the Public Records Act 2002, TAFE Queensland will ensure that:
4.57 All records related to PID’s will be saved within the authorised records management system used by TAFE Queensland by the Human Resources Unit and/or Employee Relations.
4.58 Records about disclosures, investigations, and related decisions will be kept secure and accessible only to appropriately authorised people involved in the management of PID’s within TAFE Queensland.
4.59 All records will be retained for the minimum period outlined in the Queensland State Archives General Retention and Disposal Schedule, including:
4.60 In cases where the retention period outlined in a contractual arrangement/agreement is longer than the General Retention and Disposal Schedule, records should be retained in accordance with that agreement.
4.61 The Chief Executive Officer will ensure that employees are provided with training and awareness in the prevention and reporting of wrongdoing, including PID’s. This training will be delivered through mediums such as, the annual Code of Conduct refresher training.
5.1 Model ethical behaviour and foster an environment that supports employees to make PID’s.
5.2 Ensure appropriate awareness strategies and control systems are implemented to effectively prevent and efficiently respond to suspected wrongdoing, including matters of suspected corrupt conduct.
5.3 Ensure the legislative requirements of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld) and the PID Standards are met.
5.4 When applicable, review and determine whether to confirm or overturn a decision of the CHRO not to investigate or deal with a PID.
5.5 As soon as practicable following the review, provide the discloser with the determination, reasons for the decision, the information relied upon in making the decision, the name of the public officer who made the decision and details of the right of external review.
5.6 Act as the principal point of contact (the ‘PID Co-ordinator’) for PID’s within TAFE Queensland.
5.7 Ensure that all legislative obligations in relation to reporting and investigation are met.
5.8 Assess disclosures to determine if the information meets the PID criteria and complete a Corrupt Conduct – Public Interest Disclosure Complaint Assessment Form.
5.9 Determine the appropriate action to be taken in relation to the disclosure.
5.10 For disclosures deemed to be a PID, undertake a risk assessment in conjunction with the PID Support Officer and complete a Corrupt Conduct – Public Interest Disclosure Complaint Assessment Form in consultation with discloser, the PID Support Officer and other relevant employees.
5.11 Refer PID’s to another proper authority/agency for management where appropriate.
5.12 Provide written correspondence to the discloser advising them of the outcome of the assessment.
5.13 In conjunction with the PID Support Officer, develop and implement a risk management plan and arrange for any reasonable supports and/or protections for the discloser (or witnesses or affected third parties).
5.14 Appoint an Investigator and/or a PID Support Officer as required.
5.15 Ensure the PID is managed in a timely manner and in accordance with the legislative requirements.
5.16 Refer any allegations of reprisal action to the CCC for assessment and advice of action to be taken.
5.17 Ensure any relevant policies and procedures are regularly reviewed and that PID outcomes inform improvements.
5.18 Report on PID data to the Queensland Ombudsman, as the oversight agency, when required.
5.19 Oversee the collection and recording of pertinent information into the relevant database.
5.20 Provide recommendations arising from PID investigations to the relevant parties.
5.21 Maintain records of all PID’s and actions where safe to do so.
5.22 Act as a first point of contact for the discloser.
5.23 Provide advice and information to the discloser on the TAFE Queensland PID procedure.
5.24 Provide the discloser with support and referral to other sources of advice or support as required.
5.25 Assist implement protective measures where required.
5.26 Maintain proactive communication with the discloser throughout the PID management process.
5.27 Maintain records of all PID’s and actions where safe to do so.
5.28 Regularly re-assess the risk of reprisal, in conjunction with the discloser, and review the risk management plan if required.
5.29 In conjunction with the CHRO, conduct risk assessments on any PID’s received.
5.30 Observe confidentiality requirements.
5.31 Maintain and demonstrate a workplace culture that values positive ethical standards, professionalism, integrity and diligence, and creates a supportive reporting environment that encourages employees to report concerns about wrongdoing.
5.32 Provide appropriate confidential support to employees who report suspected wrongdoing.
5.33 Refer any PID’s received from employees or the general public to the CHRO as soon as possible via the local Human Resources unit.
5.34 Implement appropriate controls to prevent harm to TAFE Queensland’s assets and resources.
5.35 Take all reasonable steps to minimise the risk of reprisal and monitor the workplace for any signs of detrimental action towards the discloser.
5.36 Report any allegations or suspicions of reprisal action to the CHRO as soon as possible.
5.37 Observe confidentiality requirements.
5.38 Immediately report a matter to a proper authority, if they honestly believe that some wrongdoing has occurred.
5.39 Refer any PID’s received from the general public to the CHRO as soon as possible via the local Human Resources unit.
5.40 Assist in an investigation of the PID if requested by the investigator to provide information.
5.41 Understand that making a deliberately false, misleading or vexatious report may result in disciplinary action being taken.
5.42 Write to the Chief Executive Officer if dissatisfied with a decision not to investigate or deal with a PID within 28 days of receipt of the decision by the CHRO.
5.43 Observe confidentiality requirements.
5.44 Advise the PID Support Officer if they believe that reprisal action is being taken or is likely to be taken against a discloser.
5.45 Report receipt, assessment, investigation and outcome of PID’s to the Queensland Ombudsman using the RAPID system, when required.
5.46 Ensure all records related to PID’s are saved on the TAFE Queensland records management system.
5.47 Observe confidentiality requirements.
5.48 Refer any PID’s or suspected PID’s to the CHRO for assessment and management. A completed Corrupt Conduct – Public Interest Disclosure Complaint Assessment Form and all relevant material or evidence relating to the disclosure should be forwarded along with the disclosure.
5.49 Act as a PID Support Officer as required.
5.50 Provide advice to region employees on PID’s when required.
5.51 Refer any allegations or suspicions of reprisal action to the CHRO as soon as possible.
5.52 Observe confidentiality requirements.
5.53 Record all information related to PID’s in the TAFE Queensland document management system.
As defined in section 15 of the Crime and Corruption Act 2001:
As defined in Schedule 4 of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld) includes –
As defined in section 11 of the Disability Services Act 2006, for the purposes of this procedure:
A person who makes a disclosure in accordance with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld).
For the purposes of this procedure, investigation includes any enquiry undertaken to establish whether the information provided in a PID can be substantiated, including a review or audit.
Administrative action that was:
Natural justice, also referred to as ‘procedural fairness’ applies to any decision that can affect the rights, interests or expectations of individuals in a direct or immediate way. Natural justice is at law a safeguard applying to an individual whose rights or interests are being affected.
The rules of natural justice, which have been developed to ensure that decision-making is fair and reasonable, are:
For the purposes of this procedure, support means actions such as, but not limited to:
A member of the HR team designated by the CHRO to act as a liaison with witnesses.
A public sector entity (as defined in section 6 of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld)) through a Chief Executive, the Chief Human Resources Officer, a member of a HR unit, a General Manager or other person in a management position within TAFE Queensland; an entity with authority to investigate or remedy (e.g. Crime and Corruption Commission, Queensland Audit Office or Queensland Ombudsman); or a member of the Legislative Assembly.
A report of a suspected wrongdoing or danger. For a report to be considered a PID and attract the protections outlined in the Act, it must be an appropriate disclosure about public interest information. A disclosure of information can be made by any person whether an employee or a member of the public. The disclosure must be made to a proper authority. For further information, see ‘What is a Public Interest Disclosure’ in the body of this procedure.
A public officer, of a public sector entity, is an employee, member or officer of the entity.
A view which is objectively fair or sensible.
Action taken by a manager in relation to an employee, includes any of the following taken by the manager—
The term ‘reprisal’ is defined under the PID Act as causing, attempting to cause or conspiring to cause detriment to another person in the belief that they or someone else:
• Has made or intends to make a disclosure; or
• Has been or intends to be involved in a proceeding under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld) against any person.
Reprisal under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld) is a criminal offence and investigations may be undertaken by the Queensland Police Service.
An employee who is the subject of allegations of wrongdoing made in a disclosure.
Substantial means 'of a significant or considerable degree'. It must be more than trivial or minimal and have some weight or importance.
Specific means “precise or particular”. This refers to conduct or detriment that is able to be identified or particularised as opposed to broad or general concerns or criticisms.