Public interest disclosures

The City of Stonnington is committed to the aims and objectives of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2012. We do not tolerate improper conduct by our elected representatives or employees, nor take reprisals against anyone who comes forward to disclose this conduct.

We are authorised to receive disclosures that relate to the conduct of the Council or of a member, officer or employee of the City of Stonnington. Disclosures that relate to councillors must be made directly to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) or the Victorian Ombudsman.

Anyone can make a public interest disclosure (previously known as either 'protected disclosure' or 'whistleblower' complaint) to report improper conduct by Council, its staff, employees and councillors.

Improper conduct

To report improper conduct (public interest disclosure) you must believe, on reasonable grounds, that a Councillor or Council employee has engaged in, or proposes to engage in, improper conduct. Improper conduct is defined as:

  • corrupt conduct
  • a criminal offence
  • a serious professional misconduct
  • dishonest performance of public functions
  • intentional or reckless breach of public trust
  • intentional or reckless misuse of information
  • substantial mismanagement of public resources
  • substantial risk to health or safety of a person
  • substantial risk to the environment
  • conduct of any person that adversely affects the honest performance by a public officer of their functions
  • conduct of any person that is intended to adversely affect the effective performance by a public officer of their functions, for the benefit of the other person.

It is not a public interest disclosure if the complaint or allegation is already in the public domain.

Report improper conduct

There are four ways you can report improper conduct using the public interest disclosure process.

1. Directly to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC):

2. Directly to the Victorian Ombudsman:

3. Directly to the Victorian Inspectorate:

4. You can also contact Council about a disclosure:

  • Call Manager Governance under the Act, on 0448 143 718
  • Email
  • Mail to Confidential Public Interest Disclosure, Manager Governance, PO Box 58 Malvern Vic 3144

If we determine your report to be a Public Interest Disclosure, we'll forward it to IBAC.

Disclosures can be made anonymously.

Public Interest Disclosure Procedures

Council’s position is supported by our Public Interest Disclosure Procedures which reinforce our obligations when receiving a disclosure. It establishes the governance structures necessary to support the making and handling of disclosure of improper conduct and/or detrimental action, in line with the guidelines of the independent broad-based anti-corruption commission (IBAC).

What does the Council do when it receives a disclosure?

The Public Interest Disclosure Coordinator will assess disclosures received:

  • to determine whether the conduct constitutes improper conduct or detrimental action, giving consideration to how serious the consequences are
  • to identify the link between the conduct and the official function of the Council or it’s officer(s).

The Public Interest Disclosure Coordinator will determine, in consultation with IBAC as necessary, if a disclosure is required to be referred to IBAC. The Council has 28 days from the time the disclosure was made to assess the report, determine how it will be handled, report back to the discloser in writing and if required notify IBAC.

If referred to IBAC, they will conduct an assessment and communicate the result to the discloser in writing within a reasonable timeframe. If they determine it is a public interest disclosure, they can decide to either dismiss, investigate or refer the investigation to another body (such as the Ombudsman).

If not referred to IBAC, or they determine that it is not a public interest disclosure, the Public Interest Disclosure Coordinator will discuss the matter with the Chief Executive Officer. Council may dismiss, conduct their own investigation or appoint an appropriately qualified external organisation to investigate.

What protections are provided for people who make disclosures?

Protections apply to disclosures made in line with the requirements specified in the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2012. They apply from when the disclosure is made, regardless of whether the matter is referred to IBAC, and includes the subsequent provision of any further information. The protections state that:

  • a person is not subject to civil / criminal liability or administrative action
  • a person is not committing an offence against any legal Act which imposes obligations of confidentiality or restrictions on information disclosure
  • a person is not breaching any other confidentiality obligation made by oath, rule or law or practice
  • a person cannot be held liable for defamation in relation to information provided.

These protections do not apply if the discloser provides information knowing it to be false or misleading, or falsely claims a matter is the subject of a protected disclosure.

There are a number of confidentiality obligations related to the receipt and investigation of public interest disclosures. Loss of protections and a range of more serious penalties may be applied for the breach of these obligations.

Welfare management

There are also welfare obligations related to public interest disclosures. Council must provide welfare support to a discloser or witness as the circumstances require.

Procedures have been developed to cover managing the welfare of:

•    a person who makes a public interest disclosure
•    a person who is a witness in an investigation of a public interest complaint
•    a person who is the subject of such an investigation.

Contact and additional information

For further information, contact the Manager Governance who is Council’s Public Interest Disclosure Coordinator on 0448 143 718

Download Public Interest Disclosures Policy(PDF, 1MB).