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Policies and procedures

720 Making a Public Interest Disclosure

 

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.

Accountability:

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;

  • Chief Executive Officer
  • Corporate Office Staff
  • Regional Staff
  • Students
  • Members of the public

Why Make a Public Interest Disclosure:

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:

  1. Implementing systems for reporting and dealing with wrongdoing contributes to the integrity of TAFE Queensland;
  2. The outcomes of PID’s can include improvements to systems that prevent fraud and other economic loss to TAFE Queensland; and
  3. The community’s trust in public administration is strengthened by having strong processes in place for reporting wrongdoing.

4.2 When making a PID the discloser receives the protections provided under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld), including:

  1. Confidentiality – the discloser’s name and other identifying information will be protected to the extent possible;
  2. Protection against reprisal – the discloser is protected from unfair treatment by TAFE Queensland and employees of TAFE Queensland as a result of making the PID;
  3. Immunity from liability – the discloser cannot be prosecuted for disclosing the information but is not exempt from action if they have engaged in wrongdoing; and
  4. Protection from defamation – the discloser has a defence against an accusation of defamation by any subject officer.

What is a Public Interest Disclosure:

4.3 Under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld), any person can make a disclosure about a:

  1. Substantial and specific danger to the health or safety of a person with a disability;
  2. The commission of an offence, or contravention of a condition imposed under a provision of legislation mentioned in Schedule 2 of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld), if the offence or contravention would be a substantial and specific danger to the environment; and
  3. Reprisal because of a belief that a person has made, or intends to make a disclosure.

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:

  1. Corrupt conduct;
  2. Maladministration that adversely affects a person’s interests in a substantial and specific way;
  3. A substantial misuse of public resources;
  4. A substantial and specific danger to public health or safety; and
  5. Substantial and specific danger to the environment.

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:

  1. Discloser reports the information as part of their duties – such as an auditor reporting fraud or an occupational health and safety officer reporting a safety breach;
  2. Disclosure is made anonymously – the discloser is not required to give their name or any identifying information;
  3. Discloser has not identified the material as a PID – it is the responsibility of TAFE Queensland to assess the information received and determine if it is a PID; and
  4. Disclosure is unsubstantiated following investigation – the discloser is protected when the information they provide is assessed as a PID, whether or not it is subsequently investigated or found to be substantiated.

Making a Public Interest Disclosure:

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:

  1. Provide contact details (this could be an email address that is created for the purpose of making the disclosure or a telephone number);
  2. Provide as much information as possible about the suspected wrongdoing including:
    i. Who was involved;
    ii. What happened;
    iii. When it happened;
    iv. Where it happened;
    v. Whether there were any witnesses, and if so, who they are;
    vi. Any evidence that supports the PID, and where the evidence is located;
    vii. Any further information that could help investigate the PID; and
  3. Provide this information in writing.

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: peopleintafe@tafeqld.edu.au
By post: Chief Human Resources Officer
TAFE Queensland
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).

Assessment and Management of Public Interest Disclosures:

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:

  1. If a PID does not relate to TAFE Queensland, the CHRO will forward the complaint to the proper authority (see Referring a PID below);
  2. If a complaint is assessed as a PID, it is to be forwarded to the PID Support Officer (PSO) and investigating officer to manage;
  3. If a complaint is assessed as corrupt conduct, the CHRO will notify the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) in accordance with the Crime and Corruption Act 2001 (Qld); and
  4. If a complaint does not constitute a PID, information will still be received, assessed and addressed through the appropriate TAFE Queensland policy or procedure.

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:

  1. That their information has been received but was not assessed as a PID;
  2. The reasons for the decision;
  3. The review rights available if the discloser is dissatisfied with the decision and how to request a review;
  4. Any action TAFE Queensland proposes to take (including a decision to take no further action) in relation to the matter; and
    (e) Any other options the discloser has in relation to the matter.

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:

  1. That their information has been received and assessed as a PID;
  2. The action to be taken by TAFE Queensland in relation to the disclosure, which could include referring the matter to an external agency, or investigating;
  3. The likely timeframes involved;
  4. The protections the discloser has under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld);
  5. Of any proposed protective measures to be implemented (if applicable);
  6. Of the discloser’s obligations regarding confidentiality;
  7. The commitment of TAFE Queensland to keep appropriate records and maintain confidentiality, except where permitted under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld);
  8. How updates regarding intended actions and outcomes will be provided to the discloser;
    (i) The name and contact details of the PID Support Officer they can contact for updates, information or are concerned about reprisal; and
    (j) Of the contact details for TAFE Queensland’s Employee Assistance Program.

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.

Risk Assessment, Support and Protection from Reprisal:

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.

Referring a Public Interest Disclosure:

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:

  1. The PID concerns wrongdoing by that agency or an employee of that agency; and
  2. That agency has the power to investigate or remedy the matter.

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:

  1. The information disclosed has already been investigated or dealt with by another process;
  2. The information disclosed should be dealt with by another process;
  3. The age of the information makes it impractical to investigate;
  4. The information disclosed is too trivial and dealing with it would substantially and unreasonably divert TAFE Queensland from the performance of its functions; and
  5. Another agency with jurisdiction to investigate the information has informed TAFE Queensland that an investigation is not warranted.

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.

Confidentiality:

4.47 While TAFE Queensland will make every attempt to protect confidentiality, a discloser’s identity may need to be disclosed to:

  1. Provide natural justice to subject officers; and
  2. Respond to a court order, legal directive or court proceedings.

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:

  1. As required by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld);
  2. For a court or tribunal proceeding;
  3. With the written consent of the employee to which the confidential material applies;
  4. If the person reasonably believes the disclosure is necessary to provide for the safety or welfare of a person; or
  5. If authorised under a regulation or Act.

Investigating a Public Interest Disclosure:

4.51 If a decision is made to investigate a PID, this will be done with consideration for the:

  1. Principles of natural justice;
  2. Obligation under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld) to protect confidential information;
  3. Obligation under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld) to protect people who have made a public interest disclosure from reprisal; and
  4. Interests of subject officers.

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

Rights of Subject Officers:

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:

  1. Assuring them that the PID will be dealt with impartially, fairly and reasonably in accordance with the principles of natural justice;
  2. Confirming that the PID is an allegation only until information or evidence obtained through an investigation substantiates the allegation;
  3. Providing them with information about their rights and the progress and outcome of any investigation; and
  4. Referring them to the Employee Assistance Program for support.

4.55 Information and support will be provided to a subject officer until the matter is finalised.

Records Management:

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:

  1. Accurate data is collected about the receipt and management of PID’s; and
  2. Anonymised data is reported by the CHRO or Employee Relations to the Office of the Queensland Ombudsman in their role as the oversight agency, through the PID reporting database. This data will be reported upon receipt, assessment, investigation and finalisation of PID’s.

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:

  1. PID forms and associated documentation;
  2. Correspondence related to PID’s;
  3. PID registers; and
  4. PID reports.

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.

Training:

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.

Chief Executive Officer (or delegate):

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.

Chief Human Resources Officer:

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.

PID Support Officer:

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.

Manager/Supervisor:

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.

Employee (Public Officer):

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.

Employee Relations:

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.

Human Resources Unit:

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.

Administrative Action:

As defined in Schedule 4 of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld):

  1. Means any action about a matter of administration, including, for example:
    (i) A decision and an act; and
    (ii) A failure to make a decision or do an act, including a failure to provide a written statement of reasons for a decision; and
    (iii) The formulation of a proposal or intention; and
    (iv) The making of a recommendation, including a recommendation made to a Minister; and
    (v) An action taken because of a recommendation made to a Minister; and
  2. Does not include an operational action of a police officer or of an officer of the Crime and Corruption Commission.

Confidential Information:

  1. Includes —
    1. Information about the identity, occupation, residential or work address or whereabouts of a person —
      1. Who makes a public interest disclosure; or
      2. Against whom a public interest disclosure has been made; and
    2. Information disclosed by a public interest disclosure; and
    3. Information about an individual’s personal affairs; and
    4. Information that, if disclosed, may cause detriment to a person; and
  2. Does not include information publicly disclosed in a public interest disclosure made to a court, tribunal or other entity that may receive evidence under oath, unless further disclosure of the information is prohibited by law.

Corrupt Conduct:

As defined in section 15 of the Crime and Corruption Act 2001:

  1. Corrupt conduct means conduct of a person, regardless of whether the person holds or held an appointment, that—
    1. Adversely affects, or could adversely affect, directly or indirectly, the performance of functions or the exercise of powers of—
      1. A unit of public administration; or
      2. A person holding an appointment; and
    2. Results, or could result, directly or indirectly, in the performance of functions or the exercise of powers mentioned in paragraph (a) in a way that—
      1. Is not honest or is not impartial; or
      2. Involves a breach of the trust placed in a person holding an appointment, either knowingly or recklessly; or
      3. Involves a misuse of information or material acquired in or in connection with the performance of functions or the exercise of powers of a  person holding an appointment; and
    3. Would, if proved, be—
      1. A criminal offence; or
      2. A disciplinary breach providing reasonable grounds for terminating the person’s services, if the person is or were the holder of an              appointment.
  2. Corrupt conduct also means conduct of a person, regardless of whether the person holds or held an appointment, that—
    1. Impairs, or could impair, public confidence in public administration; and
    2. Involves, or could involve, any of the following—
      1. Collusive tendering;
      2. Fraud relating to an application for a license, permit or other authority under an Act with a purpose or object of any of the following (however described)—
        1. Protecting health or safety of persons;
        2. Protecting the environment;
        3. Protecting or managing the use of the State’s natural, cultural, mining or energy resources;
      3. Dishonestly obtaining, or helping someone to dishonestly obtain, a benefit from the payment or application of public funds or the disposition of State assets;
      4. Evading a State tax, levy or duty or otherwise fraudulently causing a loss of State revenue;
      5. Fraudulently obtaining or retaining an appointment; and
    3. would, if proved, be—
      1. A criminal offence; or
      2. A disciplinary breach providing reasonable grounds for terminating the person’s services, if the person is or were the holder of an appointment.

Detriment:

As defined in Schedule 4 of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld) includes –

  1. Personal injury or prejudice to safety; and
  2. Property damage or loss; and
  3. Intimidation or harassment; and
  4. Adverse discrimination, disadvantage or adverse treatment about career, profession, employment, trade or business; and
  5. Financial loss; and
  6. Damage to reputation, including, for example, personal, professional or business reputation.

Disability:

As defined in section 11 of the Disability Services Act 2006, for the purposes of this procedure:

  1. A disability is a person’s condition that—
    (a) Is attributable to—
             (i) An intellectual, psychiatric, cognitive, neurological, sensory or physical impairment; or
             (ii) A combination of impairments mentioned in subparagraph (i); and
    (b) Results in—
             (i) A substantial reduction of the person’s capacity for communication, social interaction, learning, mobility or self-care or management; and
             (ii) The person needing support.
                  (2) For subsection (1), the impairment may result from an acquired brain injury.
                  (3) The disability must be permanent or likely to be permanent.
                  (4) The disability may be, but need not be, of a chronic episodic nature.


Discloser:

A person who makes a disclosure in accordance with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld).

Investigation:

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.

Maladministration:

As defined in Schedule 4 of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld):

Administrative action that was:

  • Taken contrary to law; or
  • Unreasonable, unjust, oppressive, or improperly discriminatory; or
  • In accordance with a rule of law or a provision of an Act or a practice that is or may be unreasonable, unjust, oppressive or improperly discriminatory in the particular circumstances; or
  • Taken:
    • For an improper purpose; or
    • On irrelevant grounds; or
    • Having regard to irrelevant considerations; or
    • An action for which reasons should have been given, but were not given; or
    • Based wholly or partly on a mistake of law or fact; or
    • Wrong.

Natural Justice:

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:

  • Avoid bias;
  • Give a fair hearing; and
  • Act only on the basis of logically probative evidence.

Support:

For the purposes of this procedure, support means actions such as, but not limited to:

  • Providing moral and emotional support;
  • Advising disclosers about agency resources available to handle any concerns they have as a result of making their disclosure;
  • Appointing a mentor, confidante or other support officer to assist the discloser through the process;
  • Referring the discloser to the agency’s Employee Assistance Program or arranging for other professional counselling;
  • Generating support for the discloser in their work unit where appropriate;
  • Ensuring that any suspicions of victimisation or harassment are dealt with;
  • Maintaining contact with the discloser; and
  • Negotiating with the discloser and their PID support officer a formal end to their involvement with the support program when it is agreed that they no longer need assistance.

PID Support Officer:

A member of the HR team designated by the CHRO to act as a liaison with witnesses.

Proper Authority:

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.

Public Interest Disclosure:

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.

Public Officer:

A public officer, of a public sector entity, is an employee, member or officer of the entity.

Reasonable Belief:

A view which is objectively fair or sensible.

Reasonable Management Action:

Action taken by a manager in relation to an employee, includes any of the following taken by the manager—

  1. A reasonable appraisal of the employee’s work performance;
  2. A reasonable requirement that the employee undertake counselling;
  3. A reasonable suspension of the employee from the employment workplace;
  4. A reasonable disciplinary action;
  5. A reasonable action to transfer or deploy the employee;
  6. A reasonable action to end the employee’s employment by way of redundancy or retrenchment;
  7. A reasonable action in relation to an action mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (f); and
  8. A reasonable action in relation to the employee’s failure to obtain a promotion, reclassification, transfer or benefit, or to retain a benefit, in relation to the employee’s employment.

Reprisal:

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.

Subject Officer:

An employee who is the subject of allegations of wrongdoing made in a disclosure.

Substantial and Specific:

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.