New Changes to Victorian Whistleblowing Legislation

Integrity and Accountability Legislation Amendment (Public Interest Disclosures, Oversight and Independence) Bill 2018 (Vic)

This alert applies to all subscribers who receive the VIC – Protection of Persons from Detrimental Action module. The Bill will amend that module.

Please be advised that the Integrity and Accountability Legislation Amendment (Public Interest Disclosures, Oversight and Independence) Bill 2018 (Vic) (the Bill) passed the Victorian Parliament on 21 February 2019 and received Royal Assent on 5 March 2019.

Relevant parts of the Bill as discussed below are due to commence on 1 January 2020 (unless they come into operation before that date), and such parts will amend the Protected Disclosure Act 2012 (Vic) (the Act).

Change of name

In recognition of the role that disclosures play in ensuring the highest standards of public sector conduct, the Bill will amend the current title of the Act to the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2012 (Vic). In addition, the Bill will replace the current term protected disclosure in the Act with the term public interest disclosure to describe disclosures that are protected under the Act.

Expansion of the range of ‘improper conduct’ to be reported under the Act

Organisations will be aware that the Act protects disclosures about improper conduct committed by public sector bodies and officials. The Bill will expand the range of improper conduct that a person can disclose under the Act, which in turn means that a person can make a public interest disclosure about a broader range of wrongdoing.

The new definition of improper conduct in section 4 of the Bill means:

  • corrupt conduct; or
  • conduct of a public officer or public body engaged in by the public officer or public body in their capacity as a public officer or a public body that constitutes:
    • a criminal offence; or
    • serious professional misconduct; or
    • dishonest performance of public functions; or
    • an intentional or reckless breach of public trust; or of information or material acquired in the course of the performance of the functions of the public officer or public body; or
    • a substantial mismanagement of public resources; or
    • a substantial risk to the health or safety of one or more persons; or
    • a substantial risk to the environment; or
  • conduct of any person that:
    • adversely affects the honest performance by a public officer or public body of their functions as a public officer or public body; or
    • is intended to adversely affect the effective performance or exercise by a public officer or public body of the functions or powers of the public officer or public body and results in the person, or and associate of the person, obtaining:
      • a licence, permit, approval, authority or other entitlement under any Act or subordinate instrument; or
      • an appointment to a statutory office or as a member of the board of any public body under any Act or subordinate instrument; or
      • a financial benefit or real or personal property; or
      • any other direct or indirect monetary or proprietary gain,
        that the person or associate would not have otherwise obtained; or
  • conduct of any person that could constitute a conspiracy or attempt to engage in any of the conduct referred to above.

Section 4 of the Bill further states that conduct that is trivial does not constitute improper conduct for the purposes of the Act.

Please click here to access the Bill.

Contact

For further information please contact the Law Compliance team:

Phone: 1300 862 667

Email: info@lawcompliance.com.au

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