Public Interest Disclosures
Federation Council has a responsibility to the community to prevent serious wrongdoing and misconduct. The Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994 (PID Act) sets in place a system to encourage public officials to report serious wrongdoing. Federation Council supports this by establishing and maintaining a working environment that encourages staff and councillors to report wrongdoing and that supports them when they do. This includes keeping the identity of reporters confidential where practical and appropriate, and taking steps to protect reporters from reprisal and manage workplace conflict.
Federation Councils Public Interest Disclosure Policy outlines how a report can be made and what should be reported. It also outlines how a report will be dealt with by the Council.
The policy deals with five categories of serious misconduct:
- corrupt conduct.
- serious and substantial waste of public money.
- breach of the GIPA Act, and
- local government pecuniary interest contravention.
More information about what can be reported under the PID Act can be found in the NSW Ombudsman’s Guideline B2: “What should be reported?” and on the NSW Ombudsman website at www.ombo.nsw.gov.au
Council will assess all reports of wrongdoing it receives and deal with them fairly and reasonably, respecting the rights of any person the subject of a report. Federation Council must report on our obligations under the PID Act and provide statistical information about public interest disclosures in our annual report and to the NSW Ombudsman every six months. To ensure the Federation Council complies with the PID Act and deals with all reports of wrong doing properly, training is provided to key staff and Councillors on their responsibilities.
Council has fulfilled its statutory reporting obligations for completion of Public Interest Disclosure Reports to the NSW Ombudsman under Section 6CA. Reports were submitted in February 2018 and July 2018 as required under the Act.
Activities carried out by Council included review and adoption of its Public Interest Disclosure Policy in August 2018. Council further supports awareness of PID by including a statement about PID in the Employee Handbook. Contact officers have been nominated from within internal and external departments, and Council has nominated PID Officers and a PID Coordinator.
Staff feedback was gathered as part of 'Speak up 2018 Staff survey' project in May 2018 which has highlighted risk factors at the root of many causes of PID including employee satisfaction levels and perceived levels of fair rewards and recognition. Strategies to strengthen any weaknesses identified have been tabled for action.
Council has submitted its 6 monthly report to the NSW Ombudsman. No Public Interest Disclosures have been made by public officials, or received in the period 1 July 2018 – 31 December 2018, for Federation Council.
The NSW Ombudsman publishes reports on Public Interest Disclosure and case studies across NSW in its Annual Report.
The following tables identify the most prevalent sources of PID's by government agency and the nature of reports received in Local Government as identified in their Annual Report 2016-2017.
Table 1. Reports received by the NSW Ombudsman for all government agencies across NSW in 2016-2017.
Local Government makes up less than 1% of the total reports received.
Table 2. Nature of reports received by the NSW Ombudsman for local government across NSW in 2016-2017