The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (PID Act) commenced on 15 January 2014, and promotes accountability and integrity in the Commonwealth public sector by creating a framework which:
- encourages the disclosure of information about suspected wrongdoings
- protects people who make disclosures from adverse consequences
- requires agencies to take action on disclosures.
What is a public interest disclosure?
A Public Interest Disclosure is a report, made by a public official, of a suspected wrongdoing in the Commonwealth public sector, including within CRDC. Public officials include current and former:
- Commonwealth public servants
- Commonwealth contractors
- Staff of Commonwealth contracted service provider.
An authorised officer can also deem an individual to be a public official if they reasonably believe the individual has information about wrongdoing and proposes to make a disclosure.
Disclosures can be made about conduct by an agency or public official which:
- contravenes a law
- is corrupt
- perverts the course of justice
- results in waste of public funds or property
- is an abuse of public trust
- unreasonably endangers health and safety or endangers the environment
- is misconduct relating to scientific research, analysis or advice
- is maladministration, including conduct that is unjust, oppressive or negligent.
Making a public interest disclosure
Importantly, anyone can make a disclosure to the CRDC authorised officer. The PID Act covers current or former Commonwealth public servants, Commonwealth contractors or staff members of a Commonwealth contracted service provider.
Disclosures can be made to the CRDC authorised officer: the CRDC Executive Director. You can also make your disclosure to the Commonwealth Ombudsman. For those covered by the PID Act, you must make a disclosure to the CRDC Executive Director or at the Commonwealth Ombudsman's office to gain the protections available under the PID Act.
For information about your options for reporting in unusual circumstances please refer to the Commonwealth Ombudsman's guide: Speaking up about wrongdoing.
To lodge a disclosure or make an enquiry regarding CRDC’s PID scheme please contact the CRDC Executive Director via phone or post. Please mark your correspondence as ‘private and confidential.’
Phone: 02 6792 4088
Post: Executive Director
Cotton Research & Development Corporation
PO Box 282
Narrabri NSW 2390
Information to include in your disclosure
Depending on your circumstances you should consider providing as many of the following details as possible in your disclosure to help us determine how to proceed:
- your name and contact details (recommended)
- the nature of the wrongdoing
- who you think committed the wrongdoing
- when and where the wrongdoing occurred
- relevant events surrounding the issue
- if you did anything in response to the wrongdoing
- others who know about the wrongdoing and have allowed it to continue
- whether you believe your information is a Public Interest Disclosure under the PID Act (you do not have to state that your information is a Public Interest Disclosure for it to be considered as such, but it will assist the agency if you do)
- if you are concerned about possible reprisal as a result of making your disclosure.
Be clear and factual. Avoid speculation, personal attacks and emotive language as they divert attention from real issues. If you have any supporting information, such as correspondence, documents, files, notes or a diary of events, you should provide these to the authorised officer. You can also include the names of any people who witnessed the conduct or who may be able to verify what you are saying. You should not investigate a matter yourself before making the disclosure because this may hinder any future investigation.
Can I remain anonymous?
Yes, you can make an anonymous disclosure. Identifying yourself enables us to provide you with the protections, support and updates you are entitled to receive. Providing your details also allows investigators to contact you to clarify details of your disclosure or ask for any new information. We have the discretion not to investigate if you do not provide you name and contact details or are unable to give further information or assistance if it is needed.
Protections for disclosers
You cannot be subject to any civil, criminal or administrative liability (including disciplinary action) for making a disclosure in accordance with the PID Act. No contract to which you are a party can be terminated on the basis that your disclosure is a breach of contract. You remain liable for your own conduct. By making a disclosure you do not gain immunity from investigation of your own role in any wrongdoing.
You are protected against reprisal. It is an offence for any person to cause you any detriment because they suspect or believe that you made, or will make a Public Interest Disclosure. Detriment includes any disadvantage to you, including dismissal, injury, discrimination or alteration of your position to your disadvantage. Unless you consent to your identity being disclosed, your identity will be protected. The PID Act protections never expire.
The Commonwealth Ombudsman's Office is responsible for oversight of the PID Scheme. They have published a series of guides and fact sheets.