Frequently asked questions - Public Interest Disclosure (PID)
What will happen after I disclose information?
The disclosure will be assessed in accordance with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (the PID Act), the PID standards, the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service (SCHHS) Public Interest Disclosure procedure and any other relevant procedure(s).
Under the PID Act, SCHHS must give reasonable information to a discloser.
SCHHS will acknowledge receipt of the PID in writing as soon as practicable. The discloser will be provided with information that meets the requirements of the PID Act and the standards issued by the Queensland Ombudsman, including:
- that their information has been received and assessed as a PID
- the action to be taken by SCHHS in relation to the disclosure, which could include referring the matter to an external agency, or investigating
- the likely timeframe involved
- the name and contact details of the support officer they can contact for updates or advice
- the discloser’s obligations regarding confidentiality
- the protections the discloser has under the PID Act
- the commitment of SCHHS to keep appropriate records and maintain confidentiality, except where permitted under the PID Act
- how updates regarding intended actions and outcomes will be provided to the discloser
- contact details for the Employee Assistance Program.
SCHHS will maintain contact with the discloser and provides regular updates during the management of the PID.
In accordance with the PID Act, after finalising action in response to the PID, SCHHS will advise the discloser in writing of the action taken and the results of the action.
What protections will I have under the PID Act?
A purpose of the PID Act is to provide protections for a person who makes a PID, including from reprisal, as far as reasonably practicable.
- Protection, as much as is possible, against your identity being disclosed.
- Protection against reprisal action being taken against you (including bullying, harassment, or intimidation).
- Protection against civil or criminal liability, including defamation.
Will I be identified as the person making the disclosure?
While SCHHS will make every attempt to protect confidentiality, a discloser’s identity may need to be disclosed such as for the following reasons:
- it is essential under the principles of natural justice and reprisal is unlikely
- to respond to a court order, legal directive or court proceedings.
If it is necessary the identity of a person who has made a PID needs to be revealed for the purpose of natural justice, the delegate must consider that it is unlikely that a reprisal will be taken against the person.
Disclosers should be aware that while SCHHS will make every attempt to keep their details confidential, it cannot guarantee that others will not try to deduce their identity and / or it may be obvious who the discloser is. However, SCHHS will ensure that all parties involved in the matter understand their responsibilities to act professionally and fairly and to ensure their actions cannot be perceived in any way as reprisal action under the PID Act and the consequences for reprisal action.
What will be done if I believe reprisal is being taken against me?
Reprisal against a discloser is a criminal offence. You should immediately report any reprisal action you believe is being taken or has been taken. The information you provide will be considered and, if appropriate, reported to the Crime and Corruption Commission and possibly to the police (depending on the seriousness). Appropriate investigation / enquiries and action will then be taken, and this could include disciplinary action or prosecution. In the interim you will be contacted to discuss any further steps that can be taken to minimise further risk to you with respect to reprisal.
Can I make an anonymous complaint?
The PID Act states a disclosure of information to a proper authority can be made in any way, in writing, verbally, including anonymously.
Disclosing anonymously can make it difficult to seek clarification or more information, to inform of progress or to provide feedback on the action to be taken, or which has been taken on the PID. An anonymous discloser may also experience difficulties in relying upon the protections afforded by the PID Act.
What do I need to provide to support my disclosure?
To assist in the assessment, and any subsequent investigation of a PID, disclosers are requested to:
- Provide contact details (this could be an email address that is created for the purpose of making the disclosure or a telephone number)
- Provide as much information as possible about the suspected wrongdoing
- who was involved
- what happened
- when it happened
- where it happened
- whether there were any witnesses, and if so who they are
- any evidence that supports the PID, and where the evidence is located
- any further information that could help investigate the PID
- provide this information in writing.
A discloser can have either a reasonable belief that the wrongdoing has occurred or provide evidence which tends to support the wrongdoing has occurred.
What if I do not agree with the PID assessment?
If the discloser is dissatisfied with the decision not to investigate or deal with a PID they can request a review by writing to the SCHHS Chief Executive within 28 days of receiving the written reasons for the decision.
When no action is taken, all obligations under the PID Act still apply, including confidentiality and protections from reprisal.