Governance

Policies and procedures

Policy No.
UP15/4
Function
Human Resources
Authoring Organisational Unit
Complaints Resolution (University Secretariat)
Date Approved
19/10/2015 Revised 16/10/2015
Next Review Date
16/10/2018
Approving Body
Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor And Registrar

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The University of Western Australia

University Policy on: Public Interest Disclosures

Purpose of the policy and summary of issues it addresses:

This policy and its associated procedures provide for the manner in which the University complies with its obligations under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2003 (PID Act). In particular, how the University:

requires disclosures of public interest information to be made;

investigates or causes disclosures to be investigated;

takes action following the completion of an investigation;

reports on the progress and outcome of an investigation and any action taken as a consequence;

expects all persons directly involved in a public interest disclosure to maintain confidentiality, particularly in regard to the identity of the discloser and subject of the disclosure;

maintains records in relation to public interest information; and

meets its reporting obligations.

Definitions:

CCC Act means the Corruption and Crime Commission Act (WA) 2003.

Commission means the Corruption and Crime Commission established under Section 8 of the CCC Act.

detrimental action includes action causing, comprising or involving:

injury, damage, or loss; or

intimidation or harassment; or

adverse discrimination, disadvantage, or adverse treatment in relation to an person's career, profession, employment, trade, or business; or

a reprisal.

discloser means an person who makes a public interest disclosure.

investigating officer means a PID Officer as defined in this Policy or their nominee conducting an investigation of public interest information within the terms of reference given.

proper authority means an person(s) responsible for receiving disclosures of public interest information and for handling Public Interest Disclosures. Proper authorities at the University are its Public Interest Disclosure Officers.

Public Interest Disclosure (PID) means a disclosure to which the PID Act applies and must be:

made by a discloser who believes on reasonable grounds that the information is or may be true;

a disclosure of public interest information;

made to an appropriate proper authority as defined in this Policy.

Public Interest Disclosure Officer (PID Officer) means a person(s) authorised by the University and the Public Sector Commission to undertake the role and duties of such a position at the University.

public interest information means information that tends to show that, in relation to its performance of a public function (either before or after the commencement of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2003), a public authority, a public officer, or a public sector contractor is, has been, or proposes to be, involved in -

improper conduct; or

an act or omission that constitutes an offence under a written law; or

a substantial unauthorised or irregular use of, or substantial mismanagement of, public resources; or

an act done or omission that involves a substantial and specific risk of -

(i) injury to public health;

(ii) prejudice to public safety;

(iii) harm to the environment; or

(iv) a matter of administration that can be investigated under section 14 of the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1971.

Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor means the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor of The University of Western Australia or a person acting in the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor's position.

University means the University of Western Australia.

Vice-Chancellor means the Vice-Chancellor of The University of Western Australia or a person acting in the Vice-Chancellor's position.

Policy statement:

1 General principles

1.1 The University does not tolerate corrupt or other improper conduct, including mismanagement of public resources, in the exercise of the public functions of the University and its officers, employees and contractors.

1.2 The University is committed to the aims and objectives of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2003 (PID Act). It recognises the value and importance of contributions of employees to enhance administrative and management practices and strongly supports disclosures being made by any person as to corrupt or other improper conduct.

1.3 The University takes all reasonable steps to provide protection to a person(s) who makes such a disclosure from any detrimental action in reprisal for the making of a public interest disclosure.

1.4 The University does not tolerate any actual or proposed detrimental action against a person(s) in reprisal for making, or proposing to make, a public interest disclosure. In such cases, the University may pursue legal or disciplinary action within its authority.

2 Roles and responsibilities

2.1 The discloser:

  • makes an appropriate public interest disclosure; and
  • maintains confidentiality of the information disclosed and, in particular, the identity of the person(s) to whom the information relates.

Procedure

Potential disclosers should refer to the Public Sector Commission guide Don't be afraid to speak up at https://publicsector.wa.gov.au/document/dont-be-afraid-speak.

Disclosures must be made to a PID Officer. These include the: Director of Human Resources, General Counsel/the Director of Legal Services and Manager of the Complaint Resolution Unit. Up-to-date contact information is available at https://publicsector.wa.gov.au/document/pid-officer-contact-directory.

Disclosers should be aware that once a disclosure has been properly made, it cannot be withdrawn. The University may still continue to investigate the issues raised.

2.2 A PID Officer, as the proper authority of the University:

  • receives a public interest disclosure;
  • considers whether an investigation is required;
  • carries out, or causes to be carried out, any investigation;
  • maintains confidentiality of the identity of the discloser and person(s) subject to the disclosure, in accordance with the requirements of the PID Act;
  • takes action following an investigation, where appropriate;
  • provides appropriate reports of investigations and action taken to the discloser;
  • creates and maintains proper records in relation to the disclosure;
  • keeps statistics of disclosures made; and
  • acts in accordance with the rules of natural justice or procedural fairness.

Procedure

The Vice-Chancellor will determine the number of PID Officer's and invite employees to take on this role.

An employee cannot begin to act as a PID Officer until their completed Declaration Form has been sent to and approved by the Public Sector Commission. The form is available at: https://publicsector.wa.gov.au/document/public-interest-disclosure-officers-declaration-form. A copy of the completed form must be forwarded to Information Governance Services.

PID Officers shall act in accordance with the University's Procedures for handling Public Interest Disclosures at http://www.uwa.edu.au/university/complaints/pid, as relevant. These procedures contain links to associated flowcharts and forms.

2.3 The person(s) about whom the disclosure is made may be subject to investigation and other action if improper conduct is established.

2.4 An investigating officer:

  • may conduct investigations of public interest information on behalf of a proper authority, within the terms of reference given;
  • maintains confidentiality of the identity of the public interest discloser and person(s) subject to the disclosure, in accordance with the requirements of the PID Act; and
  • makes and keeps secure, comprehensive records of any investigation undertaken.

Procedure

Investigating officers shall act in accordance with the University's Procedures for handling Public Interest Disclosures at http://www.uwa.edu.au/university/complaints/pid, as relevant. These procedures contain links to associated flowcharts and forms.

3 Confidentiality

3.1 The PID Act imposes strict confidentiality requirements in relation to the identity of the discloser and person(s) in respect of whom a public interest disclosure has been made. The disclosure of information which might identify or tend to identify these persons, except in accordance with section 16 of the PID Act, is a serious offence, punishable with a maximum penalty of $24,000 or two years imprisonment.

Procedure

Persons directly involved in a public interest disclosure shall maintain confidentiality as required by Section 2 of this policy and in accordance with the University's Procedures for handling Public Interest Disclosures at http://www.uwa.edu.au/university/complaints/pid, as relevant.

4 Reporting

4.1 Under section 23 (f) of the PID Act, the Vice-Chancellor or nominee is required to report annually to the Public Sector Commissioner on the:

  • number of public interest disclosures received over the reporting period;
  • results of any investigations conducted as a result of the disclosures; and
  • action, if any, taken as a result of each investigation.

Procedure

PID Officers shall maintain a public interest disclosure register as set out in Section 8 of the University's Procedures for handling Public Interest Disclosures at http://www.uwa.edu.au/university/complaints/pid.

5 Records

5.1 Records in relation to a public interest disclosure are captured, maintained and transmitted in a confidential manner and in accordance with University policy and procedures.

Procedure

All persons directly involved in a public interest disclosure shall complete and maintain records as required by the University's Procedures for handling Public Interest Disclosures at http://www.uwa.edu.au/university/complaints/pid.


Related forms:

Assessment and investigation forms (Parts 1 - 5)

Flowchart for receiving and assessing disclosures

Public interest disclosure lodgement form

PID register template

Flowchart for assessing information disclosed

Consent to disclosure of identifying information form

Notification of disclosure of identifying information form

Flowchart for taking action

The above forms are available at http://www.uwa.edu.au/university/complaints/pid.

Policy No:

UP15/4

Approving body or position:

Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor

Date original policy approved: 16/10/2015

Date this version of policy approved: 16/10/2015

Policy revision date:

16/10/2018

Date this version of procedures approved: 16/10/2015

TRIM File No:

F55080

Contact position:

Manager, Complaint Resolution Unit

Related policies or legislation:

Public Interest Disclosure Act 2003 (WA)

University Policy on: Fraud and Corruption (UP08/4)

University Policy on: Student Complaint Resolution (UP07/98)

University Policy on: Public Complaints (UP09/2)

University Policy on: Managing Alleged Breaches of the Code of Conduct for Research and Allegations of Research Misconduct (UP07/4)

UWA Collective Agreements

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