This year IBAC's Victorian Public Interest Disclosure Coordinator annual forum was held online.
It covered IBAC's upcoming review of Victorian bodies' Public Interest Disclosure policies and procedures.
The forum was also an opportunity for Public Interest Disclosure Coordinators and other state and local government integrity professionals to learn more about how to handle disclosures, and how they are assessed and investigated.
It featured a panel discussion and Q&A with:
- Stacey Killackey - Executive Director, Legal, Assessment & Review, and Compliance, IBAC
- Frank Joyce - Executive Manager Governance & Strategy, City of Whittlesea
- Ros Wozniak - Director, Investigations, Victorian Ombudsman.
DAVID: Well, welcome, everyone, and thank you for joining us at our Public Interest Disclosure Coordinator Annual Forum. I'm David Wolf, Deputy Commissioner here at IBAC, and I'm pleased to be facilitating this event today. Firstly, I'd like to acknowledge and pay my respects to the traditional custodians of the lands that we're all on and meeting on today. I'm in the land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, and I pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging and to any Aboriginal people joining us today at this forum. So we have around 250 people participating in the forum with representatives from across all parts of metropolitan and regional Victoria and including participants from the health and education sector, emergency services, regulators, local governments and the legal fraternity. It's fantastic that so many of you could join us. I also want to specifically welcome our partner agencies within the Victorian Integrity System, as well as those joining from interstate. Today's forum will discuss on Public Interest Disclosure Act, particularly highlighting the objectives and performance of the scheme, but also delving into some of the challenges with the intent of sharing information and solutions. It's important at the outset to reflect on the objectives of the scheme, which is to encourage and facilitate disclosures, to provide protections for those who do make disclosures, to ensure proper assessment and investigation where necessary and to provide for confidentiality. There are some complexities in managing disclosures, but it is important that the key objectives, particularly confidentiality, are always at front of mind. What we do know is the PID scheme is an essential element in the developing of a speak up culture for the identification and exposure of improper conduct across the public sector. We hope that today's forum offers you all some practical strategies to strengthen your existing systems and maintain a working culture free of corruption and to help with that.
Today, we are joined by three speakers who have broad experience and expertise in working across the PID scheme. In a short while you'll hear from Stacey Killackey. Stacey is the Executive Director of Legal Assessment and Review here at IBAC. Also from Ros Wozniak, who's the Director of investigations at the Victorian Ombudsman, and Frank Joyce, Executive Manager of Governance and Strategy from the City of Whittlesea. We appreciate the time you've all taken to be here with us today and very much look forward to your insights. There will be an opportunity to ask questions during the audience Q&A session in the second half of this webinar. So I encourage you to submit any comments and questions you have throughout today's event by using the Q&A function, which you'll see on the bottom of your screen. This webinar will go for about one hour and we will continue the conversation of the event by sending you any relevant resources and answering questions we're not able to get to in today's forum. And please note that we are not able to answer questions about any of our ongoing investigations. A recording of the forum will be made available on the IBAC website in the coming weeks, and we'll also share the presentation slides. If you'd like to turn live captions on, you can do so by clicking on closed captions in the meeting control at the bottom of your desktop or if you're using a mobile device clicking on settings in the Zoom app, then tapping meeting to turn on closed captions. If you experience any technical difficulties, please ensure you have downloaded the latest version of Zoom. I appreciate there will be some participants in today's forum who are quite familiar with the act and managing disclosures. And just by way of example, in my role at IBAC, I assess and determined around ten matters in accordance with the Public Interest Disclosure Act each week. And all those have many variations and circumstances and complexities. But equally there'll be many of us who have limited practical experience with this scheme. So we hope that by sharing our collective experience, you'll be able to take away some useful insights and learning from today's forum.
So now I'm pleased to introduce our first presenter for the day. Stacey Killackey joined IBAC in May of 2021 and Stacey leads IBAC’s Legal Assessment Review and compliance teams. Prior to commencing at IBAC Stacey was Director of Workplace and Education Law at the Department of Education and Training. Stacey is also an experienced lawyer who's been practicing since 2000, primarily in workplace relations and litigation, as well as some time in community legal practice in Darwin. And prior to working in government, Stacey worked at Coors Chambers Westgarth. Stacey will speak about the purpose of the PID Act, the role of the PID coordinator and our Section 60 review. Please welcome Stacey.
STACEY: Thanks, David. Next slide please. So at IBAC we are Victoria's anticorruption and police oversight body. One of our key purposes is to prevent and expose public sector corruption and police misconduct but another very critical function that we perform and which is the topic of today's presentation is the assessment of all public interest disclosures that come into IBAC. We determine whether they will be a public interest complaint or not and that is a function that we perform in addition to all of our other prevention and education functions around the PID act. The purpose is to provide framework for disclosures and who can receive, investigate and assess those disclosures. Protections for disclosures and building a culture of integrity and providing confidentiality so that people feel free to speak up about what's going on in the work place or more genuinely about things that they see that involve public sector agencies is really important part of the integrity framework. The public interest disclosures act provides for the functions and powers of IBAC and some of those are what I'll talk about today including the section 60 PID reviews. But firstly I want to acknowledge the important role of PID coordinators. We work with PID coordinators when we're assessing public interest disclosures. The PID coordinator plays an incredible role in educating organizations and staff within the organizations about the PID scheme they receive and can notify IBAC about the disclosures and often they play a very important role in managing disclosure welfare. What we wanted to talk a bit about today is about the assessment process so when IBAC receives a disclosure, the assessment and review teams that sit within our division will receive the disclosure and assess it. I can come back to that later. Firstly I want to talk about some of the data because everybody loves data and particularly how many complaints we receive and how many of those are notifications under the PID act. Now important thing about this first slide is it goes sort of in reverse order. So starting with the most recent data first. What the slide shows you is that IBAC continued to receive increasing numbers of complaints quite significantly. So between 2019 and 2021-2022, we've had almost a 54% increase in complaints that we're receiving. We consider all of these complaints under the PID Act. What the slide also shows is notifications under the PID act so those are from agencies and has remained steady so one of the considerations is that people are making the complaints more directly to IBAC doesn't mean that people aren't making complaints or is it that there's nothing to complain about. So I think PID coordinators play a really important role in educating staff and the organizations to build that speak up culture. Next slide. This slide talks about the notification specifically. So there are two ways that notifications often come into IBAC. One is through the IBAC act so section 57 notification. Now that requires organizations to notify IBAC of suspected corrupt conduct. That's separate from a public interest disclosure. When you look at this data, you can see that between 2021 and 2019 and 2021, notifications has remained relatively steady. Unfortunately, there has been a decrease, at least from what we are receiving in public interest disclosures that we have received but there is further work to do to get out there and educate people about their rights and protections that apply to making a disclosure, which is very important. Next slide please. We want to bring to your attention today a public interest disclosure that when you're receiving disclosures, or matters within your organization some of the key issues that you should be aware of. These will give rise to proper conduct. So improper conduct is one of the key elements as to what gives rise to a disclosure and the threshold is relatively low but what this shows as public interest coordinators we should be looking at allegations of improper influence in awarding of contracts. There's some high risk public sector agencies so these are agencies often with these high value projects. We see a lot of management of grants and grant money because allegations of improper conduct can come up quite often in that space. Similarly a conflict of interest in procurement and investigations and recruitment. Excessive use of force is another element and one that's important to be able to identify is access to information and it's misuse. So these are just some issues when you're a PID coordinators and you're considering allegations or complaints that have come before you the content of the complaint gives rise to something that might be an improper conduct allegation made out. As I started to elude to before I want to talk about the process. When PID continues receive we can consider all the information given to us. Often we'll call to request further information. That's a really important part of us being able to make a proper assessment but some of the things that's really important from your part as a PID coordinator is if you have a question about whether something might or might not be improper conduct, we want to encourage people to reach out and contact IBAC and ask those questions. You can contact staff, teaming leaders and managers and now a triage team that can triage and prioritize matters. Similarly when you are sending in your notification, making sure that IBAC's aware if it needs priority assessment and this is really important if you have welfare concerns or there are other urgent matters that you think that IBAC needs to be aware of to make sure that we can assess your matter as quickly as possible. The other element that I want to talk about today is IBAC under the IBAC act, we have obligations or rights to commence a PID review. So for every entity that can receive disclosures, one of the things that the PID requires is that you have procedures to receive disclosures, handle disclosures and notifications. And so this year, part of the review will be to look at whether your procedures are consistent with the legal obligations in the act. The purpose of the review is to really help entities so that we can have a robust PID scheme. We can help identify gaps, suggest areas for improvement and help build that robust culture of integrity. When we're looking at procedures during the review, we will engage with you actively about what the review's finding, whether you need to amend your procedures or whether we can make suggestions about how the PID act could be better reflected. Is the information that you're providing about the protections that will apply clear, easily understood, is there adequate information or any information about the welfare supports available to disclosures? So this is a process where we're able to work with you and have a look at all of your PID procedures. So after the section 60 review has been conducted we'll identify areas of improvement or where your guidance might need further work. There may be no further work required or we may recommend enhancements or changes and we want to provide guidance to each organization in the making of PIDS.
DAVID: Okay. Thank you, Stacey. A range of questions coming in and please keep submitting those questions for us because we'll get to them after our presentations. If I can just touch briefly on what you raised there, firstly, the interesting part is around the volume of notifications and reporting received by IBAC and I'm interested in exploring that with Frank around how coordinators are doing those. So a coordinator at a receiving entity and how those assessments are being conducted on disclosures and that may give us some insight as to why the numbers are decreasing somewhat, but I also have concerns about underreporting. So we might explore that but importantly in the review that you've just eluded to, Stacey, I think it's important that we say up front that this is about improving the system. We'll be looking for material from agencies and working with those agencies to provide information back around in better track sis in the PID regime and it really should be seen as a positive experience and I think one of the important things as well is our findings in respect to each agency will be done in private.
STACEY: That's absolutely correct.
DAVID: Okay. I'd like to now introduce Ros Wozniak, director of investigations at the Victorian ombudsman. ROS is a former new south Wales police force Detective senior sergeant having spent 25 years in investigation and operation management roles across the private and public sector. Ros plays a key role in the assessment of PIDS and investigation. So in that role, ROS has regular communication with IBAC. Please welcome Ros Wozniak.
ROS: Thank you, David and good afternoon, everybody. It's very nice to be here and have a bit of a chat to you about the Victorian ombudsman's role in the public interest disclosure scheme and there are two distinct area of our role that I would like to speak to you about today. So next slide please. Thank you. So the Victorian ombudsman is a receiving entity as defined by section 13 of the PID act. And we receive information about various public sector bodies or people within those bodies. There are some areas or some organizations we can't receive information about and we consider those to be misdirected disclosures and the IBAC and might receive those types of complaints instead or disclosures instead, rather. But if we are able to receive information, and bearing in mind that the PID act tends towards a no wrong door approach, we take that information and we do a preliminary assessment, and that is different from the assessment that the IBAC obviously makes in its role as the body that determines whether this information is ultimately given the status of a public interest complaint. The offices in my team, so the investigations team at the Victorian ombudsman conducts this particular type of assessment and we use a checklist to do so and there are various elements of the information that we conduct that preliminary assessment upon. It's important to note that we can't make inquiries at this stage. The legislation does not provide the access for us to do so. However, we can make very limited inquiries with a disclosure. So what can happen is our early resolutions team or intake area may receive some initial information it makes its way to my team and we can deal with that information directly there and then. Occasionally we need to do a call back and this is where my team might get in touch with a discloser and attempt to get further information about what it is that is being disclosed. We have 28 days in terms of our statutory obligation to make a referral or to determine that that information does not meet the threshold of a public interest disclosure. From a practical point of view our assessment may take days or weeks and that depends on the complexity of the information and then we refer this information to the IBAC along with our assessment and we found over the last few years that providing our assessment to the IBAC is helpful in, I guess, showing our workings out on the information that we've received and then the IBAC determines whether this information from the Victorian ombudsman meets the threshold for a public interest complaint or otherwise and I've just included on my slide there a little bit of information about the last financial year statistics and last financial year and I might note that it's pretty similar numbers. We've had a 214 PID assessments that we've conducted within the investigations and those concern potential allegations and of those we referred 110 to the IBAC and those have 248 allegations. And it occurs between the process and respect to public interest disclosures the IBAC had 106 public interest complaints referred back to Victorian ombudsman for investigations. It's important to note that the IBAC may refer matters to other bodies depending on the nature of the information but in last financial year it deemed 106 pertinent to refer back to the ombudsman and those matters contain 243 allegations. If I could have the next slide please. So we move along to the next area that the Victorian ombudsman sees in terms of the scheme and that is that we are also an investigative body in relation to public interest complaint matters. So we're dealing with matters that have been deemed by the IBAC to be public interest complaints and have allegations to be investigated. So section 15 determines what they may do and the ombudsman act speaks to the fact that the ombudsman must investigate peak allegations unless there's certain things that apply and those things might be that the allegations are already under investigation by another body, for example. So the Victorian ombudsman has 45 days to assess and make inquiries so we do have an inquiries matter now and interestingly that particular provision came into effect in 2020, January 2020. Before that, the ombudsman had to investigate of a formal investigation and now we have a little bit more in which to deal with these particular matters that the IBAC refer over to us and this is the part I guess for you as public interest coordinators, this is where the VO in particular may commence an engagement with you. We will be seeking to leverage your position within an organization to do things like discreetly procure information for us. Bearing in mind that confidentiality is key as David and Stacey already mentioned before me. It's really important for the Victorian ombudsman to ensure that the details of the discloser and the details of the disclosure are not identified. So we need to be very clear and very cautious in terms of who we approach within an organization that may be subject to certain allegations or towards a person WNG a particular organization and to ensure that confidentiality is maintained. And you are all aware of your confidentiality obligations in that space so we'll deal generally directly with you and we seek to have a collaborative working relationship with you in that space and we invite any questions that you may have of us. No questions are silly questions. Assumptions are made I think so we try our best to invite any questions and make sure that PID coordinators understand what we mean from them when conducting an investigation something that might have occurred within your organization. Welfare consideration, I think that that is important and the welfare of all people concerns including yourself as PID coordinators is you're navigating pretty interesting territory when you're having inquiries and responding to a summons for example which is one of the ombudsman's coercive powers that may come into play. It's important to discuss with us any welfare considerations that you may personally have and then for you to also consider welfare considerations within the context of people being inquired about and investigated and indeed if you have become aware of who the discloser is because you may have had a approach by the discloser, it's important for you to consider what the welfare needs are of that person or that group of people. The previous slide -- I'm sorry if I could just go back to that other slide. Thank you very much. We finalised last year 105 public interest complaints and concerning 218 allegations and we did that, we finalised 26 through formal investigation and we finalised 179 of those using our inquiries. Thank you very much. Next slide please. In terms of some common themes that we see with respect to matters that are referred as either PIDS or PICS is nepotism in recruitment, disuse of confidence SHL information, manipulation of procurement processes and excessive use of force in prisons and misuse of financial delegations and other public funding concerns. Thank you.
DAVID: That's how the VO goes about acquitting responsibilities. Firstly, coming across to IBAC for assessment. 110 matters came across to IBAC with that assessment, with 106 we agreed with and sent back as public interest complaints. It's interesting that that analysis in thinking really does help us to assess the matters on an individual basis as well and it might be something that receiving entities can think about when a disclosure is made instead of just packaging it and sending it straight to IBAC. Perhaps doing that initial assessment yourselves and that might help determine whether it meets that threshold as well. Not only the disclosures but all of those party to the process because it is and can be quite a difficult process.
I'd like to introduce our final speaker today. Frank Joyce is executive manager governance and strategy. Frank has leadership, strategy and responsive service provision that meets community needs. He's worked in local government for 27 years in a range of management and executive roles across community services, corporate services and governance. He's currently the executive manager of governance and strategy at the counsel and leads government risks corporate planning legal research and analytics. He's also the counsel's public interest disclosure coordinator. He is a graduate of the executive leadership program and the Australian institute of company directors. Frank will be speaking to us today on how the City of Whittlesea raises awareness and deals with PID disclosures, thank you, Frank.
FRANK: Just a couple of slides to go through. The key considerations of the public interest disclosure coordinator or officer. Some scenarios in local government that might be considered when a PID needs to be submitted and also resources that might be available. So move on to the next slide. So as mentioned by our previous presenters, it is really important that as a public interest coordinator that you raise awareness across your organization. So the ways that we've raised awareness at the City of Whittlesea is we also had our public interest disclosure act 2012 procedure and that's on our website so the community can have access to that and we link that very closely with our complaints process. So from the community's perspective, they're going in to lodge a complaint, they can also understand what it is if it could potentially be seen as a public interest disclosure and what the process is to raise that with myself or one of the officers involved. We also have a number of other policies which very much link to the public interest disclosure. So our gift policy, conflict of interest policy, fraud and corruption policy and plan as well as complaints policy. We're also letting people understand what the role of a public interest disclosure is and what a public interest complaint is. We also have a code of conduct and also we do a quarterly report at a high level just advising them of if we're aware of any fraud potential, fraud or corruption or public interest complaints and we don't give the details of course but we just give them an understanding of how they're managing that so they've got the confidence that we're on top of it and also considering anything that might be coming out relating to the conduct of our staff and officers. So it's really important that you have a clear understanding of your role as public interest coordinator and officers. We have two officers and myself as the coordinator at the City of Whittlesea. There's really great resources on the IBAC website that talks through what those responsibilities are but essentially, make sure that you're available to take the disclosures. You provide confidentiality to those disclosers and ensure that you work to do the assessment of the complaint to determine whether or not it is a disclosure. It's really important that you manage to do work to gather information and also maintain that confidentiality and only disclose what you need to disclose in order to get the information to help you to assess and make a determination on the matter. If it is determined that it's not a public interest disclosure then you have 28 days to get back to the person who has disclosed and what the outcome is and also what the options are. As part of the role you also have a really clear responsibility to manage your expectations of the person who has disclosed and talk to them about what the process will be and keep them informed throughout the process. If it is a public interest disclosure or to air on the side of caution, I would put that notification through but also it's really important as mentioned earlier, you can actually call the IBAC to talk through the matter and make a decision about whether or not it is actually worse or is it something that doesn't quite meet the threshold and as previously mentioned, any people involved in the investigation is really important and needs to be front of mind and you may need to assign somebody to ensure that the wellbeing is being managed. So a couple of examples of disclosures that may be considered in local government. So a misuse of assets so it may be that people using equipment or assets for their own personal use. This can be an example of where somebody is using counsel vehicle outside for personal use or using equipment from the office or from there for their own personal use and adhering to the code of conduct and where it could potentially be seen as fraudulent if you're getting personal gain. The next -- this might be an example where people may be misusing their power or the information to try to get a better deal for themselves or family member in relation to property. So we have had there may be circumstances where we need to disclose that. Next. We have an example where we have somebody who has been sent to PD for a role by the hiring manager and personal relationship that's been investigated and conflict of interest process wasn't adhered to so there may be inappropriate recruitment and nepotism so those are things ensuring that there's protocols around recruitment and ensuring recruitment processes. Another item is potentially on the procurement of contracts so where information may be going out or contract especially there's confidence SHL information or if they're given any bias in that process because of personal connexion that could potentially be -- well, that would be a public interest disclosure or information might be provided so that a vendor can undercut prices to be in favour for that contract. So we do get complaints that might come through that we do determine public interest disclosures so people might be unhappy with getting a parking fine and we say well that's not really corrupt conduct. So we talk about referring that to the process. The next slide. So just in relation to support for the public interest disclosure, this is just a screen shot from the IBAC website but there's really fantastic guidelines and advice and information sheets. So really encourage people to have a look at the resources. If you don't receive a lot of public interest disclosures you might want to look on the website and follow your own policy and procedures as well just to make sure that you're doing what's required of you as a public interest disclosure coordinator but certainly also encourage you to contact IBAC for any advice and support through the process at any time as well.
DAVID: Thank you, Frank and thank you for promoting the material that's available for coordinators on the website. That was totally unprompted. So you can get a gold stamp and can leave early. A couple of things that struck me and it's great to hear from someone who is really dealing with these matters as they come into the organization and we hear is quite complex and daunting sometimes. I think that first slide is the five key functions and priorities of public interest disclosure coordinator is really pertinent so thank you for that and the point you made about communicating with IBAC and talking about where the matters are meeting the threshold or not, that is really useful and we certainly encourage people to do that. Alternatively, if you're unsure it's better to have the matter assessed by us rather than not so we'd encourage you to do that as well.
So we have now come to the Q and A part of the forum and thank you to those that submitted questions with their registration and please continue to submit questions as we continue through the forum. We'll try to answer as many as possible and we'll keep our responses relatively concise. There's questions we may not get so and we'll answer them in the coming weeks. The first question I've got, starting with you Frank, when a public interest disclosure is received what steps do you undertake to ensure that you're meeting the requirements of the discloser.
FRANK: The first thing that I do is ensure that I can talk through -- if I'm not aware of the discloser, if it's not anonymous, I'll talk through with them regarding what the process would be and what they can expect and also give relative information to help inform that assessment. I'll also talk them through the confidentiality and how to maintain this and also their wellbeing as far as any support and then there may be times when I need to get further information from within counsel and the HR department depending on what the complaints are about to try to get more information but also not providing details of what it's about but just ensuring that they're unable to get information to make that assessment. And I will complete the management notification form which is on the IBAC website. It's a fairly straight-forward form. It just talks through who the discloser is, details and what we have done for the disclosure but also for any actions and then make that notification. As I mentioned, if I do need to discuss it with IBAC beforehand to help me make that assessment then I'll make that phone call. Then I will go back to the discloser within 28 days and let them know and advise them of what the next steps are or what the options are for them to manage that through another means.
DAVID: Terrific and Ros is there anything that you'd like to add to that.
ROS: Yeah, I think VO has a very similar process in terms of considering items such as confidentiality and welfare but as a receiving entity and also an investigation entity should the IBAC return a positively assessed public interest complaint, we consider various things in our assessment as I mentioned in our talk before and some of those things are, you know, whether we believe the disclosure has a reasonable belief associated with the information that they are providing to us. We look at the timeframe associated with when this person became aware of the information and when they are disclosing the information to us. We genuinely consider a time frame of 12 months unless there is other reasonable explanations for a delay in provision of that information and when we complete our assessment we set our workings out and provide an assessment document to the IBAC to help it's consideration. But if we don't consider the information to be a public interest disclosure worthy of referral to the IBAC we may consider that information under the general complaint provisions. And as Frank mentioned earlier to disclose what it is that we are doing with that information and whether a referral is due to the IBAC or whether we will be considering it under our general complaint provisions. We then, I guess, from an operational perspective, if we do refer the information to the IBAC we close the case at that point and we let the potential discloser know about the protections that are available to them and that we have referred that matter to the IBAC for its consideration.
DAVID: Thank you for that. So what I'm hearing is one of the really important elements of the public interest disclosure coordinator and all the VO office is around managing expectations or setting expectations for disclosers as well as part of the confidentiality and welfare considerations. How important is setting it up at the start for a smooth running process. Frank to you.
FRANK: I think it's really important because people want to be kept informed but also have a clear understanding about it won't happen overnight potentially and there's also real anxiety about the confidentiality and will they be a victim as a result and we're doing all we can to make sure that it really important and I think that the sooner that we can actually make a decision and keep it informed and make a referral or let them know the easier to manage it around our complaints process the better. So we try to expedite as much as we can.
DAVID: Excellent. Now Ros, both you and Frank raised welfare as an issue here and I'd like to explore that a little bit further. Some of the considerations that you have taken Stacey. I want to hear from you about welfare as disclosures as well. So perhaps talk me through some of the considerations around that scenario and making sure the supports are in place.
ROS: Yeah, thank you, David. I think that it's important for us all to acknowledge as people that participate in this particular scheme that we can't underestimate the personal impacts that might be felt by people who wound up making disclosures and then also as I pointed to a little bit earlier in my talk, the implications of welfare around those that are involved. So it could be people that are subject to the complaint. It could be PID coordinators other people in your organization who may need to provide information, who may feel curious about the matter and worry about the implications for them. Because confidentiality is key as we discussed before. You may find within your organization people not understanding the confidentiality requirements and demonstrating curiosity and they could get themselves in some real hot water if it starts turning into some form of reprisal or detrimental action as we mentioned before. So in considering what you need to do to ensure that welfare management is in place for those various cohorts of people but in particular a discloser that might be within your organization is to keep the communication live at the VO, we communicate regularly with disclosers and listen to their concerns and address those concerns to the extent that we could do so and I think some people are quite ready to use things associated with their organization. Most public sector organizations have those services available but people, I think, have some anxieties and paranoia about whether they're confidential but you can't always have a full understanding of what's going on for a particular person. We offer the use of our EAP service for disclosers if that's something that you might consider is warranted or necessary when you're considering welfare concerns for a discloser in your organization.
DAVID: And Ros mentioned welfare supports that are available, perhaps you can talk us through what's available from a IBAC perspective.
STACEY: Yes, thanks, David. So as we're also an investigating entity and one of our roles is to investigate police misconduct and once we commence an investigation, we'll have access to welfare services so very much like Ros, we provide services to provide welfare support to everyone involved in an investigation and we're particularly mindful for people who are disclosers. So those welfare supports are available. Taking it back a step to the assessment process, so when matters were coming in and we're assessing a matter as to whether it's a public interest complaint, it is really helpful if as a public interest coordinator you're aware of welfare concerns or you're aware of how we should communicate with a discloser because that information is part of the process, we can have that information front of mind. It might be we can't e-mail a complainant or there's other people that we should speak to. That's an important part. It's also important that if a matter is determined to be a public interest complaint, the act has quite strong limitations on the sharing of that information. So if IBAC assesses a public interest complaint, and even in the lead up to that, there's restrictions on the disclosure of the content of that complaint. There's also the disclosure of the identity of the discloser complainant and what it does provide is that there's exceptions to that so that information can be disclosed by a person to get welfare support and that's an important piece of information. Information can also be disclosed for a worker's compensation claim. So from a coordinators perspective, understanding what you can disclose but also understanding where you can disclose certain information particularly in relation to welfare is really important. And it's important information that needs to be given to Complainants.
DAVID: That touched on points that I want to go back to. Setting up that process in the first instance is really important. Particularly about how you're going to contact them either by e-mail, mail or phone and making sure that that is confidential itself. Letters have been marked for the person but it raises suspicion and therefore a suspicion in the organization as to what might be occurring in terms of the discloser or potential investigation. Importantly the point you talked about around the work place and this is the question I want to get to. When the definition of improper conduct was amended to include work place conduct. So examples of where a person might be the subject of management action or under performance management and that person may then submit a public interest disclosure around Activity that is occurring in the organization. And what does that mean for the organization in terms of stopping one and starting another and can you parallel. And have you thought about that and what's the process within the organization when it occurs.
FRANK: It is really challenging and it obviously needs to be considered on a case by case basis. One of our public interest disclosure officers is one of our HR staff which is aware of something in that. And but we maintain that confidence. It is challenging.
DAVID: Indeed and Ros, you would perhaps see more examples of this than most organizations.
ROS: We do David and it's a tricky landscape to be navigating. It's really important to create, as far as possible that corridor between the two things that are occurring, and then the public interest complaint matter and that's probably easier said than done and this is where we will often need to navigate, you know, perceptions or actual detrimental action concerns because a person that may be an employee under some form of management action and also may be making a disclosure and being very concerned about action that's being taken against you as a person so we have worked in the past with organizations navigating this territory to remind them that section 51 of the PID act applies where a person can request a transfer for a period of time or sometimes permanently if they have concerns in that space.
DAVID: Thank you Ros, and Stacey I might just get you to highlight section 44 around what's permitted in terms of management action.
STACEY: Yeah so it is permitted for an organization to continue with management action as long as it's not part of obviously the public interest disclosure or the public interest complaint so that is permitted obviously we need to be mindful that there's no action taken which is detrimental so that needs to be front of mind for all of any management action is that it isn't a reprisal or associated or attached to the making of the complaint by the Complainant but certainly management action is permitted and available should there be or arise in relation to the complainant a discloser.
DAVID: Thank you. So thank you all for joining us today and a big thank you again to Stacey Ros and Frank and all the attendees and organizers for your contribution to today's forum. We'll send the links to the resources mentioned throughout the session as well as the slides and recording of today's webinar so keep an eye out for that in your inbox. To keep updated on the latest information you can also subscribe to our newsletter insights or visit our website and we also regularly share updates on twitter so cheque those out as well. Finally as this forum comes to an end you could exit soon the webinar and you'll see a link to complete a short survey to help us plan future events and we take these very seriously. We look forward to seeing you again at future IBAC events and thank you very much. Bye for now.