Protected Disclosure Act 2012

The purpose of this State Government Act is to encourage and facilitate the making of disclosures of improper conduct by public officers and public bodies including Councillors and Council Officers.

It has also been designed to ensure that public organisations such as councils are responsible, accountable and protect the public by exposing serious public sector unlawful activity.

The Act provides protection to persons (sometimes referred to as whistleblowers) who make disclosures in accordance with the Act and establishes a system for these matters to be investigated and remedial action to be taken if necessary.

We will not tolerate improper conduct by our employees, officers or Councillors, nor the taking of reprisals against those who come forward to disclose such conduct.

We support the making of disclosures that reveal:

  • Corrupt conduct

  • Conduct involving a substantial mismanagement of public resources

  • Conduct involving a substantial risk to public health and safety or the environment.

Guidelines have been developed and procedures adopted to manage compliance with the Act.

When does the Protected Disclosure Act come into effect?

The Protected Disclosure Act 2012 came into operation on 10 February 2013.

A Whistleblower is a person who makes a protected disclosure.

The Protected Disclosure Act 2012 replaces the Whistleblowers Protection Act 2001.

What is the Protected Disclosure Act 2012?

In summary where a person believes that there are reasonable grounds to believe that a councillor or council employee is either engaging in improper conduct or taking detrimental action, that person may report that conduct (termed “Protected Disclosure”) and in doing so can be assured of confidentiality and protection from any detrimental action or reprisal as a result of making the protected disclosure.

The person making the complaint is to be referred to as the complainant.

What is the purpose of the act?

The main purposes of the Act are to:

  • encourage and facilitate disclosures of improper conduct or detrimental action by public officers and public bodies
  • protect persons making those disclosures
  • provide for confidentiality for the content of the disclosures and the identity of the complainant and
  • provide for the matters disclosed to be properly investigated and dealt with.

What is improper or corrupt conduct?

For Council to consider allegations, there must be reasonable evidentiary grounds for the belief that improper or corrupt conduct has occurred in an official capacity, which involves substantial:

  • mismanagement of public resources or
  • risk to public health or safety or the environment or
  • corruption

Who can complain?

Any person who has reasonable grounds for believing that improper or corrupt conduct has occurred.

Disclosures can be in writing or made orally and may be made direct to one of the contacts listed in this brochure.

The complainant may provide information anonymously or can elect to advise the IBAC directly or if it concerns a Councillor the IBAC or the Ombudsman directly.

What will it cost?

There is no cost involved in making a disclosure.

What is council procedure?

The Council will:

  • promptly provide an acknowledgement of the protected disclosure
  • make any initial enquires deemed necessary, and
  • make a determination whether the complaint is covered by the provisions of the Protected Disclosure Act 2012.

If the information is determined to be a protected disclosure or if the Complainant requests protection or the Protected Disclosure Coordinator considers they should have protection the Complainant is entitled to the protection provided by the Protected Disclosure Act 2012.

The matter will be referred to the IBAC for consideration of the evidence and will confirm whether the allegation represents a protected disclosure.

The IBAC will also determine who will undertake the investigation of the allegation(s) made. If the information is determined not to be a protected disclosure the Complainant will be advised

Disclosure in relation to a Councillor

The only method of making a disclosure in relation to a Councillor is to the Ombudsman or IBAC.

Is there protection for whistleblowers?

  • Complainants will receive protection if the Protected Disclosure Co-ordinator determines that your complaint falls within the definition of a protected disclosure.
  • If your complaint does not fall within the definition of protected disclosure but you have requested protection.
  • If the Protected Disclosure Co-ordinator considers your complaint warrants protection.

Is there protection from reprisal?

A person must not take detrimental action against a person in reprisal for making a protected disclosure. A penalty of up to two years imprisonment applies.

A person who takes detrimental action against a person in reprisal for making a protected disclosure is also liable in damages to that person. The damages may be recovered in proceedings as for a tort in any court of competent jurisdiction.

Is it an offence to make a false disclosure?

Yes - a person must not knowingly provide false information under the Protected Disclosure Act.

Penalties including imprisonment may be applied for making a false disclosure.

Who to contact

Post  Phone

Attention: Protected Disclosure Co-ordinator
City of Greater Geelong
PO Box 104


Protected Disclosure Co-ordinator
1800 240 744

Welfare Officer
03 5272 4909

Refer to the feedback form below

If your complaint relates to the CEO or a Councillor please contact:

Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC)
GPO Box 24234

Phone: 1300 735 135
Fax: 03 8635 6444

Alternative contact person:

The Ombudsman Victoria
Level 1, North Tower, 459 Collins Street
Melbourne 3001 

Phone: 03 9613 6222
Toll free: 1800 806 314
Fax: 03 9614 0246
Email [email protected]

Page last updated: Wednesday, 25 August 2021