Victorians who blow the whistle on public sector corruption and wrongdoing are set to be afforded greater protections with existing legislation set to be overhauled.
The Integrity and Accountability Legislation Amendment (Public Interest Disclosures, Oversight and Independence) Bill 2018 – which was second read in Parliament today – amends the Protected Disclosure Act 2012 to make Victoria’s whistleblower protection system stronger, more accessible and more effective.
Key reforms to the Act include:
- expanding and clarifying the types of public sector improper conduct that a person can disclose
- increasing the pathways for making disclosures and simplifying confidentiality obligations
- protecting disclosers from legal costs and better enabling them to seek support services
The Bill also makes further improvements to Victoria’s integrity regime to ensure our state has the modern and effective structures needed to boost transparency and accountability in Government.
Amendments to the Ombudsman Act 1973 will clarify and modernise the Ombudsman’s power and functions, which include providing them with clear jurisdiction over publicly funded services and improving their powers to deal with complaints.
The Bill also includes other improvements to enable the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Committee (IBAC), Ombudsman and other relevant bodies to work together effectively to further integrate Victoria’s integrity and accountability system, including the better sharing of information to resolve complaints.
These changes include improving fairness safeguards for IBAC public examinations, strengthening the Victorian Inspectorate’s oversight of coercive powers in integrity bodies and streamlining parliamentary oversight by merging the Accountability and Oversight Committee with the IBAC Committee.
The Bill also provides the Ombudsman, IBAC and the Victorian Inspectorate with greater budget independence, similar to that of the Victorian Auditor-General in a move to better protect their independence from Government.
The reforms will help to build and maintain community trust in the public sector by promoting the highest possible standards of public sector conduct in a modern and transparent framework.
Whether it’s modernising the Audit Act, banning taxpayer funded party political advertising or giving IBAC more teeth, the Andrews Labor Government is getting on with boosting public sector transparency and accountability.
Quotes attributable to Special Minister of State Gavin Jennings
“We promised that we’d modernise Victoria’s integrity regime and with these changes we are doing just that. This is about boosting the accountability and transparency of government decision making and tackling wrongdoing.”
“These reforms will also make Victoria’s whistleblower protection system stronger, more accessible and more effective so that people can more easily report public sector corruption and wrongdoing.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020