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Whistleblowers Protection Act 1993 (SA)

This Guide is only applicable for those staff employed in UCL Australia

1. Introduction

1.1 The Whistleblowers Protection Act 1993 (SA) protects people who reveal information that is important for the public to know.  It may be information about a person who has:

  • risked public health, safety or the environment
  • acted illegally
  • wasted public money
  • misused public resources.

1.2 The Whistleblowers Protection Act protects people from:

  • being victimised for revealing such information
  • legal action taken against them for revealing the information in good faith.

1.3 For definitions of maladministration, public interest and public officer see appendix A

2. Protections

2.1 A person who makes an appropriate disclosure of public interest information incurs no civil or criminal liability by doing so, as long as.

(a) the person believes on reasonable grounds that the information is true; or

believes on reasonable grounds that the information may be true and is of sufficient significance to justify its disclosure so that its truth may be investigated; and

(b) the disclosure is made to a person to whom it is, in the circumstances of the case, reasonable and appropriate to make the disclosure. See appendix B for appropriate authorities

3. Assisting the official investigation

3.1 A person who discloses public interest information must assist with any investigation of the matters to which the information relates by the police or any other official investigating authority. Failure to do so will result in the forfeiting of any protections afforded by the Act.

4. Confidentiality

4.1 Your identity will not be revealed without your consent except where necessary to ensure that the matters to which the information relates are properly investigated.
      
5. Victimisation

5.1 You are protected under the Act from victimisation or detriment for making a disclosure. This may be dealt with as a tort; or under the Equal Opportunity Act 1984,

5.2 Detriment includes:
             (a) injury, damage or loss; or
             (b) intimidation or harassment; or
             (c) discrimination, disadvantage or adverse treatment in relation to a person's employment; or
             (d) threats of reprisal.

5.3 Victims can lodge a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Commission.  Complaints need to show that:

  • information was revealed
  • it was in the public interest
  • it was appropriate to reveal the information
  • the person or organisation complained against has damaged you
  • the main reason you have suffered was because you revealed the information.

6. False disclosure

6.1 A person who makes a disclosure of false public interest information knowing it to be false or being reckless about whether it is false is guilty of an offence, which could result in a fine of up to $8,000 or 2 years imprisonment and is not protected by this Act.

Appendix A

Definitions

1. maladministration includes impropriety or negligence;
2. public interest information means information that tends to show—

(a) that an adult person (whether or not a public officer), body corporate or government agency is or has been involved (either before or after the commencement of this Act)—
             (i) in an illegal activity; or
             (ii ) in an irregular and unauthorised use of public money; or
             (iii) in substantial mismanagement of public resources; or
             (iv) in conduct that causes a substantial risk to public health or safety, or to the environment; or

(b) that a public officer is guilty of maladministration in or in relation to the performance (either before or after the commencement of this Act) of official functions;

3. public officer means—
(a) a person appointed to public office by the Governor; or
(b) a member of Parliament; or
(c) a person employed in the Public Service of the State; or
(d) a member of the police force; or
(e) any other officer or employee of the Crown; or
(f) a member, officer or employee of—


(i) an agency or instrumentality of the Crown; or
(ii) a body that is subject to control or direction by a Minister, agency or instrumentality of the Crown; or
(iii) a body whose members, or a majority of whose members, are appointed by the Governor or a Minister, agency or instrumentality of the Crown; or

(g) a member of a local government body or an officer or employee of a local government body.

Appendix B

1. A disclosure of public interest information is made to an appropriate authority if it is made to a Minister of the Crown or—

(a) where the information relates to an illegal activity—to a member of the police force;
(b) where the information relates to a member of the police force—to the Police Complaints Authority;
(c) where the information relates to the irregular or unauthorised use of public money—to the Auditor-General;
(d) where the information relates to a public employee—to the Commissioner for Public Employment;
(e) where the information relates to a member of the judiciary—to the Chief Justice;
(f) where the information relates to a member of Parliament—to the Presiding Officer of the House of Parliament to which the member belongs;
(g) where the information relates to a public officer (other than a member of the police force or a member of the judiciary)—to the Ombudsman;
(h) where the information relates to a matter falling within the sphere of responsibility of an instrumentality, agency, department or administrative unit of government—to a responsible officer of that instrumentality, agency, department or administrative unit;
(i) where the information relates to a matter falling within the sphere of responsibility of a local Government body—to a responsible officer of that body;
(j) where the information relates to a person or a matter of a prescribed class—to an authority declared by the regulations to be an appropriate authority in relation to such information.

2. If a disclosure of information relating to fraud or corruption is made, the person to whom the disclosure is made must pass the information on as soon as practicable to—
(a) in the case of information implicating a member of the police force in fraud or corruption—the Police Complaints Authority;
(b) in any other case—the Anti-Corruption Branch of the police force.