The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2018 commenced on 1 July 2019.
Amendments came into effect on 7 October 2021 because of changes to the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Act 2012 (ICAC Act), making the Office for Public Integrity (OPI) a standalone independent body and creating an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).
Under the legislation, public sector employees must report to the OPI any conduct in public administration they think is corrupt. This includes a public officer breaching their duty to act honestly in their role at all times, as well as:
- abuse of public office
- bribery or corruption of public officers
- threats of reprisals against public officers
- demanding or requiring a benefit on the basis of public office
- offences relating to appointment of public office.
Misconduct and maladministration
ICAC will no longer investigate complaints about misconduct and maladministration in public administration, with these matters instead referred to the South Australian Ombudsman for investigation.
The Ombudsman has issued directions and guidelines outlining the reporting requirements for South Australian public officers and authorities to report relevant matters. Further information is about the directions and guidelines issued by the Ombudsman is available here.
Public sector employees are also no longer mandated to report misconduct or maladministration in public administration. However, for the benefit of the public sector and the South Australian community, all public sector employees are strongly encouraged to report any breaches of these matters to the OPI.
The definition of misconduct has also changed and must meet all four criteria:
- The public officer’s breach contravened a code of conduct.
- The breach was intentional and serious.
- The breach happened while acting in their capacity as a public officer.
- The public officer’s breach could result in disciplinary action.
For the avoidance of any doubt, the above amendments to the ICAC Act do not alter the definition of misconduct under the Public Sector Act 2009, or under common law.