Public Interest Disclosure

What is the Public Interest Disclosure Act?

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (PID Act) commenced on 15 January 2014, repealing the Whistleblowing provisions under the Public Service Act 1999. 

The PID Act promotes integrity and accountability across the Australian public sector by: 

  • Encouraging public officials to disclose information about wrongdoing in the public sector;
  • Ensuring that people who disclose information are supported and protected from any reprisal or detrimental action; and
  • Ensuring that agencies properly investigate and deal with disclosed information about wrongdoing.

Disclosable conduct is conduct of a kind detailed below engaged in by:

  • an agency
  • a public official in connection with their position as a public official
  • a contracted service provider for a Commonwealth contract, in connection with entering into, or giving effect to, that contract.

The types of disclosable conduct (wrongdoing)  which can be disclosed under the PID Act includes, but is not limited to conduct that:

  • contravenes a Commonwealth, state or territory law
  • is corrupt
  • perverts the course of justice
  • results in wastage of public money or public property
  • is an abuse of public trust
  • unreasonably endangers health, safety or the environment
  • involves fabrication or falsification to scientific research, analysis or advice
  • constitutes maladministration
  • is an abuse of a public official's position
  • if proved, would result in disciplinary action against a public official.

Disagreements with government policy or expenditure are not disclosable conduct under the PID Act. Personal work-related conduct is generally not disclosable conduct under the PID Act.

How to make a Public Interest Disclosure

Public interest disclosures can be made by any public official, including: 

  • Australian Public Service (APS) employees
  • individuals employed by the Commonwealth other than as an APS employee who perform duties for an agency, 
  • members of the Defence Forces,
  • appointees of the Australian Federal Police,
  • Parliamentary Service employee,
  • directors or staff members of a Commonwealth company,
  • statutory office holders or any other person who exercises powers under a Commonwealth law
  • individuals of contracted service providers or who provide services for the purpose of a Commonwealth contract.

PID Act Authorised Officers can deem an individual who is not, and has not been, a public official a public official for the purposes of making a disclosure if they reasonably suspect the individual has information that constitutes serious wrongdoing.

A PID can be made orally or in writing to a PID Authorised Officer, or in very limited circumstances to a person outside the Government other than a foreign official. A PID can be made anonymously.

The ABS has developed a form to facilitate the reporting of a disclosure under the PID Act. The form requests only the necessary information to provide when making a public interest disclosure. To make a PID, the ABS encourages use of this form.

PID Act - disclosure of information form

All public interest disclosures should be made to which can only be accessed by an Authorised Officer.

Personal information provided to the ABS as part of a disclosure will be used for the purpose of the PID Act. The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS will handle any personal information that you provide to us. 

Where appropriate, and with your consent, your personal information may be provided for the purposes of the PID Act to the Australian Statistician, Authorised Officers, Officers investigating the reported conduct, and the Commonwealth Ombudsman. 

The ABS Privacy Policy explains how you can make a privacy related inquiry or lodge a privacy complaint. 

You can remain anonymous, or use a pseudonym, however: 

  • the ABS has the discretion not to investigate if you cannot be contacted for further information.
  • the ABS may not be able to notify you about the handling of your disclosure.

ABS Authorised Officers

In the ABS, PID Act Authorised Officers include: 

  • Program Manager, Health and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statistics Branch
  • Director, Policy and Legislation Section

PID Act Authorised officers can be contacted by email at

Protections offered under the Public Interest Disclosure Act

By making a public interest disclosure you are immune from any civil, criminal and administrative liability (including disciplinary action), except where your disclosure is knowing false or misleading or where you are involved in the wrongdoing.

The ABS will take all reasonable steps to protect your identity (unless you provide written consent to disclose details of your identity to other ABS staff for the purposes of the PID Act).

Where there is a risk of reprisal action being taken against you, the ABS will take all steps that are reasonable to protect you from this action.

National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC)

The NACC helps strengthen public trust in government and promote high standards of integrity within the Commonwealth public sector. The NACC is an independent agency that detects, investigates, and reports on serious or systemic corruption in the Commonwealth public sector. The NACC also educates the public sector, and the public, about corruption risks and prevention.

A PID Act Authorised Officer must refer a corruption issue to the Commissioner if, in the course of performing functions under the PID Act, they become aware of an issue that:

  • concerns the conduct of a person who is, or was, a staff member of the agency while that person is, or was, a staff member; and
  • the PID Act Authorised Officer suspects could involve corrupt conduct that is serious or systemic.

The PID officer must also notify the discloser of the referral of the PID. Referring a PID to the Commissioner does not automatically stop the PID process unless the NACC directs otherwise.

More information

For more information, consult the ABS PID Act Authorised Officers by emailing or visit the Commonwealth Ombudsman website.

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