Handling public interest disclosures (whistleblowing)

We provide advice to public authorities to assess, manage and report public interest disclosures. We also provide resources to help public authorities and public officials comply with their obligations under the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994 (PID Act).

NSW Public Interest Disclosures Act 2022

The new NSW Public Interest Disclosures Act 2022 received assent on 13 April 2022 and has a commencement date up to 18 months after assent. This means the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994 continues to remain in force.

The new Act encourages reporters to come forward, protect them when they do and ensure reports of wrongdoing are acted upon.

To receive news as it becomes available (in particular, about the commencement date of the PID Act 2022), subscribe to receive the PID e-News.

You can also find out How the PID Act (2022) is different to the current PID Act or read our special report to Parliament about the PID Bill. Until the PID Act (2022) comes into effect, agencies must continue to comply with the current Act.

Managing a public interest disclosure

We have developed guidance and templates to help public authorities to:

  • recognise and assess a public interest disclosure
  • communicate with a reporter
  • understand requirements about confidentiality, managing risks and fair treatment
  • keep records and report public interest disclosure data.

Read more about Managing a public interest disclosure.

Understanding agency responsibilities

The PID Act places specific obligations on heads of authorities. We offer resources and guidance to help fulfill these obligations. This includes:

  • developing and implementing an internal reporting policy
  • raising awareness and educate staff about the policy and protections of the PID Act
  • nominating a person responsible for dealing with public interest disclosures in your workplace, and equipping them with the skills they need to manage disclosures
  • reporting public interest disclosure data.

Read more about Understanding agency responsibilities.

Publications

Organisational commitment guidelines (A1 to A4)

Guideline A1 - Management commitment to internal reporting
PDF
90.1 KB
NSW Ombudsman, March 2015
How to increase understanding of the benefits and importance of internal reporting systems, policies and practices.

Guideline A2 - Internal reporting policy and procedures
PDF
99.5 KB
NSW Ombudsman, March 2015
Provides guidance to public authorities on how to develop and implement their internal reporting policies and procedures.

Guideline A3 - Awareness and training
PDF
79.5 KB
NSW Ombudsman, March 2015
Provides guidance on who should receive training on how to make, receive and deal with reports of wrongdoing.

Guideline A4 - Evaluation of policy, processes and practices
PDF
89.9 KB
NSW Ombudsman, March 2015
To inform public authorities of the importance of regular evaluation of their public interest disclosure (PID) policies, processes and practices to ensure they are current and comply with legislative requirements and good practice.

Facilitating reporting - Guidelines B1 to B6

Guideline B1 - Who can report wrongdoing
PDF
84.8 KB
NSW Ombudsman, March 2015
To outline who can receive the protections provided by the Public Interest Disclosures Act (PID Act) when they report wrongdoing.

Guideline B2 - What should be reported
PDF
119.1 KB
NSW Ombudsman, August 2020
To provide guidance about the types of wrongdoing that are included within the scope of the Public Interest Disclosures Act (PID Act).

Guideline B3 - Whats not a public interest disclosure
PDF
75.2 KB
NSW Ombudsman, March 2015
To provide clear advice that the Public Interest Disclosures Act (PID Act) does not apply to staff reports that deliberately provide false or misleading information, primarily question the merits of government policy or are made to avoid dismissal or disciplinary action

Guideline B4 - Reporting pathways
PDF
101.8 KB
NSW Ombudsman, March 2015
To outline the internal and external reporting pathways available under the Public Interest Disclosures Act (PID Act).

Guideline B5 - Reporting to Members of Parliament and Journalists
PDF
96.6 KB
NSW Ombudsman, March 2015
Outlines the reporting pathway available in certain circumstances under the Public Interest Disclosures Act (PID Act) to Members of Parliament (MPs) or journalists

Guideline B6 - Anonymous Reporting
PDF
85.3 KB
NSW Ombudsman, March 2015
Providea advice to public authorities on how to deal with public interest disclosures (PIDs) that are made anonymously.

Assessing and investigating disclosures - Guidelines C1 to C7

Guideline C1 - People the subject of a report
PDF
206.6 KB
NSW Ombudsman, March 2015
Provides guidance to organisations in dealing with people who are the subjects of reports of wrongdoing.

Guideline C2 - Reporting to the NSW Ombudsman
PDF
120.9 KB
NSW Ombudsman, March 2015
Provides advice and guidance to public authorities  about the statistical information they need to report to the NSW Ombudsman every six months and how to  provide this information.

Guideline C3 - Assessing and streaming internal reports
PDF
124.9 KB
NSW Ombudsman, March 2015
Outlines the assessment responsibilities of public authorities when a report of wrongdoing is received.

Guideline C4 - Assessing risk of reprisals and conflict
PDF
116.3 KB
NSW Ombudsman, August 2017
Outlines a process for public authorities to identify, analyse, treat and monitor the risk of reprisals and any related workplace conflict when a PID is made.

Guideline C5 - Investigating public interest disclosures
PDF
188.0 KB
NSW Ombudsman, December 2011
Assists organisations to investigate public interest disclosures (PIDs) once an assessment has been made that an investigation is warranted.

Guideline C6 - Managing interactions with investigating authorities
PDF
155.1 KB
NSW Ombudsman, February 2013
Helps clarify the roles and responsibilities of investigating authorities when they refer a public interest disclosure to your organisation.

Guideline C7 - Confidentiality
PDF
212.1 KB
NSW Ombudsman, November 2011
To advise organisations how best to maintain the confidentiality for staff who report wrongdoing, where this is practical and appropriate.

Supporting and protecting reporters - Guidelines D1 to D6

Guideline D1 - Internal reporter support strategy
PDF
223.2 KB
NSW Ombudsman, November 2011
Outlines how organisations can establish and coordinate a support strategy appropriate to each internal reporter.

Guideline D2 - Information advice and feedback to internal reporters
PDF
153.4 KB
NSW Ombudsman, December 2011
Helps organisations decide what information and advice should be given to staff who report wrongdoing.

Guideline D3 - Internal reporters involved in wrongdoing
PDF
182.5 KB
NSW Ombudsman, November 2011
Provides guidance about the circumstances where it may be appropriate that action is not taken against an internal reporter involved in wrongdoing.

Guideline D4 - Preventing and containing reprisals and conflict
PDF
190.3 KB
NSW Ombudsman, December 2011
Provides strategies that organisations can implement to prevent and contain risks of reprisals and related workplace conflict.

Guideline D5 - Responding to allegations of reprisal guidelines
PDF
145.9 KB
NSW Ombudsman, August 2017
Provides advice to public authorities on responding to allegations of detrimental action in reprisal for the making of a public interest disclosure.

Guideline D6 - Finalisation and follow-up
PDF
167.1 KB
NSW Ombudsman, February 2013
Assists organisations to take appropriate follow-up action with internal reporters and subject officers.

Implementation - Guidelines E1 to E2

Guideline E1 - Model for internal reporter support
PDF
142.8 KB
Provides advice to organisations on models for supporting internal reporters and the operational separation of investigation and support functions.

Guideline E2 - Roles and responsibilities
PDF
88.4 KB
NSW Ombudsman, July 2014
To assist in Identifying the key people in a public authority’s internal reporting system.

Training

A new PID Bill

On 14 October 2021 the Special Minister of State, the Hon. Don Harwin MP, introduced the Public Interest Disclosures Bill 2021 (the PID Bill) into the NSW Legislative Council. On commencement, the new PID Bill will replace the PID Act in its entirety and represents a significant enhancement to whistleblower protections in NSW. The Bill provides for a commencement date up to 18 months after assent. The PID e-News provides further information


In the coming months, we will communicate with agencies about our development of a package of resources to assist agencies to prepare. This will include new guidelines, fact sheets, e-learning modules and training packages for the new legislation. To ensure you receive direct communication from the PID Team, subscribe to our PID e-Newsletter and read our FAQs which contain preliminary information.

Current Act still in force

What must agencies do?

While it is important to prepare for the new Bill, it is important for agencies to remember that until it is commenced, they must continue to comply with the requirements of the PID Act.

For example, agencies must continue to:

  • receive, assess and handle reports of wrongdoing that meet the definition of a ‘public interest disclosure’ under the PID Act
  • submit returns to the Ombudsman every six months
  • raise awareness of the internal reporting system in their agency with public officials (this includes staff, contractors and volunteers)
  • ensure that nominated disclosure officers are aware of their role in dealing with reports from staff, including those that are assessed as public interest disclosures.

How will our office assist agencies?

The Ombudsman’s office will continue to support agencies to meet these obligations. We have prepared some FAQs on our website to assist agencies to navigate this process.

In particular we will:

  • continue to provide access to guidelines and fact sheets that relate to the current PID Act
  • upload information that agencies can use to support them with their awareness raising activities under the current legislation, including resources for training (this will include training slides and participant handout)
  • continue to provide advice and assistance to agencies on the current PID Act through pid@ombo.nsw.gov.au.

What do you need to do now?

The most important thing that agencies can do at this stage is to subscribe to our PID e-Newsletter. This will ensure that we can communicate with you about the new requirements and the guidance as it becomes available.

We currently offer the following workshops:

Public interest disclosures management training

This workshop provides an overview of the obligations of NSW public authorities under the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994. It covers the why, what, how and who of public interest disclosures as well as the responsibilities of the nominated officers and agency executives. The workshop discusses strategies for managing parties involved in the disclosures and outlines the role of the NSW Ombudsman.

PID training