How is the new PID Act 2022 different to the old PID Act 1994?

I need a simple summary of the changes

The new PID Act 2022 received assent on 13 April 2022 and has a commencement date of up to 18 months after assent.

The NSW Ombudsman will provide a comparison of the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994 (current PID Act) and the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2022 (new PID Act 2022) on our website. We will advise agencies through our PID eNews when this is available.

The new PID Act 2022 is a complete rewrite of the current Act. The object of the current PID Act is to encourage and facilitate the disclosure, in the public interest, of wrongdoing in the public sector. The new PID Act 2022 has the same broad objectives and includes some of the same concepts (for example the categories of protected wrongdoing). However, it will implement other significant changes.

The new Act:

  • is simpler and easier to navigate
  • contains fewer trip hazards for would-be whistleblowers, including by:
    • expanding the permissible recipients of PIDs to include a person’s manager
    • protecting PIDs even if they are made to the wrong agency
  • provides more comprehensive protections, including for witnesses and those involved in investigating PIDs
  • imposes clear duty on agencies to take appropriate steps to deal with the disclosures they receive
  • introduces enhanced measures to encourage a ‘speak up culture’ within agencies, for example by enhanced requirements around policies and training
  • facilitates more comprehensive and meaningful reporting of data about PIDs.

How will this improve whistleblower protections?

The new Act addresses many of the weaknesses in the existing PID Act. Find more information about these changes in the Ombudsman’s Special Report.

What is the timing for the new Bill?

The new Public Interest Disclosures Bill (PID Bill) was tabled in Parliament in October 2021. It passed with amendments by the Legislative Council on 24 February 2022 and by the Legislative Assembly on 29 March 2022. The Bill received assent by the Governor on 13 April 2022 and is now the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2022.

The new Act provides for a delayed commencement of up to 18 months after assent. This means that agencies will have time to prepare. Agencies will also continue to be subject to the current PID Act until the new Act comes into force.

Our office is working on an implementation timetable. We will need to:

  • develop and issue comprehensive new public and agency guidelines, reporting tools and templates
  • roll out new reporting, notification and conciliation functions
  • completely revise our training material, including the manner of delivering training to ensure greatest efficiency and reach.

We will communicate with agencies about when these resources will be available. We will ensure we provide agencies with a sufficient lead time to allow them to prepare for the new Act's commencement.

What do I need to do/know right now to prepare for the new Act? What do I need to do in the future?

We will communicate with agencies about what they need to do and when through our website and our PID eNews. Our PID e News will provide updates about our implementation timetable and new resources.

Agencies should ensure that relevant staff subscribe to our PID eNews.

We will provide detailed information, training, and support for agencies to assist with the transition to the new PID Act. This will include a comprehensive revision of our guidelines.

What are my obligations before the Act comes into force?

While it is important to prepare for the new Act's commencement, agencies must continue to comply with the requirements of the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994 (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.

What support will the NSW Ombudsman provide?

To support agencies to prepare for the new Act we will:

  • provide regular updates on the new legislation through the PID eNews
  • provide information as it becomes available on the Ombudsman’s website
  • share our plans for preparing new guidelines, fact sheets, e-learning modules and training packages for the new legislation and making these available to agencies
  • provide information about how and when public officials get more information about the new PID Act and on how to use the new resource packages that are made available.

We are in the process of establishing a new team who will be responsible for the PID Bill preparation. This team will work alongside our current PID Team who will continue to assist you meet your obligations under the current Act.

To support agencies with these ongoing obligations we will:

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