The Public Interest Disclosures Act 2022
What’s on this page?
This page contains information to assist agencies and public officials to understand the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2022 (PID Act).
This content is relevant from 1 October 2023.
The Public Interest Disclosures Act 2022 (PID Act) applies to all NSW public sector agencies.
The PID Act provides a framework for public officials to report serious wrongdoing in the public sector, and to be protected when they do so. Reports can be made to a disclosure officer within their agency, the head of an agency, a person’s manager and to disclosure officers within other agencies, such as integrity agencies.
Under the PID Act, ‘agency’ is defined to include public service agencies, local government authorities, public universities, integrity agencies, statutory bodies and local aboriginal land councils. A full list is available in section 16 of the PID Act.
The Ombudsman has published guidelines on the PID Act. These are designed to help agencies and their staff handle public interest disclosures and to meet their obligations under the PID Act.
The guidelines will also be useful for public officials who are considering making a report of serious wrongdoing.
There are two guidelines that are in draft form. These will be finalised at the end of November, and can be accessed from the links below. If you have any comments on the drafts, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is a public interest disclosure?
Dealing with mandatory PIDs
Dealing with anonymous voluntary PIDs
Deeming that a disclosure is a voluntary PID
Maintaining confidentiality when dealing with voluntary PIDs
PIDs to Ministers, Members of Parliament and journalists
Entities and individuals providing services and exercising functions on behalf of an agency under contract or as volunteers
Key obligations for agencies
The PID Act creates a number of obligations for agencies.
Training and awareness
Agencies must provide appropriate training to disclosure officers for the agency, which includes the head of agency, and managers of public officials associated with the agency.
The training must be provided:
- Within a reasonable time after the person becomes associated with the agency and
- No later than the day that is the later of:
- 6 months after the commencement of the PID Act or
- 3 months after the person commences in the relevant rol
Agencies can provide their disclosure officers and managers access to the NSW Ombudsman’s E-learning courses or provide their own face to face training.
We have developed some awareness materials for the public sector, that are available here.
Agencies will have an obligation to report data about the voluntary PIDs they have received on a yearly basis, in an annual return, to the NSW Ombudsman.
Agencies must also notify us when certain events happen, like when they receive an allegation of detrimental action or when they decide not to investigate, or cease investigating, a public interest disclosure.
We are developing a new PID portal which will be available for agencies to use before the annual return is required in 2024.
In the meantime, agencies should access our guideline Reporting to the Ombudsman for guidance on the information to be reported in the annual return.
Protections against detrimental action
Under the PID Act, it is a criminal offence to take detrimental action against a person because you suspect, believe, or know that they have made a PID, or will make a PID. Other protections under the PID Act include:
- the right to seek compensation for injury, damage or loss suffered as a result of detrimental action being taken against them
- the ability to seek an injunction to prevent, stop or remedy a detrimental action offence.
Agencies must conduct a risk assessment to assess the risk of detrimental action against the PID maker, whilst they are handling the PID and prior to referring the PID to another agency. Agencies must also take proactive action to protect a PID maker from detrimental action.
Public interest disclosures made before 1 October 2023
The PID Act 2022 commenced on 1 October 2023. Public interest disclosures made before 1 October need to be handled in accordance with the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994 (PID Act 1994), unless the disclosure has been remade after 1 October 2023.
Agencies should refer to the transitional provisions when dealing with remade disclosures.
The Ombudsman’s guidance and resources for handling public interest disclosures under the PID Act 1994 resources can be found here.