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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 1 August 2018) . . Page.. 2556 ..

(A) knowledge of workplace reporting frameworks;

(B) confidence in the framework in ensuring their reports be adequately heard, investigate, and an outcome ensured; and

(C) perception of workplace “whistle-blowers” and their role in ensuring a more transparent ACT Public Service.”.

I rise today to move this motion because the values at the core of the public service in Canberra are at risk. There are four values that have characterised our public service since its creation: integrity, honesty, transparency and workplace safety.

Having spent six years in the public service prior to entering the Assembly, I cannot overstate the importance of the work our public servants and agencies do to ensure that everyday Canberrans and Australians are afforded the best services and the best opportunities to live, work and succeed. The ACT public service plays a crucial role in serving the government of the day, free from partisan influence.

However, just as the public service has a duty to provide frank and fearless advice, so too does the government have a responsibility to enable our public servants to do their jobs. A strong, apolitical, frank and fearless public service is dependent upon the frameworks that we have in place to protect those who have the courage to speak out and report wrongdoing. It is essential that those who do have the courage to speak out are not only heard but also protected and compensated. From nurses to service desk operators, bus drivers and policy analysts, the integrity and legitimacy of the public service depends on internal and external mechanisms to ensure transparency and accountability.

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2012 exists for the purpose of facilitating public interest disclosures, or whistleblowing as it is commonly known, and protecting the people who make those disclosures. The legislation provides a framework through which PIDs are able to be made and broadly covers anyone performing a function on behalf of the ACT government using public funds, including, for example, contractors. Disclosable conduct is broadly defined to include suspected fraud, corruption, maladministration, harassment, discrimination and practices that endanger the health or safety of the environment or community. Secrecy and confidentiality provisions also exist to protect whistleblowers, and whistleblowers are protected from civil, criminal or administrative liability and reprisal.

Under the current PID act, any person who suspects misconduct is able to make an internal disclosure to an officer or minister. If the whistleblower is a public official, disclosures may be made to a manager, a member of the board or nominated officials responsible for handling PIDs. External disclosures can also be made in circumstances in which no action has been taken in relation to the suspected misconduct or there is evidence to suggest a greater number of instances of misconduct may have occurred.

However, the current legislation and framework is not working. It is difficult to navigate. Protections and compensation are not clear. All too often those receiving disclosures do not know what to do with them or how to properly proceed. Too few people are making reports, and too few reports are being investigated. Instead of

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