An individual receives the protections of the Protected Disclosure Act as soon as they make a protected disclosure with the appropriate body, regardless of whether IBAC has determined the matter.
How the discloser is protected
When a discloser makes a protected disclosure the following protections apply*:
a person who takes detrimental action in reprisal for a protected disclosure is liable to be sued for damages
a person who believes detrimental action has or may be taken against them may seek an injunction to stop or remedy the detrimental action
a person who makes a protected disclosure is immune from any civil or criminal liability or administrative process, including disciplinary action, for making the disclosure
a person who makes a disclosure has immunity from any penalty that may arise from disclosing information that would otherwise breach confidentiality provisions in any agreement or Act
a defence of absolute privilege to any defamation action for making the disclosure
criminal charges can be brought against any person who takes detrimental action.
Criminal charges can also be brought against any person or body that reveals the identity of the person who made an assessable disclosure or the contents of an assessable disclosure other than in accordance with that person's statutory functions under the Protected Disclosure.
* A person's liability for his/her own conduct is not affected by his/her disclosure of that conduct under the Protected Disclosure Act.
The Protected Disclosure Act requires that any person or entity who receives information due to the handling or investigation of a protected disclosure not disclose that information except in certain limited circumstances. A breach of the confidentiality provisions constitutes a criminal offence.
The protection of disclosers against detrimental action is essential for the effective implementation of the Protected Disclosure Act. A public body is responsible for ensuring disclosers are protected from direct and indirect detrimental action, and that the culture of the workplace is supportive of protected disclosures being made.
The IBAC is responsible for preparing guidelines for the management of the welfare of disclosers and persons who are otherwise affected by protected disclosures. Contact the IBAC for further information about welfare support.