What happens after the disclosure is lodged?

What you can expect

Generally, if a disclosure is lodged with a public body or the Victorian Ombudsman, IBAC must be notified of the disclosure. The IBAC must determine whether the disclosure is a protected disclosure complaint and should therefore be investigated. The IBAC will also determine if it will investigate the protected disclosure complaint or refer it to another body to investigate. The IBAC can refer a protected disclosure complaint to the Victorian Ombudsman, the Chief Commissioner of Police or the Victorian Inspectorate.

The IBAC must also inform disclosers if the disclosure is not a protected disclosure complaint and outline the avenues available to them.

Timeframes

If a disclosure is lodged with a public body or the Victorian Ombudsman, the disclosure must be referred to IBAC within 28 days of being received.

IBAC must determine whether the disclosure is a protected disclosure complaint and must do so within a reasonable time after it has been notified. IBAC will write to the discloser advising of the outcome of the determination, including advice regarding alternative procedures should the IBAC determine that the disclosure is not a protected disclosure complaint.

Investigations

If IBAC determines a disclosure to be a protected disclosure complaint, it will then utilise  the provisions of the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission Act 2012 to assess who should investigate the protected disclosure complaint. IBAC will determine whether it is appropriate for IBAC to investigate, or refer the protected disclosure complaint to either the Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, the Victorian Inspectorate or the Victorian Ombudsman for investigation.

Victorian Ombudsman investigations

If the IBAC refers a protected disclosure complaint to the Ombudsman for investigation, the investigation is conducted using the provisions of Part IV of the Ombudsman Act 1973.

Given the broad range of issues that might be the subject of a protected disclosure complaint it is difficult to know how long an investigation may take. While a straightforward matter may be completed quickly, it is not uncommon for more complex disclosures, where significant evidence needs to be gathered, to take months to complete.

The Ombudsman will inform the discloser of the outcome of the investigation and whether any recommendations have been made. The Ombudsman may also include what steps have been taken or will be taken to address any identified issues.