New ICAC Committee to help whistleblowers

Tuesday 31 May 2011

The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) will operate a new staff committee from 1 July 2011 as part of its work to assist and guide whistleblowers who report suspected corrupt conduct to the Commission.

The initiative was announced this morning at a breakfast hosted in Queanbeyan by the ICAC Deputy Commissioner, Theresa Hamilton, as part of the Commission's rural and regional outreach visit this week to the Southern Tablelands.

Ms Hamilton told the audience of local community leaders that the Commission recognises that reporting corrupt conduct for public officials is not always easy.

"It can require a lot of courage in some cases to come forward and 'blow the whistle' on suspected corrupt conduct, particularly if it is happening in your own workplace," she said.

"The ICAC recognises the key role whistleblowers play in exposing public sector corruption and is keen to ensure that they are afforded the guidance and support they need."

In March this year, the Commission concluded a six-month project that examined how it manages whistleblowers, which led to the recommendation to establish the committee that will comprise senior staff drawn from the Commissions' operation divisions.

"The committee will be able to offer guidance and assistance in instances where a whistleblower has broader concerns or needs beyond the scope of the complaint or investigation," Ms Hamilton said. "It will be operational from 1 July, a time that coincides with the date that the amendments to the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994 will take effect. These amendments mean increased protections for public sector employees and certain contractors who blow the whistle on corruption."

Other outreach activities in addition to the community leaders' breakfast include workshops and training on better managing protected disclosures, corruption prevention for managers, corruption prevention in procurement and a fact-finder workshop which will help agencies to conduct their own internal investigations.

State Government agencies attending the outreach activities include Housing NSW, Essential Energy, NSW Health, NSW Aboriginal Land Council, Corrective Services NSW, Fire & Rescue NSW, Office of Environment and Heritage, TAFE NSW, Department of Trade and Investment, Ageing, Disability & Home Care, WorkCover NSW and NSW Fair Trading. Councils participating include Queanbeyan City, Yass Valley, Upper Lachlan Shire, Goulburn Mulwaree, Tumut Shire, Young Shire and Bega Valley Shire.

The ICAC outreach program has proved highly successful since its inception in 2001. Previous visits have included to the Far South Coast, the Illawarra, the Central West, the Hunter, the Far West, the South East, the Central Coast, the North Coast and New England. The Commission last visited Queanbeyan and its surrounding regions in 2005.

Media inquiries: ICAC Manager Communications & Media, Nicole Thomas, 02 8281 5799/0417 467 801