Moira's whistleblower protections updated

Published on 19 December 2019

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Moira Shire Council has reinforced its commitment to public accountability with the adoption of its updated Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower) Policy at the December Council meeting.

CEO Mark Henderson said the updated policy reflected the new requirements of the Victorian Public Interest Disclosure Act and includes the appointment of a Protected Disclosure Coordinator within council.
“We are accountable for the delivery of a wide range of community services, administration of more than $60 million of public funds and the enforcement and exercise of powers that can have a significant impact on the lives and livelihoods of individuals within our community. 

“We will not tolerate improper conduct and our policy makes clear the support we will provide to individuals who come forward to disclose such conduct,” said Mr Henderson.
Key changes to the Victorian legislation include a broader definition of improper conduct, enabling more independent expert bodies to investigate disclosures and introducing a ‘no wrong door’ approach to ensure disclosures aren’t excluded because they were lodged with an organisation that doesn’t have the powers to action the issue or to share the information with the appropriate agency.
“It takes courage to blow the whistle on inappropriate conduct and often individuals fear their identity will be disclosed and they may be subject to reprisals. These risks can be even greater in small regional communities so our policy has been tailored to encourage individuals to report their concerns to IBAC or the Victorian Ombudsman in the first instance – this is already the case for reports regarding councillors.
“We stand ready to support any investigation by these agencies and to protect the confidentiality of individuals associated with the matter,” said Mr Henderson. 

Following council’s adoption of the policy, council’s website will be updated to provide guidance on how to make a report and the support that is available.
“Promoting awareness of this policy is a key part of our commitment to being an accountable and well run council,” said Mr Henderson.

Further information about Public Interest Disclosure is available from the websites of the IBAC and Victorian Ombudsman.