Most organizations must set up an internal disclosure mechanism so that you have three choices for making a protected disclosure:
- To your supervisor;
- To your organization’s designated officer; or
- To the Ombudsman.
If your organization is small, a designated officer may not have been assigned. In this situation, the chief executive is the designated officer.
When making a disclosure you must include the following information, if known:
- A description of the wrongdoing;
- The name of the person or persons alleged to have committed the wrongdoing or about to commit the wrongdoing;
- The date of the wrongdoing; and
- Whether the wrongdoing has already been disclosed and a response received.
Your disclosure must be in writing and signed. Remember, your information will be kept confidential.
A disclosure made to the public, such as the media, will only be protected if the situation is urgent. The matter of wrongdoing must pose an imminent risk of a substantial danger to the life, health or safety of people or to the environment and the employee feels that there is not enough time to make a disclosure under the Act. In these situations, the employee should first make the disclosure to the appropriate law enforcement agency or to the chief medical officer in health-related matters. Immediately after a public disclosure is made, the employee must also make a disclosure about the matter to his or her supervisor or the organization’s designated officer.
Disclosures made to your supervisor
You may decide that it is appropriate to make a disclosure to your supervisor.
Your supervisor may look into the matter or refer the disclosure to your organization’s designated officer or the Conflict of Interest Commissioner.
Your supervisor is required to protect your identity and the information related to your disclosure to the extent possible and to act within his or her authority to protect you from reprisal.
Disclosures made to your organization’s designated officer
You can also make a disclosure to your organization’s designated officer.
The designated officer will protect your identity and that of others involved in the disclosure process to the extent possible.
The designated officer will review your disclosure to determine if there are sufficient grounds to investigate. He or she will inform you in writing if there will be no further action.
If an investigation takes place, the designated officer will ensure that the investigation respects the rights of all those involved. Cases concerning criminal activity will be referred to the appropriate law enforcement authority.
The Senior Officer will review the results of the investigation, prepare recommendations for action and report these directly to the chief executive of your organization.
Finally, he or she will inform you in writing of the results of the investigation and the action that will be taken in response.
Disclosures made to the Ombudsman
Should you choose you can go directly to the Ombudsman to make a disclosure or to seek advice. There is no requirement that you first make a disclosure within your organization.
If you made a disclosure within your organization and you do not believe it was adequately dealt with, you may make a subsequent disclosure to the Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman has the authority to investigate, report his or her findings, make recommendations on corrective measures to the chief executive concerned and review reports on measures taken in response to his or her recommendations.
Subject to applicable laws, information including your identity and that of others involved will be protected by the Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman has the right to refuse to deal with a disclosure or to start an investigation, and to stop an investigation, if he or she believes that, the matter should be dealt with under another process, the matter does not meet the definitions of the Act, or the disclosure wasn’t made in good faith.
You should be aware that when starting an investigation, the Ombudsman will inform the chief executive concerned about the substance of the disclosure and may also notify others about the investigation, including those whose acts or conduct has been called into question.
Upon completion of an investigation, the Ombudsman will write a report containing his or her findings and any recommendations about the disclosure and the wrongdoing. The report will be provided to the employee and the organization’s chief executive.
The Ombudsman will also make an annual report to the Legislative Assembly. This report will contain the number of general inquiries received, the number of disclosures received including the number acted on or not acted on, the number of anonymous claims filed and the number of claims referred to the Office of the Ombudsman.