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Simplified reporting obligations for public officers

The statutory responsibilities of the State’s key public integrity agencies – the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), the Office for Public Integrity (OPI) and Ombudsman SA – were recently changed by the South Australian Parliament.

Simultaneously, the way reports of corruption, misconduct and maladministration in public administration are dealt with and the reporting obligations that apply to public officers were significantly changed as well.

What does this mean for public officers?

The scope of the statutory reporting obligation that applies to all public officers has been narrowed. Amendments to the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 2012 (ICAC Act) mean that public officers are only required to make a report to the OPI about conduct they reasonably suspect to be corruption in public administration. A positive legal obligation to report serious or systemic misconduct or maladministration in public administration no longer applies.

Public officers at the University – that is staff, Council members, volunteers, titleholders and contractors – must report corruption to the OPI but may elect to report misconduct or maladministration in public administration to the Office of the Ombudsman or to the OPI.

How will the new reporting process work?

The OPI will continue to receive and assess reports from public officers, public authorities, or inquiry agencies. Once assessed, and if warranted, a matter will be referred to the appropriate integrity agency (or the relevant public authority) for investigation.

Reports about alleged corruption in public administration will be referred to the newly structured ICAC for investigation, while matters of misconduct or maladministration in public administration will now be dealt with by the SA Ombudsman.

The OPI or the Office of the Ombudsman are required to inform public officers about action has been taken in response to a report. As was previously the case, confidentiality of reported information must be maintained unless the disclosure is to your supervisor or other senior officer, or approval has been given by the OPI or ICAC.

New reporting guidelines and directions for public officers will be prepared and made available by integrity agencies.

For more information about reporting to the Office for Public Integrity, refer to the updated FAQs on the Legal and Risk website.

University policies and other resources are being revised. Contact the Legal and Risk Branch if you have any queries about the recent amendments to the ICAC Act or the Ombudsman Act.

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