Victoria’s independent anti-corruption agency, IBAC, continued to expose corruption and support the public sector, including Victoria Police, to build corruption resistance during a challenging year.
Tabled to Parliament today, IBAC’s annual report outlines IBAC’s performance for 2019/20 which included starting 24 new investigations and preliminary inquiries, and holding public hearings into allegations of serious corrupt conduct in relation to planning and property development decisions at the City of Casey council.
IBAC Commissioner, The Honourable Robert Redlich AM, QC said IBAC investigations deliver an important service to Victorians as they highlight systemic issues and vulnerabilities that, if unchecked, enable corrupt conduct and police misconduct.
“Investigations not only expose serious corruption and police misconduct but they also educate the public sector, police and the community about the risks and impacts of such wrongdoing, and inform action to prevent it,” Commissioner Redlich said.
In 2019/20 IBAC completed 67 reviews of investigations by other agencies. This included reviewing 59 police investigations, a 31 per cent increase from the previous year.
“IBAC’s reviews of investigations we refer to other agencies are an important part of our independent oversight and education and prevention role,” Commissioner Redlich said.
“Through our reviews, IBAC advises agencies on the adequacy of their investigations to ensure they are thorough and fair, that the findings are evidence-based and the outcomes reasonable and in accordance with public expectations. This work helps Victoria Police and other public sector agencies strengthen their complaints and investigation systems.”
This year’s report includes enhanced data and information on the public interest disclosure scheme, following changes to the legislation on 1 January 2020.
“Victorians must feel safe when reporting wrongdoing. Changes to the public interest disclosure (PID) laws gives people the confidence to know they can make genuine disclosures confidentially and without fear of being fired, bullied, harassed or facing legal action,” Commissioner Redlich said.
“As Victoria’s central agency for managing PID complaints, IBAC supports the public sector to understand and manage the scheme through information, engagement activities, and new tools and resources.”
A focus for IBAC’s work in 2019/20 has been supporting public sector integrity during times of emergency and crisis.
“Now, more than ever, Victoria needs a strong integrity system. The risks of corruption and police misconduct are heightened in an environment of crisis and emergency, especially when the public sector and Victoria Police have increased responsibilities to uphold vital public health directions, and meet significant additional service demands,” Commissioner Redlich said.
“This year, we have been resolute in the face of considerable challenges to expose and prevent public sector corruption and police misconduct. Victorians are right to expect that robust integrity underpins the administration of our state, and that decisions are made and scarce public resources are allocated in the best interests of the community.”
Key achievements for IBAC during the 2019/20 financial year include:
- receiving 2419 complaints/notifications, a three per cent increase on 2018/19
- assessing 5955 allegations of suspected corruption or police misconduct, a two per cent increase on 2018/19
- assessing 1184 allegations assessed as public interest and protected disclosures, a 35 per cent increase on 2018/19
- commencing 24 investigations and preliminary inquiries into alleged serious public sector corruption and police misconduct
- finalising 28 investigations and preliminary inquiries
- making 46 formal recommendations (under the IBAC Act) for public sector agencies, including Victoria Police, to improve their systems, practices and controls
- reviewing 59 police investigations, a 31 per cent increase on 2019/20, and eight public sector investigations
- delivering 75 corruption prevention initiatives including hosting the Australian Public Sector Anti-Corruption Conference.