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Added: Sondra Brickley - Date: 01.07.2021 20:41 - Views: 16275 - Clicks: 632

Download original attachment PDF file. Could you please prepare a response to his query. For your background, the Communication Team was in a meeting this morning and we have just seen this. I will go back to the journalist to ask whether there is any flexibility in his deadline.

I'm following up on an incident from April, which involved the unlawful accessing of a journalist's metadata by the AFP. At the time, the AFP said the ombudsman was auditing the breach to ensure the agency's safeguards were strong enough to prevent a repeat. I'm just wondering the following: - has such an audit been conducted? What is its status?

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I was hoping for a response by COB today, if possible. If you are not the named recipient, please notify the sender and delete the e-mail and all attachments immediately.

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Do not disclose the contents to another person. You may not use the information for any purpose, or store, or copy, it in any way. You should employ virus checking software. In this role, our function is to protect the interests of private health consumers. The Office acts as an independent third party when dealing with complaints about PEC waiting periods. This information is only requested once the member has provided written consent for the Office to seek this information from the insurer.

The Office reviews the information provided by the insurer and then decides whether to provide an explanation to the consumer, investigate the matter further or negotiate a resolution with the insurer. In circumstances where individual complaints highlight systemic issues with the application of the private health insurance regulatory framework, the Ombudsman may initiate an own investigation or refer the matter to the regulator, XX. I have a series of questions about the Commonwealth Ombudsman's dealings with three private health insurers.

The Private Health Insurance Act requires insurers to obtain 2 Document 02 Contains deletions under FOI the "opinion of a medical adviser appointed by the health insurer" on whether symptoms existed within six months of taking out the policy, before they reject a claim on PEC grounds. InBupa publicly acknowledged it had repeatedly failed to obtain these medical opinions for claimants between and I have evidence showing the following: - the Ombudsman had evidence to suggest Bupa was illegally rejecting claims by failing to appoint a medical practitioner as early as It did not act untilwhen Bupa notified it that there were claimants affected.

The insurer had claimed the error was just an "oversight" in its processes. HCF said that it had, but failed to provide any evidence to back up its claims. No further action was taken. No such evidence was provided. Instead, the Ombudsman employee investigating the matter was sidelined and directed not to consider any more PEC cases. This lasted four months, until the employee was restored to normal duties. NIB admitted to the Ombudsman that it had not been appointing medical practitioners in some PEC cases over a period of seven years.

NIB has been allowed to deal with it internally. The matter was also referred to the department of health, but it has made no public statement about the case. This has left those with NIB health insurance - including affected claimants - in the dark. My questions are: - Old ladies xxx at Fort Collins Colorado knaus did the Cwth Ombudsman not act on the Bupa case inwhen it was first identified? What records were falsified? I was hoping for a response by 4pm tomorrow. I am currently trawling through public documents on the new PHIO powers — it does not appear there were any specific comments about an insurer s withholding complaint information from PHIO.

While the Office investigates in private and therefore does not provide comment on individual complaints and investigations, we have considered the matters that you have referred to in your and are satisfied that we dealt with the matters that were referred to us in accordance with our processes for PEC cases, which we have set out for you below. We note that two of the matters were appropriately referred to the regulator.

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The third matter was not referred to the regulator because we did not consider that it was necessary to do so. In circumstances where individual complaints highlight systemic issues with the application of the private health insurance regulatory framework, the Office may provide feedback to the insurer in our complaint 2 Document 03 Contains deletions under FOI finalisation correspondence, or the Ombudsman may initiate an own investigation or refer the matter to the regulator, for PEC matters this would be the Department of Health.

The Private Health Insurance Act requires insurers to obtain the "opinion of a medical adviser appointed by the health insurer" on whether symptoms existed within six months of taking out the policy, before they reject a claim on PEC grounds. Does anyone mind if I quickly speak with David? We will include the response and details of the Commonwealth Ombudsman's role in the piece. The only other thing I wanted to check on background, not for quoting. It seems clear to me from the private health insurance act that it is, but I'm really just wanting to be careful with the language.

Given the information that was before us at the relevant times, we are satisfied that we took appropriate actions. We note that two of the insurers subject to your inquiries were appropriately referred to Old ladies xxx at Fort Collins Colorado knaus regulator. The third insurer was not referred to the regulator because we did not consider that it was necessary to do so. In circumstances where individual complaints highlight systemic issues with the application of the private health insurance regulatory framework, the Office may provide feedback to the insurer in our complaint finalisation correspondence, or the Ombudsman may initiate an own investigation or refer the matter to the regulator, for PEC matters this would be the Department of Health.

Registered in England The Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, culture and community. We pay our respects to elders past and present. No use, copying or disclosure including by further transmission of this message, an attachment or the content of either is permitted and any use, copying or disclosure may be subject to legal sanctions. If you have received this message in error, please call to inform the sender so that future errors can be avoided. In June, the department's PID team mistakenly revealed the identity of a whistleblower, a potential criminal offence punishable by six months imprisonment.

The mistake occurred when the department sent correspondence and documents intended for the whistleblower to a second, unrelated person who had made a different PID complaint. The facts as I understand them are as follows: - the whistleblower's identity was revealed in an from the department's public interest disclosure team to a separate whistleblower on Friday, June 12, My questions for the ombudsman are: - why did it refuse to investigate this matter?

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I am hoping for a response by COB today. If needed, we could also say: The PID Act encourages the handling of disclosures by the agencies concerned and this office would generally allocate disclosures to the agency concerned unless we assessed the agency cannot handle the matter. Let me know your preferences.

I have said that a response today, given the range of matters he has raised, was not reasonable. We have agreed on Monday but with a caveat that I call him if we are in danger of not meeting that. I suggest we meet tomorrow to discuss where we are at?

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Please see below response to your enquiry: We are unable to confirm or deny that such a disclosure was received. It is an offence under the PID Act to disclose information which may identify a discloser or which was obtained in the course of performing a function or an investigation under the PID Act ss 20 and Reform the criteria for when whistleblowing outside official channels remains protected — to be simpler, more workable, reflect pd public interest in disclosure of wrongdoing, and be consistent for both the public sector PID Act and Commonwealth- regulated private sector Corporations Act or replacement stand-alone legislation.

Strengthen journalism and other third-party shield laws to ensure a confidentiality Old ladies xxx at Fort Collins Colorado knaus public interest whistleblower sources or clients, and b freedom of journalists and other relevant professionals from prosecution for receiving or using public interest disclosures in the fulfilment of their duties or functions PID Act and Evidence Acts.

Ensure it is viable for public servants to use internal and official channels for disclosure of wrongdoing, by updating the PID Act to be a true whistleblower protection regime: a. Amend anti-detriment protections to match international best practice, by removing the de facto requirement for a deliberate, knowing intention to cause harm before civil or employment remedies can be accessed s. Make protections real by providing effective support to public interest whistleblowers: a. Establish a fully resourced whistleblower protection authority to assist all reporters and regulators with advice, support, coordination and enforcement action to prevent, deal with, and gain remedies for detrimental conduct; c.

Continue to consider a reward scheme for public interest whistleblowers. Recognise the wider validity of public interest disclosure of official information, beyond employee disclosures of wrongdoing, by making available a general public interest defence for any citizen charged with offences of unauthorised disclosure or receipt of official information Criminal Code. No wonder, then, that the world stood shocked when on 4 and 5 Junethe Australian Federal Police AFP executed search warrants on the home of a News Corporation federal political journalist in Canberra, and the Sydney headquarters of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, as part of an investigation into possible criminal offences by journalists for receiving and publishing unauthorised disclosures of government information.

In fact, the timings were clearly no coincidence. SinceAustralia has also been 1 For a digest of the reaction, see Brown A J et alClean as a whistle: a five step guide to better whistleblowing policy and practice in business and governmentGriffith University, Augustp. The weaknesses in our integrity systems are many and varied. We are still speaking here about integrity — our ability to tell and recognise the truth, including the truth that this proposal is perfectly constitutionally acceptable: as former High Court Chief Justice Murray Gleeson has pointed out, a Voice to Parliament can enrich our democracy, rather than being a measure that would undermine it.

But the same choice between symbolism and substance affects all issues of integrity, justice and ability in our democracy. Governing for integrity: a blueprint for reform. Recognition in keeping with the Constitution: A worthwhile project18 July I will shortly mention Sir Henry again.

Taking a long-term view of our direction of travel, we see a strong national integrity system as involving wider issues than simply the freedom for public interest journalism to operate, if it is to meet the challenges of our times. Clearly, press freedom is vital, and no-one should doubt my huge personal sympathy for journalists caught in the cross-fire. My father was a long-serving political journalist in Canberra, and my sister became a very accomplished journalist too.

But importantly, in Australia at least, the threat of criminal prosecutions against journalists is still mainly just that: a cross-fire. The primary targets — intended and sometimes unintended — are actually the employees, officials and everyday citizens who might, and do, speak up with concerns about wrongdoing in their organisations. I am talking here about protecting the sources of information on whom not only journalists, but all of us rely.

This is what the rest of this Oration is about — the whistleblowers at the heart of this struggle. Inevitably, for any employee or official to raise concerns about wrongdoing in an organisation, they have to disclose information, and often sensitive or confidential information. And this will always include information that some people want to label that way, specifically because they do not want the information shared or transferred. And the trouble can start even when people blow the whistle purely internally.

Just think about your own organisation, or workplace. The Federal Government of Australasia: Speeches. Turner and Henderson, Sydney, pp. Document 12 Contains deletions under FOI In Australia, if they do end up going outside our more limited official channels, it is whistleblowers who are Old ladies xxx at Fort Collins Colorado knaus being prosecuted, even when, as yet, journalists are hopefully unlikely to be. And whistleblowers play an even more fundamental role in public integrity than the media, because they help ensure honesty, integrity and performance within our institutions, every single day.

Even if it never reaches the public domain. We could speak for hours about examples of whistleblowers and whistleblowing, and of the research we now have, internationally, about its dynamics and the role it plays. But I will give you just three vital statistics from our own, recently concluded large-scale study, funded by the Australian Research Council and supported by 23 partner and supporter organisations across Australia and New Zealand, including the Commonwealth Ombudsman and Australian Securities and Investments Commission ASICfor whose support we are truly grateful.

You can find our Clean As A Whistle report on our project website. As is so often the case, irrespective of exactly what may play out in court in terms of clarifying the history and merits of these cases, there is wide acknowledgement that these whistleblowers raised matters which did, or do need addressing. Military officer and lawyer, David McBride in relation to the war in Afghanistan. Richard Boyle in relation to debt collection practices of the Australian Taxation Office.

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A good but little known example is Sir Henry Parkes himself. As a young man insix years after arriving in the colonies and nine years before he was first elected to parliament, Parkes was working in the NSW Customs department when he raised concerns about rorts involving colleagues stealing alcohol and worse on the Sydney wharves. There are no end of tales about the repercussions whistleblowers can experience, especially if dragged or forced into the public domain. The good news, however, is that not all whistleblowers suffer in our institutions, at least today.

The fact that a majority of reporters said they were treated the same, or even well by the organisation, shows bad outcomes are not inevitable. Brown, D. Lewis, R. Moberly and W. Vandekerckhove eds.

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These disputes reinforce the importance of comprehensive, effective whistleblowing regimes for ensuring that disclosures are properly managed, and when made to third parties including the media occur as much as possible in a manner that recognises and supports the wider public interest. And this in turn helps sustain confidence in our systems of public integrity generally. However, it also shows that unless our laws and regimes for whistleblowing are properly calibrated, they will help have the reverse effect — of feeding public concern that systems for controlling abuses of government power are either missing or ineffective, and that those in government cannot be trusted.

And so, especially now, we have a major problem.

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