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Exposing and preventing corruption and police misconduct - IBAC annual report

The achievements of Victoria’s independent anti-corruption commission are provided in the 2016/17 IBAC annual report, tabled before Parliament today.

IBAC Commissioner, Stephen O'Bryan QC, reflected in his foreword on the organisation’s significant achievements over its first years of operation and noted that he was coming to the end of his non-renewable term as IBAC's foundation Commissioner.

'From my appointment in early 2013, I have been pleased to see IBAC grow from being Australia’s newest anti-corruption agency to one which can be proud of its significant achievements,' Mr O'Bryan said.

Achievements in 2016/17 included IBAC’s work identifying and exposing serious public sector corruption in the Department of Education and Training (DET) including Operation Dunham which exposed evidence of process corruption, improper diversion of funds, conflict of interest and mismanagement at senior levels of DET in relation to the failed Ultranet project.

IBAC also held public hearings into allegations of serious corrupt conduct at South West Institute of TAFE, Bendigo Kangan Institute and V/Line, known as Operation Lansdowne, with public hearings held in June/July 2017.

'Public hearings, along with our other investigative work, research and reports, are important tools for exposing corruption and informing the public sector and the community about the risks, impact and ways to prevent public sector corruption, and police misconduct,' Mr O'Bryan said.

As in previous years, IBAC’s independent police oversight constitutes a significant proportion of the organisation’s investigations. Approximately half of IBAC's 46 active investigations in 2016/17 were into alleged serious misconduct by Victoria Police.

IBAC also completed a major investigation, Operation Ross, into the treatment of vulnerable people at Ballarat Police Station. Another investigation, Operation Apsley, into illicit drug use by police officers, represented one of IBAC’s most intensive and complex investigations of Victoria Police personnel misconduct. The resulting special report detailed evidence of multiple police officers being involved in the use, possession and trafficking of illicit drugs.

IBAC undertook independent reviews of an additional 73 investigations conducted by Victoria Police to ensure they were managed appropriately and fairly. IBAC also published three strategic research and prevention reports to highlight key trends, issues and areas for improvement within Victoria Police.

During the year, IBAC undertook a community education campaign, When something’s not right. Report it. The campaign built awareness of what public sector corruption is, and encouraged Victorians to report corruption.

'Changes to Victoria’s integrity system legislation in 2016/17 strengthened IBAC’s ability to detect and investigate allegations of public sector corruption and misconduct, including misconduct in public office,' Mr O'Bryan said.

'These changes also helped inform IBAC decisions to investigate by introducing preliminary inquiries, and sought to protect the identity and rights of witnesses and other people involved in our investigations.'

Another legislative requirement that came into effect in 2016/17 was for heads of public sector bodies (principal officers) to notify IBAC of suspected corruption.

'This recognises that our public sector leaders have the main responsibility for detecting, reporting and preventing corruption.'

'Mandatory notifications will also contribute significantly to broader prevention efforts by enhancing our ability to detect patterns of conduct and trends that may better inform our investigations, direct our prevention efforts and alert the public sector on its corruption vulnerabilities,' Mr O'Bryan said.

In 2016/17, IBAC:

  • tabled six special reports before Parliament on operation and prevention activities
  • delivered 93 corruption prevention initiatives
  • as a result of investigations, made 47 formal recommendations for public sector agencies to improve their systems, practices and controls
  • assessed almost 5000 allegations of suspected corruption or police misconduct resulting from complaints and notifications
  • held corruption prevention and integrity insights forums in Mildura and Wangaratta as part of engagement and outreach in regional Victoria.

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