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Wage Inspectorate Victoria's media policy

This policy is designed to guide what we can say about our work when engaging with the mainstream media.

Why do we engage with the media?

Wage Inspectorate Victoria (the Wage Inspectorate) recognises the media play a vital role in informing Victorians about matters of public interest.

In line with our Compliance and Enforcement Policy, we may publish information about our compliance and enforcement activities where it is permissible by law and in the public interest.

Public interest

We generally consider it in the ‘public interest’ when the release of information:

  • promotes voluntary compliance with Victorian workplace laws that we enforce, including building an awareness of rights, responsibilities, duties and obligations under these laws
  • promotes behavioural change and may serve as a deterrent (general and specific) to future breaches of the law
  • has general educative value in our efforts to help Victorians work better and ensure compliance with the legislation we enforce
  • enhances public trust and confidence in the Wage Inspectorate
  • promotes transparency and accountability in the delivery of our regulatory activities.

Before the Wage Inspectorate publishes information relating to an audit, investigation or legal proceeding, the Commissioner will examine each matter to determine if it is in the public interest.

We will not release any information that may jeopardise active investigations, the integrity of the court process while proceedings are underway, defame individuals or breach the law.

The information we publish will be:

  • accurate
  • fair and balanced
  • relevant, timely and appropriate.

What we speak about

We will typically issue a public statement, comment, or publish information about the following activities:

  • proactive auditing campaigns (announcement of campaigns that have an educative or awareness-raising focus, the release of high-level findings)
  • prosecutions, for example at the commencement and conclusion of proceedings
  • general awareness-raising initiatives
  • educative tools and resources
  • stakeholder partnerships.

Where we publish information

Our public comments may be published:

  • via a media release or public statement
  • on the Wage Inspectorate’s website or social media channels (Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter)
  • via broadcast media interviews (radio, television, online media)
  • in communications with our stakeholders
  • in speeches given by the Commissioner or Wage Inspectorate staff
  • via other methods approved by the Commissioner.

Information we may release

Prosecutions

The Wage Inspectorate will typically issue 2 media releases in relation to a prosecution:

  • at the commencement of a prosecution after charges have been issued and the accused and/or legal representatives have been notified and served with the charges
  • after the charges have been heard and determined by the court.

We recognise that publicising information related to a prosecution before the matter is finalised requires great care to ensure it neither prejudices the case or any other ongoing compliance activities. Each matter will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Before a proceeding is finalised, once the parties have been notified and served, the information we publish may include:

  • naming the alleged corporate accused entity if the alleged accused is a body corporate. Where the alleged accused is a natural person, we will not identify them but instead use general terms such as “an individual has been charged…”
  • publishing the offence to which it is alleged to have been committed and the maximum penalty, including allegations filed in court, as well as procedural information, such as when a hearing is listed or when a matter is listed for sentence.

If following the issuing of charges, a suppression order or closed court order is made, we will not disclose any information relating to that prosecution.

Once a legal proceeding is determined in open court [1], we may:

  • publicise the outcome of the court proceedings, any findings of fact of the court, quote from the judgment or Magistrate’s comments
  • name the accused in the prosecution if the proceeding is not subject to a suppression or closed court order
  • make comment about the Wage Inspectorate’s views regarding the matter and its relevance to our compliance and enforcement objectives and educative role, taking into consideration obligations under our legislation, privacy laws and what can or has been published by the court
  • highlight any linkages between the outcome of the court proceedings and lessons other parties (for example employers or hirers) could learn from the case.

General principles when commenting on prosecutions

We will not:

  • represent allegations that are yet to be decided as facts (hence use of the term ‘alleged’)
  • make comments about the evidence gathered during an investigation or presented in court before the matter is decided
  • publish any public commentary in relation to ongoing proceedings
  • mention the names of any children, victims or witnesses subject of the charges or any other personal information that may identify these individuals.

Enforceable undertakings

We may publicise the acceptance by the Wage Inspectorate of an enforceable undertaking entered into by a business or an individual.

This can include:

  • naming the entity or individual to the enforceable undertaking
  • publishing the enforceable undertaking on our website
  • explaining any obligations or actions resulting from the enforceable undertaking
  • making comment about the Wage Inspectorate’s views regarding the matter and its relevance to our compliance and enforcement objectives and educative role
  • providing the background of the matter as described in the enforceable undertaking.

Enforceable undertakings will be redacted before publication to remove any personal information, such as the names and contact information of individuals, children, victims or witnesses.

Proactive compliance and enforcement activities

We may publish information about proactive compliance and enforcement activities if the Commissioner is satisfied it is in the public interest to do so and will help fulfil our educative and compliance objectives.

This can include:

  • issuing a media release or public commentary about proactive auditing activities that have an awareness-raising phase, education, or information campaigns
  • publishing information on our website or social media about our activities
  • alerting our stakeholders to our activities.

We may name the industry, geographic area, suburb or town involved in the activity and the type of compliance being targeted (for example, child employment permit compliance).

We will not:

  • identify individuals and businesses subject to the activity
  • describe the locality, industry, or circumstances particular to those involved where such information would make businesses or individuals readily identifiable.

We will be careful when making public comments to ensure what we say does not compromise the integrity of a compliance and enforcement activity.

Active investigations

The Wage Inspectorate will not disclose information about the existence of an active criminal investigation. We consider the disclosure of information at the commencement of an investigation or during the progress of an investigation has significant and real risk of prejudicing the outcome and the proper administration of justice.

Commitment to fair and equal treatment

We are committed to the fair and equal treatment of entities and individuals subject to our regulation.

However, on occasion the Commissioner may decide it is not in the public interest to publicise an activity, with regard to the specific circumstances of the case.

We will also use our discretion to keep certain matters confidential to protect the privacy of those involved, or to provide an entity or individual with advance notice of a public comment.

Feedback

We welcome any feedback about your experience with us. Our Complaints and Feedback Policy outlines how you can provide feedback or make a complaint.

Specific queries about our Media Policy can be directed to our Communications Manager via email at media@wageinspectorate.vic.gov.au.


[1] This includes upon a plea hearing and sentence, or following a contested hearing and charges are dismissed/struck out.

Reviewed 18 March 2022

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