‘Nobody in Australia much likes whistleblowers, particularly in an organisation like the police or the government.’ This statement is attributed to the former NSW Police Commissioner Tony Lauder in the 1990s, and largely summed up the official government and police attitudes towards whistleblowers at the time.
Fast forward to 2014 and the attitude towards whistleblowing in Australia has changed significantly. First with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 and now a new report that shows Australia has one of the world’s better whistleblower protection frameworks for the public sector.
The Whistleblower Protection Laws in G20 Countries: Priorities for Action report has been assembled by researchers from Blueprint for Free Speech, the University of Melbourne, Griffith University and Transparency International Australia.
The report shows the whistleblower protection legislation in Australia is, along with those of the United States, the best in the G20 when it comes to public sector whistleblowers.
According to the report, Australian public sector legislation is strong in requiring organisations to have internal procedures not only for facilitating disclosures, but also for protecting and supporting employees who report wrongdoing.
However, the report also noted significant differences between jurisdictions and complicated exceptions to when a public interest disclosure is and is not protected. It is clear that, in terms of how whistleblowers are viewed and protected, Australia has come a long way. What has not changed is the complex landscape of legislation that organisations and their employees need to understand if they are to encourage a safe environment for exposing wrongdoing.
Effective, targeted training is essential to ensure that public sector employees know that they can safely blow the whistle if they witness inappropriate activity in the workplace. Learning Seat has developed a course which can help educate public sector employees about the topic of whistleblowing in the workplace. Read about the ‘Whistleblower’ course or call us on 1300 133 151 for more information.