Accountable government

Whistleblower protections

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Whistleblowing is the single most important trigger – and often the first trigger for bringing problems to light.

In the past, Australia has led the world with protections for public interest whistleblowing. From the early 1990s we were the first country after the United States to enact comprehensive public sector whistleblowing laws.

As recently as 2019, our private sector laws were the first to give whistleblowers rights to compensation if companies fail in their duty to protect them.

However, overall, Australia’s whistleblower protection laws are now falling behind.

Australia’s federal public service, aged care and disability sectors suffer from limited, out of date and inconsistent whistleblower protections. Complex loopholes in public and private sector laws allow whistleblowers to be prosecuted without due regard to the public interest they serve.

Transparency International Australia is advocating for legislative reform so that Australia can once again lead the world on whistleblower protections.

roadmap to whistleblower reform

Our roadmap for whistleblower protection sets out the 12 key areas of reform we need to improve, spanning:

  • Effective administration and enforcement of whistleblower protection laws
  • Ensuring these laws contain consistent, best practice protections
  • Making sure the thresholds and limitations in these laws are workable.

Draft Principles for a Whistleblower Protection Authority

Right now, a Whistleblower Protection Authority is the missing piece of Australia’s integrity landscape. Transparency International Australia, the Human Rights Law Centre, and Griffith University’s Centre for Governance & Public Policy have jointly developed the Draft Principles for a Whistleblower Protection Authority which provide a basis for policy dialogue to inform the design and establishment of a new body.

A Whistleblower Protection Authority would be a new, dedicated statutory agency or office which will make Australia’s federal whistleblowing laws work. It would do this by enforcing improved legal protections for people from inside agencies or organisations who raise concerns about wrongdoing under federal laws; providing support, information and assistance to prospective, current and former whistleblowers; facilitating receipt and referral of whistleblowing disclosures; investigating and addressing complaints of unfair treatment; and playing an important role in monitoring, advocacy and outreach in support of integrity, accountability and fair treatment of those who speak up.

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