Whistleblowers (organisational insiders who disclose wrongdoing in or by their organisation, in order to trigger action) play a key role in exposing otherwise unknown acts of corruption. Frequently, when corruption or wrongdoing emerges, it becomes clear that organisations, law enforcement and other regulators could have acted earlier to prevent or deal with it – if people with relevant knowledge had spoken up, to the right people or in the right way, or been listened to when they tried to raise their concerns.
While Australia has been at the forefront of recognising the role of whistleblowing in its public integrity systems, there remain major problems:
- Nationally, legal protections for business and civil society whistleblowers are largely missing
- At federal and state level, key government whistleblower protection legislation remains incomplete or out-of-date
- The effectiveness of existing legislation in delivering remedies for employees who suffer detriment as a result of making a public interest disclosure remains highly uncertain
- Not enough is known about best practice approaches to facilitating and protecting whistleblowing within organisations (especially in the private sector); and
- There is a lack of independent advice and support services for employees who are considering, or who do, blow the whistle on wrongdoing