Whistleblowers are a vital part of Australian democracy, playing a crucial role in the integrity and accountability of public and private institutions each and every day.
Australia has, at times, led the world in public and private sector whistleblower protections. However, our laws are now falling behind.
This report (updated edition: January 2023) sets out the 12 key areas of reform needed to place Australia back on the road to international best practice, so we can again lead the world.
This is a ‘check list’, not a ‘wish list’ – every reform has been identified as necessary by prior reviews, bipartisan parliamentary committees or independent experts. The reforms span:
- Effective administration and enforcement of the laws
- Ensuring the laws contain consistent, best practice protections
- Making sure the thresholds and limitations in the laws are workable.
Most importantly, this roadmap highlights that many of these issues require a consistent fix across all areas of law – public and private sector – rather than a piecemeal approach in which tinkering with one is followed by tinkering with another. That approach has already produced the complex web of gaps and inconsistencies that prevails today.
With these reforms, Australia can fix the deficiencies in existing federal whistleblowing law. Rather than simply talking the talk about this vital pillar of democratic accountability, we can – and should –make whistleblower protections real.