The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia reports on a government study finding that national security whistleblowers need more protection. ‘‘It is better for organisations to receive too much information about wrongdoing than too little, or too late,’’ it says. ‘‘An essential ingredient in any whistleblowing program is the commitment from each organisation to encourage reporting, act on the reports where they have been verified and to protect reporters from any adverse consequences.’’
The article says that Australia’s government is planning to introduce whistleblower protection laws. The new government funded study faults the proposed protections for whistleblowers who make disclosures to journalists as being too weak.
’’Reporters in all jurisdictions should be able to express concerns to journalists, normally only after internal channels of reporting (including watchdog agencies) had been exhausted, but also possibly in other exceptional circumstances,’’ it says.
Mark Dreyfus, QC, the Labor MP who chairs the legal affairs committee, said federal whistleblower laws were vital and the committee’s proposals were stronger than those under existing state schemes. ‘‘It is imperative that people making disclosures in the public interest be protected as an important tool to eliminate corruption and maladministration.’’
The study, co-written by Professor Brown, Peter Roberts from Charles Sturt University and Jane Olsen from Queensland’s Crime and Misconduct Commission, says that middle management can be ‘‘sceptical and obstructive’’ and that senior managers need to openly state their support for staff who report wrongdoing.
‘‘Employees who do not believe that their report will be taken seriously are far less likely to report wrongdoing, to the detriment of the organisation involved.’’
Other recommendations include providing internal support and counselling and flexible mechanisms to compensate whistleblowers who lose their jobs or suffer financially or psychologically after making disclosures.