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Whistleblower Protection Ten Years On: Consistencies, Inconsistencies & Regulatory Dilemmas. Presenter John McMillan Commonwealth Ombudsman. The title of the law. Whistleblower Protection Act Protected Disclosures Act Public Interest Disclosures Act

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Whistleblower protection ten years on consistencies inconsistencies regulatory dilemmas l.jpg

Whistleblower Protection Ten Years On: Consistencies, Inconsistencies & Regulatory Dilemmas

Presenter

John McMillan

Commonwealth Ombudsman


The title of the law l.jpg
The title of the law

  • Whistleblower Protection Act

  • Protected Disclosures Act

  • Public Interest Disclosures Act

  • Other terminology – eg, internal witness management; principled organisational dissent


Who is protected l.jpg
Who is protected

  • Public sector employees

  • Private sector employees

  • Contractors

  • Any person


What disclosures are protected about l.jpg
What disclosures are protected: about …

  • Illegality or contravention of the law by a public official

  • Fraudulent or corrupt conduct

  • A disciplinary offence/breach of a code of conduct

  • Danger to public health, safety or the environment

  • Financial mismanagement and public wastage

  • Improper conduct

  • Scope of “public official”


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What kind of protection

  • Obligation on relevant agency to investigate disclosure

  • Obligation on agency to protect discloser, eg, confidentiality, relocation, progress report

  • Protection of person against disciplinary and criminal action by reason of disclosure

  • Offence to take detrimental/reprisal action

  • Civil damages to redress reprisal

  • Injunction to restrain reprisal


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The criteria for protection

  • “Reasonable belief” that it is a public interest disclosure

  • Disclosure that tends to show the alleged conduct

  • Disclosure must be to a designated authority

  • Made in good faith/not knowingly false/not vexatious or frivolous

  • Public disclosure to media

  • Reverse onus of proof applying to agency

  • Anonymous disclosures


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Other issues

  • Annual reporting on operation of the scheme

  • Obligation on agencies to establish internal reporting system

  • Coordination/supervision of the scheme

  • Periodic review of the scheme