Robust protections needed for Australian whistleblowers

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

The Australian Institute of Company Directors has called for significantly stronger and broader whistleblower protections to improve good governance in corporate Australia and protect those who expose illegal practices.

In a submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into whistleblowing reforms, the AICD recommended a range of improvements to the current whistleblowing regime including expanding the number and type of people protected under the Act, broadening the definition of ‘disclosable conduct’ and extending protections to anonymous whistleblowers. The AICD has also called for increased penalties for corporations that victimise or harm whistleblowers.

AICD Chairman Elizabeth Proust said the current regime placed too much burden on the whistleblower and failed to encourage best practice governance frameworks.

“Presently, only current employees who are disclosing certain offences are covered,” she said.

“If we want a strong whistleblowing framework, we cannot and should not expect whistleblowers to be experts on the Corporations Act.

“There is also little reason why former employees or contractors shouldn’t be protected if they report wrongdoing.

“Put simply, if a practice is illegal under any Commonwealth, State or Territory law, someone who blows the whistle should be protected.

“Company directors want to know if there is corporate wrongdoing happening within the organisations they govern, and a robust whistleblowing regime that encourages reporting can help make that happen.

“Australia needs a robust whistleblowing regime that will help improve governance practices, encourage effective internal reporting frameworks, and make sure that someone who blows the whistle gets the protection and support they deserve.”

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