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81% of whistleblower cases end in negative repercussions, research says

New findings from Griffith University and Governance Institute have shown alarming levels of deleterious impacts of whistleblowing upon those who speak out, which the researchers say should give rise to new federal protection laws for whistleblowers.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 21 November 2018 Big Law
81% of whistleblower cases end in negative repercussions, research says
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While professional organisations support having whistleblowing policies in place, the reality is that whistleblowers are often not well treated, according to Governance Institute.

The Whistling While They Work 2: Improving Managerial Responses to Whistleblowing in Public and Private Organisations has found that found 42 per cent of whistleblowers are treated badly by their organisations and 81 per cent of whistleblowing cases resulted in negative repercussions.

These findings, Governance Institute said in a statement, support its Ethics Index (published earlier in 2018), which noted that 87 per cent of Australians see whistleblower protections as being very important.


“Whistleblower protection was one of the top-ranking ethical issues in the Governance Institute Ethics Index 2018. With new whistleblowing legislation already introduced to federal parliament, and in light of the banking royal commission, organisations need a clear understanding of the best approaches to take to protect whistleblowers,” Governance Institute acting CEO Meegan George said.

The whistleblowing report also found that if organisations effectively manage whistleblowing internally, there appears to be reduced repercussions for whistleblowers, Governance Institute said.

“Whistleblower protection needs to be understood at a cultural level across every organisation. A robust whistleblowing process that makes employees feel comfortable with reporting wrongdoing is critical to build an ethical culture that supports strong corporate outcomes,” Ms George added.

“The report highlighted the importance of risk assessment and proactive management. The earlier the risk is assessed, the better the treatment of whistleblowers.

We’re all responsible for raising critical red flags. This requires an open, honest relationship between whistleblowers and their managers.”

This research comes as the federal government prepares to reboot whistleblowing amendments to the Corporations Act 2001, and independent federal MPs prepare a new bill for a national anti-corruption body with whistleblower protection powers.

Lawyers Weekly recently discussed issues surrounding whistleblower protections and new legislation on The Lawyers Weekly Show. Click here to listen.