Australian whistleblowers now have a much needed advocate to help them when there is nowhere else to turn.
The following article is syndicated from our related brand and leading workplace case management platform, Rely.
The Human Rights Law Centre’s (HRLC) recent launch of the Whistleblower Project is Australia’s first dedicated, specialist legal service for whistleblowers, established to empower people to speak up about human rights abuses and serious injustice, and protect them when they do.
Rely is honoured to have been selected as the technology partner to help deliver such an important and impactful initiative.
Rely’s CEO, Nathan Luker, said; “From my years of experience helping people safely speak up at their organisation, I could not be prouder of Rely’s collaboration with the Human Rights Law Centre. Their Whistleblower Project will play a pivotal role in supporting those who are not being heard by their organisation.”
The HRLC aims to help by:
- Providing advice and assistance when navigating the disclosure pathway to minimise the whistleblower’s risk.
- Providing advice and representation where a whistleblower has already blown the whistle and faced reprisal, including litigation to vindicate their legal rights and protections.
- The HRLC also works on law reform and conducts strategic litigation to create stronger laws and protections for whistleblowers.
As the technology partner, Rely will
- provide the ability for people to speak up in many languages via a secure and confidential online form.
- Enable discrete ongoing communication after making a report.
- Streamline the case management process for HRLC across a high number of reports.
- Deliver trend analysis, analytics and critical data to help inform the state of the nation.
HRLC’s Senior Lawyer, Regina Featherstone, said “We are delighted to partner with Rely to power the intake function of the new Whistleblower Project. It’s critical for whistleblowers to have a secure, responsive channel for people to tell the truth safely, and for us to understand how we can continuously improve our advocacy and support for whistleblowers.”
The HRLC cannot assist everyone.
They’ve developed prioritisation guidelines to guide their service delivery – prioritising whistleblowers who are suffering as a result of their whistleblowing (such as because they have experienced retaliation), whistleblowing that helps to address the suffering of others (such as human rights abuse and misconduct relevant to the HRLC’s other impact areas), whistleblowing which may have systemic or strategic relevance (such as by being a test case for stronger protections) and federal public sector whistleblowers. Where they cannot assist a whistleblower, they will seek to offer referral pathways.
Learn more about the Whistleblower Project on the HRLC’s website.
The Cost of Courage
The need for initiatives like the Whistleblower Project are highlighted in the HRLC’s report; ‘Cost of Courage: Fixing Australia’s Whistleblower Protections’. The report highlights the level of detriment many whistleblowers face. When they attempt to recoup the costs they’ve incurred, or fightback against the life changing implications of their speaking up, their arguments are resoundingly rejected. The report saw that only 1 of 78 cases reviewed resulted in the whistleblower receiving compensation for facing detriment after speaking up. In this instance the whistleblower received a paltry $5,000.
When Rely attended the launch of the Whistleblower Project, it was both confronting and a privilege to hear the lived experience from so many whistleblowers. To a person they described how their life had been severely impacted, marriages falling apart, friendships ending and jobs being lost. At each point of escalation they incurred greater mistreatment and attempts to silence them.
It’s clear that laws need to change and more needs to be done to aid those brave enough to speak up. It’s critical to a functioning democracy. Rely is proud to play a small part in this step in the right direction.