Whistleblower protection: a comprehensive scheme for the Commonwealth public sector

Report of the Inquiry into whistleblowing protection within the Australian Government public sector

By the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.

On Wednesday 25 February 2009, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs tabled its report on the inquiry into whistleblowing protections within the Australian Government public sector entitled Whistleblower protection: a comprehensive scheme for the Commonwealth public sector.

Whistleblowing in the Australian Public Sector Enhancing the theory and practice of

internal witness management in public sector organisations 2008 Edited by A. J. Brown justify

This book presents results from a program of empirical and comparative legal research into public interest whistleblowing in Australian public sector agencies, undertaken in 2005″

“08 through the Australian Research Council-funded Linkage Project “˜Whistling While They Work’.

The study was the largest of its kind ever undertaken in Australia, and one of the largest per capita ever undertaken in the world. It has involved six Australian universities, a number of international collaborators and 14 partner organisations, including many Australian public integrity and public sector management agencies.

Second edition August 2007 – Revised Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations Corporate Governance The ASX Corporate Governance Council.
The ASX Corporate Governance Council (Council) undertook an extensive review of the first edition of the Principles of Good Corporate Governance and Best Practice Recommendations and carried out a public consultation process between November 2006 and February 2007.

On 2 August 2007 the Council released:

The revised Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations (Second Edition Corporate Governance Guidelines)

Council’s response to submissions (PDF 930KB)

A document setting out the differences between the 2003 and 2007 editions of the Principles and Recommendations (PDF 433KB)

Updated and revised Guidelines for Notices of meeting (PDF 50KB)

Media Release (PDF 64KB)

Speech by Eric Mayne, Chair of the ASX Corporate Governance Council, at the launch of the revised Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations (PDF 44KB)

Speech by the Hon. Chris Pearce, Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, to launch the revised Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations (PDF 40KB)

The Council released Revised Supplementary Guidance (PDF 76KB) in June 2008 (see also comparison (PDF 101KB) August 2007 and June 2008).

The documents can be dowloaded from: (please copy & paste link to your browser)

Effective date

The effective date for the Second Edition Corporate Governance Guidelines is a listed entity’s first financial year commencing on or after 1 January 2008.

Where an entity’s financial year begins on 1 January, disclosure will be required in relation to the financial year 1 January 2008 ““ 31 December 2008 and will be made in the annual report published in 2009.

Where a listed entity’s financial year begins on 1 July, disclosure will be required in relation to the financial year 1 July 2008 – 30 June 2009 and will be made in the annual report published in 2009.

Listed entities are encouraged to make an early transition to the Second Edition Corporate Governance Guidelines.

ASX Corporate Governance Council Principles of Good Corporate Governance and Best Practice Recommendations March 2003 (PDF File 479KB)

Recognise and manage risk

Management should establish and implement a system for identifying, assessing, monito ing material risk throughout the organisation.

In order to enhance the objectivity and performance of the internal audit function, companies should consider a second reporting line from the internal audit function to the board or relevant committee
Recognise the legitimate interests of stakeholders

A code of conduct should enable employees to alert management and the board in good faith to potential misconduct without fear of retribution, and should require recording and investigation of such alerts

Whistleblower – From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Whistleblower protection laws need national revision: new issues paper 2 November 2006

A new issues paper released by the Commonwealth Ombudsman, NSW Ombudsman and Queensland Ombudsman suggests:

A coherent, national approach to the revision of whistleblower protection laws needs to be considered by Australian governments Media Release (PDF, 118KB)

Public Interest Disclosure Legislation in Australia: Towards the Next Generation? – Summary (Final Version) (PDF – 157KB)

Public Interest Disclosure Legislation in Australia: Towards the Next Generation? – Full Paper (Final Version) (PDF – 786KB)

Section 42

The Board Audit Committee must establish and maintain policies and procedures for employees of the regulated institution to submit, confidentially, information about accounting, internal control, compliance, audit, and other matters about which the employee has concerns. The Committee should also have a process for ensuring employees are aware of these policies and for dealing with matters raised by employees under these policies.

This standard takes effect on 1 October 2006.

Australian Research Council Linkage Project – 2005-2007

‘Whistling While They Work’: Enhancing the Theory and Practice of Internal Witness Management in Public Sector Organisations

Australian Standards

National Corporate Governance Standards:-

AS 8000: Good governance principles
AS 8001: Fraud and corruption control
AS 8002: Organizational codes of conduct
AS 8003: Corporate social responsibility
AS 8004: Whistleblower protection programs for entities

Establish, maintain and effectively manage a whistleblowing scheme with the help of AS 8004. This Standard explains how to establish, maintain, implement and effectively manage a whistleblowing mechanism that can apply to employees, executives, directors, outside agents and sub-contractors.

HB 400″”2004: Introduction to Corporate Governance

Whistleblowing in Australia – transparency, accountability… but above all, the truth” Parliament of Australia Research Note 14 February 2005, no 31, 2004-2005, ISN 1449-8456

Provides an overview of the last 15 years of developments in respect of whistleblower legislation and covers changes to Trade Practices Act 1974 & Part 9.4AAA of the Corporations Act providing increased protection to whistleblowers.

Would We Need Whistleblowing, if we had Open Government? Frank Costigan QC Chairman, Transparency International Australia Canberra Symposium, 12 July 2005
This concern is not limited to Canberra. On 21 June 2005 it was reported in the Age that the Victorian government had introduced regulations which prevented public servants from raising allegations to private investigation agencies which used to act as independent third parties. It was said in the article:
Public servants wanting to expose alleged corruption in their departments have been shackled by changes to Victoria’s whistleblower rules.
Government regulations ban private companies from receiving such complaints.
The change means public servants have fewer options to raise allegations outside the bureaucracy.
While they can make complaints to the Ombudsman, or to their own employers, they are prevented from turning to private investigation firms, which used to act as independent third parties.
Critics fear the change will deter people from exposing misconduct in department ranks.

Forcing people to go to their own departments with information on corruption or misconduct really does make it difficult to be a whistleblower in this state,” said the Opposition’s scrutiny of government spokesman, Richard Dalla-Riva.
<p align=”justify”>”Why would the Bracks Labor Government want to control what is being said about its departments – what has it to hide?”</p>

The regulations were introduced by Attorney-General Rob Hulls in 2002, but came to light this year when Glenn Birrell, a former Victorian detective-sergeant who now runs a private firm specialising in whistleblower services, complained to the Government after finding that his business, Your-Call Pty Ltd, specialist in disclosure management services, could no longer receive complaints from public servants under state laws.

Mr Birrell said the move undermined the Ombudsman’s own guidelines, and ought to be reexamined.

“If people genuinely want to raise concerns or blow the whistle in relation to corruption,they’re more likely to do it outside of the organisation,” he said.

“What concerns us is if the whistleblower now wants to come forward with a complaint, this regulation will void them of their opportunity to make a protected disclosure.”

Whistleblowing: Australian Laws, Resources and Information

Inquiry into Fraud and Electronic Commerce Parliament of Victoria Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee Final Report January 2004 (PDF File 1,808KB)

Recommended the establishment of the

Victorian Fraud Information and Reporting Centre (VFIRC) within

Victoria Police to co-ordinate and respond to all aspects of fraud reporting. (Word document)
Committee heard

one of the most common ways in which fraud is detected and reported is through the use of “˜whistleblowers’ “ people who reveal wrongdoing within an organisation to the public or to those in positions of authority.”
The Committee was advised, however, that some individuals fear reporting fraud because it may result in their being discriminated against or otherwise subjected to harassment, intimidation or reprisals. This is particularly the case in the private sector, where whistleblowers are provided with no statutory protection against reprisals. To overcome this problem, the Committee has recommended extending the scope of the Whistleblowers Protection Act 2001 (Vic) to cover the private sector as well as the public sector. Auditing Standard AUS 210 (January 2002)(PDF File 132KB)

The Auditor’s Responsibility to Consider Fraud and Error in an Audit of a Financial Report

Corporate Law Economic Reform Program (CLERP9)

The Corporate Law Economic Reform Program (Audit Reform and Corporate Disclosure) Act 2004 (also known as CLERP 9) became law on 1 July 2004. You need to put in place adequate measures, processes and procedures to meet the new obligations of the Corporations Act 2001, especially if you’re involved in auditing and company financial reporting.

CEOs and CFOs must make a written declaration to the Board that the financial statements are in accordance with the Corporations Act 2001 and Accounting Standards, that the statements present a true and fair view of the company’s financial position and that the company’s financial records have been kept in accordance with the Corporations Act 2001.

Internal Controls for Small Business by Susan Campbell CPA and Judy Hartcher 2003© (PDF File 199KB)

Sarbanes Oxley Compliance Summary (Word document)

Sarbanes Oxley Act 2002 (USA) (PDF File 264KB)

Australian Legislation

Australian Capital Territory

Public Interest Disclosure Act 1994
South Australia

Whistleblower Protection Act 1993

Whistleblowers Protection Act 2001  (Word document)
Western Australia

Public Interest Disclosure Act 2002

Protected Disclosures Act 1994

Public Interest Disclosures Act 2002


Whistleblowers Protection Act 1994

Whistleblowing, Transparency and Privacy: Aspects of the relationship between Victoria’s Whistleblower Protection Act and Information Privacy Act. (PDF File 24KB)

An address by Mr. Paul Chadwick Victorian Privacy Commissioner to the Whistleblower: Opportunity or Threat Conference 31 July 2003

Employee Hotlines: A Valuable Compliance Tool for the Board (PDF File 73KB)

Directors Monthly March 2003 Volume 27 Number 3 National Association of Corporate Directors USA

“a common failing of an ethic programs is insufficient communication to employees about their communication options”.

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How to comply with Australia’s Whistleblower Legislation

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