Whistleblowers rarely ever get happy endings. However, with new whistleblowing protection laws in Australia, things might be looking up for them. The new Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Bill 2018 coming into effect on July 1 affects 33,000 businesses in Australia, aiming to make it easier for whistleblowers to speak out. Workplaces have until January 1, 2020 to implement a comprehensive whistleblower policy, including secure channels and designated people to report to within organisations.
These changes shield whistleblowers from retaliation, such as loss of job and reputation, and legal consequences. The new law protects both current and former employees and also contractors, unpaid workers and relatives of those individuals.
Jan Tadeusz Stappers, Legal Counsel at WhistleB, an international provider of whistleblowing solutions, was asked to provide his views on the new Australian whistleblowing legislation for an article published on news.com.au. Jan Stappers says Australia’s old laws were largely ineffective. “But now the new legislation in Australia is really top of the bill. It is really one of the best at this stage in the world,” he says. The original article can be found here.
“If the whistleblower is protected, he or she is more likely to speak out,” he says.
The new laws “should encourage people on the receiving side like employers or authorities to listen out. Because speaking up is one part of the story, but listening out is another.”
“Transparency will eventually prevail,” Mr Stappers strongly believes. “At first glance you might think this only benefits whistleblowers, but I’m convinced that it benefits the entire society including the employer.”
Following the #Metoo movement and Australian royal commissions such as those into financial services and child sexual abuse, the perception towards whistleblowers is changing, according to Mr Stappers.
“Whistleblowers used to be seen as traitors, as disloyal to the organisation, even to society,” he says. “Now people are seeing whistleblowers as employees who are first of all very loyal to society and who also give the organisation an opportunity to deal with matters before they get out of hand.”
Mr Stappers believes whistleblowers can get happy endings. “Doing the right thing, being transparent, fighting any type of wrongdoing, speaking up in a secure environment, in the long term, will make you successful.”