Following public consultation in late 2018, Cabinet decided to strengthen the Protected Disclosures Act.
The Protected Disclosures (Protection of Whistleblowers) Bill replacing the Protected Disclosures Act 2000 was introduced to Parliament on 24 June 2020 and had its first reading on 1 July 2020. The Education and Workforce Select Committee reported the Bill back to the House on 29 March 2021. Read the report here.
The key changes in the Protected Disclosures (Protection of Whistleblowers) Bill are:
- extending the coverage of serious wrongdoing to include misuse of public funds or resources, whether in a public or private organisation; or of public authority by non-government organisations carrying out public functions
- allowing serious wrongdoing to be reported directly to an external authority at any time
- strengthening protection for disclosers by outlining what those receiving disclosures should do
- clarifying the internal procedure requirements for public sector organisations and requiring them to state in their published internal procedures how support for disclosers, in the form of practical assistance and advice, will be provided
- referring to a list of the ways in which retaliation against a discloser may occur
- making it clearer for whistle blowers who the appropriate authority is for making a disclosure by creating a new Schedule to the Act naming the most likely appropriate authorities for particular subject matter.
In addition, the Bill is presented in a more accessible form.
The Public Service Commission will also investigate further possible amendments to the Act, including the potential for a ‘one stop shop’ for disclosures, and test the feasibility and usefulness of establishing reporting and monitoring arrangements. The Public Service Commission is also continuing to build awareness of the Act and the existing standards and guidance for Speaking up in the State services.
Read the Protected Disclosures (Protection of Whistleblowers) Bill as introduced here
Read the Public Service Commission’s impact statement on the Protected Disclosures (Protection of Whistleblowers) Bill
Read the Public Service Commission’s disclosure statement on the Protected Disclosures (Protection of Whistleblowers) Bill
Read information proactively released on the Protected Disclosures reforms here
Other useful resources:
The project site for Whistling While They Work http://www.whistlingwhiletheywork.edu.au/