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Survey finds negative repercussions for 81 per cent of whistleblower cases

Whistling While They Work 2: Improving managerial responses to whistleblowing in public and private organisations found 42 per cent of whistleblowers are treated badly by their organisations and 81 per cent of whistleblowing cases resulted in negative repercussions — provoking calls for new federal whistleblower protection laws to progress.

Governance Institute is proud to support the Whistling While They Work 2 research project led by Griffith University. This staggering result is reinforced by our 2018 Ethics Index, which found that whistleblower protection continues to be seen as very important by 87 per cent of Australians.

‘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,’ says Meegan George, Acting Chief Executive at Governance Institute.

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

‘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,’ continued Ms George.

The research demonstrates that organisations support having whistleblowing policies in place. But the reality is that whistleblowers are often not well treated.

‘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,’ concluded Meegan George.

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

Find out more about the WWTW2 project and the 23 partners and supporters at

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Note to journalists: Governance Institute Ethics Index is available upon request. Please email

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