Protecting whistleblowers: Creating the optimal environment

  • Amendment to the Corporations Act effective 1 July 2019 and 1 January 2020 mean important improvements are needed to corporate governance to fully protect staff who raise concerns about wrongdoing.
  • Key to supporting and protecting whistleblowers is having good policies and processes for ensuring early assessment and management of risks of detrimental conduct, active support provision, fair and strong investigation processes and high levels of interpersonal justice.
  • Awareness and confidence in the organisation's whistleblowing processes, ethical leadership by senior managers, and reinforcement of ethical behaviour in the immediate work environment are especially important for achieving these processes and, in turn, better outcomes for the company and for whistleblowers alike.

 

The changing regulatory context and the implementation of amendments to the Corporations Act mean new whistleblowing legislative requirements for all Australian companies. From 1 January 2020, public, publicly listed and large proprietary companies are required to have a whistleblowing policy. This raises governance issues for corporations who must now work to protect whistleblowers — but to implement these new legislative requirements and honour new legal protections, the key is actually understanding what’s needed to create an optimal environment, not only for encouraging staff to speak up, but for supporting them when they do.

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