Australia’s new whistleblower protection legislation means many charities might need to change their approach to managing disclosures. But some of us also might need to change how we think about whistleblowing.
Australia has just passed new whistleblower protection legislation, with significant implications for many Australian organisations. This has led to interesting conversations about how best to respond to the legislation, and how to protect whistleblowers.
But what is intriguing is how rapidly some people jump to the question of malicious disclosure. Some have even nurtured the idea that anonymous disclosures should not be investigated at all. This is despite research showing that whistleblowers do indeed reveal wrongdoing in the vast majority of cases – and, of course, that the motivation of a whistleblower is quite a different matter to the veracity of their report.
Certainly, we need to apply a level of professional scepticism. But that is not the same as suspicion.
In one respect this is understandable; whistleblowing disclosures can be quite fearful events. The mind might race – what has been happening? How will this affect the charity? Does this mean a lot of work? What will our donors say? But recognising the value of whistleblowers is an important part of being a responsible charity, and there are at least three good reasons for this:
Whistleblowers provide early warning
Whistleblowers contribute to continual improvement.
Wwhistleblowers help you to see behind the curtain.
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