Tips for developing an effective whistleblower policy | WISE Workplace

WISE Workplace
December 2008

Following the release of the final report into 'Whistleblowing in the Australian Public Sector: Enhancing the theory and practice of internal witness management in public sector organisations' Edited by A.J. Brown   a comprehensive review of Australia' s whistleblower protection legislation has been called for. 

Australian standard (AS 8004-2003) outlines the standards for whistleblower protection in Australia but A.J.Brown's report identified that many organisations fail to meet these standards. 

The term whistleblower has several meanings, but is usually used to refer to someone who alerts the establishment to misconduct from within an organisation.  

The most helpful attribute employers can build into their staff is the development of practical skills in understanding organisational dynamics, collecting accurate data and writing coherent accounts.  

Factually based claims are required by senior management to address organisational issues. 

The following tips are designed to help organisations develop a regime that is effective and which allows employees to confidently and anonymously report information.

Acknowledge  - The modern workplace is often geographically dispersed and culturally diverse, containing a rich mix of backgrounds, cultures, languages and life experiences.  A whistleblowing program needs to cater for this diversity allowing multiple and easy channels for reporting.

Doctrine  - Create policy and procedures which make a whistleblowing program part of an organisations system of internal control and audit.  Also ensure policy, procedure and training is developed and introduced in complementary areas, specifically organisational ethics and values.

Communicate - Create a strategy for informing the workplace, including contractors and consultants that a program is in place and the mechanisms how they can report inappropriate activity.

Encourage - Staff need to be aware of the types of matters and behaviour they should report.  They also need assurance that such reporting will not be attributable to them and their safety and security will be maintained.  Reporting staff need acknowledgement that senior management will take matters raised seriously.

Enable - Organisations need a process for responding to whistleblower reports, maintaining confidentiality whilst ensuring a competent and impartial investigation.

Monitor  - Senior management need to regularly assess the number of disclosures received and categorise the allegations reported.