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Whistleblower policy 'gaps' exposed: report

Whistleblower policy 'gaps' exposed: report

Tim Stewart
— 1 minute read

More than one quarter of Australian businesses have no system in place to record and track wrongdoing concerns raised by whistleblowers, a new research project has found.

The preliminary results of Griffith University's Whistling While They Work 2 research project have found Australian businesses wanting on a number of counts when it comes to whistleblowing policies.

The research project, which surveyed whistleblowing procedures across 702 public sector, business and not-for-profit organisations, found 26 per cent of businesses had no particular system for recording and tracking wrongdoing concerns.

Thirty-three per cent of businesses reported they did not have a policy in place to protect staff who raise concerns, and 49 per cent of businesses said they did not assess the risks of detrimental impacts that staff might experience from raising wrongdoing concerns.

Only 39 per cent of businesses provide potential whistleblowers with a management-designated support person, and only 17 per cent of businesses have mechanisms to ensure whistleblowers are compensated or restituted if they "experience reprisals".

Commenting on the preliminary results of the research project, Governance Institute chief executive Steven Burrell urged the Senate Inquiry into Scrutiny of Financial Advice to delay its recommendations until the final results of Whistling While They Work 2 are released in 2017.

"Waiting for the results of this substantial body of work would enable the inquiry to make recommendations based on hard evidence rather than hearsay," Mr Burrell said.

"A stand-alone Act that covers disclosure of any sort of misconduct – not just financial misconduct – and that provides protection regardless of which regulator the whistleblower discloses to is what we need and what we will recommend to the Senate inquiry once it reconvenes.

"Australia should follow the lead of the US and UK, where there are general provisions for allegations of misconduct made in good faith and which do not attract retribution."

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