The Commonwealth Ombudsman has released the ‘Whistling while they work: A good-practice guide for managing internal reporting of wrongdoing in public sector organisations’ guide which argues that the public sector would benefit greatly from the establishment of best practice guidelines for whistleblowing.


The Ombudsman sets out the results from four years of research that shows that safe and effective whistleblowing can better public sector organisations in better fulfilling their missions, maintain integrity and increasingly value their employees.


In 2008, the initial seminal resource Whistleblowing in the Australian Public Sector edited by Professor AJ Brown of Griffith University, outlined the research findings of data from over 300 Commonwealth, state and local agencies and individual survey responses from over 10,000 individual public sector employees, managers and case-handlers.


In undertaking this research, some 175 sets of whistleblowing guidelines in NSW, Queensland, Western Australia and the Commonwealth were assessed. The study found that 20 of 56 Commonwealth agency procedures scored less than 15 out of a possible 72.


‘The research showed that although there were a few Commonwealth agencies that scored very well, the Commonwealth dominated the lower scores,’ Commonwealth Ombudsman Allan Asher said.


The conclusion reached by the authors, for the poor result was that the Commonwealth had the least comprehensive whistleblowing legislation out of the four jurisdictions. The new guide draws on findings from a further in-depth project looking at 16 Commonwealth, state and local case study agencies, and its launch is both timely and welcome given the Government’s commitment to introduce new Commonwealth public interest disclosure legislation.


The full report can be found here