Shine Lawyers has a team of Executive Employment and Partnerships experts, highly experienced in the complex area of whistleblowing, having acted for many brave individuals who have spoken out about wrongdoing. Our specalist whistleblower lawyers understand the dilemmas that you may face, and how to best leverage the law to protect you.
Whistleblowing Laws in Australia
While public sector whistleblowers have had employment protections for some time in Australia, private sector employees have been significantly exposed. This is now changing.
The scale of misconduct and cover-ups revealed by Royal Commissions into Abuse, Banking and Aged Care have shown just how crucial it is that employees are empowered to speak out to report wrongdoings without fear of reprisals, and protected from any retaliation. Parliament have responded with significant but highly complex, new whistleblower protections for certain segments of the private sector.
How are whistleblowers protected by the law?
Whistleblowers are protected from retaliation for blowing the whistle, as well as protecting their identities. It is unlawful to punish whistleblowers with any civil, criminal or administrative penalty for blowing the whistle, so employees can’t be disciplined or dismissed for doing so, nor can suppliers’ contracts be terminated.
If your employment is terminated because you blew the whistle, the law provides for reinstatement or financial compensation, to reflect your realistic career losses. If you are still in employment, there is a wider range of potential remedies, including a court order for your employer to stop any detrimental victimisation, as well as an apology. Criminal sanctions, including prison sentences and large fines, are also potential consequences.
What is considered a “disclosable matter”?
The subject matter of what you are blowing the whistle about is of critical importance. You are required to have reasonable grounds to suspect that the information you are disclosing concerns misconduct, or an improper state of affairs or circumstances, to be sure of whistleblower protection.
This goes much further than unlawful activity, but does not include personal work-related grievances. Since disclosable matters are not closely defined, it is crucial to take advice on the specific circumstances in your case to understand how you can come within the protection of the new laws.
Can you blow the whistle anonymously?
Whistleblowers have the right to remain anonymous if they choose. It can be a criminal offence to reveal the identity of a whistleblower without consent, or even to disclose information likely to lead to identification. This can potentially result in prison sentences or very high value fines.
When should you seek a whistleblowing lawyer?
It is important to seek legal advice as early as possible to protect your position. In potential dismissal cases, it may be possible to take action to prevent dismissal if addressed quickly, however it is important to note that strict, and very short, time limits can apply in dismissal cases – in some cases within only 21 days.
How Shine Lawyers can help
We are familiar with the risks, challenges and repercussions of whistleblowing. We apply this knowledge and experience to our advice, to help our clients raise the alarm in the best way possible to protect their interests, and we understand how best to take action to enforce an individual’s rights when things go wrong.