Raising awareness of whistleblowing procedures

New Zealand has the Protected Disclosures Act 2000 which provides for protection of people reporting ‘serious wrongdoing’ in their organisation.

The PSA supports the Act, but we believe that the threshold for reporting is set very high, and as a consequence the protections provided by the Act are rarely used. We understand that SSC is proposing to take a lead on increasing awareness of the Protected Disclosures Act, and the PSA will be involved in this activity.

The State Services Commission recently held a workshop on whistleblowing with Professor A J Brown of Griffith University in Australia, who has done extensive research on the subject in the Australian public sector. Professor Brown has worked closely with the Community and Public Sector Union in Australia, who support his work.

Professor Brown made a number of pertinent observations, including the strong link between a positive and open workplace culture and the level of reporting of wrongdoing. He was also clear that early disclosure of a problem is crucial – if not, it becomes much bigger and more difficult to address. And he dispelled the myth that employees won’t speak up for fear of reprisal; they will speak out if they are confident that action will be taken, and that they will be listened to with respect.