A Global Approach to Public Interest Disclosure
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A Global Approach to Public Interest Disclosure

What Can We Learn from Existing Whistleblowing Legislation and Research?

Edited by David B. Lewis

This timely and important book assesses the impact of legislation on public interest disclosures internationally, as well as setting an agenda for future research on whistleblowing.
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Chapter 5: The Australian Legislative Experience

Peter Roberts and A.J. Brown


Peter Roberts and Professor A.J. Brown This chapter will look briefly at the history of public interest disclosure legislation in Australia, make some observations about its effectiveness and describe the recent developments taking place at the Commonwealth level. The chapter is in two parts; the first dealing with the Australian legislative landscape and the second using available research data to make an assessment of the effectiveness of the legislation. There is a colloquialism that virtually every Australian knows – ‘don’t dob on your mates’. Noting that the word ‘dob’ probably came into the Australian vernacular from England, that phrase is frequently cited as an indication that Australians are culturally hostile to the notion of reporting wrongdoing. Such a view is expressed by language theorists (Wierzbicka, 2001, p. 208): ‘But as long as words like dob in and whinge are widely used, they show that the “anti-dobbing” and “anti-whinging” scripts continue to play a role in the way many Australians think and live.’ However, approaching the Australian experience from the perspective of one colloquial phrase can be misleading. First, the notion of not dobbing on your mates arose at a time when social and workplace relationships were very different from the way that they are today. Particularly in the modern workplace, the wrongdoing that is occurring is very likely to be caused by the organization itself, individual managers or someone in the organization whom the reporter would not regard as a ‘mate’. Even if the stereotype of Australian reluctance to report wrongdoing...

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