• Building resilience through risk culture.

  • Empowering our clients to improve performance.

Whistleblower protection limps on!


The Australian Financial Services Minister Kelly O’Dwyer was reported in the Melbourne Age on 23rd of June 2017 announcing that the government wants to tighten legislation to give compensation and protection of anonymity to people who blow the whistle on corporate corruption or unethical behaviour.

Government legislation and enforcement is essential but seems to be taking years to be put in place.  What’s more important is that senior leaders in the public and private sector need to ensure that their organisations have robust policies and procedures which encourage people to report inappropriate behaviours and protect them when they do so.


Low Confidence in Corporate Whistleblower Programs.


When we run Risk Culture Assessments for our clients we ask every staff member whether they believe –

  • their organisation has an excellent whistleblower program and
  • that they would be properly protected if they became a whistleblower


What our data shows is that around two thirds of senior executives (GM or above) have strong confidence in the organisation’s whistleblower program and processes but less than half of the team leaders and general staff share this confidence.

Whistleblowers don’t often come from the ranks of senior executives.  They are much more likely to be closer to the front line.  If they don’t trust the whistleblower program then if they see corruption and unethical behaviour it’s safer to either look the other way or leave the organisation.

Recently a young administrative assistant in Germany’s tax office received threats intended to stop investigating what turned out to be an enormous tax fraud with international implications – she persisted.


2 Questions about Your Whistleblower Program


  1.  Would your younger staff persist in trying to uncover fraud in the face of threats, confident that your senior executives would protect them?
  2. How would you rate the whistleblower protection in your organisation?


In our consulting work we’ve seen people tell senior executives they plan to use whistleblowing to expose unethical practices, only to be threatened and then leave. We’ve often seen more junior staff use our Risk Culture Assessment as a way to leapfrog their immediate manager, who has declined to act when they reported evidence of fraud, corruption or behaviour contrary to the organisation’s policy.


If you’d like help in getting an independent assessment of the attitudes of your staff at all levels towards managing risk contact us at info@riskculture.com.au or call us on +61 3 9602 4858.


About the Authors

John Dawson

Carmel McDonald

John P Dawson & Carmel McDonald are the co-owners of Dawson McDonald Consulting.  They’ve been running Risk Culture Assessments since 2008 to help clients protect their organisations and build resilience.  They can be reached at info@riskculture.com.au

In 2015 they published a book BUILD Your Business.  Risk Managers will also find this helpful in communicating their message effectively

To get your copy of this book, or to download a free sample chapterclick here

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