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What is whistleblowing?

Whistleblowing involves speaking up against wrongdoing in an organisation. A whistleblower is usually an employee who exposes certain activities or information within an organisation that's illegal or unsafe such as corruption or discrimination. 

The organisation responsible for the wrongdoing will often retaliate against the whistleblower. Our expert employment lawyers can help you navigate the threat of retaliation, protect your reputation and help you seek compensation and just outcomes. Get in touch with our employment law team if you are considering whistleblowing. 

Who is an eligible whistleblower?

To be able to access whistleblower rights and protection, you need to meet some eligibility criteria. 

You're eligible if you're a current or former:

  • employee or officer
  • contractor (or their employees) who supplies services or goods, including volunteers
  • associate
  • superannuation trustee, custodian or investment manager
  • spouse, relative or dependant

Who is eligible to hear whistleblower claims?

Disclosures can be received by the following individuals or regulators:

  • officer (director and company secretary of the entity, and external administrator appointed to the entity.)
  • senior manager
  • auditor or member of an audit team (internal or external)
  • actuary
  • person authorised by a company (internal or external – e.g. hotline)
  • superannuation trustee
  • ASIC or APRA

How are whistleblowers protected?

How you're protected as a whistleblower differs depending on whether you're a public or private sector employee:

Private sector

Private sector

In 2019, the protections available to whistleblowers in the private sector were strengthened by the federal government.

Importantly, all large companies are now legally required to have a whistleblower policy.

How are you protected?

If you have reasonable grounds for making a claim and act 'in good faith', your protections include:

  • the ability to anonymously make a public interest disclosure
  • qualified privilege against defamation
  • preclusion from contractual or other remedies being enforced against the whistleblower
  • protection from civil and criminal liability for making the disclosure
  • protections - in limited circumstances - to make complaints to journalists or parliamentarians
  • imposing large civil penalties as well as criminal offences for causing or threatening detriment to, or victimising a whistleblower, and for breaching a whistleblower’s confidentiality

Public sector

Public sector

If you are an employee of a Commonwealth agency, department or body, as a whistleblower you are protected under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013.

Commonwealth public sector employees are able to make a protected disclosure if there has been 'disclosable conduct' by either an agency, a public official in connection with their position or an officer or employee of a contracted service provider. 

'Disclosable conduct' includes:

  • conduct that contravenes a Commonwealth, state or territory law,
  • is corrupt,
  • perverts the course of justice, or
  • is an abuse of public trust.

How are you protected?

Your protections include:

  • the ability to anonymously make complaints/disclosures 
  • immunity from civil, criminal or administrative liability
  • support and protection from reprisal
  • recourse to court ordered remedies for reprisal action

We're by your side

Our employment law team has an outstanding record of achieving successful outcomes for employees in both the private and public sector. We know how to navigate this increasingly complex and ever-changing area of the law.


Book an initial consultation with an employment lawyer. Your first consultation costs $690 (incl GST).


At your one hour consult, your employment lawyer will provide advice on your situation, the best action to take, and next steps. 


Most of our cases are resolved out of court, and discretion is assured.

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Employment law

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