Warning for whistleblowers

Federation Training chief executive Wendy Wood has called on her workforce to familiarise itself with ‘protected disclosure’ protocol or risk jeopardising their privacy when blowing the whistle on corrupt activity.

Ms Wood’s comments come after a report released last month flagged GippsTAFE – which merged with AdvanceTAFE to form Fed Training in 2014 – as one of seven organisations which did not cooperate with a widespread review of whistleblower protocols.

The report, published by the Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission, found GippsTAFE did not respond to the survey, adding it was not possible to locate or identify relevant procedures through website searches.

In Victoria public bodies are required to establish and publish procedures about protecting whistleblowers from detrimental action taken in reprisal for making a ‘protected disclosure’.

Ms Wood said Fed Training had adopted AdvanceTAFE’s protected disclosure procedures during its 2014 merger, which had since been renewed and was compliant with requirements set out within the Protected Disclosure Act 2012.

She said she was confident Fed Training’s current protocols were “more than adequate” to protect the identity of whistleblowers, however cautioned employees to exercise foresight and discretion if they became aware of any major corruption within the organisation.

“The problem is that most people who become aware of genuine corruption have already talked to various people in scuttlebutt about it before taking appropriate action,” Ms Wood said.

“But you can’t protect someone’s identity when they’ve already spoken about it in the tea room or on social media.

“Workers need to learn how to deal with it appropriately in advance of having that tea room discussion, because it’s critical to be able to protect the identity of someone disclosing a major concern such as corruption.”

Ms Wood also called on employees to familiarise themselves with definitive differences between a ‘workplace grievance’ and a ‘major corrupt act’.