Home - New whistleblower laws now in force

UpdatesMay 17, 2019

New whistleblower laws now in force

The changes to whistleblower laws in Australia may also have an impact on work health and safety obligations to protect the whistleblowers from bullying or victimisation if their identity becomes known.

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Act 2019 (Cth) has been passed and significantly alters and expands protection for ‘eligible whistleblowers’ who report wrongdoing in the corporate sphere. The amendments revamp the current whistleblowing scheme provided in the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).

The changes to whistleblower laws in Australia may also have an impact on work health and safety obligations to protect the whistleblowers from bullying or victimisation if their identity becomes known.

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Act 2019 (Cth) has been passed and significantly alters and expands protection for ‘eligible whistleblowers’ who report wrongdoing in the corporate sphere. The amendments revamp the current whistleblowing scheme provided in the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).

Key changes 

The reforms: 

While the protection referenced in the legislation relates to specific civil penalties for victimising or breaching the confidentiality of a whistleblower, the flow on from this regime also means that any harm suffered by the whistleblower as a result of their conduct, could also spell liability for the organisation and its officers if WHS laws are considered to have been breached.

Generally, the identity of the whistleblower will remain anonymous and confidential, but if the identity becomes known, then an organisation must take reasonably practicable steps to ensure that the individual is not subjected to any harm, including reasonably foreseeable harm such as bullying.

A review of your organisations’ obligations to whistleblowers should be undertaken, not only to assess any compliance requirements with the updated corporate laws, but also to assess how the health and safety of the whistleblower can be protected.

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