Wednesday, May 18, 2022

New laws to encourage whistleblowers to check wrongdoing

The NSW Government has delivered landmark integrity reforms to preserve and enhance a culture of reporting serious wrongdoing in the NSW public sector and the wider community.

Attorney General Mark Speakman said the new laws, which respond to the recommendations of two Parliamentary Committees, will empower whistleblowers to call out serious wrongdoing.

“These nation-leading reforms demonstrate the NSW Government’s ongoing commitment to exposing and stopping misconduct in all areas of public life,” Speakman said.

Public interest disclosures, or PIDs, protect public officials who report serious wrongdoing in the NSW public sector from reprisals and liability for making the disclosure.

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The Public Interest Disclosures Bill 2022, which passed the NSW Parliament last night, will:

  • Toughen the criminal offence protecting whistleblowers from detrimental action;
  • Enhance the ability of whistleblowers to recover damages arising from detrimental action, including from an employer for the detrimental action of an employee, and from an agency for failing to proactively manage the risk of detrimental action; and
  • Protect more whistleblowers by simplifying the disclosure process.

The Bill also enhances protections for members of the public who make disclosures to the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the Ombudsman and the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission.

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The Bill was developed by the Government in close consultation with a Steering Committee of experts, chaired by the NSW Ombudsman and comprised of the heads of the State’s oversight bodies.

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Agencies will now receive training ahead of the commencement of the Bill next year.

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