A whistleblower has the right to report a concern without reprisal.
On this page:
Protection under an organisation's rules and policies
If an organisation has rules and policies outlining how people who raise a concern are protected, they must be followed.
Protection under the RO Act
The Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 (RO Act) protects a person who makes a protected disclosure.
They are protected even if the matter is only reported to the registered organisation as long as it meets certain eligibility and could have been reported to the Commission.
They will be afforded the same protection from reprisal as if they had reported to the Commission or another authorised external agency.
Protection against reprisals
Whistleblowers are protected against reprisals. This includes:
- any civil or criminal liability for reporting the concern (they are only liable for their own misconduct)
- any contractual or other remedy being enforced by the investigation.
A reprisal includes:
- disadvantage them in their employment or position
- discrimination between them and other employees
- harassment or intimidation
- harm or injury (including psychological injury)
- damage to property
- damage to reputation.
Penalties for breaching whistleblower protections
There are civil penalties for taking or threatening to take a reprisal.
The Federal Court or Federal Circuit Court can also order significant civil remedies including:
- compensation for loss, damage or injury
- injunctions to prevent, stop or remedy the effect of reprisals or threats
- an order requiring an apology
- exemplary damages
- any other order the court thinks appropriate.
It is a criminal offence to harm or threaten to harm a whistleblower. An offender can be sent to jail for up to 2 years, fined or both.