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Other Ways to Blow the Whistle

Whistleblowers need to keep in mind that whistleblowing outside of a statutory system or scheme isn’t any more or less risky than it was before the advent of stand-alone legislation. 

Why? Because the existing statutory protections are only required to be retrospective in their action or effect. That is, they are designed to operate as a legal defence in a court case and can have no effect unless or until a court determines otherwise. 

That is, there is no obligatory statutory 'presumption' that ensures that, once having invoked the act, you will be protected upfront from reprisals that otherwise might be inflicted, unless or until such a time as a court determines otherwise. Until that happens, statutory protection will remain illusory and at the whim of your employer, notwithstanding the exhortations provided by worthy model policies and guidelines. 

'The Whistleblower's Handbook', (http://www.bmartin.cc/pubs/99wh.html) tells you how legislation will ultimately fail you when you need it most. Heed that advice.

The handbook also gives you information on how to blow the whistle using the news media or the web, for example, on YouTube or through a journalist’s blog site. If you get an opportunity, remember media opportunities rarely knock twice.

Wikileaks and some private corporate hotlines are also available; search online for options.

Generally, use the media and/or legislation if it makes sense for you to do that. Get advice. Know the limitations and use either or both proactively, even against your employer. Don’t slavishly adhere to systems or procedural requirements if (e.g.) the threat of public harm is both real and imminent.

Remember that the quality of the information you hold and doing everything in the public’s interest and very publicly are still the best protections, with or without legislation. Bide your time. Make yourself as safe as you can. Let none of what you do be unplanned or impromptu.

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Copyright Whistleblowers Australia 2007-2010. (Last update: 17 November 2010.)