Whistleblower Protection

What is a whistleblower?

A whistleblower is a person who provides information about a person or an organisation to expose conduct that they consider is illegal, dishonest or unethical.

To "blow the whistle” means to revealing to supervisors, managers - or to another appropriate authority - information about wrongdoing so that it can be stopped or prevented from reoccurring. This might include revealing information about someone or a group of people who have:-

  • acted illegally;
  • wasted public money;
  • misused public resources;
  • falsified records; or
  • risked public health, safety or the environment.

All University personnel are Public Officers and have an obligation to report corruption or serious or systemic misconduct or maladministration to the South Australian Officer for Public Integrity (OPI).

You can make a confidential online disclosure to the OPI or contact the Office for further guidance.

What is a Public Interest Disclosure?

South Australia has a Public Interest Disclosure Act 2018 (PID Act) which establishes a scheme to encourage and facilitate appropriate disclosures of public interest information. The PID Act provides protections to Public Officers who may be concerned about reprisals.

The University is updating its Whistleblower Policy and related procedures to provide guidance on the operation of the PID scheme.  

If you have a disclosure to make and seek protection from reprisal or victimisation as a consequence, then you should use the existing reporting framework and mechanisms that are available to support you.

Please note that disclosures of corruption or serious or systemic misconduct or maladministration made under the Whistleblower Policy will be reported to the Office for Public Integrity as is required under the Act. 

How does whistleblower protection work?

Whistleblowers play a vital role in exposing misconduct and illegal activity within the workplace. Most whistleblowers are close enough to see wrongdoing because they are a part of the organisation or work area. This closeness to the activity can also make it difficult for someone to report misconduct.

The University has a Whistleblower Policy which establishes a report management structure to protect anyone who is aware of wrongdoing but is concerned that there may be consequences for them if they make a report.

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2018 (SA) makes it unlawful to treat people who make an appropriate disclosure unfairly because they are whistleblowers. The Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) provides further whistleblower protection .

Whistleblower protection laws also allow protected disclosures of some reportable conduct to be made directly to external regulatory or integrity agencies. These agencies will liaise with the University as appropriate to ensure that the conduct reported in properly investigated.

For more information on whistleblower protection refer to the Policy or to the Public Interest Disclosure Act summary. Further information about reporting wrongdoing is available from the Legal and Risk Branch or from the South Australian Office for Public Integrity.

How to make a report

If you become aware of conduct that you reasonably suspect or know is fraudulent, illegal or improper, please report it as soon as possible.

Refer to the Integrity and Accountability webpage – reporting suspect wrongdoing  

If you have a concern that you may suffer consequences, please refer to the Whistleblower Reporting Procedures and make a report to one of the University's Authorised Disclosure Officers.

The Authorised Disclosure Officers are:

Employees of a University of Adelaide Controlled Entity are also encouraged to report suspected incidents either to the Chair of the Entity or to one of the University’s Authorised Disclosure Officers.

When making a report under whistleblower provisions, you are expected to act in good faith and reasonably and to ensure the information you disclose is based on facts. An investigation may not be possible if the conduct cannot be substantiated.

Under the Public Interest Disclosure Act, false or misleading disclosures are not protected and may attract penalties up to $20,000 or imprisonment of up to 2 years.

Further information about wrongdoing that may constitute fraud or corruption and what you can do about it can be found on the Integrity and Accountability webpage and on the Office of Research Ethics, Compliance and Integrity website. See also the Fraud and Corruption Control Policy.

Review of University Whistleblower Policy

The University is currently reviewing its Whistleblower Policy and resources due to changes to South Australian legislation in 2019.