What is a whistleblower?
A whistleblower is a person who provides information about a person or an organisation to expose activity that they consider is illegal, dishonest or unethical.
To "blow the whistle” means to revealing to supervisors, managers or appropriate authorities 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.
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.
How does whistleblower protection work?
Protection for whistleblowers is required by law and is a way of encouraging people to speak up by ensuring that they are protected from reprisals. No-one should be mistreated or adversely affected for doing the right thing. The University has a Whistleblower Policy which establishes a reporting structure to protect anyone who is aware of wrongdoing but is concerned that there may be consequences for them if they make a report.
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. Fraud and corruption is often first detected as a result of everyday work activity. This closeness to the activity can make it difficult for someone to report misconduct to another employee or manager.
The Whistleblowers Protection Act 1993 (SA) makes it unlawful to treat people unfairly because they are whistleblowers. The Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) provides further whistleblower protection for officers (usually a Director or the Secretary) of companies, employees and contractors of the company and their employees.
For more information on whistleblower protection refer to the Policy or to the Whistleblower Protection 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 activity that you reasonably suspect or know is fraudulent, illegal or improper, please report it as soon as possible.
- Reports may be directed to your supervisor or to a Head of School or Branch. For more information about reporting fraud or corruption please refer to the Fraud and Corruption Control Reporting Procedures Diagram. You should also consider whether you have obligations under the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Act and must report to the Office of Public Integrity.
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:
- An Executive Dean in any Faculty of the University
- Chief Operating Officer, Divisions of University Operations
- Dean of Law, Adelaide Law School
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.
Tips on reporting
- Disclosure of information to the Whistleblower Protection Officer directly is preferable, as meetings will be in person and in private.
- Reporting via email is good too, because it can seem less daunting and is a useful way of organising the facts of the matter before discussing them in person.
- Anonymous letters or reports should be avoided as they are difficult to act on and generally fail to disclose sufficient or specific information to even start an investigation.
When making a report under whistleblower provisions, you are expected to act in good faith and reasonably and ensure the information you disclose is legitimate and true.
To learn more about whistleblower protection provisions, refer to the Whistleblower Protection Act (summary).