4 May 2016

Better protection needed for whistleblowers

12:54 pm on 4 May 2016

More support is needed for whistleblowers who reveal bad practises in the workplace, according to early results from a new research project.

Clampdown on whistleblowers of Nauru and Manus camps

Photo: Supplied

The three-year research programme began earlier this year to survey thousands of public bodies and private sector corporations to find ways to improve managerial responses to whistleblowing.

The first phase of research has discovered a broad consensus that new laws and standards are needed to support employees who report wrongdoing.

It said these actions can benefit both individuals and an organisation being complained about.

Michael Macaulay of Victoria University's Institute for Governance and Policy Studies has joined researchers in Australia to find out more about this.

Associate Professor Macaulay said the research had already found a culture of negativity surrounding employee-reported wrongdoing.

"New Zealand has fairly comprehensive legislation for protected disclosures," Professor Macaulay said.

"But we need to know more about people's confidence in using them.

"Although information is fairly limited, what we know about the public sector suggests confidence may be low."

Professor Macaulay said the research had already highlighted a general consensus that new laws and standards were needed to support workplace whistleblowing and realise its full benefits to companies and its employees.

His trans-Tasman colleague, Professor A. J. Brown from Queensland's Griffith University, said robust whistleblowing procedures were a highly effective way to uncover wrongdoing or problems in the workplace.

"But there is a mountain of negativity around treatment of the whistleblowers," he said.

Professor Brown said such attitudes risked missing some of the greatest opportunities for solving issues in the workplace.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs