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This website contains names and images of deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

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In its unanimous August 1994 report, the committee concluded that ‘whistleblowing is a legitimate form of action within a democracy’, recognising it is sometimes ‘the only available avenue for the concerned ethical citizen to expose wrongdoing in the public or private sector’.

The committee recommended the creation of an independent national Public Interest Disclosures Agency and the introduction of Commonwealth legislation for a comprehensive protection scheme covering public and private sector whistleblowers in all states and territories.

The government’s November 1995 response rejected the need for a new agency to manage disclosures but agreed to enact whistleblower protection legislation covering only the public sector, which took until 2013 to pass.

While subsequent government initiatives have led to improved private sector protections, recent parliamentary inquiries have advocated for the committee’s recommendations to be fully adopted. Over 25 years after its tabling, the committee’s report is still influencing the development of whistleblowing protection in Australia.

Senator Jocelyn Newman, ca 1988

Senator Jocelyn Newman initiated and chaired the multi-party committee. For many years, Newman had been concerned at the number of people who came to her with stories of their careers and health suffering as a result of whistleblowing.

In response to Newman’s report, Commonwealth Attorney-General, the Hon. Michael Lavarch MP, predicted that it ‘likely … signifies the beginning of a new attitude to the general subject of whistleblowing’.

Newman was one of three female senators advocating for Commonwealth whistleblowing protection, which she described as ‘a vital national issue’.

Senator Christabel Chamarette

The first Whistleblowers Protection Bill was introduced into the Senate by Senator Jo Vallentine in December 1991 before she retired two months later. Vallentine's replacement, Senator Christabel Chamarette, revised the bill in 1993 and referred it to the committee, of which she was a member.

One submission called Chamarette’s proposed legislation ‘an innovative and timely response to a genuine community need’.

Although the committee recommended a different legislative scheme in its report, it commended the bill for playing a valuable role in generating debate and adopted many of its provisions.