Changes and Impacts of New Australian Whistleblowing Legislation

Date: July 4, 2018


The Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Bill 2017 aims to create a single whistleblower protection regime in the Corporations Act 2001 extending to the corporate, financial and credit sectors.

The Bill introduces a specific whistleblower protection regime for people who expose misconduct in tax affairs.

The legislation will apply to protected disclosures made on or after 1 July 2018, including disclosures about events occurring before that date. Whistleblowers will have access to compensation and enhanced protection against victimisation after 1 July 2018, regardless of when the disclosure was made.


A study conducted by the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) found significant gaps when it examined whistleblower policies at Australia’s 200 biggest listed companies. ACSI found that many whistleblowing systems did not offer anonymity, were not accessible outside of work hours or failed to make it clear that retaliation against whistleblowers was not acceptable.

The aim of the reform is to address the little practical effect of the Australian whistleblower landscape. In addition to harmonising the existing protections, the legislation is aimed at:


Under the new regime individuals and corporations face penalties for failing to set up a compliant whistleblower policy. Failure to comply with new confidentiality and victimisation provisions will be considered criminal offences. Courts will be required to preserve and protect a whistleblower’s identity, unless it is in the interest of justice to do otherwise.

Required policy changes to reflect legislation

The reforms require general changes to whistleblower policies, designed to improve culture and transparency in relation to disclosures of wrongdoing in the workplace.

The Bill’s explanatory memorandum makes clear that transparent whistleblower policies are essential to good corporate culture and governance and sets out that the policy must have information about:

Whistleblower policies should also include protections provided in the tax whistleblower regime inserted into the taxation law by Part 2 of the Schedule 1 to the Bill.

A study by the Australian Institute of Criminology (16 May 2018) revealed that whistleblowers expressed frustration and concern regarding procedural issues relating to the management of disclosures. They were often not clear about the nature and extent of protections that would be provided to them once a disclosure had been made. This was seen to be of critical importance in deciding whether or not to make a report in the first instance. The same study recommended that grievance procedures to deal with complaints about conduct exist in all workplaces and settings and that these procedures are appropriate to the specific work environment.




Rosan Santangelo, Partner                                                      Emily Gibson, Paralegal

T:  +61 (0) 2 9376 1144                                                                T:  +61 (0) 4044 4105                               


Download PDF here:  Changes and impacts of new Australian Whistleblowing Legislation 


Reference List


Ruth Williams “Significant missed opportunity – super funds in whistleblower blast” 14 March 2018

Norton Rose Fulbright “New whistleblower protection laws hit parliament in Australia” 7 December 2017

Russell Kennedy Lawyers “Whistleblower Reform” 26 February 2018

Senator Cormann Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Bill 2017 Second Reading Speech;query=Id%3A%22chamber%2Fhansards%2F5d592247-329b-4d73-aa23-cc7010d35d45%2F0096%22

Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Bill 2017 Explanatory Memorandum;fileType=application%2Fpdf

Australian Institute of Criminology, “Understanding and responding to victimisation of whistleblowers” 16 May 2018

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