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New study shows public sector whistleblowing more widespread than previously believed

Tuesday 16 October 2007

As many as 100,000 public officials per year may blow the whistle on wrongdoing in Australian public sector agencies – far more than previously believed – according to the results of a major national study led by Queensland's Griffith University.

This surprising finding is just one of many which will be released at the first Australian Public Sector Anti-Corruption (APSAC) Conference in Sydney on 24 October, as part of the results of the Australian Research Council-funded Whistling While They Work project.

Project leader Dr A J Brown, of Griffith Law School, said that the best previous Australian surveys had indicated the rate of whistleblowing in the public sector was less than half of the new estimate.

"Many public impressions of whistleblowing are also dominated by the stereotype of the whistleblower who appears in the media, but in fact the vast bulk of whistleblowing occurs within government and receives far less attention," Dr Brown said.

"Now we know that internal and regulatory whistleblowing is a very frequent event, and a vitally important part of the way that public integrity is maintained.

"Hundreds of public servants help bring wrongdoing to light by reporting it, either internally or externally, every working day of the year," Dr Brown said.

Dr Brown and other leading academics working on the project will reveal more findings from this groundbreaking research at the APSAC conference, which is a joint initiative of Australia's leading anti-corruption bodies comprising the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), the Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) and the Western Australian Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC).

The conference will provide a unique opportunity for delegates to hear other eminent Australian and international speakers including the Hon Justice James Spigelman AC, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of NSW and Frank Anechiarico, Maynard Knox Professor of Government and Law, Hamilton College, New York.

Attendees will include local and international delegates from across the board in public administration including representatives from the police, higher education, the public sector and local government.

More information about the topics, speakers and a detailed program is available on the website www.apsacc.com.au 

The APSAC Conference will be held at the Hilton Hotel in Sydney from Tuesday 23 to Friday 26 October 2007. Conference sessions will be held on 24 and 25 October, with the remaining two days devoted to workshops. Please check the conference website for workshop attendance availability.