Conducted by Newspoll from May 3-6 for Griffith University and the University of Melbourne, the first stage of the survey shows overwhelming concern for whistleblowers, with 81 percent of adult Australians believing whistleblowers should be supported, rather than punished, for revealing inside information about serious wrongdoing.
But only 53 percent of the 1,211 respondents viewed Australian society as generally accepting of whistleblowing, and only 49 percent of organisation members were confident that their own organisation was serious about protecting people who speak up.
The Australian first stage survey questions are replicated and expanded in the more comprehensive World Online Whistleblowing Survey – the first international survey testing public views about whistleblowing to be run online.
Speaking at the survey launch, project leader Professor A J Brown, of Griffith University, said the Australian results confirm the vital need for formal, legal protection of whistleblowing, to bring legal and social standards into line with what citizens believe is right.
“While many plainly still believe that Australia has an ‘anti-dobbing’ culture, these first results suggest it is not true; Australians are actually just as – if not more – interested in justice for those prepared to bring serious wrongdoing to light,” Professor Brown said.
Also speaking were principal researcher Dr Suelette Dreyfus of the University of Melbourne, and two of Australia’s most important whistleblowers: former national security analyst and now Independent federal MP, Andrew Wilkie, and Toni Hoffman, the nurse unit manager who exposed Bundaberg Hospital’s infamous “Dr Death” case.
Dr Dreyfus said the global survey would help experts understand the changing nature of whistleblowing and whistleblower protection.
“When you see serious wrongdoing, should you be protected if you have to go to the media to expose it? What is the impact of new technology such as Twitter and Facebook? How do Australian attitudes and standards compare to other countries? This survey will help us answer these important questions,” Dr Dreyfus said.
“The results will be crucial for all organisations interested in increasing their accessibility to whistleblowers, and the effectiveness of whistleblowing in society,” Dr Dreyfus said.
The full survey, which can be answered by anyone, is at https://whistleblowingsurvey.org.
Further language versions of the survey will be launched in Europe in late June.
For a summary of the Australian Newspoll results and further project information: