Reprisal for blowing the whistle in Tasmania
A significant barrier to blowing the whistle (making a disclosure) is fear of reprisal.
To address this, the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2002 provides protection against ‘detrimental action’ to people who have made, or intend to make, a protected disclosure.
Detrimental action includes:
- action causing injury, loss or damage;
- intimidation or harassment;
- discrimination, disadvantage or adverse treatment in relation to a person's employment, career, profession, trade or business, including the taking of disciplinary action; and
- threats of detrimental action.
What can you do if you have experienced a reprisal?
If a whistleblower believes someone has taken reprisal action against them for blowing the whistle, they can make a further disclosure about this. Detrimental action is considered a type of improper conduct and the process for making and assessing a disclosure is the same.
Further information about how to make a disclosure can be found in a public body’s Public Interest Disclosure procedures (usually on that body’s website).
Consequences of reprisal
The Act makes it an offence to take reprisal action. A person can be fined up to 240 penalty units and/or imprisoned for up to two years for taking detrimental action against a person in reprisal for a protected disclosure.
Civil remedies also exist. A whistleblower can:
- seek damages in court;
- seek an order that the person who took the detrimental action remedy that action; and
- seek an injunction to stop the detrimental action.
Can disciplinary action ever be taken against a whistleblower?
Yes, as not all disciplinary action will necessarily be reprisal action. Agencies, however, should consider seeking advice before commencing any disciplinary process to ensure they are not breaching any protections.
- Call 1800 001 170
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org