Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 1 August 2018) . . Page.. 2557 ..
external oversight, we have a framework in which agencies are expected to investigate themselves. Instead of creating a culture of “if in doubt, report”, we have a culture and framework which seeks to minimise the number of formally recognised disclosures.
This is demonstrated in the 2016-17 ACT State of the Service Report, which shows that in the last year only 17 disclosures were made. Of those, only seven were referred for investigation. While there has never been an ACT-wide study into the PID procedures and outcomes, key findings from the independent review of federal disclosures as well as the numerous examples of bullying and abuse in the Health Directorate make these figures rather concerning.
Reviews of state and federal public interest disclosure legislation have shown that, of those who have made public interest disclosures, few felt that they had been supported through the process. Others felt that their disclosure had not been investigated or the relevant agency had inadequately addressed and reported the conduct.
The commonwealth review found that the experience of whistleblowers in dealing with existing legislative frameworks had not been positive: 72 per cent of respondents did not feel supported by their agency; 72 per cent did not feel as if their concerns were adequately investigated or dealt with; and 78 per cent did not feel adequately protected from potential adverse consequences.
Other reviews have also shown that a large number of whistleblowers have experienced emotional, social, physical and financial problems, and many have reported experiencing retaliation as a result of reporting their concerns.
Of the 17 reported PIDs in the past year, more than half have come from within two directorates: the Health Directorate and the Justice and Community Services Directorate. My colleague Mrs Dunne has spoken at length today about the endemic culture of workplace bullying and harassment in ACT Health and the incredibly damaging impact this is having on individuals—from the victims themselves and flowing right through the organisation to staff in her office—and the potential impacts on patient care.
A workplace culture underpinned by abuse and harassment undermines the ability of the public service to remain internally accountable. A workplace culture underpinned by consistent abuse and harassment also undermines the ability of victims to do their jobs. Every individual, every public servant who serves our government and our community, has the right to a safe and honest workplace where genuine concerns are not met with potential career-damaging threats or verbal abuse but are treated with the utmost seriousness and respect. Those individuals who have had the courage to report wrongdoing, those who keep the public service transparent and who suffer personal consequences as a result, should be adequately compensated for their courage. In all honesty, this should not be a partisan issue.
As I have said, the integrity of our public service and the ability of our public servants to do their jobs is dependent upon the openness and transparency of our public sector. Yet the Labor-Greens government have proven again, only this morning, that they do not care about protecting our public servants. They do not care about transparency,