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Blowing the whistle into an empty room

By Robina Cosser - posted Tuesday, 14 December 2010


So …

You become aware that something is “going on” in The Department. And you decide that you must do something about the situation. You decide that you must “blow the whistle” - you must tell somebody who will do something about the situation.

So you struggle over the wording of your disclosure for several days, or even weeks, trying to explain your disclosure as clearly as possible. And you collect lots and lots of supporting documentation.

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Then you mail your disclosure and the supporting documentation to a person that you think cannot possibly be corrupt. The Director-General of The Department, maybe.

But you don’t realise that you are doing battle with the public service. And that no public servant in The Department wants to be held responsible for hearing you blow the whistle. And that The Department’s public servants have generations of experience in “not hearing”, “not understanding”, “not knowing” and “not finding any evidence of”.

And so your disclosure is “lost”. Or the supporting documents are “lost”. Or your disclosure is reduced to gibberish - the cover letter and the first page of your disclosure are saved, the next eight pages are “lost” and the remaining pages of your disclosure are sent to another office, in another city, and jumbled up with lots of other documents.

Or every alternate page of your disclosure is “lost”. Or two pages of your disclosure are recorded, two are “lost”, two are recorded, two are “lost”, etc. Or your disclosure is reduced to half-size and turned around and printed sideways on the page, so that it is very difficult to read.

And The Department do nothing about your disclosure.

So, after waiting for some time, you decide that you have to make your disclosure to another government department, one that is not corrupt. The Crime and Misconduct Commission, maybe.

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So you ring the CMC. And you make your disclosure very, very clearly to the CMC officer.

And the CMC officer writes down her own gibberish version of your disclosure. And she makes a note that, having spoken with you, she has doubts about your credibility. And she puts these notes on your file.

You have a suspicion that the CMC officer was reluctant to record your disclosure. Something in her tone of voice. And so you send her an email, making your disclosure very, very clear to her. So that she cannot pretend to misunderstand.

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About the Author

Robina Cosser edits the Teachers Are Blowing Their Whistles and Whistleblowing Women. She is Schools Contact Person and a Vice-President of Whistleblowers Australia.

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All articles by Robina Cosser

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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