Allan Takes Aim Blog

Whistleblowers need courage

Posted on: 7 July 2010

First posted The Chronicle, Canberra, Tuesday 29  June 

I wonder why, in our fair go society, Whistle-Blowers attract opprobrium? That they do says many things about our society most of which aren’t nice. In fact the more I think about how some people in our community react to whistleblowers the more it seems to me that in castigating them for exposing the dishonesty of those held up as model citizens, shows lack of moral courage. In my opinion instead of being castigated and vilified as dobbers, whistleblowers should be praised for having the courage to do the right thing.

 It is true also, that while many people secretly support whistleblowers they abandon them when asked to support them publicly. I suspect they abandon them fearing they might experience the same repercussions that history shows has been the experience of more than one whistleblower.

These repercussions cause many whistleblowers serious problems. A major problem is loss jobs because this leads to a chain reaction of problems including depression, financial ruin, loss of home, loss of marriage, loss of children, loss of friends, loss of hope and, even more seriously, loss of faith in the community to which they belong.

Disillusioned at becoming victims of their own honesty some take their own life because it had become meaningless. Sadly, some become the human carapaces one can see wandering the streets in daytime. At night one can also see them covered in newspapers in an effort to keep warm trying to sleep on park benches or in accessible sheltered spaces.

As one would expect, exposure of corruption among the famous, powerful and rich makes headlines. But making headlines is not the objective of whistleblowers; they do it because they think corruption wrong. Nor do they seek recognition, reward or glory. They do it because they want to remove corruption from all levels of public, political and religious life to help improve the social and moral life of their community. Unfortunately people such as this seem to be growing grow fewer in the upper hierarchies of commerce, public service, politics or religious life.

Take the public service as an example. I have heard from public servants of corruption within the service with some and that some people improve their position through corruption rather than ability. This corruption takes many forms with minor bribery often playing a role. This minor bribery is often as simple as a person contending for promotion, passing on to those responsible for deciding the winners in the promotion race, information about another competitor that would cause them to be removed from the race. 

Unfortunately because corruption is like a weed that is hard to contain, this first corrupt act could be the first of many on the path to even greater corruption with the briber in this case becoming the bribed at a later stage. And if the briber is successful in climbing the promotion ladder through bribery, the bribes they pay and the bribes they expect others to pay later, also become greater. 

I may be wrong but when colleagues of both the briber and the bribed say, that despite rhetoric to the contrary, raises the question: does our society really value honesty and integrity, and if so, how can these values be passed on to succeeding generations. 

Sadly some of those on my list as role models turn out to have feet of clay. High on my list would have been police officers. A former police officer myself I find it sad that many officers – but fortunately not all – have contributed to what seems a diminishing respect for honesty and integrity. And as someone who was taught at home and during my seminary days – although more sinner and saint – to respect honesty and integrity – I would have difficulty in recommending some religious as teachers of these values.      

Last but not least come politicians. The history of Australian politics is littered with the names of politicians from all parts of the political spectrum who have hijacked Government for their own benefit. Thus we should be thankful the media keeps an eye on politicians they suspect of dishonesty and if they can prove dishonesty, they can then blow the whistle on them before they benefit further. 

The Chronicle for Canberra’s best community news. Published every Tuesday.


2 Responses to "Whistleblowers need courage"

Thanks I finally came to a website where the webmaster knows what they’re talking about. Do you know how many results are in Google when I search.. too many! It’s so irritating having to go through page after page after page, wasting my day away with thousands of owners just copying eachother’s articles… bah. Anyway, thanks for the information anyway, much obliged.

While i initially commented I clicked the -Notify me when new feedback are added- checkbox and already each time a remark is added I purchase 4 emails with the identical comment. Perhaps there is any way youll be able to remove me from that service? Thanks!

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