New Zealand Law Society - Big increase in queries about whistleblowers’ Act, but awareness still low says Boshier

Big increase in queries about whistleblowers’ Act, but awareness still low says Boshier

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The Chief Ombudsman says he completed 90 requests and enquiries for advice and guidance under the Protected Disclosures Act 2000, known as the whistleblowers’ Act – a 25% increase on the previous year.

Peter Boshier says in his annual report that he completed 96% of these within three months of receipt.

“This continues the year–on–year trend of increasing demand for our services in this area,” he says.

However, Mr Boshier also notes that, despite the increase in requests and enquiries, there is much work to be done to raise awareness of the powers of the Act.

“Research we did earlier this year showed that just 9% of respondents were aware of the Act, an alarmingly low figure given 21% of all respondents said they have witnessed serious wrongdoing at their workplace or previous workplaces.”

This aim was one of three areas Mr Boshier intends to prioritise.

“A top priority for me is to improve our relationship with tangata whenua. Our research shows Māori awareness of my office is unacceptably low, so a key focus will be increasing our engagement with Māori.

“Lastly, I need to ensure that the rights of the disabled are at the heart of our work and culture. On 3 December, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we will launch our third Making Disability Rights Real report to Parliament and the United Nations, which we have produced with the Human Rights Commission and Disabled People’s Coalition. It is vital we further develop our capital in this area.”

In the past 12 months Peter Boshier visited 40 places of detention, including 22 formal inspections, and had 92% of 288 recommendations for improvement accepted or partially accepted.

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