Dedicated whistleblower legal service goes live

Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS

The Human Rights Law Centre has launched a dedicated whistleblower service after new polling revealed the majority of Australians supported further protections.

The specialist service will help bolster the legal defence of those who come forward with wrongdoings as they face being sued by their employers or criminally prosecuted by the government.

CEO Caitlin Reiger called the new service a landmark moment for whistleblower protections.

"People who courageously speak up when they see something wrong are vital to ending cultures of impunity," she said.

"We need to be concerned about what we don't know - and what stories may never be told - because people are too afraid and unsupported in speaking up."

David McBride is set to face a criminal trial for revealing allegations of war crimes within the Australian Defence Force, something the subsequent Brereton report found as being credible.

A NSW man has since been charged with committing the war crime of murder.

Richard Boyle is also facing prosecution for revealing aggressive debt collection tactics by the Australian Taxation Office. 

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie said the added legal backing should be a warning to wrongdoers that there's now a better chance they'll be caught.

"No wonder there are so few whistleblowers and that those who do dare speak truth to power often end up unemployed, friendless and broke at best, or facing jail or suicidal ideation at worst," he said of the current regime.

Essential Media polling revealed that more than two-thirds of Australians supported stronger protections for whistleblowers and thought they should not be prosecuted by the government when they speak out.

Almost 60 per cent of respondents thought the ongoing prosecutions of the two whistleblowers should be dropped.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus dropped the Commonwealth's prosecution of Bernard Collaery, who was accused of leaking classified information about an alleged Australian spying operation in East Timor.

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