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Whistleblowers Australia


Whistleblowers Anonymous was started by John McNicol in July 1991. A Canberra-based retired public servant and activist, he had become concerned about the damage done to people who had blown the whistle, and the lack of legislative and other protection for them.

A group who shared his concerns set up the Board of Management at a meeting at Lake Macquarie in March 1992. Of the original members of the Board, Jean Lennane, Bill Toomer, Ian Buchanan, Keith Potter and Vince Neary are still actively involved.

At the first conference and general meeting in Canberra in March 1993, it was decided to change the name to Whistleblowers Australia.

John McNicol had been doing the work of both President and National Director until then, when Jean Lennane took over as President. He resigned from WBA because of ill health in August 1993. David Roper took over as National Director, and completed the process of incorporation in April 1994.

The first AGM of WBA Inc. was on 29 July 1995.  Brian Martin is currently President, and Lesley Pinson National Director. (Ed: At the time this article was written.)

State branches of WBA have grown steadily overall (though erratically at times, as people drop out for stress/health reasons), and by 1996 there were branches in all states and territories except WA, where, however, there are now a number of members, and Queensland, which has developed separately. WAG (Whistleblower Action Group) grew out of Bill de Maria's research project at Queensland University, which started late in 1992.

People who participated in the research were offered membership of WAG, which grew rapidly, and incorporated early in 1994.

WAG and WBA pursue the same goals, work closely together, and have some members and an executive member in common, but at this stage believe there are actual and potential advantages in retaining the two separately-incorporated bodies.

Author: Jean Lennane. First published June 1996, in The Whistle.

For more information

Brian Martin, "Australia: Whistleblowers Australia," 2004

The Whistle, January 2015, articles in memory of Jean Lennane

The Whistle, July 2016, articles in memory of Lesley Pinson