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Whistleblowing Women

Australian women who blow the whistle on corruption in their workplaces.

Morgen Grigg : a Whistleblowing Woman in the Queensland Police Service.

In January 2015 Senior Constable Morgen Grigg lodged complaints against fellow police officers who planted secret recording devices in their own offices, made racist remarks and drunkenly taunted prisoners at Stanthorpe Police Station.

Morgen Grigg's complaints triggered an internal investigation.

23 of Senior Constable Grigg's complaints were investigated.

In August 2015 the investigation findings were returned.

Eight of Morgen Grigg's complaints were substantiated against five officers and an administrative assistant.

A sergeant was found to have made false entries into police computer systems, including an occasion when he asked Senior constable Grigg to indicate he was at work all day "despite being absent".

Buckland Allen lawyer Jodi Allen, representing Sen-Constable Grigg and her fiance, Senior Constable Brett Hughes, said the pair had been subjected to extensive bullying and harassment within the QPS.

On 31 July 2015, Senior Constable Brett Hughes had been charged with assault.

He had allegedly entered Warwick Police Station's day room and made a beeline for Senior Sergeant Lisa Self and "walked directly into" her right shoulder while she was talking to a group of other officers.

He then allegedly gave her a harder push into her back that caused her to lose her footing and to stumble forwards.

Then he allegedly brushed past her as he left the day room.

Senior Constable Hughes denied this allegation.

On the same day - 31 July 2015, Senior Constable Grigg drank three glasses of white wine at the Warwick Golf Club.

Another Golf Club patron tipped off Warwick police.

An unmarked traffic branch vehicle was sent to intercept Senior Constable Grigg when she left the Golf Club. 

On 19 October 2015, Sen-Const Grigg pleaded guilty to driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .12 per cent while off duty.

Sen-Const Grigg said she had been driven to drink by the "considerable anxiety and stress" of the bullying she had experienced at work.

Defence lawyer Jodi Allen told the court that Sen-Const Grigg had been the victim of "bullying and victimisation" at Stanthorpe police station for the past eighteen months and had made misconduct complaints against several officers.

Ms Allen said Sen-Const Grigg had been "publicly shamed" and faced being demoted as a result of the charge.

Magistrate Catherine Pirie said she accepted that Sen-Const Grigg was under severe stress "as a result of being a whistleblower in your organisation".

Sen-Const Grigg was fined $800 and disqualified from driving for three months.

No conviction was recorded.

On 9 May 2016 Magistrate Barry Cosgrove found Senior Constable Brett Hughes guilty of knocking into the back of a superior officer.

The court heard evidence of a spat between Senior Constable Brett Hughes and Sen-Sgt Lisa Self.

Sen-Sgt testified that the defendant had previously lodged a complaint against her in relation to her conduct.

Three other police officers agreed that Hughes had knocked into Sen-Sgt Self when he walked straight towards the acting officer in charge.

They said they had prepared their own witness statements.

Magistrate Cosgrove labelled the ugly spat "childish".

He imposed a $120 fine and declared that no conviction should be recorded.

He warned Hughes to have respect for those in workplace positions above his.

He said that police officers needed to be cool-headed.

But Magistrate Cosgrove knocked back a prosecution submission for the defendant to pay costs.

He reasoned it was uncommon for costs to be sought from members of the public when involved in an assault ''as childish as it was in this case".

Bree Sonter : a Whistleblowing Woman in the Queensland Police Service.

Queensland Policewoman Bree Sonter did her duty as a police officer and as a decent human being when she saw police officer Benjamin Price bashing tourists at Airlie Beach Police Station.

Bree Sonter filed a complaint which eventually led to charges being laid against police officer Benjamin Price.

In January 2008 Benjamin Price assaulted slightly built 23-year-old female tourist Renee Toms.

Renee was handcuffed and then flung about by her hair by Price, before being slammed into a desk and the floor inside the watch house.

After this assault on Renee Toms, Airlie Beach Police Sergeant Russell Pike and two junior Airlie Beach police officers filed a report to their superiors.

The officers alleged excessive use of force that amounted to serious misconduct by Benjamin Price.

Sergeant Pike recommended that Benjamin Price be withdrawn from active duty while an investigation was carried out.

These Airlie Beach police officers expected the situation to be investigated.

But their Superior police officers did nothing.

The superior officers did not even examine the Airlie Beach Police Station video footage ( see the link below to this video ).

Sergeant Pike later quit the force in disgust.

"What more could we do? We reported it to our bosses, but we could hardly go over their heads," Sergeant Pike said.

Five Airlie Beach police officers have now quit the police force.

Three more Airlie Beach officers are under investigation.

Then, on 25 May 2008, Benjamin Price assaulted a third tourist.

He handcuffed, punched and kneed 26-year-old Timothy Steele.

And then he rammed a fire hose into Timothy Steele's mouth and turned on the water.

Bree Sonter's complaint about this third incident ultimately led to Benjamin Price's arrest.

But it is understood that Bree Sonter felt under enormous pressure to drop her allegations.

Silence culture taints all police, Mike O'Connor, The Courier-Mail, 22 August 2010.

Taxpayers fund payouts to former police officer Benjamin Price's bashing victims, Peter Michael and James O'Loan, The Courier-Mail, 17 August 2010.

Bashings by Benjamin Price a wake-up call over rotten Queensland police culture, Terry Sweetman, The Sunday Mail, 17 October 2010 - this article has a link to the Queensland Police video of the bashing of the tourists.

Robina Cosser comments:

It takes a lot of courage to whistleblow - you agonise over your duties, loyalties and responsibilities for a long time before you actually make the decision that you must take action.

But then nothing seems to be done.

Your message is ignored.

Or "lost".

Or "misunderstood".

Or reduced to gibberish.

Or the person you whistleblow to makes no record of your disclosure, and simply records their "doubts about your credibility".

And they warn the people concerned that you are trying to make a disclosure.

And then very senior public servants write "Briefings For The Minister" in which they advise the Minister not to respond to your disclosure.

And they edit the reason for your disclosure out of their "Briefing Note".

It is frightening.

Your faith in 'the system' is slowly destroyed - 'the system' that you have trusted and upheld all of your life.

You realise that 'the system' is all just a sham.

And you don't just have to whistleblow once, you have to whistleblow over and over and over again, because no public servant wants to hear your whistle.

And the real message to you and to other public servants, as Mike O'Connor rightly points out, is that it is pointless to make a disclosure because nothing is going to be done.

Except 'payback'.

Will Bree Sonter have to live and work in fear of "payback" for the rest of her life?

Maybe not, according to 'BTS' :

"Whistleblowing can work.

But it only works at the Non-Commissioned rank.

The Queensland Police Service are quite happy to "burn off" a junior officer.

But if you whistleblow, and the officer is an inspector or above, YOUR career will be finished and the QPS will do all that it can to protect their corrupt senior officer."

BTS, Readers' Comment 9 of 50, Taxpayers fund payouts to former police officer Benjamin Price's bashing victims, Peter Michael and James O'Loan, The Courier-Mail, 17 August 2010.