Patel whistleblower backs survey

THE NURSE who exposed disgraced Bundaberg doctor Jayant Patel has thrown her support behind a worldwide whistleblowing survey.

Dr Patel was found guilty of manslaughter over the deaths of three patients and causing grievous bodily harm to another after Bundaberg Hospital nurse Toni Hoffman complained about his malpractice to her local MP.

Ms Hoffman was recognised in 2006 as Australian of the Year Local Hero for her effort in bringing Patel to justice.

The initial results of a whistleblowing survey launched by Griffith University found 81% of adult Australians believed whistleblowers should be supported rather than punished.

Only 53% of survey respondents viewed Australia as accepting of whistleblowing and only 49% of organisation members were confident that their own organisation was serious about protecting whistleblowers.

Speaking at the survey launch in Brisbane on Wednesday, only blocks away from where Patel had launched his appeal in the High Court, Ms Hoffman said the results were reflective of her experience.

"I was not surprised by them when I reflected back on how people responded to me and the amount of public support I got," she said.

"People do want people to speak up but often they are not willing to do it themselves. When you do speak up, people appreciate it.

"On a whole, people respect the truth and respect people who do speak up."

Ms Hoffman said she received overwhelming support from the Bundaberg community and only minor criticism.

"I was accused of wanting my 15 minutes of fame," she said.

"The (Australian Medical Association) said that the nurses at the hospital were lazy and that Dr Patel was just trying to whip us into shape. There were all sorts of criticisms levelled at myself and the other nurses at the hospital.

"But the people in Bundaberg were fantastic. Once they knew the story, once it all came out about what had happened, people were very supportive."

Fellow whistleblower and federal Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, also a guest speaker at the survey launch, praised Ms Hoffman.

"I have got to confess, one of the main reasons I fronted today was to meet you because I have enormous admiration for what you achieved and the lives you saved," Mr Wilkie said to the blushing Bundaberg nurse.

Before entering politics, Mr Wilkie, after resigning as an Australian intelligence analyst, blew the whistle on the Federal Government's misleading reason to enter the Iraq War.

Mr Wilkie said he would introduce a private members bill for the protection of whistleblowers if the Federal Government did not make the move by August.

To complete the survey log onto

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