No help for Orkopoulos whistleblower Gillian Sneddon

UNFAIR: Gillian Sneddon:
UNFAIR: Gillian Sneddon: "At what point is someone going to take responsibility for what's happened to me?"- Picture by Kitty Hill

GILLIAN Sneddon has officially fallen through the cracks in the system.

She helped police put her former boss, Swansea MP Milton Orkopoulos, in jail for child sex offences, but NSW Deputy Ombudsman Chris Wheeler has confirmed what Ms Sneddon already knew there is nowhere she can turn for help about her treatment as a whistleblower.

"I recognise you have serious concerns about what occurred," he said in a letter after investigating her case.

"However, upon reviewing the facts of your case I have come to the conclusion that we cannot assist you."

It comes five days before Maitland MP Frank Terenzini tables the NSW Government's report into the gaps in the system protecting public service whistleblowers.

Ms Sneddon knows them all.

No government agency, including the Ombudsman, can investigate how Ms Sneddon came to be locked out of Orkopoulos's Swansea office, at his request, while he was being investigated by police, because Ms Sneddon did not report directly to the clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Russell Grove, as required under the Protected Disclosures Act.

This was despite Mr Grove being told of her disclosure.

The requirements of the act mean the NSW Police Force and Independent Commission Against Corruption are unable to investigate any detrimental action taken against Ms Sneddon between October 2005, when she first raised child sex allegations with Orkopoulos, and October 2006, when she was locked out of his office a month before he was charged.

Her sacking, on the day she gave evidence against him in court, could not be seen as detrimental action because the new Swansea MP, Robert Coombs, said he did not want Ms Sneddon on his staff, and "the Legislative Assembly had no choice but to terminate your employment", Mr Wheeler said.

Eighteen months after Orkopoulos was jailed, Ms Sneddon remains unemployed and fighting a worker's compensation case against the Government.

NSW Opposition MP Peter Debnam said it was a scandal.

"It's clearly inappropriate to say that all protection rests on the whistleblower knowing where to disclose," he said.

"It clearly should be for managers to invoke the protections.

"At best, this is a case of Gillian Sneddon falling through every crack in the system; at worst, that the system worked against her."

Ms Sneddon said she had taken responsibility when Mr Orkopoulos's victims sought her help and when police asked for help.

"At what point is someone going to take responsibility for what's happened to me?" she said.