If you see something, say something. Or so we are told by our government in the fight against terror on our home soil. Dob in your neighbour. Report your colleague. Be the eyes and ears of the government. Unless, of course, you aim your telescope at Parliament House.
A whistleblower is a person who seeks to expose information about a public or private organisation (usually that they work for) regarding illegal and/or unethical activities they believe the world should know about.
Despite the whistleblower generally being in the position of exposing troubling and sometimes criminal activities of these organisations, they are not always protected for revealing this information and can find themselves in prison for a very long time.
Of course, not all whistleblower activity is necessarily coming from a place of purity.
The secrecy laws were put in place to protect our national security. And I understand that you can't publish security documents about current operations that could endanger the lives of the men and women in service of our country.
I'm not disputing that our governmental and military operations often need to be conducted covertly. However, this does not erode the need for organisations and our government to be held accountable.
The AFP raids on Australian media outlets ... stirred the pot again, forcing us to face the chilling reminder that we have no Bill of Rights, only implied freedoms.
The National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill pushed through last year brought sweeping changes resulting in the possibility of prosecution for journalists and other professionals such as doctors from disclosing government information, implicating them in attempted cover ups of breaches of human rights at government facilities such as asylum seeker detention centres.
Is this a national security issue? Is telling the public about the inhumane treatment of detainees at these detention centres going to threaten the security of our borders or the efficacy of offshore military operations?
Secrecy laws are an important element to our national security, but when they also create barriers for the reporting of abuse, unethical behaviour, war crimes and atrocities, they become weapons in an arsenal of power that overrides the government's sense of democratic duty to its people.
The AFP raids on Australian media outlets earlier this year stirred the pot again, forcing us to face the chilling reminder that we have no Bill of Rights, only implied freedoms.
Our freedom of the press is only dubiously protected under a High Court ruling stating that language in the constitution implies a right to freedom of expression and the government generally respects this principle.
However, not always, it would seem, especially in light of recent attempts to cut welfare payments to people expressing their right to freedom of political expression.
Then there's the #righttoknow campaign in response to the growing threats to freedom of the press in Australia.
When we go to work for an organisation and our personal values and sense of ethics are challenged, at what point must we feel an obligation to a higher sense of accountability? At what point must we speak out when what we are seeing and hearing goes against everything we know is right?
Whistleblowers can play a vital role in holding organisations and governments accountable for their actions and decisions.
But there seems to be a grey area regarding whether and when it's OK for them to blow their whistle. John Stuart Mill aptly said: "Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing."
I am reminded of Martin Niemoller, a Lutheran minister during Germany's Third Reich, who famously wrote:
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak for me.
We all have a responsibility to hold our organisations accountable for their actions, for if we don't, we are implicated in their actions ourselves. If the government takes away the media's ability to hold the government accountable for its actions, there won't be anyone left to speak for any of us.
Zoë Wundenberg is a careers consultant and un/employment advocateat impressability.com.au