OPINION: We should be applauding Freya Newman, not locking her away.

‘The standard you walk past, is the standard you accept.’ – Lieutenant General David Morrison

Right now Freya Newman is staring down the barrel of the two year prison sentence, that’s the consequence she looks set to face for revealing the truth behind Frances Abbott’s $60 000 scholarship to study at the Whitehouse Institute of Design.

And I for one am appalled;

Instead of preparing to lock Freya away, we should be applauding her, supporting her, thanking her – because for the sake of justice and freedom of information, Freya Newman has paid a hefty cost. One that will last much longer than the two years she might spend in jail.

Freya’s name is splashed across every news outlet in the country; in a digital age where one Google search is all it takes to uncover a wealth of dirt. She publically outed the preferential treatment given to the daughter of the most powerful man in the country. For the rest of her life, Freya Newman will be known as ‘that’ girl.

I don’t doubt for a second that Freya knew there would be consequences for leaking that information; taking on one of Australia’s biggest politicians very quickly cost her a job and anonymity. She made a calculated choice, and decided the greater good was worth the personal cost.

A few years ago I was recommended for a job by a family friend, the company hired me on the spot based solely on the recommendation of that friend. I loved the role until one morning, I accidentally uncovered something illegal – and I was faced with a decision. Do I reveal what I’ve found, knowing that it’s going to come at a cost to me?

I spoke up, took the information I’d found to the appropriate authorities. As a result, I was promptly fired and friendships were quickly severed.

There’s a gap on my resume that I can’t explain, a job I can’t give a reference for because I’m the woman no company would want to hire if they knew the truth – I blew the whistle on something illegal and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Why? Because the greater good is always worth the personal cost. Choosing to ignore what I had uncovered would have been equivalent to saying I accepted what was going – I would have been a passive participant in the crime.

We need people like Freya Newman in this world, and by punishing Freya we are sending a message that you are better off staying silent. That it is better off to accept injustice than to speak up for it.

Freya may have accessed the information illegally, but that does not make her revelation any less important – and in the grand scheme of things she has paid far too much of a cost for her ‘crime’ already.

 

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