“The designated Whistleblower Protection Officer for GPEx is Tim Piper, Director Corporate Services. He can be contacted anonymously by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (08 8490 0499 for voicemail)”
GPEx is a not for profit organisation funded primarily by Commonwealth grants. It is important for GPEx to demonstrate sound governance in its handling of public money and for all officers and employees to display the highest levels of integrity in their work. The board of GPEx is committed to operating legally (in accordance with applicable legislation and regulation), properly (in accordance with organisational policy and procedures), and ethically (in accordance with recognised ethical principles).
This policy sets out GPEx’s requirements and procedures relating to disclosures by whistleblowers about misconduct or an improper state of affairs (as described below) and is intended to be compliant with the whistleblower provisions in the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) and the Taxation Administration Act 1953 (Cth).
2. Scope of this policy
This policy applies to any disclosure by a Whistle-blower about an Improper Matter under the terms of this policy.
A Whistle-blower is any individual who is or has been an officer, auditor, employee including executives, board member, supplier including contractors and consultants (or their employees) or a relative or dependent of any of these people.
An Improper Matter is any misconduct or improper state of affairs, including any conduct on the part of GPEx or any GPEx officer or employee that is:
- a breach or contravention of:
- the Corporations Act 2001, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001, the Banking Act 1959, the Financial Sector (Collection of Data) Act 2001, the Insurance Act 1973, the Life Insurance Act 1995, the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009, or the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993;
- an offence under any other Commonwealth law that is punishable by imprisonment for a period of 12 months or more;
- a danger, or represents a danger, to the public; or
- misconduct or improper conduct relating to GPEx’s tax affairs.
It is the responsibility of each individual to comply with this policy and its supporting procedure.
The CEO and the Manager, People and Culture are responsible for the development and continuous improvement of this policy and its associated procedures.
All employees of GPEx must familiarise themselves with and ensure compliance with this policy and any amendments. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action. This policy does not form part of any contract of employment.
4. Policy statement – general
GPEx is committed to:
- providing and maintaining a culture where individuals are encouraged to and have a safe and supportive environment in which they can report Improper Matters;
- dealing with reports from Whistleblowers in a way that will protect the identity of the Whistleblower as far as reasonably possible and providing for the secure storage of the information provided;
- establishing procedures for protecting Whistleblowers against reprisal;
- providing for the appropriate infrastructure and communication channels;
- ensuring that GPEx maintains the highest standards of ethical behaviour and integrity.
Reporting concerns regarding Improper Matters
Where a Whistleblower believes, on reasonable grounds, that an Improper Matter exists or has occurred, they are encouraged to report the matter to GPEx’s nominated Whistleblower Protection Officer (WPO) (as nominated on GPEx’s website). Alternatively, it may be reported to the Chief Executive Officer, a board member, senior manager, auditor, Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) or (with regard to taxation matters) Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
A person making a report or disclosure in accordance with this policy (Protected Disclosure) will be entitled to and provided with the protections detailed below.
Disclosures can be made verbally or in writing. You are encouraged to report the matter as soon as practical after you become aware of it.
When making a disclosure, you should provide as much information as possible. Information such as dates, times, locations, individuals involved, other witnesses, physical evidence (e.g. documents, images) and any other general information that may be helpful to assist in determining the appropriate steps to take.
A disclosure can be made anonymously. However, it may be more difficult to communicate with you and to investigate and address the matters raised if you do not provide your identity when making the disclosure.
Email and telephone reporting channels
GPEx has established a dedicated email address, Whistleblower@gpex.com.au, and a dedicated phone number, 08 8490 0499, which can be used to submit reports directly to the WPO, including anonymously if desired. Both are available on the GPEx external website and on the internal website, Genie.
Protection of Whistleblowers
The WPO (or other person to whom a Protected Disclosure is made under this policy) must not disclose to any other person any information which identifies the person who made the report (or any information which would be likely to identify that person) except:
- if the person making the report gives their consent;
- to ASIC, Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), the Australian Federal Police (AFP) or in the case of taxation matters the ATO;
- to a lawyer in order to obtain legal advice about how to deal with the matters raised;
- if the disclosure is reasonably necessary for the purposes of investigating the matters, in which case all reasonable steps will be taken to minimise the risk of identification as a result of the disclosure;
- as required by law.
Detrimental Conduct prohibited
A person who makes a Protected Disclosure in accordance with this policy or who is involved in an investigation about a disclosure must not be subjected to any form of actual or threatened detrimental conduct as a result of the making of that Protected Disclosure.
Detrimental conduct includes dismissal, injury of an employee in their employment, adverse alteration to a position or duties, discrimination, harassment or intimidation, any form of injury or harm including psychological harm, any form of damage including damage to property, reputation, business or financial affairs.
GPEx will treat any detrimental conduct with the utmost seriousness, will take all reasonable steps to prevent detrimental conduct and will take appropriate remedial or disciplinary action where such conduct is identified.
Reporting of work-related grievances not covered
Except as noted below, reports about personal work-related grievances are not covered by this policy and are not Protected Disclosures. A personal work-related grievance is a grievance about any matter relating to a person’s employment, or former employment. Examples of personal work-related grievances include:
- interpersonal conflict with another employee;
- decisions relating to the engagement, transfer or promotion of a person;
- decisions relating to a person’s terms and conditions of engagement;
- decisions to suspend or terminate the engagement of a person, or to discipline a person.
Where a personal work-related grievance relates to detrimental conduct against a Whistleblower it will be a Protected Disclosure and covered by this policy.
Assessment and investigation
The WPO (or where appropriate other person to whom a disclosure is made under this policy) will undertake a preliminary review of the disclosure to determine whether the matters raised in the disclosure are covered by this policy, whether they should be investigated, and the form of the investigation. Where a report has been made to a person other than the WPO (about a matter which does not implicate the WPO), it may be necessary for the person receiving the report to refer the matter to the WPO to undertake this assessment and to ensure that the matter is appropriately investigated.
Any disclosure will be assessed and investigated by the WPO (or where appropriate, other recipient) as follows:
- undertake an initial assessment to determine whether or not the disclosure is a Protected Disclosure and therefore covered by this policy. If not covered (for example if the matter is a workplace grievance which is not a Protected Disclosure) the person making the report will be informed and the matter will be referred to the appropriate person or authority to deal with under any other applicable policies and procedures;
- if the initial assessment is that the matter is covered by this policy because it is a Protected Disclosure an appropriate investigation will be undertaken in compliance with the requirements of this policy.
Investigations will follow a fair process, be conducted in as timely manner as the circumstances allow and be independent of the person(s) about whom the disclosure is made. Where appropriate this may involve engaging external parties to conduct or assist with the investigation. Where appropriate the Whistleblower will be given feedback about the progress and expected timeframes of the investigation (unless the disclosure was made anonymously). So far as reasonably practicable, investigations will be conducted confidentially. Persons about whom a disclosure has been made will ordinarily be informed of the matters disclosed and given an opportunity to respond before any disciplinary or remedial action is taken by GPEx.
Possible outcomes resulting from a disclosure and any investigation may include the following:
- the matter is not substantiated;
- the matter is substantiated and remedial steps taken;
- the matter is referred to ASIC, APRA, the AFP or ATO – this will ordinarily occur in the event of fraudulent, corrupt or serious unlawful conduct; or
- a combination of the above.
Legal advice may be sought by the WPO (or other recipient of a report) about how to deal with matters disclosed and associated investigations and findings.
Reasonable basis for making the disclosure
When making a disclosure, you will be expected to have reasonable grounds to suspect the information you are disclosing is true. If so, you will be entitled to the protections identified in this policy even if the information turns out to be incorrect. However, you must not make a report which you know is not true or is misleading.
Breach of policy
Breach of this policy may be regarded as misconduct, which may lead to disciplinary action (including termination of employment or engagement). An individual may also be exposed to criminal or civil liability for a breach of relevant legislation.
Availability of this policy
All employees will be notified of this policy and how it can be accessed upon implementation or, in the case of new employees, during their induction. It will be made available on GPEx’s internal website, Genie.
6. Related documents and other references
- Employee Policy Checklist
- GPEx Conflict of Interest Policy
- GPEx Board Conflict of Interest Policy
- GPEx Employee Code of Conduct
- Part 9.4AAA of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth)
- Part IVD of the Taxation Administration Act 1953 (Cth)