Whistleblower policy

DOCUMENT CONTROL

Submitted By AND Management
Approved By Board
Date Approved 21 October 2021
Review Date 21 October 2023
Managed By Finance and Operations Manager

 

Section 1: Purpose

1.1       Our goal

The vision of the Australian Network on Disability is to advance the equitable inclusion of people with disability in all aspects of business by creating a disability confident Australia. To achieve our vision, it is crucial that all of our employees and partners understand, follow, and adhere to our corporate values of integrity, respect, honesty and fairness. We have put guidelines and policies in place to ensure we live by these values in our day-to-day work.

Together with our values, we want to have feedback and encourage people to speak up when they see activity or behaviour that they feel is wrong or does not match our values. The goal of this policy is to provide very clear guidelines on how we approach and manage this feedback. With our whistleblower policy, we aim to ensure:

  • Every employee should have the chance to speak up anonymously when they feel we are not adhering to our corporate values. They should have a place to report misconduct, every report will be heard and acted on, and we will make improvements based on the results.
  • AND believes everyone should be able to make reports anonymously. We commit to protecting informant’s identities and they only need to reveal themselves if they choose to.
  • We will investigate every report of misconduct. At the end of the investigation, we will document the results and provide feedback when appropriate.

1.2       Our commitment

AND wants our employees to know they can provide information on any concerns they have, understand where they can report their concerns, know what happens after they make a report, and ensure they feel safe in providing a report. We also want to let our team know about their right to be anonymous as well as how we, as an organisation, will ensure they are not subject to any retaliation or other abuse because they made a report.

1.3       Conduct to be reported

It is important that AND outlines which behaviour we want to be reported under this policy. We want to hear from you if you witness or know about any behaviour that is:

  • Fraudulent;
  • Illegal;
  • Corrupt;
  • Dishonest;
  • Unethical;
  • Violates the law or any legal code;
  • Damaging to the health, safety or wellbeing of staff or the environment;
  • Breaches any of our company’s policies;
  • Discrimination;
  • Harassment and/or bullying of any kind;
  • Any conduct which is detrimental to AND and could cause financial or non-financial loss.

1.4       Who falls under this policy

The following would be considered an “eligible person” and would fall under AND’s whistleblower policy:

  • Employees (including directors, managers, interns, and secondees);
  • Members, contractors, consultants, service providers, suppliers, business partners; and
  • Former employees.

This policy applies to all AND offices and across all jurisdictions where we operate. If local legislation, regulation, or laws provide a higher level of protection than what is included in this policy, the local legislation will take precedence.

Section 2: Process For Making A Report

2.1       What Options Do Employees Have For Making A Report

If an employee or eligible person would like to make a report, they have different channels available where they can do this.

  • Via post to AND’s Post Office Box Q203, Queen Victoria Post Office, Sydney 1230 (marked confidential); or
  • Speak with a senior leader at AND; or
  • Speak with the CEO; or
  • Contact the Audit and Risk Committee Chair or a member of the Board.

2.2       You Can Remain Anonymous

AND respects and protects your identity if you choose to make an anonymous report. You can choose to remain anonymous while making a report, interacting with case managers during an investigation of your report, as well as after your case is closed. At any given time you can identify yourself, but this is your choice and at no point do you need to do this or will you be forced to provide your identity.

If you decide to disclose your identity, AND will work to protect your identity and will outline and document who in the organisation will know you submitted your report. AND will also take all steps necessary (and outlined in this policy) to ensure you do not suffer any retaliation.

It is worth noting that AND will make every endeavour possible to investigate your report, but in some cases, there are limitations of what can be achieved if the informant decides to remain anonymous.

2.3       What Is The Investigative Process?

It is important for AND to be transparent with our employees and outline what is the process for us to investigate a report submitted through our whistleblowing channels. Below, we have provided the different steps AND will go through once a report is received until the case is closed.

  • Report (anonymous or otherwise) is received.
  • The Finance and Operations Manager (FOM) confirms its receipt to the CEO and informant if known. If the report pertains to behaviour of the FOM then the CEO should receive the report while if it pertains to the CEO, all reporting will be directed to the Audit and Risk Committee Chair.
  • The FOM, CEO or designate of the Audit and Risk Committee (hereafter referred to as “the investigator”) will do an initial assessment to confirm it is a valid report and request permission to investigate.
  • The investigator will begin their investigation. This can include corresponding with the informant if there is a channel to do this.
  • The investigator will investigate and update the CEO or appropriate delegate of the Audit and Risk Committee and the informant per policy guidelines.
  • Once the investigator has finalised their investigation and report, the CEO or appropriate delegate of the Audit and Risk Committee and the informant will be updated.
  • At this point, the investigator will hand everything over to the CEO or appropriate delegate of the Audit and Risk Committee for any subsequent action to take place.

2.4       Who Is Alerted To A Report

Once a report is submitted (anonymous or not), this report goes to the FOM who will manage the investigation. Certain senior managers might be alerted to the report as part of the reporting process or if they are involved in the investigation in some manner. Any information that could potentially identify an anonymous informant will be held in the strictest confidence and will not be shared, unless AND is compelled by law.

2.5       What Is The Process Of Updating The Informant

As part of our investigative process, AND will update the informant of the progress of the investigation. These updates can include the following:

  • AND has confirmed the receipt of a report from the informant.
  • AND has begun the investigative process.
  • The investigation is currently ongoing.
  • The investigation has been closed.

AND’s commitment is that the informant will be updated once a month while the investigation is ongoing. They will then be updated once the investigation has been closed. AND will strive to provide as much feedback on the investigation as possible. However, due to AND’s privacy guidelines, there is often information that cannot be shared with the informant.

The subject of the report will only be advised of the investigation and subsequent results if it is appropriate to do so and with the agreement of the person making the report.

2.6       What If The Informant Is Not Satisfied With The Result

If, after receiving the summarised report of the investigation, the informant is not satisfied with the result, they can escalate this to the CEO, or to the Audit and Risk Committee Chair if the report concerns the FOM or CEO. The informant can provide this escalation in writing so that a formal review can take place. While the CEO commits to review the request, AND is under no obligation to reopen the investigation. If the CEO concludes that the investigation was conducted properly and no new information exists that would change the results of the investigation, the investigation will be concluded.

Section 3: How Informants Are Protected

3.1       Anonymity After Submitting

Section 2.2 discussed how an eligible person can remain anonymous during the process of submitting a report. After submitting a report, the following policies around anonymity are in place to protect an informant’s identity:

  • The informant has the right to remain anonymous and does not need to identify themselves at any time during the investigation process.
  • At no time will AND force the informant to reveal their identity.
  • The informant can refuse to answer questions they feel could identify themselves.

If the informant reveals themselves at any time, they will be advised who will have access to their identity. This can include the manager, Finance and Operations Manager or CEO, etc.

3.2       Potential Retaliation

Protection is available to informants who disclose wrongdoing that is made with reasonable grounds to believe it is true. To ensure that all employees are treated fairly and that resources are not wasted, protection is not available where the disclosure is:

  • Trivial or vexatious in nature with no substance. This will be treated in the same manner as a false report and may itself constitute wrongdoing.
  • Unsubstantiated allegations which are found to have been made maliciously, or knowingly to be false.

These will be viewed seriously and may be subject to disciplinary action that could include termination of service.

An informant might be concerned that staff, management, or the organisation might retaliate against them. In this case, AND will protect the informant from:

  • Being terminated or having their employment ceased;
  • Performance management;
  • Harassment on the job or workplace bullying;
  • Warnings or disciplinary actions;
  • Discrimination; or
  • Any other action that can be perceived as retaliation for making a report.

3.3       Considered Risk of Retaliation

In the case of “considered risk of retaliation”, the informant believes retaliation is near or imminent, and they are targeted for retaliation. In cases of considered retaliation, the informant should contact the Finance and Operations Manager. The Finance and Operations Manager will take the action they feel is appropriate as well as come up with recommendations for how the situation can be resolved.

Potential steps to protect the informant from a considered risk of retaliation can include:

  • The informant taking leave; or
  • The informant being reassigned to other duties.

3.4       Already Retaliated Against

If the informant feels that they have already been retaliated against, they should escalate this immediately to the CEO. The CEO will take the action they feel is appropriate as well as come up with recommendations for how the situation can be resolved.

Potential steps to protect the informant after retaliation has occurred can include:

  • The informant taking leave; or
  • The informant being reassigned to other duties.

3.5       Retaliation Not Adequately Resolved

If the informant feels their report of retaliation was not resolved adequately can escalate this case in writing. The report will need to go to Audit and Risk Committee Chair and they will investigate the matter and process for how the retaliation was dealt with.

3.6       How AND Deals With Retaliation

AND does not tolerate any attempts to retaliate against an informant who has made a report. Any employee or associated person that found retaliating will face disciplinary action, including the potential to be terminated from their roles.

3.7       Separation Of Issues

AND will be able to still raise any issues related to work or performance related issues. While AND will protect the informant from any retaliation, it is also important that they are still effective in their job. AND can still raise any performance or contract issues with the informant as long as they are kept separate and not influenced at all from any reports that have been made.

3.8      Protection and Immunity For Others

Other parties that might have to bear witness or are involved in the investigation will be protected from retaliation in the same manner as the informant.

3.9      Legislative/Regulation Protection & Assistance

If in any jurisdictions or locales where AND operates has whistleblowing protection laws that provide a higher level of protection than what is included in this policy, the local legislation will take precedence.

Section 4: Our Roles & Responsibilities

4.1       Roles

The roles within AND’s whistleblowing program include the following:

  • Senior Manager or recipient of report;
  • Finance and Operations Manager;
  • CEO; and
  • Audit and Risk Committee Chair.

4.2       Responsibilities

The following are the responsibilities of each role in AND’s whistleblowing program.

  • Day-to-day manager:
    • The day-to-day manager views incoming anonymous reports, advises the Finance and Operations Manager (FOM), and assists them as they conduct investigations. This person is the first line of escalation and works collaboratively with the FOM to ensure anonymous reports are heard and acted upon.
  • Finance and Operations Manager:
    • Assigned anonymous reports and their role is to investigate these reports. This includes interacting and asking questions of informants, as well as using the information provided to investigate the report submitted. The investigation can be internal or external to the organisation depending on what was documented in the report. Their goal is to gather the facts and put forth a final report to management on what happened and what action they feel needs to take place.
  • CEO:
    • Owns the entire program and is measured on its overall success. This includes employees knowing and understanding the program, an easy process of making a report, investigating reports, as well as being a point of escalation for any concerns or retaliation that has taken place. While this individual reports into the organisation, the results of their work go directly to the Board of Directors.
  • Audit and Risk Committee Chair:
    • Board members with human resources background who may be called upon to provide advice and guidance during any investigation. The whistleblowing program leverages their expertise and acumen to ensure AND are using HR best practices during investigations and we are treating all employees fairly.

Section 5: Governance

5.1       Changes to AND’s Whistleblower Policy

From time to time, AND’s whistleblower policy will need to change to keep up with our values, best practices, improvements, as well as legislation and regulations. Any changes to our whistleblower policy will be communicated with all employees and any relevant stakeholders. This policy and any changes made do form any contract of employment.

Any changes to AND’s whistleblower policy must be approved by:

  • CEO;
  • Audit and Risk Committee; and
  • The Board of Directors.

All changes will be reviewed by the Board of Directors and the Board can comment and provide feedback as necessary. All changes will also be documented in AND’s whistleblower policy and will be made available to all employees.

5.2       Reporting to the Board of Directors

The Board of Directors is updated every quarter on AND’s whistleblowing program, inclusive of reports, investigations, and results. Reports or investigations carrying an undue amount of risk will be reported to the Board of Directors outside of the quarterly updates.

The Board of Directors at any time can ask about anonymous reports, investigations, as well as the state of AND’s whistleblowing program. AND’s whistleblowing program resides in the Audit and Risk Committee of the Board of Directors. They are responsible and accountable for the implementation and effectiveness of AND’s whistleblowing program.