Whistle-Blower Protection

Organisational Policy

Ozcare is committed to the highest standards of conduct and ethical behaviour in all of our business activities, and to promoting and supporting a culture of honest and ethical behaviour, and good corporate governance.

Ozcare is committed to ensuring that employees, volunteers, contractors, clients, and carers, without fear of reprisal and with confidence that their concerns will be taken seriously and dealt with properly: can make a disclosure in good faith, where they the whistle-blower have a reasonable belief that there has been or may have been a serious impropriety, either by the company, by an employee of the company, or by a person connected with the company. 

This Policy applies only to matters of serious impropriety; it does not apply to the making of a routine complaint or the lodgement of a grievance. 

Ozcare considers that a whistle-blower should put their name to a disclosure, and is committed to investigating identified disclosures in a timely, thorough, confidential, objective and fair manner and as is reasonable and appropriate having regard to the nature of the impropriety and all of the circumstances.

Ozcare considers that anonymous disclosures introduce doubt about the validity and/or intent of the disclosure. Ozcare reserves its right to not progress enquiries into matters raised anonymously. 

Anonymous allegations may only be considered under this whistle-blower policy, following consideration of the following factors:

  • The seriousness of the issue raised

  • The evident credibility of the concern expressed

  • The likelihood of confirming the allegation from attributable sources, and obtaining relevant supportive information.

A comprehensive Operational Procedure is to be developed, maintained, and made readily available, that: 

  • Encourages the reporting of matters that may cause loss to the company or damage to the company's reputation

  • Enables the company to effectively deal with a report from a whistle-blower in a way that will protect the identity of the whistle-blower and provide for the secure storage of the information provided and

  • Establishes a framework for protection of a whistle-blower against reprisal by any person internal or external to the company.

Applies To

All employees, volunteers, contractors, clients (and their carers) of Ozcare.

Rules

Any employee of the company, volunteers, contractors clients, and carers may make a disclosure in good faith about any conduct or practice where they, (hereinafter referred to as 'the whistle-blower') have a reasonable belief that there has been or may have been an action taken either by the company, by an employee of the company, or by a person connected with the company, that constitutes serious impropriety.

Serious Impropriety constitutes any conduct or practice that is potentially: illegal; dishonest; fraudulent; corrupt; improper; unethical; unsafe; or which amounts to mismanagement.

What is Whistle-Blowing?

Whistle-blowing does not refer to the mere making of a complaint.

Whistle-blowing is the act of making a disclosure in good faith, about any conduct or practice where the whistle-blower, has a reasonable belief that the conduct or practice constitutes a serious impropriety (as described above).

Making a Disclosure

A whistle-blower may make a disclosure, on a confidential basis by forwarding a letter, or an email to the Chief Executive Officer. For any disclosure that may potentially involve the Chief Executive Officer, the disclosure should be forward to the Company Secretary via email to: company.secretary@ozcare.org.au

Receipt of a Disclosure

Upon receipt of a disclosure, the Chief Executive Officer or Company Secretary will provide an acknowledgement of receipt of the disclosure, back to the sender. The Board Policy in relation to anonymous disclosures should be noted.

In circumstances where the Chief Executive Officer is implicated in a disclosure, then the Company Secretary will forward a copy of the disclosure to the Chairperson of the Board. The Chairperson of the Board will in consultation with the Audit & Risk Sub-Committee of the Board, determine an investigatory process.
In all other cases, the Chief Executive Officer will determine whether the disclosure actually pertains to a matter covered by the Policy, and will determine a strategy for investigation of the disclosure.

Investigation

Ozcare will investigate all reported instances of Serious Impropriety, made under the Whistle-blower Protection Policy, as soon as possible after the matter has been reported.

The Chief Executive Officer may need to delegate investigative tasks to other employees as necessary, having regard to: 

  • The nature of the disclosure

  • Supporting evidence

  • The strategy for investigation

  • Appropriate concern for protecting the identity of the whistle-blower and

  • Secure storage of the information provided.

In delegating investigative tasks, a 'no-names' approach is to be taken. Only such information as is required for the delegate to undertake the task, is to be exposed. The identity of the whistle-blower is not to be made unnecessarily known to any other person. 
Where further questioning of a whistle-blower is required, wherever practicable this should be undertaken under the remit of the investigation so as to ensure that the whistle-blower cannot be singled out from their peers. 

The act of disclosure should not shield a whistle-blower from the reasonable consequences flowing from any personal involvement in the matter being disclosed. A person's liability for his or her own conduct is not affected by the person's disclosure of that conduct. However, in some circumstances, an admission may be a mitigating factor when considering disciplinary or other action. 

Reporting

Ozcare is of the view that it is not appropriate, to provide feedback to a whistle-blower regarding the investigation's progress and/or outcome. Having made a disclosure (with the exclusion of any subsequent involvement in an investigative process), the role of the whistle-blower is completed. Corrective or remedial action taken by the company in relation to the disclosure made by the whistle-blower should be evident to them in the form of personnel or practice changes that come into effect following the disclosure. 

The Chief Executive Officer, on completion of an investigation should make a written report to the Audit & Risk Sub-Committee of the Board. The report should detail at a minimum:

  • The nature of the disclosure

  • The nature of any supporting evidence provided with the disclosure

  • The method by which the disclosure was investigated

  • The findings of the investigation

  • An analysis of the findings

  • Details of any corrective actions that have been or will be undertaken.

It should be noted that with the exception of an acknowledgement of receipt furnished by the Chief Executive Officer or Company Secretary, no other report regarding the progress of investigation, or the outcome of an investigation, will be provided to the whistle-blower. The minimisation of correspondence between a whistle-blower and the company serves as a further protection against their subsequent identification.

Copies of all complaints and investigation records will be maintained separately from any other operational documentation and will be stored in accordance with the company's Board document retention arrangements.

False or Malicious Disclosure

No action will be taken against a person who makes a disclosure in good faith which cannot be substantiated or is disproven, in a subsequent investigation.
However, where it is shown that a person purporting to be a whistle-blower has made malicious, false, or vexatious allegations, then that conduct itself will be considered a serious matter and may render the person concerned subject to disciplinary proceedings which may include demotion, suspension or termination of employment.

Whistle-Blower Protection

Ozcare will take every reasonable precaution to protect the identity of a whistle-blower. Ozcare will wherever practicable make reasonable adjustment to the workplace conditions and/or placement of a whistle-blower, to protect them from negative consequences arising from their whistle-blowing.

Ozcare can and will carry out investigations of any allegations of negative action being taken against a whistle-blower.

It should be noted that the alleged negative action must be able to be directly linked to the disclosure of a Serious Impropriety. In many cases, it may be very difficult to establish that the negative action was solely the result of the disclosure of information by the whistle-blower. 

Definitions and Terms

Whistle-Blower - A person that identifies themselves in order to make a disclosure in good faith about any conduct or practice where they, the whistle-blower, have a reasonable belief that the conduct or practice should not have occurred.

Disclosure - Production of information which the whistle-blower reasonably believes evidences the conduct or practice that is the subject of their whistle-blowing.

Serious Impropriety - Any conduct or practice that is potentially: illegal; dishonest; fraudulent; corrupt; improper; unethical; unsafe or which amounts to mismanagement.

Reasonable Belief - Exists when there is a first-hand experience or observation of evidence by the whistle-blower, on which the belief is formed. Mere suspicion does not constitute reasonable belief as there is no factual basis on which to form a belief.

Grievance - May include but is not limited to complaints regarding: inappropriate behaviour; discrimination, harassment or bullying; interpersonal conflicts and communication issues; performance management processes; outcome of internal recruitment processes; or allocations of duties and responsibilities.

Reprisal - Can take the form of: injury; damage or loss; intimidation or harassment; discrimination, disadvantage or adverse treatment in relation to employment; dismissal from, or prejudice in, employment; or disciplinary proceedings.


Back to Top