1.1 Plan International Australia Ltd (PIA) is committed to the highest standards of honesty, integrity and ethics. PIA aims to create an environment where individuals can make Protected Disclosures and are supported and protected throughout the process.
1.2 If there are reasonable grounds to believe that an offence or breach under laws referred to in the whistleblower provisions of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (Act) has occurred, the disclosure may be protected under this Policy in accordance with the Act. If the disclosure does not relate to laws referred to in the whistleblower provisions of the Act, another PIA policy may apply. In either case, Plan wants you to speak-up. We cannot address issues that we do not know about.
1.3 The key objectives of this Policy are to:
- confirm PIA’s commitment to maintaining a workplace and organisation that is free from fraudulent and dishonest activity;
- foster a culture of honest and ethical behaviour;
- encourage professional, ethical behaviours and corporate compliance throughout our organisation;
- identify and address wrongdoing at the earliest opportunity; and
- to outline the legal protections offered to Whistleblowers under the Act.
1.4 PIA understands that these objectives can only be achieved and maintained with the support and commitment of all its stakeholders, including members of the Board and employees. The expectation is that all stakeholders will conduct themselves in a manner that achieves these key objectives and behavioural standards. Stakeholders should be prepared to draw attention to any behaviour that they have reasonable grounds to believe is in breach of this Policy, so that the conduct can be investigated and addressed as necessary.
2.1 This Policy applies to Protected Disclosures by any Whistleblowers (as defined below), and relevantly includes past and present employees, company officers and service providers.
2.2 The Policy provides the basis for reporting a Protected Disclosure and protections provided to Whistleblowers who make a Protected Disclosure.
3. Definitions / Key Terms
|Act||Corporations Act 2001 (Cth)|
|Eligible Recipient||A Protected Disclosure can be made to:
· PIA’s Chief Executive Officer;
· PlA’s Chief Operating Officer;
· PIA’s Associate Director of Organisational Development & Culture
· a member of PIA’s Board;
· an auditor or member of an audit team conducting an audit of PIA;
· an actuary of PIA;
· a Commonwealth Authority prescribed by the regulations of the Act;
· a legal practitioner if the Protected Disclosure is made for the purposes of obtaining legal advice or representation in relation to the operation of the whistleblower provisions in the Act; or
· in certain circumstances, a journalist or a member of the Commonwealth, State or Territory Parliament if the Protected Disclosure is a public interest or emergency disclosure made in accordance with the Act (a person relying on this exception should contact a legal adviser before making such a disclosure).
|PIA||Plan International Australia Ltd (ACN 004 875 807) and each of its related bodies corporate.|
|Protected Disclosure||A Protected Disclosure is one made by a Whistleblower to an Eligible Recipient in circumstances where the Whistleblower has reasonable grounds to suspect misconduct or an improper state of affairs or circumstances in relation to:
· PIA, including information that indicates that PIA or an officer or employee of PIA has engaged in conduct that:
o Constitutes an offence against, or a contravention of the Act, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 (Cth), the Banking Act 1959 (Cth), the Financial Sector (Collection of Data) Act 2001 (Cth), the Insurance Act 1973 (Cth), the Life Insurance Act 1995 (Cth), the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 (Cth), the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 (Cth), or regulations or other instruments made under those laws;
o constitutes an offence against any other law of the Commonwealth that is punishable by imprisonment for a period of 12 months or more;
o represents a danger to the public or the financial system;
o is prescribed by the regulations of the Act; and/or
· the Tax Affairs of PIA (or an “associate” of PIA as defined in the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 (Cth)) and the Whistleblower considers that the information may assist the recipient to perform functions or duties in relation to the Tax Affairs of PIA (or an associate of PIA).
Some examples of a Protected Disclosure include corrupt conduct, theft or fraud, dishonest conduct by a director, tax evasion, bribery, child abuse and engaging in detrimental conduct against a Whistleblower.
For the avoidance of doubt, a disclosure that relates to a personal work-related grievance is not a Protected Disclosure and will not qualify for protection under the Act. Personal work-related grievances are those that relate to the discloser’s current or former employment and have, or tend to have, implications for the discloser personally, but do not have any other significant implications for PIA. For example, a grievance about:
· an interpersonal conflict with another employee;
· a decision regarding engagement, transfer or promotion;
· the terms and conditions of engagement; and/or
· a decision regarding suspension, termination or other disciplinary action.
Work-related grievances should be raised in accordance with PIA’s Grievance Policy.
Note that a personal work-related grievance may still qualify for protection in some limited circumstances – for example, if PIA has breached an employment law punishable by imprisonment for a period of 12 months of more, or has engaged in conduct that represents a danger to the public, or the discloser has suffered detriment for making a disclosure.
|Tax Affairs||Affairs relating to any tax imposed by or under, or assessed or collected under, a law administered by the Commissioner of Taxation.|
|Whistleblower||An individual is an eligible whistleblower if the individual is or has been any of the following in relation to PIA:
· an officer;
· an employee;
· an individual who supplies goods or services or their employee;
· an associate;
· a relative or dependant of the above, or of their spouse,
and makes a Protected Disclosure to an Eligible Recipient.
4. Protections – Summary
A Whistleblower who makes a Protected Disclosure is afforded protections in accordance with the Act, summarised as follows:
- the Whistleblower’s identity will be kept confidential, subject to certain circumstances;
- protection from actual or threatened victimisation and conduct that may cause the Whistleblower detriment due to a disclosure;
- protection from litigation, subject to certain circumstances; and
- support throughout the disclosure process.
These protections are further discussed below.
5.1 A Whistleblower can make a Protected Disclosure anonymously, and can chose to remain anonymous over the course of any investigation as well as after the investigation is finalised. A Whistleblower may also refuse to answer questions that they feel could reveal their identity at any time.
5.2 PIA has an obligation under the Act to ensure the confidentiality of the Whistleblower’s identity is maintained. In this regard, unless an exception exists, PIA will not disclose the Whistleblower’s identity or any information that is likely to lead to identification.
5.3 Exceptions to this include where:
- the Whistleblower gives consent;
- PIA is required or authorised by law to disclose; or
- it is reasonably necessary for the purpose of investigating the Protected Disclosure (so long as PIA does not disclose the Whistleblower’s identity and has taken all reasonable steps to reduce the risk that the Whistleblower will be identified from the information)
5.4 It is important that PIA has a way in which to communicate with a Whistleblower even where they wish to remain anonymous. For example, to ask follow-up questions or provide feedback. Where a Whistleblower wishes to remain anonymous, PIA may suggest that the person sets up an anonymised email address to facilitate ongoing communication.
5.5 PIA may utilise a number or measures or mechanisms in order to protect a Whistleblower’s identity. For example, restricting the number of people who are directly involved in handling and investigating a Protected Disclosure; ensuring documents relating to the investigation are only sent to email addresses and printers that cannot be accessed by other staff; reminding persons involved in handling and investigating a Protected Disclosure of the confidentiality requirements; securely storing all paper and electronic documents relevant to the Protected Disclosure; redacting documents as necessary; referring to the Whistleblower in gender-neutral terms or using a pseudonym, etc.
6. Liability and Disciplinary Action
6.1 A Whistleblower who makes a Protected Disclosure, subject to legislative exceptions, cannot be subject to:
- civil, criminal or administrative liability (including disciplinary action) for the making of the Protected Disclosure; and
- contractual or any other remedies which may be enforced or exercised against the Whistleblower on the basis of making the Protected Disclosure.
Furthermore, in some instances (e.g. where the disclosure is made to ASIC or is an emergency disclosure) the information disclosed in the making of the Protected Disclosure cannot be used against the Whistleblower as evidence in criminal proceedings or in proceedings for the imposition of a penalty.
6.2 However, a Whistleblower will not be immune from liability if:
- the Whistleblower has provided false information; or
- wrongful conduct engaged in by the Whistleblower is revealed by the making of the Protected Disclosure.
6.3 PIA may take action against a person who makes a deliberately false report (i.e. a report the person knows to be untrue).
7. Detrimental Conduct
7.1 PIA will endeavour to ensure that a Whistleblower does not face actual or threatened detrimental conduct because of the Protected Disclosure (or because the person believes or suspects that the Whistleblower (or another person) made, may have made, proposes to make or could make a Protected Disclosure). One mechanism that PIA may use to control the risk of detriment is to undertake an assessment of the risk of detriment as soon as possible after receiving a Protected Disclosure and to implement administrative actions to control those risks.
7.2 Detrimental conduct may include:
- injury in the Whistleblower’s employment;
- disadvantageous alteration to the Whistleblower’s position or duties;
- discrimination against the Whistleblower;
- harassment or intimidation against the Whistleblower;
- harm or injury to the Whistleblower, including mental harm; and/or
- damage to the Whistleblower’s property, reputation, business or financial position, or to any other damage to a person.
7.3 Actions that are not detrimental conduct include:
- administrative action that is reasonable for the purpose of protecting a Whistleblower from detriment. An example of this could be moving a Whistleblower from their immediate work area to another office to prevent them from detriment; and
- managing a Whistleblower’s unsatisfactory work performance or misconduct, if the action is in line with PIA’s performance management processes and other disciplinary processes.
7.4 A Whistleblower may be able to seek compensation or other remedies, in accordance with the Act, if they suffer loss, damage or injury because of a Protected Disclosure and PIA failed to take reasonable precautions and exercise due diligence to prevent the detrimental conduct from occurring.
7.5 If a Whistleblower believes they have suffered a detriment, they are encouraged to reach out to PIA in the first instance to address the issue. However, the Whistleblower may also seek independent legal advice or contact regulatory bodies such as ASIC.
7.6 Any person found to have engaged in detrimental conduct towards a Whistleblower will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including the termination of that person’s employment or engagement with PIA.
8.1 PIA recognises that Whistleblowers who make a Protected Disclosure may require support during the handling and investigation of that disclosure. PIA encourages the Whistleblower and any other party named as a potential wrongdoer in a Protected Disclosure, to utilise the services of PIA’s Employee Assistance Program Psychology Melbourne on 03 9629 1001 or https://www.psychologymelbourne.com.au/workplace-wellbeing, or alternatively reach out to the Organisational Development and Culture Team for assistance as soon as possible.
8.2 Further, PIA will endeavour to ensure that the Whistleblower, and/or any other party named as a potential wrongdoer in a Protected Disclosure are afforded an opportunity to properly respond to the allegations raised.
9.1 For a disclosure to receive protection it must be a Protected Disclosure reported by a Whistleblower to an Eligible Recipient as defined above.
9.2 PIA encourages Whistleblowers to first raise their concerns within the organisation. However, if the Whistleblower prefers, another way a Whistleblower can make a Protected Disclosure anonymously is by submitting a report to SafeCall (an independent global reporting service) on:
Phone: (0011 800 7233 2255)
Email: [email protected]
This is a dedicated service run independently and separate to Plan where a Whistleblower can remain anonymous.
9.3 A Whistleblower can also choose to make the Protected Disclosure in writing to another Eligible Recipient as defined above.
9.4 All Protected Disclosures may be made anonymously.
10.1 Initially, upon receipt of a disclosure, PIA will need to assess the disclosure to determine whether it qualifies for protection. If PIA considers it falls within the scope of this Policy (and the Act), it will endeavour to provide a fair and thorough fact-finding investigation process, that is appropriate and reasonable to the circumstances surrounding the Protected Disclosure, to ultimately determine what has happened.
10.2 Some disclosures will not reach the threshold necessary for the protections under the Act, but may be matters which fall within PIA’s other policies and procedures (e.g. breaches of the Code of Conduct, bullying complaints, etc).
10.3 If PIA determines that an investigation is required, PIA will determine:
- the nature and scope of the investigation;
- whether an internal or external investigator should lead the investigation;
- the nature of any technical, financial or legal advice that may be required to support the investigation; and
- the timeframe for the investigation.
10.4 The objective of an investigation is to determine whether there is enough evidence to substantiate or refute the matters reported.
10.5 PIA expects the Whistleblower to keep their disclosure confidential to ensure any investigation remains fair and independent and to assist with any investigation if necessary, this may include the Whistleblower being asked to provide more information. Where a Whistleblower can be contacted, PIA will provide them with updates during the key stages of the investigation (i.e.. when the investigation process has begun, while the investigation is in progress and after the investigation has been finalised).
10.6 In accordance with the principles of natural justice, a person who is the subject of a Protected Disclosure will be advised about the subject matter of the Protected Disclosure. PIA (or the investigator) will determine the appropriate time to inform the individual of such matters, provided that this occurs before adverse findings are made against them.
10.7 Where a Protected Disclosure has been made anonymously, PIA may conduct an investigation or undertake initial enquiries based on the information provided to it. However, anonymity may prevent PIA from taking the issue further if PIA is not able to obtain further information from the Whistleblower (e.g. because the person has refused to provide, or has not provided, a means of contacting them).
10.8 If the Whistleblower feels the matter has not been dealt with satisfactorily, or has suffered detriment or victimisation because of speaking-up, they should raise this matter with PIA’s CEO or COO.
10.9 Investigation findings will ordinarily be shared with PIA’s Board and Executive (as those with responsibility and oversight of this Policy) and PIA’s Audit and Risk Committee (FRAC). If a report or other document is prepared containing the findings, it will be redacted as necessary to preserve confidentiality (e.g. where the Whistleblower has not consented to the disclosure of their identity). The findings of an investigation will not necessarily be shared with the Whistleblower.
This Policy is available to PIA’s employees and officers on PlanetOZ and upon request from the Organisational Development and Culture team.
12.1 This policy is subject to 3-year review from the date of approval by the Executive Team (ET) and the Board.
12.2 Any individual who wishes to make any comments about this policy may forward their suggestions to the Organisational Development and Culture Team.
12.3 This policy supersedes all prior policies, guidelines and practices that pertain to Whistleblowing. PIA reserves the right to amend or update this policy as appropriate. Where the relevant legislation changes, the COO may update this policy and communicate these changes to the ET and the Board.
13. Further Assistance
Any person covered by this Policy who requires assistance in understanding or interpreting this Policy or its application, should consult their Manager, a member of the Executive or Senior Leadership Team, or the Organisational Development and Culture team.