This Policy replaces the Protection of Whistleblowers - Victoria Policy (2008) and establishes a national framework for ACU's Protected Disclosures regime. It builds upon the existing protections offered by Part 9.4AAA of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).
- Background Information
- Policy Statement
- Policy Purpose
- Application of Policy
- Protections Available to a Discloser
- Mechanisms to Support Protected Disclosures
- Reporting and Accountability
- Breach of the Policy and Procedure
- Roles and Responsibilities
- Policy Review
- Further Assistance
- Glossary and Terms
1.1 Australian Catholic University (ACU) produced an interim Protection of Whistleblowers – Victoria Policy in 2008 (Whistleblowers Policy) pending the development of a national policy. The Whistleblowers Policy was consistent with the responsibilities contained in the Whistleblowers Protection Act 2001 (Vic) which has now been replaced by the Protected Disclosure Act 2012 (Vic). The Whistleblowers Policy was revoked on 27 November 2014.
1.2 The Protected Disclosures Policy 2016 (Policy) and Protected Disclosures Procedure 2016 (Procedure) replace the Whistleblowers Policy. The Policy and Procedure implement a framework for the making of Protected Disclosures consistent with Australian Standard AS 8004-2003, Whistleblower Protection Programs for Entities (23 June 2003) (Australian Standard).
2.1 A Protected Disclosures regime is an important tool for detecting Reportable Conduct. It is essential to the achievement of good corporate governance.
2.2 There are many benefits to an effective Protected Disclosures regime within an organisation including:
- effective legislative and regulatory compliance;
- improved financial management and budgetary responsibility;
- improved work health and safety practices and compliance;
- effective and efficient management;
- improved organisational morale and culture; and
- confidence in the organisation’s commitment to good corporate governance.
2.3 ACU is committed to a culture of corporate compliance and the promotion of lawful and ethical behaviour and transparency in commercial, legal and other stakeholder dealings. ACU expects the Members of ACU and the Affiliates of ACU to act in accordance with the law at all times, to behave professionally and to uphold ACU’s Mission, values and Code of Conduct for All Staff in undertaking their duties and activities on behalf of or in association with ACU.
2.4 This Policy reflects ACU’s commitment to identifying and investigating Reportable Conduct and to support and protect Disclosers.
2.5 When a Member of ACU, an Affiliate of ACU or any other external stakeholder becomes aware of Reportable Conduct, it is incumbent upon the person who has become aware of the Reportable Conduct to report it through the appropriate channels.
2.6 ACU is committed to protecting and respecting Disclosers to the extent permissible by law in accordance with this Policy and the Procedure whenever reasonably practicable. It is committed to enabling appropriate disclosures of matters properly characterised as Reportable Conduct to be made by Disclosers confidentially without fear of identification or retribution subject to the report being made in good faith, upon a proper and reasonable basis and, where necessary, supported by written evidence.
2.7 In accordance with the Australian Standard and in line with the ACU Mission and relevant legislation and ACU policies, Disclosers who make reports properly characterised as Protected Disclosures in accordance with this Policy and Procedure are, along with their colleagues and relatives, to be treated with dignity and respect and protection against Detrimental Action.
The purpose of this Policy and the Procedure is to:
- outline the scope of what ACU considers to be Reportable Conduct that may be the subject of a Protected Disclosure;
- encourage Members of ACU, Affiliates of ACU and any other external stakeholders of ACU to notify ACU of Reportable Conduct using the mechanisms contained in the Procedure;
- provide a framework that:
- allows ACU to deal effectively and appropriately with Protected Disclosures in a way that will protect, as far as reasonably practicable, the identity of the Discloser making the Protected Disclosure and provide for secure storage of the information provided;
- facilitates protection, as far as reasonably practicable, from Detrimental Action which arises from the submission of a Protected Disclosure;
- ensures principles of procedural fairness are applied to investigations in response to Protected Disclosures;
- provide the appropriate infrastructure to support the framework including systems, processes and mechanisms for the reporting and investigation of Protected Disclosures and the protection of Disclosers who have made Protected Disclosures; and
- provide a mechanism for the University to rectify deficiencies in systems and processes identified as a result of investigations into any Protected Disclosures made.
4.1 This Policy applies only to the Reportable Conduct defined in clause 12.
4.2 A Protected Disclosure made in accordance with this Policy and the Procedure may be made by a Discloser in relation to a Member of ACU or an Affiliate of ACU.
4.3 A Protected Disclosure can only be made by a Discloser to a Disclosure Receiver in accordance with the Procedure accompanying this Policy.
4.4 At the discretion of the Protected Disclosure Officer, the Protected Disclosure may be referred to an independent investigator to investigate the Reportable Conduct or it may be dealt with under another appropriate University procedure.
4.5 Where an investigation is undertaken:
- the investigator shall provide a copy of the investigation report to the Protected Disclosure Officer; and
- the Protected Disclosure Officer will initiate any actions arising from the investigation.
4.6 Students of ACU, whether part-time, full-time, domestic, full-fee paying/international, on- campus, off-campus, on-shore, off-shore, undergraduate or postgraduate, are excluded from the scope of this Policy and the Procedure. Should any student wish to make a complaint that could be characterised as a Protected Disclosure, the Students Complaints Management Policy shall apply.
4.7 The Protected Disclosure regime outlined in this Policy and the Procedure complement, but do not replace or seek to supplant, the protections provided under Part 9.4AAA of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (Act). ACU is subject to the Act as a company limited by guarantee.
5.1 Anonymity and Confidentiality
5.1.1 ACU will protect the anonymity of a Discloser who reports or who seeks to report Reportable Conduct except in the following circumstances:
- if the Discloser:
- consents in writing to the disclosure of their identity by ACU; or
- self discloses their identity; or
- the identity of the Discloser becomes known other than by an action of ACU;
- if disclosure of the identity of the Discloser is required by law; or
- where disclosure of the identity of the Discloser is required in order to deal with and/or investigate the Disclosure.
5.1.2 As far as practicable, the confidentiality of all information provided by a Discloser must be maintained securely in the strictest confidence and should only be disclosed to a person if:
- the Discloser consents in writing to the disclosure;
- the information is otherwise available to ACU;
- if disclosure is compelled by law; or
- disclosure of the information is required in order to deal with and/or investigate the Disclosure.
5.1.3 Any person receiving information provided by a Discloser under this Policy is bound by the obligation of confidentiality set out in 5.1.2. A breach of this obligation of confidentiality shall be considered to be misconduct and, in the case of staff members, shall be dealt with in accordance with the Code of Conduct for All Staff, the Misconduct and Serious Misconduct Policy or any equivalent policy of ACU from time to time.
5.2 Immunity from Detrimental Action
5.2.1 ACU supports a culture that encourages the reporting of Reportable Conduct.
5.2.2 Where a Discloser acting in good faith on a proper and reasonable basis and who has not engaged in any activity that would constitute misconduct under the Code of Conduct for All Staff or the Misconduct and Serious Misconduct Policy (or any subsequent revision of those documents) has made a Protected Disclosure as defined in this Policy, ACU will protect the Discloser from Detrimental Action and the Discloser shall not suffer detrimental action by reason of having made a Protected Disclosure.
5.2.3 If the Discloser suffers or claims to have suffered any Detrimental Action, the Discloser may exercise any relevant rights under the ACU Staff Enterprise Agreement or any other Policy or Procedure of ACU.
5.2.4 Protection by ACU from Detrimental Action does not extend to criminal offences.
6.1 The Procedure outlines the framework for supporting Protected Disclosures including:
- the functions and responsibilities of persons managing Protected Disclosures;
- how a Discloser can make a Protected Disclosure;
- the process for dealing with Protected Disclosures; and
- communication with the Discloser, both during the investigation process and at the end of the investigation.
7.1.1 The Protected Disclosure Officer and the Responsible Officer shall have a direct line of reporting and accountability to Vice-Chancellor as Chief Executive Officer of ACU in relation to this Policy.
7.1.2 If Vice-Chancellor has a conflict of interest or reasonably perceived conflict of interest or where there is a reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of the Vice-Chancellor, the Protected Disclosure Officer and the Responsible Officer shall report directly to the Audit and Risk Committee as a sub-committee of Senate.
7.2.1 The Annual Report of Australian Catholic University Limited shall contain a report in relation to the operation of this Policy and the Procedure.
7.2.2 The report shall not disclose the identity of any person who has made a Protected Disclosure.
8.1 Malicious, Frivolous or Vexatious Reporting of Reportable Conduct
8.1.1 If a person makes a malicious, frivolous or vexatious disclosure, the making of that disclosure may constitute misconduct and, in the case of staff members, may be dealt with in accordance with the Code of Conduct for All Staff or the Misconduct and Serious Misconduct Policy or any equivalent policy of ACU from time to time, as determined by the Governing Authority.
9.1 Approval Authority
9.1.1 Senate is the Approval Authority for this Policy.
9.2 Governing Authority
9.2.1 Senate is the Governing Authority for this Policy.
9.3 Responsible Officer
9.3.1 The Director, Governance is the Responsible Officer for this Policy.
10.1.1 ACU will review this Policy and the Procedure regularly. It may amend the Policy and Procedure from time to time to ensure their currency with respect to relevant legislation and University policy and procedures and to improve the general effectiveness and operation of the Policy and Procedure.
10.2.2 The first review of the Policy and Procedure shall occur 12 months after the Effective Date of the Policy and Procedure. Thereafter, in line with the University’s Policy on Policy Development and Policy Development Procedure, this Policy is scheduled for review every five (5) years or sooner in the event that the Approval Authority or the Governing Authority determines that a review is warranted.
10.2 Revisions made to this Policy
Major or Minor Revision
Description of Revision(s)
15 June 2016
Policy approved by Senate
11.1 Contact Details – Protected Disclosures
11.1.1 A Protected Disclosure under this Policy shall be made in accordance with the process set out in the Procedure accompanying this Policy.
11.1.2 Any disclosure not made in accordance with the process set out in the Procedure will not be considered a Protected Disclosure.
11.2 Contact Details – General Enquiries
11.2.1 Any general enquiries in relation to this Policy and the Procedure should be directed as follows:
T: 02 9739 2228
P: PO Box 968, North Sydney NSW 2059
11.2.2 General enquiries made in accordance with the clause 11.2 will not normally be treated anonymously.
11.3 Alternative formats
11.3.1 Access to this Policy in alternative formats (e.g., hard copy) is available through the Responsible Officer whose contact details are listed under clause 11.2.1 of this Policy.
Affiliate of ACU means:
(a) a contractor engaged by ACU or an individual employed by a contractor engaged by ACU; or
(b) a consultant engaged by ACU or an individual employed by a consultant engaged by ACU.
Australian Standard means Australian Standard AS 8004 – 2003, Whistleblower Protection Programs for Entities (incorporating Amendment no. 1), 23 June 2003.
Detrimental Action includes:
(a) action causing injury, loss, liability or damage;
(b) intimidation, victimisation, harassment, threats and reprisals (expressed or implied);
(c) discrimination, disadvantage or adverse treatment in relation to a person’s employment, career, profession, trade or business, including, for example, the taking of disciplinary action, dismissal and demotion; and
(d) current or future bias.
Discloser includes any of the following individuals who make a Protected Disclosure in accordance with this Policy and the Procedure:
(a) a Member of ACU;
(b) an Affiliate of ACU;
(c) any external stakeholders of ACU (e.g., members of the public dealing with ACU).
Disclosure Receiver means an individual, group of individuals or third party organisation appointed by ACU who is/are responsible for:
(a) receiving Protected Disclosures made by Disclosers in accordance with the Procedure;
(b) referring Reportable Conduct to the Protected Disclosure Officer; and
(c) reporting back to the Discloser after any relevant investigation has been completed.
The Disclosure Receiver will not hold any of the other designated positions under this Policy. Any Disclosure Receiver appointed by ACU from time-to-time shall be recorded in Appendix A to the Procedure along with their contact details.
Member of ACU means:
(a) an officer or employee of ACU;
(b) a member of the governing authority of ACU (Senate) or of any Committee of Senate; or
(c) a member of Australian Catholic University Limited. Policy means this Protected Disclosures Policy 2016.
Procedure means the Protected Disclosures Procedure 2016.
Protected Disclosure means a confidential notification or report of Reportable Conduct made by a Discloser in good faith and with reasonable and proper basis supported by evidence in accordance with this Policy and the Procedure. It does not include a malicious, frivolous or vexatious disclosure.
Protected Disclosure Officer means the Company Secretary of Australian Catholic University Limited who is responsible for:
(a) determining how disclosures will be dealt with; and
(b) initiating such actions as may be required arising from the making of a Protected Disclosure and the outcome of a Protected Disclosure; and
(c) ensuring that the Discloser is advised of the outcome of the Disclosure.
The Protected Disclosures Officer will not hold any of the other designated positions under this Policy.
Reportable Conduct means:
(a) conduct of a Member of ACU or an Affiliate of ACU that adversely affects, or could adversely affect, either directly or indirectly, the honest and/or proper performance of a Member of ACU or an Affiliate of ACU of their duties to ACU;
(b) conduct of a Member of ACU or an Affiliate of ACU that amounts to the performance of their functions as a Member of ACU or an Affiliate of ACU dishonestly, unlawfully or with inappropriate partiality;
(c) conduct of a current or former Member of ACU or a current or former Affiliate of ACU of the type set out in (a) and (b) above;
(d) conduct of a current or former Member of ACU or a current or former Affiliate of ACU that amounts to the wrongful use of their ACU position or of information or material acquired in the course of the performance of their functions (whether for the benefit of that person or ACU or otherwise); or
(e) a conspiracy or attempt to engage in conduct referred to above.
Responsible Officer means the Director of Governance who is responsible for administering and reviewing this Policy and the Procedure and making recommendations to the Governing Authority and Approval Authority for amendments as required.
The Responsible Officer may not hold any other designated position under this Policy and may not be involved in any substantive determination or outcome under the Policy or the Procedure.
- Protected Disclosures Policy (Policy, PDF File, 147.0 KB)
|Policy applies to||
|Policy Status||New Policy|
|Responsible Officer||Director, Governance|
|Date of Last Revision||Not Applicable|
|Date of Policy Review *||15/06/2017|
* Unless otherwise indicated, this policy will still apply beyond the review date.
Related Policies, Procedures, Guidelines and Local Protocols
Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) ACU Mission
ACU Constitution, Statutes and Regulations ACU Staff Enterprise Agreement
Work Health and Safety, and Wellbeing (WHS&W) Policy 2015
Research Code of Conduct 2015
ACU Procurement Policy 2015
Misconduct and Serious Misconduct Policy 2014
Workplace Grievance Policy and Procedure 2013
Workplace Bullying Policy 2013 Discrimination and Harassment Policy 2008 Staff Appeals Policy 2008
Summary Dismissals Policy 2008
Protection of Whistleblowers – Victoria Policy (2008) (revoked)
Code of Conduct for All Staff 2006
Dispute Management Guidelines 2008
Australian Standard AS 8004-2003, Whistleblower Protection Programs for Entities 2003
Page last updated: 2017-06-28
Short url: https://policies.acu.edu.au/1088306