1 Background and Purpose
The Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF) is committed to the highest standards of conduct and ethical behaviour and full compliance with the law in all aspects of its business.
The purpose of this Policy is to encourage the reporting of any instances of suspected or actual unethical, illegal, fraudulent or undesirable conduct involving the GBRF and to provide protection and support to a person who reports any wrongdoing.
Whistleblowing laws provide legal protections to person making disclosures of fraudulent, illegal, corrupt or unethical activity.
In this policy:
Eligible Person means individuals who are, or have been, any of the following in relation to the GBRF:
(a) an employee;
(b) an officer;
(c) a director;
(d) an associate;
(e) a contractor, consultant, service provider or volunteer (any individual who supplies goods or services whether paid or unpaid);
(f) an employee of a contractor, consultant or service provider;
(g) a relative of a person referred to in any of paragraphs (a) to (f) above; or
(h) a dependent of any individual referred to in any of the paragraphs (a) to (f) to above, or of such individual's spouse.
Whistleblower means an Eligible Person who makes a disclosure in the manner set out in this Policy about Reportable Conduct.
This Policy applies to all Eligible Persons and applies to the GBRF's activities globally.
This Policy applies in conjunction with the GBRF's other policies and procedures.
A disclosure qualifies for protection under this Policy if the following requirements are met:
(a) The disclosure is made by an Eligible Person;
(b) The disclosure is made to an Authorised Recipient as set out in clause 7.1; and
(c) The disclosure is about Reportable Conduct and is not a personal work-related grievance;
(d) The whistleblower must have reasonable grounds to suspect the information concerns misconduct or an improper state of affairs or circumstances in relation to the GBRF or a related body corporate of the GBRF.
5 What is Reportable Conduct?
GBRF encourages individuals to disclose any information under this Policy if they believe or suspect misconduct or an improper state of affairs or circumstances in relation to the GBRF or a related body corporate of the GBRF.
Reportable Conduct is any past, present or likely future activity, behaviour or state of affairs considered to be:
(a) dishonest, fraudulent or corrupt, including bribery or any other activity in breach of the GBRF's Anti-Bribery and Anti-Corruption Policy;
(b) an offence against or contravention of any State or Federal law;
(c) a significant risk to public safety or the stability of, or confidence in, the financial system;
(d) unethical or in breach of the GBRF's policies (such as dishonestly altering company records or data, adopting questionable accounting practices or wilfully breaching the GBRF's Code of Conduct or other polices or procedures of the GBRF);
(e) damaging or potentially damaging to the GBRF’s financial position or reputation;
(f) a serious mismanagement of the GBRF’s resources;
(g) damaging or potentially damaging to the environment;
(h) an abuse of authority;
(i) detrimental to the GBRF’s financial position or may cause financial loss to the GBRF or damage the GBRF's reputation or be otherwise detrimental to the GBRF's interests;
(j) harassment, discrimination, victimisation or bullying;
(k) concealing Reportable Conduct; or
(l) involves any other kind of serious impropriety.
Reportable Conduct is likely to relate to the conduct of a GBRF director, officer or employee but can relate to the actions or a contractor, supplier or other person who has business dealings with the GBRF. An Eligible Person will still receive protection under this Policy even if the disclosure is found to be incorrect.
6 What is not reportable conduct?
Personal work related grievances should not be reported under this Policy but instead should be managed in accordance with the GBRF Grievance Policy. Examples of work related grievance include:
(a) interpersonal conflicts between employees;
(b) a decision in relation to the employment, transfer or promotion of a person;
(c) a decision relating to the terms and conditions of engagement of a person;
(d) a decision to discipline, suspend or terminate a person’s employment.
A personal work-related grievance may still qualify for protection if:
(a) it includes information about misconduct, or information about misconduct includes or is accompanied by a personal work-related grievance;
(b) the entity has breached employment or other laws punishable by imprisonment for a period of 12 months or more, engaged in conduct that represents a danger to the public, or the disclosure relates to information that suggests misconduct beyond the discloser’s personal circumstances;
(c) the discloser suffers from or is threatened with detriment for making a disclosure; or
(d) the discloser seeks legal advice or legal representation about the operation of the whistleblower protections under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).
7 Making a disclosure
Where an Eligible Person has reasonable grounds to suspect the occurrence of Reportable Conduct, GBRF encourages that person to make a disclosure in accordance with procedures set out in this section below (a Disclosure).
Any person making a disclosure may make such disclosure anonymously. A Whistleblower who reports anonymously still qualifies for protection under the Policy.
A Whistleblower may seek independent legal advice or representation prior to making a disclosure.
A Whistleblower will also be protected under the Policy if they have:
a) made a disclosure of information to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) or the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) or another Commonwealth regulatory body prescribed in legislation;
b) made a disclosure of information to a legal practitioner for the purposes of obtaining legal advice or representation about whistleblower protections; or
c) made an emergency disclosure or public interest disclosure to a journalist or parliamentarian under certain circumstances (e.g. at least 90 days have passed since the discloser made the disclosure to ASIC or APRA).
Any Eligible Person may make a Disclosure to any of the following Authorised Recipients:
Head of Corporate Services Cherrie Wilson
email@example.com 07 3252 7555
Chair of the Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee
07 3252 7555
07 3171 0401
Where a GBRF employee makes a Disclosure to an immediate supervisor or manager, then the supervisor or manager must notify an Authorised Recipient in a manner consistent with the confidentiality protections set out in 8.2 below.
8 Protection of Whistleblowers
8.1 Protection of Whistleblowers from detriment
GBRF is committed to ensuring Whistleblowers are protected from any detriment or the threat of detriment as a direct consequence of making a Disclosure under this Policy.
Examples of detriment includes, but is not limited to:
(a) retaliation, dismissal, suspension, demotion or termination of the eligible person;
(b) bullying, harassment, threats or intimidation of a person;
(d) harm or injury to a person, including psychological harm;
(e) damage to property, business or financial position or reputation; or
(f) any other damage to a person
Where a Whistleblower has suffered a detriment in breach of this Policy, then the GBRF encourages them to report their concerns to the Head of Corporate Services. The concerns will be treated as a report of Reportable Conduct under this Policy. A Whistleblower may seek independent legal advice or contact a regulatory body if they believe they have suffered detriment.
The protections outlined in this Policy apply regardless of whether any concerns raised in a report are found to be true, provided that the person is acting honestly and ethically and made the report on reasonable grounds.
The protections also apply to individuals conducting, assisting or participating in an investigation
Where disclosure is found to be made maliciously or knowingly false this may result in disciplinary action including termination of employment.
8.2 Confidentiality and the protection of the whistleblower’s identity
All information relating to a report of Reportable Conduct will be stored securely and access will be limited to authorised persons.
The GBRF encourages Whistleblowers to make a declaration regardless of whether they put their name to the Disclosure or not. Whistleblowers are encouraged to disclose their identity as concerns expressed anonymously are sometimes more difficult to investigate and the Authorised Recipient will not be able to notify the Whistleblower of the outcome of the investigation.
If a Whistleblower chooses to disclose their identify when making a disclosure under this Policy, then the Whistleblower’s details will be treated confidentially to the fullest extent possible and the GBRF or any Authorised Recipient will not reveal the identity of the Whistleblower unless:
(a) the Whistleblower consents; or
(b) the GBRF is required by law to disclose the Whistleblower's identity; or
(c) the GBRF considers it appropriate to make a disclosure to a regulator under legislation.
The identification of a Whistleblower, or the disclosure of information that is likely to lead to the identification of the disclosure, will be considered to be a serious breach of this policy, unless an exemption applies.
8.3 Protection under the Law
If a person makes a Disclosure that qualifies for protection under the whistleblowing laws:
(a) They cannot be subject to civil, criminal or administrative liability due to the Disclosure;
(b) No contractual or other remedy may be enforced against the person on the basis of the disclosure; and
(c) Information provided as part of a reported Disclosure cannot be used as evidence against the person in a prosecution.
8.4 Consequences of breaching this Policy
The Head of Corporate Services will investigate all reported actual, suspected or potential breaches of the Policy as soon as possible after an incident has been reported. The investigation will be conducted in a fair manner and otherwise as reasonable and appropriate having regard to the nature of the incident and the circumstances.
Any person found to be engaging in detrimental conduct and/or breaching confidentiality of a Whistleblower may be subject to disciplinary action and/or termination of engagements or contracts, as applicable, and/or civil and criminal penalties.
9 Investigation of Reportable Conduct
The Authorised Recipient will investigate all actual, suspected or potential instances of Reportable Conduct as soon as possible after a Disclosure is made.
Any investigation will be conducted in an objective and fair manner, and otherwise as is reasonable and appropriate having regard to the circumstances and the nature of the incident. An employee who is the subject of a disclosure will be advised about the subject matter of the disclosure as and when required by principles of natural justice and procedural fairness and prior to any actions being taken.
The Authorised Recipient will notify the Whistleblower of the outcome of the investigation, unless that individual has remained anonymous.
10 Implementation, monitoring and assurance
A copy of this Policy is available on the GBRF website and training will be provided to staff.
It is the responsibility of all Eligible Persons to ensure that they understand and comply with this Policy. Any enquiries in relation to this Policy should be directed to the Head of Corporate Services.
The Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee appointed by the GBRF Board is responsible for the overall administration of the Policy and will monitor its implementation by:
(a) reviewing the suitability and effectiveness of the Policy at least every 2 years to ensure that it meets best practice standards and any legislative requirements;
(b) reviewing and reporting on any reports made under this this Policy every 6 months; and
(c) reviewing and reporting on any breaches of this Policy every 6 months.
Authorised Recipients will report to the Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee on the number and type of Whistleblower Disclosures on a quarterly basis. These reports will be made on a 'no names' basis to ensure compliance with the confidentiality protections set out in 8.2.
11 Related Policies
· GBRF Values
· GBRF Code of Conduct
· GBRF Grievance Policy
· GBRF Fraud Anti-Bribery and Anti-Corruption Policy
Endorsed by Managing Director, Anna Marsden
13 January 2022
Endorsed by Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee
15 February 2022
Approved by Board
23 February 2022
13 Version Control
Scope of amendment
23 August 2018
14 August 2020
Various updates to cover off legislative changes
23 February 2022
Minor adjustments to reflect current operational arrangements and contemporary resources developed by ASIC, NFP Law, Institute of Community Directors Australia and the ‘Whistling While They Work’ project.