CURRUMBIN RSL GROUP

WHISTLEBLOWER POLICY

OBJECTIVES

To ensure employees and others are aware of their rights and protection with regards to disclosing malpractice or misconduct. 

PERFORMANCE MEASURES 

Internal self-assessment every year.
External performance assessment every two years.

RISK ASSESSMENT

Medium

DEFINITION

WHISTLE-BLOWER

A person who raises concern regarding illegal and/or improper conduct that affects others. The person is not usually involved in the issue but is wanting to alert others to suspected misconduct. The alert may be raised outside of usual reporting lines or processes

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE

Employees and others working closely with the Currumbin RSL Group (CRSL) will often be the
best source of information should legislation, codes of conduct or ethical standards are not
being followed. This Whistleblower Policy is an important element in detecting corrupt, illegal
or other undesirable conduct at CRSL. The purpose of this Policy is to:

(a) explain how to speak up by reporting concerns about wrongdoing; 

(b) outline what protections a person who reports wrongdoing will receive; and 

(c) outline CRSL processes for dealing with reports of wrongdoing.

Creating a supportive environment where people feel safe to speak up underpins CRSL culture. When people do not speak up, this can undermine the culture and expose CRSL to risks. CRSL encourages speaking up about concerns of wrongdoing at CRSL. There are various measures in place to ensure no one is discouraged from speaking up or disadvantaged or victimised for doing so. This Policy covers the processes for dealing with disclosures made by employees and stakeholders of suspected improper conduct within CRSL in a confidential and secure manner. CRSL 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, corporate compliance and strong corporate governance. This policy is available on the website of CRSL. This Policy is in addition to and supplements any other policies applicable to CRSL. 

WHO MAY MAKE A REPORT

Anyone with information about potential wrongdoing relating to CRSL is encouraged to report their concerns under this Policy. This includes individuals who are or have been in relation to CRSL:

a) an employee, officer or contractor;

b) a supplier of services or goods to CRSL (whether paid or unpaid) including their employees; and;

c) a relative, dependant or spouse of any of the above.

 
There is an expectation that anyone reporting a wrongdoing has reasonable grounds to believe the information they are disclosing is true, but there will be no penalty if the information turns out to be incorrect if it was reported in good faith. Those reporting are expected to provide the information upon which their suspicion is based but are not required to have all the details or have conducted their own investigation.
 
Wrongdoing does not generally include personal-work related grievances. Grievances which cannot be resolved through speaking with peers or the employee’s manager should be raised with the formal grievance resolution within the CRSL. However, if a grievance may have significant wider implications for CRSL, it may be appropriate to report through the applicable whistleblower channel.
 
Personal work-related grievances relate to an employee’s current or former employment within CRSL and tend to have implications for them personally. Examples include:
(a) an interpersonal conflict between the employee and another employee;
 
(b) a concern about the behaviour of an employee;
 
(c )a decision relating to an employee’s engagement, transfer or promotion;
 
(d) an employee’s terms and conditions of employment;
 
(e) matters relating to an employee’s performance or discipline – related decisions; or
 
(f) a decision relating to the termination of employment.
 
WHO CAN DISCLOSURES BE MADE TO?
Disclosures can be made to:
 
(a) Compliance Officer: – [email protected]
 
(b) Alternate Compliance Officer: [email protected]
 
A whistleblower can contact a compliance officer to obtain additional information before making a disclosure.
It is important to note that under the Corporations Act, the whistleblower may also raise the matter with an “officer” or “senior manager” of the company. These are defined in the Corporations Act as “a director, or a senior manager in the company who makes, or participates in making, decisions that affect the whole, or a substantial part, of the business of the company, or who has the capacity to affect significantly the company’s financial standing.”
When reporting suspected or actual fraudulent behaviour, Whistleblower’s can report anonymously to an external party (PKF Forensic and Risk Services) via their hotline – 1800 857 376. Once PKF Forensic and Risk Services receive contact from the Whistleblower, they will contact the Currumbin RSL Compliance Officer.
 
Those not wanting to reveal their identity can make an anonymous report. However, providing the whistleblower’s name when reporting wrongdoing will make it easier for CRSL to investigate the concern raised. For example, the context in which wrongdoing was observed is likely to be useful information. Employees and others who report wrongdoing are protected by CRSL including maintaining confidentiality of the reports and the identity of the whistleblower.
 
Where no name is provided, CRSL will assess the disclosure in the same way as if identity had been revealed, and any investigation will be conducted as best as possible in the circumstances.
 
However, an investigation might not be possible unless sufficient information is provided.
 
Employees and stakeholders disclosing wrongdoing will be protected and the investigation will be conducted in accordance with the principles of fairness and natural justice.
 
PROTECTION OF WHISTLEBLOWER’S IDENTITY
When reporting wrongdoing, the reporter’s identity and any information that CRSL has as a result of the report that is likely to lead to identification, will only be disclosed if:
 
(a) the person reporting gives consent for CRSL to disclose that information;
 
(b) CRSL considers such disclosure should be made to: (i) Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC), the Australian Federal Police or (for tax-related reports) the Commissioner of Taxation;
(ii) a Commonwealth authority or a State or Territory authority for the purpose of assisting the authority perform its functions or duties;
(iii) a lawyer for legal advice or representation in relation to whistleblower laws; or
 
(c) in the case of information likely to identify the person reporting, it is reasonably necessary to disclose the information for the purposes of an investigation, and all reasonable steps are taken to prevent someone from discovering the reporter’s identity.
 
DETRIMENTAL CONDUCT PROHIBITED
CRSL strictly prohibits all forms of Detrimental Conduct against whistleblowers.

Detrimental Conduct means any actual or threatened conduct that could cause a detriment to the whistleblower as a result of the whistleblower making a disclosure, including:
 
(a) termination of employment;
 
(b) harassment, bullying or intimidation;
 
(c) personal or financial disadvantage;
 
(d) unlawful discrimination;
 
(e) harm or injury, including psychological harm;
 
(f) damage to reputation; or
 
(g) any other conduct that constitutes retaliation.
 
CRSL will take all reasonable steps to protect the whistleblower from Detrimental Conduct and will take action it considers appropriate where such conduct is identified.
CRSL also strictly prohibits all forms of Detrimental Conduct against people who are involved in an investigation of a disclosure in response to their involvement in that investigation.
 
SPECIFIC PROTECTIONS AND REMEDIES
The Australian law provides protections so that if a “protected disclosure” is made:
 
(a) the discloser is not subject to any civil, criminal or administrative liability for making the disclosure (other than for making a false disclosure);
 
(b) no contractual or other remedy may be enforced or exercised against the discloser the basis of the disclosure; and
 
(c) in some limited circumstances (e.g. if the disclosure has been made to a regulator such as ASIC), the information provided may not be admissible in evidence against a discloser in criminal proceedings or in proceedings for the imposition of a penalty, other than proceedings in respect of the falsity of the information.
 
Except as provided in paragraph
(c) above, the protections under Australian law do not grant immunity for any misconduct a discloser has engaged in that is revealed in their disclosure. Compensation and other remedies may also be available through the courts for loss,damage or injury suffered because of a disclosure or if CRSL failed to take reasonable precautions and exercise due diligence to prevent detrimental conduct.
INVESTIGATIONS
 
Whistleblower disclosures made under this Policy will be documented and investigated promptly.
 
CRSL takes all reports of potential wrongdoing seriously. All reports will be assessed and, based on the nature and circumstances of the disclosure, a decision made as to whether an investigation is required. For example, reports of potential wrongdoing of a minor nature that can be resolved informally will typically not require the same level of response as disclosures involving a large-scale and complex investigation.
 
Any investigation will be conducted in a timely, fair and objective manner, and independent from any persons to whom the report relates. Investigations will generally be overseen by the compliance officer. Other people, including employees or external advisers, may also be asked to assist or run the investigation. Where possible, the person reporting the wrongdoing will be informed how CRSL is responding to their report, including whether an investigation will be conducted.
 
Unless there are confidentiality or other reasons not to do so, employees who are the subject of a report of wrongdoing will be informed of the matters raised in the report at an appropriate time, and will be given a chance to respond to any allegations made against them. They will also be advised of the outcome of any investigation.
 

SPECIALl PROTECTIONS UNDER PART 9.4AAA OF THE CORPORATIONS ACT 2001 (CTH)
The Corporations Act gives special protection to disclosures about any misconduct or improper state of affairs relating to CRSL if the following conditions are satisfied:

 
(a) the whistleblower is or has been:
(i) an officer or employee of CRSL;
(ii) an individual who supplies goods or services to CRSL or an employee of a person who supplies goods or services to CRSL;
(iii) an individual who is an associate of CRSL; or
(iv) a relative, dependent or dependent of the spouse of any individual referred to above;
 
(b) the report is made to:
(i) a Compliance Officer;
(ii) an officer or senior manager of CRSL;
(iii) ASIC;
(iv) APRA; or
(v) a legal practitioner for the purpose of obtaining legal advice or legal representation in relation to the operation of the whistleblower provisions in the Corporations Act;
 
(c) the whistleblower has reasonable grounds to suspect that the information being disclosed concerns misconduct, or an improper state of affairs or circumstances in relation to CRSL. This may include a breach of legislation including the Corporations Act, an offence against the Commonwealth, State or Local Governament statutes or regulations, or conduct that represents a danger to the public or is not in the best interests of CRSL.
 
EXAMPLES
Examples of conduct which may amount to a breach of Commonwealth and State legislation include: misuse of CRSL information, insolvent trading, breach of the conflict and disclosure rules, failure to keep accurate financial records, falsification of accounts, failure of a director or other officer to act with the care and diligence that a reasonable person would exercise, or to act in good faith in the best interests of CRSL or failure of a director or manager to give notice of any material personal interest in a matter relating to the affairs of the CRSL.
 
(a) the whistleblower is immune from any civil, criminal or administrative legal action (including disciplinary action) for making the disclosure;
 
(b) no contractual or other remedies may be enforced, and no contractual or other right may be exercised, against the whistleblower for making the report;
 
(c) in some circumstances, the reported information is not admissible against the whistleblower in criminal proceedings or in proceedings for the imposition of a penalty; Such as where the disclosure has been made to ASIC, or where the disclosure qualifies as a public interest or emergency disclosure;
 
(d) anyone who causes or threatens to cause detriment to a whistleblower or another person in the belief or suspicion that a report has been made, or may have been made, proposes to or could be made, may be guilty of an offence and may be liable for damages;
 
(e) a whistleblower’s identity cannot be disclosed to a Court or tribunal except where considered necessary; and
 
(f) the person receiving the report commits an offence if they disclose the substance of the report or the whistleblower’s identity, without the whistleblower’s consent, to anyone except ASIC, the AFP, QPS or a lawyer for the purpose of obtaining legal advice or representation in relation to the report.
 
(g) Confidentiality. If a report is made, the identity of the discloser must be kept confidential unless one of the following exceptions applies:
(i) the discloser consents to the disclosure of their identity;
(ii) disclosure of details that might reveal the discloser’s identity is reasonably necessary for the effective investigation of the matter;
(iii) the concern is reported to ASIC, the AFP, QPS; or
(iv) the concern is raised with a lawyer for the purpose of obtaining legal advice or representation.
 
SPECIAL PROTECTIONS  UNDER THE TAXATION ADMINISTRATION ACT
The Taxation Administration Act gives special protection to disclosures about a breach of any Australian tax law by CRSL or misconduct in relation to CRSL tax affairs if the following conditions are satisfied:
 
(a) the whistleblower is or has been:
(i) an officer or employee of CRSL;
(ii) an individual who supplies goods or services to CRSL or an employee of a person who supplies goods or services to CRSL company;
(iii) an individual who is an associate CRSL; or
(iv) a relative, dependent or dependent of the spouse of any individual referred to above;
 
(b) the report is made to:
(i) a Compliance Officer;
(ii) a director, secretary or senior manager of CRSL;
(iii) any CRSL external auditor; (iv) a registered tax agent or BAS agent who provides tax or BAS services to CRSL;
(v) any other employee or officer of CRSL who has functions or duties relating to tax affairs of the company (e.g. an internal accountant); (CRSL recipients)
(vi) the Commissioner of Taxation; or
(vii) a legal practitioner for the purpose of obtaining legal advice or legal representation in relation to the operation of the whistleblower provisions in the Taxation Administration Act; and
 
(c) if the report is made to CRSL recipient, the whistleblower:

(i) has reasonable grounds to suspect that the information indicates misconduct, or an improper state of affairs or circumstances, in relation to the tax affairs of CRSL or an associate of that company; and

(ii) considers that the information may assist the CRSL recipient to perform functions or duties in relation to the tax affairs of CRSL or an associate of the company; and

 
(d) if the report is made to the Commissioner of Taxation, the whistleblower considers that the information may assist the CRSL recipient to perform functions or duties in relation to the tax affairs of CRSL or an associate of the company.
 
The protections given by the Taxation Administration Act when these conditions are met are:
(a) the whistleblower is immune from any civil, criminal or administrative legal action
(including disciplinary action) for making the disclosure;
 
(b) no contractual or other remedies may be enforced, and no contractual or other right may be exercised, against the whistleblower for making the report;
 
(c) where the disclosure was made to the Commissioner of Taxation, the reported information is not admissible against the whistleblower in criminal proceedings or in proceedings for the imposition of a penalty, except where the proceedings are concerned with whether the information is false;
 
(d) unless the whistleblower has acted unreasonably, a whistleblower cannot be ordered to pay costs in any legal proceedings in relation to a report;
 
(e) anyone who causes or threatens to cause detriment to a whistleblower or another person in the belief or suspicion that a report has been made, or may have been made, proposes to or could be made, may be guilty of an offence and liable to pay damages;
 
(f) a whistleblower’s identity cannot be disclosed to a Court or tribunal except where considered necessary and
 
(g) the person receiving the report commits an offence if they disclose the substance of the report or the whistleblower’s identity, without the whistleblower’s consent, to anyone except the Commissioner of Taxation, the AFP, QPS or a lawyer for the purpose of obtaining legal advice or representation in relation to the report
 
CONFIDENTIALITY
Currumbin RSL recognises that maintaining appropriate confidentiality is crucial in ensuring that potential whistleblowers come forward and make disclosures in an open and timely manner and without fear of reprisals being made against them.
 
If a report is made, the identity of the discloser will be kept confidential unless one of the following exceptions applies:
 
(a) the discloser consents to the disclosure of their identity;
 
(b) disclosure of details that might reveal their identity is reasonably necessary for the effective investigation of the allegation
 
(c) the concern is reported to the Commissioner of Taxation, the AFP, or QPS; or
 
(d) the concern is raised with a lawyer for the purpose obtaining legal advice or representation.
 
RELATED POLICIES
  • Code of Conduct
  • Complaints Policy
  • Privacy Policy
  • Employee Grievance policy/procedure
 
RELATED LEGISLATION AND STANDARDS 
 
  • Corporations Act 2001 (Commonwealth)
  • Taxation Administration Act 1953 (Cth)
  • Privacy Act 1988 (Commonwealth)
  • Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (Commonwealth)
  • Charities Act 2013 (Commonwealth)
  • Associations Incorporation Act 1988 (Qld)
  • Associations Incorporation Regulation 1999 (Qld)
  • Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld)
  • Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (Qld)
  • Criminal Code 1899 (Qld)
  • Australian Standard AS 8004-2003 Corporate Governance
RESPONSIBILITY FOR POLICY COMPLIANCE AND REVIEW
The Compliance Officer for CRSL is responsible for:
 
  • (a) the overall administration of this Policy;
  • (b) monitoring the implementation of this Policy;
  • (c ) reviewing on an ongoing basis the Policy’s suitability and effectiveness;
  • (d) seeking to protect the whistleblower from Detrimental Conduct;
  • (e) assisting the whistleblower in maintaining wellbeing;
  • (f) maintaining whistleblower confidentiality including as required by law; and
  • (g) reviewing and considering any complaints of Detrimental Conduct or concern that disclosure has not been dealt with in accordance with this policy.