ResourceCo values all workers that contribute to the success of the business. Henceforth, the term “workers” will be used to define any employee, contractor or labour hire person who is “working” for ResourceCo in some capacity.
The purpose of this policy is to encourage reporting of any misconduct or improper circumstances such as unethical, illegal, corrupt or other inappropriate conduct, without being subject to victimisation, harassment or discriminatory treatment. The policy provides protections and measures so that those persons who make a report may do so confidentially and without fear of intimidation, disadvantage or reprisal.
This policy has been developed having regard to the relevant legal requirements and best practices concerning the protection of whistleblowers set out in the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (Corporations Act) and ASIC’s Regulatory Guide 270 – Whistleblower Policies.
In addition to the protections afforded by the Corporations Act, whistleblowers are also protected under Part IVD of the Taxation Administration Act 1953 (Cth) in relation to disclosures concerning the tax affairs of ResourceCo (including any of its related entities). For more information about the protections available under the tax whistleblower regime, visit the webpage about tax whistleblowers on the Australian Taxation Office website.
3. Scope & oversight
This policy applies to all current and former:
- ResourceCo officers or employees regardless of entity name or type, including directors, executives, managers, staff, volunteers and interns, whether permanent, part time, fixed term or temporary;
- Individuals who supply goods or services to ResourceCo (whether paid or unpaid), including their employees, contractors, consultants service providers or business partners;
- Individuals who are associates of ResourceCo; and
- Relatives, spouse or dependants of any of the abovenamed persons,
The policy is made available to all employees of ResourceCo on SkyTrust and publicly available on the ResourceCo website.
ResourceCo’s Risk Committee is responsible for oversight of this policy.
4. What is a disclosable matter?
An eligible whistleblower may make a disclosure under this policy if they have reasonable grounds to suspect the information concerns:
- misconduct; or
- an improper state of affairs or circumstances,
in relation to ResourceCo (including any of its related entities) (disclosable matter).
For example, a disclosable matter could include conduct relating to ResourceCo’s business operations or practices, involving:
- bribery or corruption;
- money laundering or misappropriation of funds;
- conduct which is detrimental to ResourceCo and could cause financial or non-financial loss;
- contravention of any law administrated by ASIC or APRA;
- offences punishable by 12 months imprisonment or more; or
- conduct that represents a danger to the public or the financial system.
An eligible whistleblower can still qualify for protection under whistleblower laws even if the disclosure turns out to be incorrect.
5. How and who to report disclosable matters to?
An eligible whistleblower can report a disclosable matter in the following ways:
- External whistleblower platform
Via ResourceCo’s external whistleblower platform (managed by third party lawyers Cowell Clarke Pty Ltd) by accessing this link.
- Internal Email
By sending an email to the following designated email address: email@example.com. This email address will be accessed and regularly monitored by a current ResourceCo Whistleblower Governance Officer (WGO). The current WGOs and their contact details are included in Annexure 1 of this policy.
An eligible whistleblower will qualify for protection under the Corporations Act when using any of the above reporting methods. In addition, an eligible whistleblower will qualify for protection under the Corporations Act if a disclosable matter is reported to any of the following:
- officers and senior managers of ResourceCo;
- ResourceCo auditors, members of an audit team conducting an audit, or actuaries;
- ASIC, APRA, the Commissioner of Taxation, members of the Australian Federal Police and other prescribed external agencies;
- legal practitioners (for the purpose of obtaining legal advice and representation about the operation of whistleblower legislation);
- other external parties authorised by ResourceCo from time-to-time; and
- journalists or Members of Parliament (but only in relation to public interest or emergency disclosures. A whistleblower who intends to make such a disclosure should understand the criteria for making a public interest or emergency disclosure and should seek independent legal advice before doing so).
Disclosures via any of the above methods can be sent at any time, whether inside or outside usual business hours.
An eligible whistleblower can anonymously make a disclosable matter via any of the above methods. An eligible whistleblower is not obliged to answer any questions that they feel could reveal their identity at any time if they elect anonymity. Anonymity of an eligible whistleblower may be protected by various means, including but not limited to anonymous telephone numbers, anonymized email addresses or the use of pseudonyms. If a disclosable matter is made anonymously, it will still qualify for protection under whistleblower laws.
If an eligible whistleblower wishes to obtain additional information in relation to whistleblower laws or the operation of this policy, they may contact ResourceCo’s General Counsel.
6. What is not a disclosable matter?
Reports raised about concerns which are not disclosable matters do not qualify for protection under whistleblower laws. For instance, matters involving solely personal work-related grievances are not generally capable of being a disclosable matter under whistleblower regime in the Corporations Act, unless they point to systemic issues.
Personal work-related grievances may include:
- personal or interpersonal issues connected to work; and
- transfers, promotions, demotions, disciplinary action, performance management, or any other grievance connected to conditions of employment or employment generally.
Disclosure of matters involving personal work-related grievances may still qualify for protection under the Corporations Act if:
- it includes information about misconduct;
- ResourceCo has breached any laws administered by ASIC or APRA or any other laws punishable by 12 months imprisonment or more;
- engaged in conduct that represents a danger to the public or the financial system;
- the discloser suffers from or is threatened with detriment for making a disclosure; and
- the disclosure seeks legal advice about the operation of the whistleblower legislation.
7. Disclosure principles
When a disclosure is made:
- the eligible whistleblower’s identity will remain confidential according to their wishes;
- the eligible whistleblower will be protected from reprisal, discrimination, harassment or victimisation for making the disclosure;
- an independent internal inquiry or investigation will be conducted in accordance with this policy;
- issues identified from the inquiry/investigation will be resolved and/or rectified;
- the eligible whistleblower will be informed about the outcome; and
any retaliation for having made the disclosure will be treated as serious wrongdoing under this policy.
8. Investigation process
The following process applies to all disclosures by an eligible whistleblower about disclosable matters (eligible disclosures)
9. Investigation principles
9.1 Investigation team
The members of the investigation team in each case will depend upon the nature of the disclosable matter, but will likely be made up of a combination of the following people:
- WGOs (other than WGOs who may have received the initial disclosure);
- Personnel from Legal, HR and Finance; and
- External providers engaged by ResourceCo for their specialist knowledge or in situations where (for reasons of confidentiality or independence) it is appropriate to have an external provider assist ResourceCo in the investigation process.
ResourceCo will limit the number of people that are involved in the investigation team in order to maintain confidentiality of the whistleblower and the investigation.
9.2 Investigation steps
Once the investigation team has received the report of the disclosable matter which has been raised, they will undertake an investigation in accordance with ResourceCo’s standard practice, which will ordinarily include the following steps:
- establishing and ensuring that the disclosure is an eligible disclosure that qualifies for protection;
- reaching a decision as to who will form the investigation team and conduct the investigation;
- speaking to the whistleblower to obtain more information (if possible);
- informing the person (or group of people) to whom the disclosable matter relates that a report has been received and is being investigated;
- ascertaining whether there are any potential witnesses who should be interviewed and speaking to those witnesses (if any);
- accessing and reviewing relevant material through electronic mailboxes, historic documents, records, communications and the like;
- reviewing expenses, purchase orders, contracts and other data;
- reaching findings as to whether the allegations raised by the disclosure are substantiated; and
- preparing a report to document the findings and recommendations arising from the investigation and providing that report to ResourceCo’s Risk Committee.
ResourceCo’s Risk Committee will review and consider the report prepared by the investigation team and implement any recommendations made as appropriate. The Risk Committee will also advise ResourceCo’s Board about individual disclosures made under this policy as part of its periodic reports to the Board.
The whistleblower will be kept informed of the progress and the outcome of the investigation, to the extent possible, having regard to ResourceCo’s policies and duties.
The timing and progress of the investigation will depend on the nature of the disclosure, but the investigation team will endeavour to progress the investigation in a timely manner.
Records relating to disclosable matters will be kept in a locked documents area for reporting and compliance purposes, which are only accessible to authorised personnel.
Where the whistleblower is an employee of ResourceCo and has given consent to their identity being revealed to HR, a member of the HR Team shall check in with the whistleblower at both 3 and 6 months after the resolution of the matter, and will otherwise be available to provide support to the whistleblower as required throughout the investigation process. Such support might include providing guidance on how to raise a concern if the whistleblower experiences victimisation as a result of raising a disclosable matter or participating in an investigation, or assistance accessing ResourceCo’s Employee Assistance Program.
9.3 Protection of Identity
An eligible whistleblower can choose to remain anonymous while making a disclosure, over the course of the investigation and after the investigation is finalised. The whistleblower can refuse to answer question that they feel could reveal their identity at any time, including during follow-up conversations. However, it is important for a whistleblower who wishes to remain anonymous to maintain ongoing two-way communication with ResourceCo, so that the investigation team can ask follow-up questions.
If the eligible whistleblower discloses their identity, protections exist to ensure that ResourceCo (and any other individual who is made aware of the whistleblower’s identity) does not:
- disclose the identity of the whistleblower; or
- disclose information that is likely to lead to identification of the whistleblower,
unless it is reasonably necessary to investigate the disclosure, and with the exception of disclosure to certain regulatory and government bodies or a legal practitioner.
It is not a breach of the law to disclose the identity of a whistleblower if the whistleblower consents to their identity being disclosed.
Complaints about any suspected or actual breach of the confidentiality requirements under whistleblower legislation may be raised with ResourceCo’s General Counsel.
Complaints may also be lodged with an external regulator, such as ASIC, APRA or the ATO.
9.4 Protection from Victimisation
Whistleblowers, and others who are involved in whistleblower investigations, also receive protection against victimisation and detrimental conduct.
Victimisation includes causing or threatening to cause a detriment to a person, including damage to the health, property, reputation, finances or employment of the individual. Dismissal, demotion, harassment and exclusion are examples of detriment to employment.
ResourceCo does not tolerate victimisation of any kind. Any employee found to be participating in such conduct will face disciplinary action, which may include termination of employment.
Complaints of victimisation should, in the first instance, be raised with the General Counsel.
While ResourceCo will take steps to protect those involved in whistleblowing investigations from unlawful victimisation, it is also important that employees are effective in their role and are treated with reference to performance and conduct. ResourceCo may raise performance or conduct concerns, as long as these concerns are not raised as a result of participation in the whistleblowing investigation.
9.5 Rights of person who is alleged to have acted improperly
A person who is the subject of an investigation is entitled to be:
9.6 Compensation, Other Legal Remedies
A person may be entitled to seek compensation and other legal remedies if they suffer loss, damage or injury as a result of the disclosure and ResourceCo failed to take reasonable precautions and exercise due diligence to prevent the detrimental conduct from occurring.
A person seeking compensation or any other legal remedies should seek independent legal advice.
9.7 Civil, Criminal and Administrative Penalty Protection
A whistleblower is protected from any of the following in relation to their disclosure:
- civil liability;
- criminal liability; and
- administrative liability.
The above protections do not grant immunity for any misconduct a whistleblower has engaged in that is revealed in their disclosure.
Other organisational policies that should be read in conjunction with this policy include:
- Behavioural Policy;
- Misconduct & Consequences Policy; and
- Employee Departure Procedure.
Whistleblower Governance Officers
Nicole Bennett – General Counsel – firstname.lastname@example.org, 8406 0360
Paul Ryan – Chief Financial Officer – email@example.com, 8406 0360
Oscar Jarmakani – Legal Counsel – firstname.lastname@example.org, 8406 0360