Whistleblower protection

Whistleblower protection

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Whistleblowing can be an effective way of uncovering fraud and other misconduct which may not be
identified by internal or external controls within an organisation. National Council is committed to the
principles of transparency and accountability and views whistleblowing as an opportunity to reflect upon
organisational procedures and promote an ethical culture.


The purpose of this Whistleblower Protection Policy is to help the National Council Members and the
Association’s Directors, Members, officers and employees to identify any misconduct that may not be
discovered unless there is a safe and secure means of disclosure.

This Policy is prepared with the intention of addressing the following aims:

  • to encourage disclosures of wrongdoing
  • to help deter wrongdoing, in line with our organisation’s risk management and governance framework
  • to ensure individuals who disclose wrongdoing can do so safely, securely and with confidence that they will be protected and supported
  • to ensure disclosures are dealt with appropriately and on a timely basis
  • to provide transparency around our organisation’s framework for receiving, handling and investigating disclosures
  • to support our organisation’s values, code of conduct and/or ethics policy
  • to support our organisation’s long-term sustainability and reputation
  • to meet our organisation’s legal and regulatory obligations.


Within this policy and all related governance documents, the following definitions apply:

Chief Executive Officer the person employed as the Chief Executive Officer to the St Vincent de
Paul Society National Council of Australia Inc. (NCCEO).

Confidentiality in this context is when a person's identity is protected to prevent harm to them. In the case of a whistleblower, their identity may be known to those receiving and investigating the report but is protected from the broader organisation and the public.

Detrimental conduct means conduct, or a threat to engage in conduct, that causes detriment to a

Discloser is an individual who discloses wrongdoing or is an eligible whistleblower.

Disclosure means a disclosure of information relating to wrongdoing or a disclosable matter. 

Disclosures qualifying for protection means disclosures of tax matters.

Eligible whistleblower an individual to whom the whistleblower protections apply.

Emergency disclosure is the disclosure of information o a journalist or parliamentarian, where the
discloser has reasonable grounds to believe that the information concerns a substantial and imminent
danger to the health or safety of one or more persons or to the natural environment.

Personal information is information or an opinion about an identified individual, or an individual who is reasonably identifiable, whether:

  • true or not; and
  • recorded in a material form such as a physical or digital document.

Personal work-related grievance is a disclosure that relates to the discloser’s current or former employment, which has implications for the discloser personally, but does not:

  • have any other significant implications for the organisation (or another organisation); or
  • relate to conduct, or alleged conduct, about a disclosable matter.

Public interest disclosure is the disclosure of information to a journalist or a parliamentarian, where the discloser has reasonable grounds to believe that making a further disclosure of the information is in the public interest. The disclosure must also meet the following criteria to qualify:

  • At least 90 days have passed since the discloser made the disclosure to ASIC, ACNC, APRA or another Commonwealth body prescribed by regulation.
  • The discloser does not have reasonable grounds to believe that action is being, or has been taken, in relation to their disclosure.
  • The discloser has reasonable grounds to believe that making a further disclosure of the information is in the public interest.
  • Before making the public interest disclosure, the discloser has given written notice to the body to which the previous disclosure was made that:
    • includes sufficient information to identify the previous disclosure; and
    • states that the discloser intends to make a public interest disclosure.

Whistleblower is a person who has made a disclosure in keeping with this Policy and the nature of the disclosure qualifies for protection under the Corporations Act 2001.

Whistleblower Protection Officer (WPO) is the NCCEO or in the case of a complaint against/notification involving the NCCEO, the National Council Deputy President.

Roles and responsibilities: Whistleblower Protection Officer  (WPO)

The NCCEO is the Association’s primary WPO. The responsibilities of the WPO include:

  • Implementing the Society’s Whistleblower Protection Policy.
  • Initial response to an accusation of wrongdoing.
  • Ensuring the protection and/or anonymity of the discloser, where possible.
  • Conducting or assisting in investigations into alleged wrongdoings.
  • Informing the discloser of the progress and outcomes of investigations.
  • Ensuring to the best of their ability that disclosers do not suffer any retaliation or negative
    consequences from the employer or any National Council Directors, Members or employees.
  • Providing support and referrals for both disclosers and those accused of wrongdoing.

The Society will ensure that all people associated with the organisation know who the designated WPO is
and the contact details of the WPO.

Policy statement

1. Under this policy a ‘Whistleblower’ is defined as:

1.1 A person who holds or has held any of the following positions in relation to the organisation:
1.1.1 a Director or Member or employee (current or former) whether permanent, part-time,
fixed-term or temporary.
1.1.2 an intern, secondee or volunteer.
1.1.3 a supplier of services or goods to the organisation (whether paid or unpaid), including
their employees (e.g. current and former contractors, consultants, service providers and
business partners).
1.1.4 an associate of the Society; usually a person with whom the Society acts in concert.
1.1.5 a relative, dependant or spouse of an individual listed in (a) to (c); e.g. relatives,
dependants or a spouse of current and former Members, employees, contractors,
consultants, service providers, suppliers and business partners.

2. A discloser will qualify for protection as a Whistleblower under the Corporations Act 2001 if they are
an eligible Whistleblower in relation to the Society, and:

2.1 they have made a disclosure of information relating to a ‘disclosable matter’ directly to an ‘eligible
recipient’ or to ASIC, APRA or another Commonwealth body prescribed by regulation; or
2.2 they have made a disclosure to a legal practitioner for the purposes of obtaining legal advice or
legal representation about the operation of the Whistleblower provisions in the Corporations Act
2001; or
2.3 they have made an ‘emergency disclosure’ or ‘public interest disclosure’

Scope of the policy

3. Disclosures that are not about disclosable matters do not qualify for protection under the Corporations
   Act 2001 (or the Tax Administration Act 1953, where relevant). Such disclosures may be protected under other legislation, such as the Fair Work Act 2009.

Disclosable matters

 4. Matters that qualify for protection under the Corporations Act 2001 are ‘disclosable matters’.
Disclosable matters involve information that the discloser has reasonable grounds to suspect
misconduct, improper conduct or an illegality, in relation to the Association, or a related body corporate
of the Society.

5. The Society considers the following potential disclosable matters are descriptive examples only and
should not be taken as a definitive listing of disclosable matters:

  • illegal conduct, such as theft, dealing in, or use of illicit drugs, violence or threatened violence,
    and criminal damage against property
  • fraud, money laundering or misappropriation of funds
  • offering or accepting a bribe
  • financial irregularities
  • failure to comply with, or breach of, legal or regulatory requirements; and
  • engaging in or threatening to engage in detrimental conduct against a person who has made a
    disclosure or is believed or suspected to have made, or be planning to make, a disclosure.

6. Disclosable matters include conduct that may not involve a contravention of law. Information that
indicates a significant risk to public safety or the stability of/or confidence in the Association’s financial
system is also a disclosable matter.

7. A discloser can still qualify for protection even if the disclosure they make turns out to be incorrect (i.e.
if the issue of disclosure turns out to be wrong but made in good faith then the Whistleblower is still
entitled to protection under the legislation)

Personal work-related grievances

8. Disclosures that relate solely to personal work-related grievances, and that do not relate to detriment
or threat of detriment to the discloser, do not qualify for protection under the Corporations Act 2001.

9. Examples of a personal work-related grievance include

  • an interpersonal conflict between the discloser and another employee
  • a decision that does not involve a breach of workplace laws
  • a decision about the engagement, transfer or promotion of the discloser
  • a decision about the terms and conditions of engagement of the discloser; or
  • a decision to suspend or terminate the engagement of the discloser, or otherwise to discipline
    the discloser.

10. However, a personal work-related grievance may still qualify for protection if:

  • it includes information about misconduct, or information about misconduct includes or is
    accompanied by a personal work-related grievance (mixed report)
  • the organisation 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
  • the discloser suffers from or is threatened with detriment for making a disclosure; or
  • the discloser seeks legal advice or legal representation about the operation of the Whistleblower
    protections under the Corporations Act 2001.

11. Association employees can internally raise work-related grievances and other types of issues or
concerns not covered by this Policy, through the National Council’s Working Together Guidelines.

Accessibility of this policy

Within the organisation

12. This policy will be made available to all National Council Members and the National Council
Secretariate employees. It will be made accessible and communicated in the following ways:

12.1 posting the policy on the intranet or other communication platform
12.2 linking the policy in induction information packs and training for new starters.

13. The Association will inform and educate its Directors, Members and employees of the Whistleblower
policy, procedures for reporting, and the protections available to them in order to facilitate a safe
environment in which concerns of misconduct may be voiced without reprisal.

14. Staff involved in the management of Whistleblower reports will receive appropriate training in dealing
with reports, investigations, and supporting disclosers and those who are the subject of allegations.

Outside the organisation

15. To ensure disclosers outside the organisation can access the Association’s Whistleblower Protection
Policy, the Policy is available on the National Council’s public website.


Australian Federal Police Act 1979
Corporations Act 2001
Fair Work Act 2009
Tax Administration Act 1953

Reviewing and updating this policy 

16. The National Council will review its Whistleblower Protection Policy, processes and procedures every
two years, ensuring that they reflect the most up-to-date legal and corporate governance

17. Any changes made to the Policy will be communicated to all Members and employees.

State and Territory Whistleblower policies

New South Wales
Queensland (available in hard copy only)
Western Australia (available in hard copy only)
South Australia (available in hard copy only)
Canberra-Goulburn (available in hard copy only)
Tasmania (available in hard copy only)
Northern Territory

Download the pdf file

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