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What is whistleblowing?

A whistleblower is a person who provides information and exposes corrupt conduct within an organisation in the hope of stopping it.

Whistleblowing plays a crucial role in managing risk and cultivating an ethical culture, and is an effective way of uncovering potential fraud and corruption.

Our obligations

The department is subject to two pieces of legislation in relation to whistleblowers:

  • the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994 protects public officials who report public sector wrongdoing under certain circumstances
  • the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988 protects individuals who provide the Commission with information about suspected corrupt conduct or assist it in other ways.

Your obligations

As an organisation funded by us, we expect your policies to be consistent with the intent of the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994 and Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988, and to maintain a whistleblowing program that aligns to better practice (AS 8004-2003, Corporate governance – Whistleblower protection programs for entities).

Your whistleblowing program must include:

  • a clear statement of commitment to enable the reporting of wrongdoing and to encourage whistleblowing
  • multiple reporting options, including senior and non-senior staff, a direct line to the governing body, and/or an accessible and independent external contact
  • provisions to protect whistleblowers, including confidentiality of information provided, maintaining their anonymity, and protecting them against litigation, reprisals and victimisation
  • a process for investigating allegations and referrals from external parties.

From 1 July 2019, if your organisation is a regulated entity under the Corporations Act 2001, you are required to adhere to the corporate sector whistleblower protection law. The legislation applies to public companies limited by guarantee, as well as not-for-profit organisations where a significant proportion of their overall activities include trading in goods and services, or lending or borrowing money.

To assist you, guidance material from the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) is linked in the Resources section at the end of this guide.

Your policy and procedure must encourage staff to contact ASIC if they are uncomfortable disclosing misconduct to someone in your organisation.

Note that, at any time, we may request, and you are expected to provide, copies of the documents related to your whistleblowing program, together with any other relevant material.

Resources to assist you

These resources will assist your organisation to develop a fit-for-purpose whistleblowing program that accords with best practice.

Whistleblowing at your Not-for-profit: A Leaders Guide, Institute of Community Directors Australia

Guidelines for public interest disclosures, NSW Ombudsman

Whistleblowing program checklist, Your Call Whistleblowing Solutions

Whistleblowing, Australian Securities and Investment Commission

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Last updated: 24 Sep 2019