3.1 What information is considered a whistleblower disclosure?
A whistleblower disclosure is one that is made about unlawful conduct or conduct that endangers the public or financial system that you suspect (on reasonable grounds), has occurred or is occurring within SCS. This includes conduct by an officer or employee of SCS.
3.2 What is not considered a whistleblower disclosure?
Disclosures which are solely about a personal work-related grievance are not considered whistleblower disclosures and therefore are not protected under this policy.
A personal work-related grievance is as defined in the Act and includes the following grievances:
- interpersonal conflict between the discloser and another person
- a decision relating to the engagement, transfer or promotion of the discloser
- a decision relating to the terms and conditions of engagement of the discloser
- a decision to suspend or terminate the engagement of the discloser, or otherwise discipline the discloser
If you have a personal work-related grievance please refer to SCS’ Code of Professional Conduct, Positive Workplace Relationships Policy and/or Performance Management Procedures for further information or contact our People and Culture directorate for assistance.
3.3 Who can a whistleblower disclose information to?
A whistleblower can make a disclosure to one of the following people or bodies:
- a supervisor or manager (if you are an employee of SCS)
- an Officer of Sydney Catholic Schools, including the Chair of the SCS Board
- an auditor of Sydney Catholic Schools
- a lawyer in order to obtain advice or representation about the Act.
In addition to the above, SCS also has a third party whistleblower service which we encourage people to use. Their contact details are below:
If the circumstances under s 1317AAD of the Act apply, a whistleblower may make a public interest or emergency disclosure to:
- a member of a Commonwealth or State Parliament or Territory legislature
- a journalist.
3.4 How is a disclosure made?
A disclosure can be made in person, by telephone or in writing. Please note, the external bodies listed above may also have other means by which a whistleblower can make a disclosure.
3.5 How are whistleblowers protected?
A whistleblower is entitled to the protection of their identity, or information that is likely to lead to their identity becoming known.
Furthermore, whistleblowers do not have to reveal their identity when making a disclosure.
Additional protections are that:
- SCS will not cause any detriment to the whistleblower because of the disclosure
- anyone who causes or threatens to cause detriment to a whistleblower or another
- person in the belief or suspicion a report has been made, may be guilty of an offence
- under the Act and may be liable for damages
- a whistleblower has immunity from any civil, criminal or administrative legal action
- (including disciplinary action) as a result of making the disclosure
- no contractual or other remedies may be enforced and no contractual or other
- rights may be exercised, against the whistleblower for making the disclosure
3.6 When may a whistleblower’s identity be disclosed?
A whistleblower’s identity, or information that is likely to lead to their identity becoming known, can only be disclosed where it is made to:
- an in-house or external lawyer to obtain legal advice or representation;
- A Commonwealth, State or Territory Authority for the purposes of assisting them in the performance of their duties
- The Australian Federal Police
- A Court or Tribunal, in circumstances where it is considered necessary in the interests of justice
A whistleblower can also consent to their identity being disclosed.
Furthermore, a whistleblower’s identity may be disclosed to others if it is a necessary part of the investigation process and SCS will take all reasonable steps to avoid identification of the whistleblower.
3.7 How does SCS investigate a disclosure?
When a disclosure is received, it will be promptly forwarded to the Governance & Legal directorate, who will review whether it falls within the intended scope of the policy. All qualifying whistleblower disclosures will be investigated.
Investigations of a disclosure will be undertaken by an impartial person or an external investigator.
SCS will ensure the investigation:
- is conducted promptly
- is sufficiently resourced
- is conducted in a fair and objective manner
- is conducted in strict confidence
- protects the identity of the whistleblower
- gives the opportunity to any person who is adversely mentioned in the disclosure an opportunity to respond prior to any findings being made.
At the conclusion of the investigation, the investigator will provide the Director of Governance & Legal with a report summarising how the investigation was conducted, the evidence collected and contain findings in relation to the allegations in the disclosure and recommend any action required.
The Director of Governance & Legal will then take appropriate action, including:
- implementing the recommendations of the investigator
- requesting further investigation
- recommending disciplinary action
- notifying regulatory or law enforcement bodies.
If the whistleblower is able to be contacted, they will be informed of the results of the investigation. However, some circumstances may limit the information provided to the person such as confidentiality or other legal constraints.