Policy statement

The Board of The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA Board) is committed to maintaining the highest standards of conduct and ethical behaviour in all of its activities, and to promoting and supporting a culture of respect and ethical behaviour, corporate compliance and good governance. The FYA Board encourages all employees to raise any concerns and report instances of unethical, illegal or fraudulent conduct, where there are reasonable grounds to suspect such conduct, without fear of intimidation or disadvantage.

Purpose

  • Encourage the reporting of misconduct within The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) and by related individuals or entities.

  • Ensure that reports of misconduct are properly and lawfully dealt with and investigated in a way that, as much as possible, protects the identity of the person making the report.

  • Establish procedures to protect Whistleblowers from fear of intimidation or disadvantage.

Scope

This policy applies to anyone who has worked or is working for FYA, and includes past and current:

  • board members;

  • employees and volunteers;

  • individuals who supply goods and services to FYA, and their employees;

  • work experience students;

  • commissioned agents and consultants or contractors; and

  • a relative or a dependant of any individual referred to above.

Who is a Whistleblower?

A whistleblower is any person to whom this policy applies that makes a report of misconduct that they have seen or on reasonable grounds suspects has occurred or is occurring at FYA (Whistleblower).

What is misconduct?

For the purposes of this policy and in accordance with the Corporations Act 2001, misconduct means:

  • corrupt or illegal conduct;

  • theft or fraud;

  • conduct that poses a significant risk to health and safety;

  • serious inappropriate or unethical conduct;

  • a serious misuse of information;

  • bullying, discrimination, harassment or other serious unacceptable behaviour;

  • a serious breach of FYA’s policies and procedures or the law;

  • an abuse of public trust or a serious or substantial waste of company or public resources;

  • conduct causing substantial financial or non-financial loss or detriment to FYA; or

  • acts of physical and/or emotional harm.

Personal work related grievances

This policy does not apply to personal work related grievances. Grievances of this nature should be discussed with FYA’s People and Culture team.

Examples of personal work related grievances include:

  • an interpersonal conflict between a person to whom this policy applies and another FYA employee (or former FYA employee or volunteer);

  • a decision that does not relate to a breach of workplace laws;

  • A decision relating to the engagement, transfer or promotion of an FYA employee or former FYA employee; or

  • a decision to discipline, suspend or terminate the employment of an FYA employee or former FYA employee.

Reporting misconduct

Your Call has been authorised by FYA to receive Whistleblowing Reports

FYA has engaged an independent whistleblower service provider Your Call to allow Whistleblowers to make a report of misconduct (Whistleblower Report) anonymously and confidentially and to ensure that FYA becomes aware of the Whistleblower Report and can address the concerns raised by this report promptly.

It is preferred that all Whistleblower Reports are made directly to Your Call either via its website https://www.yourcall.com.au/report (identifier code: FYA) available 24/7 or by telephone phone hotline 1 300 790 228 (available between 9am and 12am on recognised Australian national business days (AEST)). Persons who are deaf, or have a hearing or speech impairment, you can contact Your Call through the National Relay Service (www.relayservice.gov.au) and request Your Call’s telephone hotline.

Whistleblowers are not required to identify themselves when making a Whistleblower Report, but may choose to do so. Your Call allows Whistleblowers to:

  • remain completely anonymous;

  • disclose their identity to Your Call only and not to FYA;  or

  • disclose their identity to both Your Call and FYA.

Other persons who can receive Whistleblowing Reports

A Whistleblower Report can, under the Corporations Act 2001, be made directly to a number of specified individuals as an alternative to Your Call including:

  • to a director, company secretary, company officer, or senior manager of FYA;

  • FYA’s auditors (KPMG) by phone (03) 9288 5809;

  • the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) through its online misconduct reporting form or by writing to ASIC; or

  • an individual’s lawyer.

If a Whistleblower Report relates to a matter of public interest or an emergency a Whistleblower may also be able to make a Whistleblower Report to a member of the Parliament of the Commonwealth, the Parliament of a State or the legislature of a Territory or to a journalist, provided that certain conditions are met.

Information about these conditions is available at https://asic.gov.au/about-asic/asic-investigations-and-enforcement/whistleblowing/Whistleblower-rights-and-protections/. It is important that a Whistleblower understands these conditions before making a Whistleblower Report about a public interest or emergency situation. A Whistleblower should also contact an independent legal advisor before making a Whistleblower Report about a public interest or emergency situation.

All Whistleblower Reports can be made anonymously and confidentially regardless of whether they are made to Your Call or to the other persons listed above.

What information should be reported?

A Whistleblower Report should include as much information and evidence as possible, including where possible:

  • the name, job title and workplace address of the person/s who are the subject of the report;

  • details of the alleged misconduct including dates and places;

  • how the alleged misconduct was detected;

  • names of anyone who may substantiate the report of misconduct; and

  • any other evidence that supports the report of misconduct, such as email, documents or CCTV.

What happens after a Whistleblower Report is made to Your Call?

When a Whistleblower Report is made to Your Call, Your Call will:

  • make a record of the information reported by the Whistleblower;

  • provide the Whistleblower with access to the Your Call Message Board; and

  • refer the reported information to the FYA’s Whistleblowing Protection Officer (WPO) (whilst keeping the identity of the Whistleblower confidential where this has been requested by the Whistleblower) within one business day of the receipt of a Whistleblower Report.

Role of WPO

FYA’s WPOs the Chair of the Audit & Risk Committee or in the alternative the FYA CEO or the Chair of the Board of Directors.

The role of the WPOs is:

  • to receive the initial Whistleblowing Report as recorded by Your Call (and any additional information provided to them through the Your Call Message Board (described below));

  • to determine whether the Whistleblowing Report should be investigated (i.e whether the Whistleblowing Report is a report of misconduct as outlined in this policy and the Corporations Act 2001) and if so, whether there is enough information to enable an investigation to take place; and

  • to determine the appropriate investigation process, including:

    • the nature and scope of the investigation;

    • who will conduct the investigation and whether that person should be external to FYA;

    • the nature of any technical, financial or legal advice that may be required; and

    • a timeframe for the investigation;

  • take all reasonable steps to ensure the identity of the Whistleblower and the person/s who are the subject of the Whistleblower Report are kept confidential; and

  • if necessary, appoint a welfare officer to support and protect the Whistleblower from detriment or victimisation.

Purpose of the Your Call Message Board

The Your Call Message Board allows the Whistleblower to have ongoing anonymous communication with Your Call and FYA’s WPO. The Message Board can be used by the Whistleblower to receive updates, share further information/evidence and request support or report retaliation. Your Call remains the intermediary at all times, receiving and forwarding communication between all parties.

If a Whistleblower cannot access the Your Call Message Board, they can contact Your Call on 1 300 790 228 for verbal updates.

Investigation of Whistleblower Report

Conduct of the investigation

Once the WPO has considered the nature and scope of the investigation, and determined who will be appointed to undertake the investigation, it will be the role of the appointed investigator to conduct the investigation in a constructive, impartial and lawful way according to the principles of natural justice and procedural fairness. This will include undertaking the following actions.

  • Reviewing the information provided by the Whistleblower and the WPO (which the WPO will obtain, in part, from the Your Call Message Board).

  • Gathering any additional relevant information, material and documentation as quickly as possible. This may involve taking steps to protect or preserve documents, materials and equipment.

  • Ensure that the person/s who are the subject of any Whistleblowing Report that is investigated:

    • Are informed as to the substance of the allegations that have been made against them and that they are being investigated;

    • Are given the opportunity to answer the allegations before any investigation is finalised;

    • Are informed about the substance of any adverse comments that may be included in any report arising from the investigation; and

    • has their defence set out fairly in any Investigation Report.

  • Interviewing any witnesses to the circumstances outlined in the Whistleblower Report.

  • Keeping records of and storing all information gathered in the investigation in a secure location.

  • Taking all reasonable steps to ensure the identity of the Whistleblower and the person/s who are the subject of the Whistleblower Report are kept confidential

  • Prepare a report of their findings and determination (Investigator’s Report) as soon as is reasonably practical.

  • Subject to privacy and confidentiality requirements, provide the Whistleblower with information regarding the progress of the investigation and the outcome of the investigation.

Investigator’s Report

The Investigator’s report will contain:

  • a finding of all relevant facts;

  • whether the Whistleblower Report is proven, not proven or otherwise; and

  • a recommendation/s as to any action that may need to be taken in respect of the findings.

The Investigator’s Report will be provided to one of the WPOs. The WPO receiving the Investigator’s Report cannot be the WPO who was responsible for the appointment of the investigator. Where required to do so by law, the WPO who received the Investigator’s Report will then refer the information contained in the Investigator’s Report to the relevant external authorities.

Unauthorised disclosure of Whistleblower identity

FYA (its officers and employees) have a legal obligation to protect the confidentiality of a Whistleblower’s identity. Any unauthorised disclosure of the identity of a Whistleblower or information that is likely to lead to the identification of the Whistleblower is an offence under the Corporations Act 2001 that carries serious penalties.

Any FYA staff member who makes an unauthorised disclosure of the identity of a Whistleblower or discloses information that is likely to lead to the identification of the Whistleblower will be considered to have engaged in serious misconduct and will have disciplinary action taken against them, which may include dismissal.

Protections available to Whistleblowers

The following protections are only available to Whistleblowers (i.e. persons who have made a report of misconduct to Your Call or to another person who can receive a Whistleblower Report) as specified in this policy to) and not to persons who have made a report of a personal work-related grievance.

These protections are available to Whistleblowers regardless of whether their report of misconduct turns out to be incorrect or whether they chose to remain anonymous when they made their Whistleblower Report and through the investigation process.

Protections for whistleblowers against legal action

The Corporations Act 2001 protects a Whistleblower against certain legal actions related to making the Whistleblower Report including:

  • criminal prosecution (and the Whistleblower Report cannot be used against the Whistleblower in a prosecution, unless the disclosure is false)
  • civil litigation (such as for breach of an employment contract, duty of confidentiality, or other contractual obligation), or
  • administrative action (including disciplinary action).

This protection does not grant a Whistleblower immunity to for any misconduct that they were involved in that is revealed in the Whistleblowing Report.

Protections for Whistleblowers from detriment

FYA is committed to protecting and respecting the rights of Whistleblowers and will not tolerate any retaliatory action or threats of retaliatory action against any person who has made or who is believed to have made a Whistleblower Report. Such behaviour will be treated as serious misconduct and will result in disciplinary action, which may include dismissal.

It is also illegal (under the Corporations Act 2001) to cause or threaten to cause detriment to a Whistleblower on the basis that they have or it is suspected that they have made a report of misconduct . Detriment includes, amongst other things, dismissal from employment, harrasment, discrimination, injury, damage to property or reputation (but does not inlcude administrative action that is reasonable for the purpose of protecting a Whistleblower from detriment).

Compensation and Remedies for Whistleblowers

A Whistleblower can seek compensation and other remedies through the courts if:

  1. they suffer loss, damage or injury because they had made a Whistleblower Report; and
  2. FYA did not take reasonable steps to prevent the conduct that lead to their loss, damage or injury.

Support available for Whistleblowers

FYA will provide support to Whistleblowers, including

  • providing access to FYA’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP);
  • appointing an independent support person from the People and Culture team to deal with any ongoing concerns the Whistleblower may have; and
  • connecting the Whistleblower with third party support providers such as Lifeline (13 11 14) and Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636).

FYA will also provide support and guidance to any FYA staff member thinking about making a Whistleblower Report. This support is available by contacting the Head of Legal or Chief Financial Officer.

Management of person against whom a Whistleblower Report is mage

FYA recognises that individuals against whom a Whistleblowing Report is made must also be supported during the handling and investigation of the Whistleblowing Report. FYA will take reasonable steps to treat the person who is the subject of a Whistleblowing Report fairly, particularly during the assessment and investigation process.

Consequences of making a false disclosure

An FYA employee who makes a Whistleblowing Report knowing it to be false or misleading may be subject to disciplinary action, including dismissal. The disciplinary action will depend on the severity, nature and circumstances of the false report.

Board reporting

The WPO will report to the FYA Board on the number and type of Whistleblower incident reports annually.  These reports will be made on a ‘no names’ basis, maintaining the confidentiality of the persons and matters raised under this policy.

Availability of the policy

This policy is available to employees and officeholders of FYA and to the general public via FYA’s website (www.fya.org.au).

Variations to the policy

FYA reserves the right to amend and vary this policy in line with best practice, operating efficiency and changes to legislation.

This policy will be formally reviewed every two years, or earlier if required, ensuring compliance with legislation and FYA operating procedures.