Purpose of this policy 

The Whistleblower Policy has been developed so that an Eligible Whistleblower can raise concerns regarding situations where they believe that ABCN or anybody connected with ABCN has acted in a way that constitutes serious wrongdoing, including unethical, illegal, corrupt or other inappropriate conduct.  

ABCN aims to:  

  • encourage a person to report improper conduct in good faith if they know or have reasonable grounds to suspect such conduct; 
  • provide a mechanism to report misconduct or dishonest or illegal activity that has occurred or is suspected within the organisation;   
  • deal with reports from whistleblowers in a way that will protect the identity of the whistleblower and provide for secure storage of the information;  
  • ensure that individuals who disclose wrongdoing can do so safely, securely and with confidence that they will be protected and supported; and  
  • ensure that our charity maintains the highest standards of ethical behaviour and integrity.  

Who is an Eligible Whistleblower? 

A whistleblower is a person who, whether anonymously or not, attempts to report misconduct or dishonest or illegal activity that has occurred in connection with ABCN, and wishes to avail themselves of protection against reprisal for having made the report.  

This ABCN Whistleblower Policy applies to: 

  • employees;  
  • Board Directors;  
  • contractors (including facilitators); 
  • volunteers/mentors; and 
  • suppliers. 

Within this policy all of these people are represented by the term Eligible Whistleblower. 

ABCN expects each Eligible Whistleblower to act honestly and ethically, and to make any report on reasonable grounds and report any concerns in line with our policies.  

What is Reportable Conduct under this policy? 

A person may disclose any information that the person has reasonable grounds to suspect concerning misconduct in relation to ABCN; or a related body corporate of ABCN. 

Reportable Conduct is any past, present or likely future activity, behaviour or state of affairs considered to be: 

  • in breach of the ABCN Code of Conduct;  
  • dishonest; 
  • corrupt (including soliciting, accepting or offering a bribe, or facilitating payments or other such benefits); 
  • fraudulent;  
  • illegal (including theft, drug sale or use, violence or threatened violence, or property damage); 
  • in breach of regulation, internal policy or code (such as the ABCN Code of Conduct); 
  • improper conduct relating to accounting, internal controls, compliance, actuarial, audit or other matters of concern to the whistleblower; 
  • a serious impropriety or an improper state of affairs or circumstances;  
  • endangering health or safety; 
  • damaging or substantially risking damage to the environment;  
  • a serious mismanagement of ABCN’s resources;  
  • detrimental to ABCN’s financial position or reputation;  
  • maladministration (an act or omission of a serious nature that is negligent, unjust, oppressive, discriminatory or is based on improper motives); or  
  • concealing reportable conduct. 

The following are not reportable conduct under this policy: 

  • complaints by service/clients/users about a service; or  
  • personel work-related grievances unless the grievance includes victimisation due to whistleblowing. Personal work-related grievances are those that do not: 
  •  have any other significant implications for ABCN (or another entity); or 
  •  relate to any conduct or alleged conduct about a disclosable matter.  

Whistleblowing protections will only apply to reports of Reportable Conduct.  

How to report 

For a report to be investigated, it must contain enough information to form a reasonable basis for investigation including: 

  • date and time; 
  • location; 
  • name of person(s) involved; 
  • possible witnesses to the events; and 
  • evidence of the events (e.g. documents, emails).  

A report must include any steps that may have already taken to report the matter elsewhere or to resolve the concern.  

ABCN encourages Eligible Whistleblowers to identify themselves to the CEO or COO, however, they may opt to report their concerns anonymously.  

Reports must be made by an Eligible Whistleblower to a person who is authorised by ABCN to receive whistleblower disclosures. Authorised people are: 

  • Chief Executive Officer; 
  • Chief Operations Officer; and 
  • Chair of the Board.  

If the whistleblower is not comfortable or able to report Reportable Conduct internally, they may report it to the ACNC or ASIC 

What will happen if a report is made 

After receiving a report, within 10 business days, ABCN will endeavour to:  

  • assess the report of Reportable Conduct and determine whether it qualifies for protection; 
  • consider whether there are any conflicts of interest prior to investigating; 
  • determine whether external authorities need to be notified; 
  • determine whether and how to investigate; and  
  • appoint a whistleblowing investigator, if appropriate.  

If an investigation is deemed necessary, it will be conducted fairly, objectively and in a timely manner. ABCN may contact and seek the advice and assistance of its pro-bono legal services partner, Hall & Wilcox 

Any individuals who are accused of misconduct in a report will have an opportunity to respond to allegations before any adverse findings are made and before any disciplinary action is taken.  

ABCN may need to speak with a whistleblower as part of an investigation. If the identity of the whistleblower is known, ABCN will endeavour to keep them informed about the status of an investigation. ABCN may not be able to investigate a disclosure if it is unable to contact the discloser. 

If there is insufficient information to warrant further investigation, or the initial investigation immediately identifies there is no case to answer, the individual who reported the Reportable Conduct will be notified at the earliest possible opportunity (if they have provided contact information).  

At the conclusion of the investigation, a report will be prepared outlining: 

  • a finding of all relevant facts; 
  • a determination as to whether the allegation(s) have been substantiated or otherwise; and 
  • the action that will be taken, which may include disciplinary action and dismissal. The disciplinary action will be dependent on the severity, nature and circumstances of the Reportable Conduct. 

Where possible and appropriate, having regard to ABCN’s privacy and confidentiality obligations, the whistleblower will be informed of the outcome of any investigation into their concerns. 

Protections for Eligible Whistleblowers and others 

If the Eligible Whistleblower has reasonable grounds to suspect Reportable Conduct and provided that they acted honestly and ethically in making the report, ABCN will support and protect the whistleblower and anyone else assisting in the investigation. This is the case even if it turns out the concerns were mistaken. 

ABCN will not tolerate any detriment inflicted on an Eligible Whistleblower because they have made or might make, a report of Reportable Conduct either internally or to an external body. Examples of a detriment include: 

  • retaliation; 
  • dismissal; 
  • suspension; 
  • demotion;  
  • termination;  
  • bullying; 
  • harassment; 
  • discrimination; 
  • threats or intimidation; 
  • damage or threats to your property, business, financial position or reputation; and 
  • revealing your identity as a whistleblower without your consent or contrary to law.  

This protection also applies to individuals conducting, assisting or participating in an investigation. 

An Eligible Whistleblower may also be entitled to the following legal protections: 

  • protection from civil, criminal or administrative legal action; 
  • protection from having to give evidence in legal proceedings; and/or  
  • compensation or other legal remedy. 

A whistleblower can choose to remain anonymous while making a disclosure, and after the investigation is finalised. However, ABCN encourages all individuals to disclose their identity when raising a concern. This will assist ABCN to gather further information. If an Eligible Whistleblower chooses to disclose their identity, their details will be treated confidentially to the fullest extent possible, only allowing qualified staff to investigate any disclosures. 

 The whistleblowers identity will not be disclosed unless:  

  • they consent in writing to the disclosure; 
  • the disclosure is made to ACNC, ASIC, APRA or the Australian Federal Police (AFP); 
  • the disclosure is made to a Legal Practitioner for the purpose of obtaining advice; 
  • the disclosure is authorised under the Corporations Act (2001) (Cth); or 
  • the disclosure is necessary to prevent or lessen a threat to a person’s health, safety or welfare. 

False reports/disclosures 

Anyone who knowingly makes a false report/disclosure of Reportable Conduct may be subject to disciplinary action, including dismissal. The disciplinary action will depend on the severity, nature and circumstance of the false disclosure.  

Review of policy 

The CEO will ensure this policy and procedure is monitored and reviewed at least annually or in the event of a whistleblower disclosure. This policy will be available on the ABCN website. 


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