Whistleblower Policy

Last updated August 2021 

1. Purpose:

The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Victorian Chamber) is committed to carrying out its business operations to the highest standard of conduct and ethical behaviour and in accordance with its values. We expect all our staff to carry out their role and functions in accordance our values and policies.

All organisations are at risk of things going wrong from time to time, or of unknowingly concealing unlawful, unethical or undesirable behaviour. We believe that our employees and network are the best source of information in preventing and reporting when such situations occur, allowing the Victorian Chamber to promptly address concerns when they do occur. This Policy is an important element in detecting corrupt, illegal or other undesirable conduct at the Victorian Chamber.

Creating a supportive environment where our employees and network feel safe to speak up underpins our cultural and when our people fail to speak up this undermines our cultural and exposes us to risks. We encourage our employees and network to speak up about concerns of wrongdoing at the Victorian Chamber. This Policy adopts various measures to ensure no one is discouraged from speaking up or disadvantaged or victimised for speaking up.

The purpose of this Policy is to:

  • Encourage the reporting and disclosure of suspected or actual wrongdoing, misconduct, an improper state of affairs within the Victorian Chamber;
  • Provide guidance on how to raise concerns, how concerns will be investigated and the support and protections available for individuals raising concerns under this Policy; and
  • Protect the whistleblower (internal and external) from any retaliation that may arise as a result of reporting suspected or actual wrongdoing.

This Policy excludes reports relating to:

  • External entities including the Victorian Chamber’s clients and members; and
  • Personal workplace related grievances, which are covered the Victorian Chamber’s internal Grievance, Equal Opportunity, Occupational Health and Safety or Disciplinary/Performance Management policies and procedures, except as otherwise provided below.
  • In responding to whistleblowers and acting to prevent retaliation, the Victorian Chamber is committed to complying with the principles of the whistleblower laws in the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) and Taxation Administration Act 1953 (Cth) (together, the Whistleblower Laws). The Whistleblower Laws do not apply to Registered Organisations, but we are committed to putting in place a policy that encourages concerns to be raised and affords protections to those who speak up.

This Policy is publicly available on the Victorian Chamber’s website as well as being available to our employees as part of the Human Resources (HR) Manual.

This Policy does not cover personal work-related grievances which will be addressed though the applicable resolution process outlined in the Victorian Chamber’s Grievance, Equal Opportunity, Occupational Health and Safety or Disciplinary/Performance Management polices and procedures.

2. Policy:
Who is a whistleblower?

A whistleblower is anyone who makes a report under this Policy and includes any current or former:

  • Officers, employees or contractors;
  • Suppliers (including employees of a supplier) of the Victorian Chamber; and
  • Relatives, spouses and dependents of these individuals.

Anyone with information about potential wrongdoing relating to the Victorian Chamber is encouraged to report their concerns under this Policy.

What types of reports are covered by this policy?

The Victorian Chamber encourages the reporting of any suspected or actual conduct that:

  • Constitutes a wrongdoing, misconduct or an improper state of affairs;
  • Is dishonest, corrupt or fraudulent;
  • Constitutes soliciting, accepting or offering a bride, facilitation payments or other such benefits with the intention of influencing for a business or personal advantage;
  • Constitutes financial mismanagement or irregularities, including in relation to the Victorian Chamber’s tax affairs;
  • Is an offence or contravention of the law punishable by imprisonment for 12 months or more;
  • Is a contravention of appliable Commonwealth or Statement laws including the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth), the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 (Cth), the Banking Act 1959 (Cth), the Financial Sector (Collection of Data) Act 2001 (Cth), the Insurance Act 1973 (Cth), the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 (Cth), or the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 (Cth); or
  • Represents a damage to the public or financial systems.

Concerns associated with past, present or likely future activity or conduct can be reported. A report under this Policy can relate to the conduct of the Victorian Chambers officers and employees or its business operations.

We note that there may be some instances where a personal work-related grievance also has significant implications for the Victorian Chamber, and in these circumstances, it will be considered as suspected or actual conduct as outlined above for the purposes of this Policy.

How do I report a concern?

Attributed Reporting

If you would like the Victorian Chamber to investigate your concern and you consent to the Victorian Chamber disclosing internally within the business that you have raised the concern, there are a number of different channels through which you can report your concern. We encourage you to raise you concern via your regular communication channels within the Victorian Chamber in the first instance, however you can also report your concern to:

  • The Human Resources Manager;
  • The Executive Director – Corporate Services; or
  • The General Counsel.

Save for when any of the above personnel are expressly defined as Eligible Recipients under the Whistleblower Laws, these individuals are not designed by the Victorian Chamber as Eligible Recipients under the Whistleblower Laws.

If you are Victorian Chamber personnel and you receive a whistleblower concern, please promptly contact the Victorian Chamber’s General Counsel or Human Resources Manager.

Eligible Recipients and Anonymous Reporting

If you wish to report to an Eligible Recipient, as defined in the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth), you can report to the following Victorian Chamber personnel:

  • Directors of the Victorian Chamber Board;
  • Members of the executive team, including the Chief Executive, Executive Director – Corporate Services, Executive Director – Advocacy, Strategy and Transformation, Executive Director, MCC, Executive Director – Information Communication Technology and Human Resources Manager.

To raise a concern with our Eligible Recipients, please address correspondence to your addressee care of:
GPO Box 4352

External parties who are Eligible Recipients in relation to the Victorian Chamber include our external auditors, ShineWing Australia.

Other entities which are eligible to receive whistleblower concerns include:

  • Certain regulators including ASIC, APRA and for tax matters, the ATO;
  • An external legal practitioner for the purpose of obtaining legal advice or legal representation in relation to the operation of the Australian whistleblower protection regime.

You can remain anonymous when raising a concern, including by using a pseudonym. If you wish to make an anonymous report, we ask that you contact an Eligible Recipient. Where an anonymous report is made, the Victorian Chamber will assess the disclosure in the same way as if identity had been revealed, and any investigation will be conducted as best as possible in the circumstances. However, an investigation might not be possible unless sufficient information is provided so it is advisable that you provide as much information as possible.

Are investigations confidential and fair?

The Victorian Chamber will promptly review, and document all reports of concern received under this Policy. The Victorian Chamber takes reports of potential wrongdoing seriously.

All reports will be assessed and based on the nature and circumstances of the concern and the reasonableness of the concern; a decision will be made as to whether an investigation is required. The personnel tasked with investigating the concern will depend on the nature of the issue raised and the skillset needed to review such matters. Any investigation will be conducted in a timely, fairly and objective manner in accordance with the Victorian Chamber’s values, and independent from persons to whom the concern relates.

When we receive your report, your identity and the information you provide will be held securely with access limited to only the individuals necessary to investigate your concern, and to support and protect you. In some circumstances, it may be necessary for the Victorian Chamber to disclose information received to appropriate regulatory authorities, law enforcement bodies or to other persons as it considers necessary for the purpose of conducting an investigation into the information. In order to protect and respect all individuals involved in the investigation process, the Victorian Chamber directs all individuals who contribute information to an investigation to maintain confidentiality.

The Victorian Chamber will take action where an investigation identifies any suspected or actual conduct which is covered by this Policy (including but not limited to conduct that is illegal, dishonest, corrupt or a concealment of such conduct).

Where possible, the Victorian Chamber will inform you how it is responding to your report, including whether an investigation will be conducted.

Unless there are confidentiality or other reasons not to do so, employees who are the subject of a concern will be informed of the matters raised in the report at an appropriate time and will be given a chance to respond to any allegations made against them. Such persons will be advised of the outcome of any investigation and directed to:

  • Maintain confidentiality, to maintain compliance with the Victorian Chamber’s policies, procedures and values; and
  • To take no action that could be considered retaliatory in nature.
What protection and support is offered to whistleblowers?

In encouraging its employees and network to speak up about concerns of wrongdoing, the Victorian Chamber will support individuals who make a report under this Policy regardless of the matters raised. The Victorian Chamber will not penalise anyone for raising a concern and will not tolerate any form of victimisation or detrimental treatment (actual or threatened) against an individual making a report or involved in an investigation. Anyone at the Victorian Chamber who carries out or threatens victimisation or detrimental treatment will be in breach of this Policy and may be subject to disciplinary action, which may include but is not limited to, termination of employment.

Detrimental treatment includes dismissal, injury, demotion, discrimination, harassment, intimidation, disciplinary action, bias, threats or other unfavourable treatment because an individual raised a concern under this Policy. Detrimental treatment does not include reasonable administrative action (such as moving your location of work away from an individual the subject of your concern) or managing unsatisfactory performance in line with the Victorian Chamber’s Disciplinary/Performance Management policies and procedures.

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