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  • Policy 2.23 

    Whistleblower Protection

    Purpose

    This Whistleblower Protection Policy (Policy) is underpinned by a strong commitment to building a culture in Catholic education workplaces in the Archdiocese of Melbourne that reflects sound governance and promotes ethical behaviour in the detection and management of fraudulent, corrupt or improper conduct.

    This Policy provides protection to Whistleblowers by establishing a mechanism for concerns to be raised on a confidential basis without fear of reprisal.

    Principles

    • Ethical culture. This Policy supports the commitment by Schools and Catholic Education Melbourne to sound governance and ethical behaviour.
    • Confidentiality and protection. Catholic Education Melbourne will take all reasonable steps to protect the confidentiality of a Whistleblower except where the law requires their identification in legal proceedings. Workers who make a report in good faith and in accordance with this Policy shall be protected as far as reasonably practicable against reprisal, dismissal, discrimination or other unfavourable treatment as a result of making the report.

    Scope

    The Policy applies to:
             (a) Catholic Education Melbourne Workers; and
             (b) a Worker of a School that is not comfortable reporting relevant conduct directly with the School;

    who makes a report of Reportable Conduct to Catholic Education Melbourne in accordance with this Policy.

    Catholic Education Melbourne recognises that there are other forms of conduct that pertain to Catholic Education Melbourne and Schools, such as misconduct of a sexual, physical or emotional nature. The appropriate management of these forms of misconduct is dealt with separately in the Catholic Education Melbourne Policy 2.20, 'Allegations of Misconduct Against Lay Employees in Catholic Education in the Archdiocese of Melbourne.'

    Definitions

    Corruption is dishonest activity in which a Worker acts contrary to the interests of the relevant Entity and abuses their position of trust in order to achieve some personal gain or advantage for themselves or for another person or entity.

    Entity includes a reference to a School and/or Catholic Education Melbourne.

    Fraud is dishonest activity causing actual or potential financial loss to an Entity including theft of moneys or other property by Workers or persons external to the Entity and whether or not deception is used at the time, immediately before or immediately following the activity. It also includes the deliberate falsification, concealment, destruction or use of falsified documentation used or intended for use for a normal business purpose or the improper use of information or position.

    Reportable Conduct is conduct by a person or persons connected with an Entity which, in the view of a Whistleblower acting in good faith, is:

    • dishonest;
    • fraudulent;
    • corrupt;
    • illegal (including theft, drug sale/use, violence or threatened violence and criminal damage against property);
    • in breach of Commonwealth or state legislation or local authority by-laws;
    • unethical (representing a breach of Catholic Education Melbourne or a School’s code of conduct or generally);
    • other serious improper conduct;
    • an unsafe work practice;
    • representative of gross mismanagement, serious and substantial waste and/or a repeated breach of administrative procedures; and
    • any other conduct which may cause financial or non-financial loss to Catholic Education Melbourne and/or a School or be otherwise detrimental to Catholic Education Melbourne’s and/or a School’s interests.

    School means a Catholic primary, secondary or special school operating within the Archdiocese of Melbourne.

    Senior Management are employees of a School or Catholic Education Melbourne who have authority over the direction or management of that workplace and its employees.

    School Authority includes a School’s principal, canonical administrator, congregational leadership or parish priest. For example, congregations include but are not limited to Mercy Education Limited and Edmund Rice Education Australia.

    Whistleblower is a person to whom this Policy applies who reports Reportable Conduct in good faith in accordance with this Policy.

    Whistleblower Investigations Officer is the person appointed (internal or external to Catholic Education Melbourne) by the Whistleblower Protection Officer to conduct an investigation into reports that are made to Catholic Education Melbourne by a Whistleblower.

    Whistleblower Protection Officer is Catholic Education Melbourne’s Senior Officer, Professional Conduct, Ethics and Investigation, or such other delegated person.

    Worker means an employee, contractor, consultant or volunteer of an Entity.

    Policy

    Catholic Education Melbourne encourages all persons covered by this Policy to report Reportable Conduct, and is committed to protecting and supporting those persons who do so.

    Any person who reports Reportable Conduct under this Policy will not be personally disadvantaged by having made the report by:
            (a) dismissal;
            (b) demotion;
            (c) any form of harassment;
            (d) discrimination; or
            (e) current or future bias.

    Procedures

    1. Complaints Procedure
      Persons to whom this Policy applies are encouraged to refer suspected instances of Reportable Conduct directly to the relevant School Authority or to Senior Management. However, in instances where a person is not comfortable reporting directly to such persons, then the suspected Reportable Conduct should be referred to the Whistleblower Protection Officer.

      A Whistleblower may remain anonymous, to the extent allowed by the law.
    2. Investigation Procedures
      All reports of Reportable Conduct will be subject to a thorough investigation.

      The Whistleblower Protection Officer will investigate the report, or may elect to appoint a Whistleblower Investigations Officer to investigate the matter. This will depend on the nature and extent of the allegation(s).

      The person against whom the allegations are made will be informed accordingly.

      All reports and investigation procedures will be dealt with promptly.
    3. Report Procedures
      The Whistleblower Investigations Officer will submit a preliminary report to the Whistleblower Protection Officer on the outcome of any investigation. The report will provide a summary of the facts of the suspected Reportable Conduct and of the investigation. It will also provide recommendations about whether an accusation is substantiated or unsubstantiated, whether the matter should be referred to the police, other disciplinary actions that may be required and, if warranted, suggested actions to recover stolen funds or property, and internal control implications.

      The investigation report and recommendations will be provided by the Whistleblower Protection Officer to the relevant School Authority or the Executive Director of Catholic Education Melbourne. All recipients will be required to respond promptly.
    4. Monitoring and Follow-up
      The Whistleblower will be kept informed of the progress and outcome of the investigation by the Whistleblower Protection Officer, subject to privacy considerations of individuals involved in the investigation.

      The Whistleblower Protection Officer shall retain a coordinating role in monitoring the implementation of the recommendations of the final report.
    5. Safeguards
      Whistleblowers can rely on the protection afforded by this Policy. If a Whistleblower has any concerns regarding victimisation, discrimination or any other unfavourable treatment as a result of a report made under this Policy, they should immediately contact the Whistleblower Protection Officer.

      Catholic Education Melbourne strongly encourages Whistleblowers to identify themselves to the Whistleblower Protection Officer. No action will be taken against a Whistleblower, who in good faith, makes an allegation which is not substantiated by subsequent investigation. However, separate disciplinary action may be taken by their employer against an individual making malicious or vexatious allegations.

    Examples of Reportable Conduct

    Inappropriate Electronic Material
    A Worker brings to work a personal DVD containing image files that are sexually explicit. They download the images to their work computer and then decide to circulate some of the images to colleagues. One Worker receiving the material is offended and uses the provisions of the Whistleblower Protection Policy to report the matter confidentially, as the actions are in breach of acceptable ICT Usage policies.

    Suspicious Behaviour involving School Funds
    A school Worker is relieving a colleague who is on annual leave and is asked by a parent why they have not received a receipt for the last cash payment they made to the school. The replacement Worker advises that they will follow up the parent’s inquiry. The Worker is suspicious that misconduct may be occurring. They decide to report the matter confidentially and in line with the policy as suspicious and potential fraud. They contact the Whistleblower Protection Officer and provide their details, concerns and the school’s details

    Who to Contact

    Whistleblower Protection Officer contact details:

    Senior Officer
    Professional Conduct, Ethics & Investigation
    Catholic Education Melbourne
    PO Box 3
    East Melbourne VIC 8002

    (03) 9267 0221
    opcei@cem.edu.au
     

    Catholic Education Melbourne November 2015 (updated)