ACTF Whistleblower Policy

 

Part A – Introduction

1. Purpose

    • The Australian Children’s Television Foundation (“ACTF”) is committed to upholding the highest standards of integrity and ethical behaviour, and creating an environment where staff and others feel safe to speak up is one of the ACTF’s core values.
    • The ACTF strongly encourages speaking up, and the reporting of Reportable Conduct.
    • The ACTF will not tolerate anyone being discouraged from speaking up, or being subjected to detrimental treatment, because they speak up.

2. Objective

The objective of this whistleblower policy (“Policy”) is to:

  • encourage staff and others to speak up if they become aware of Reportable Conduct;
  • explain how to speak up and what protections a discloser will receive;
  • set out the processes for responding to disclosures;
  • explain the special protections for whistleblowers in the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (“Corporations Act”).

3. Corporations Act Whistleblower Policy

The ACTF is also required under the Corporations Act to have a whistleblower policy, and this Policy is the ACTF’s whistleblower policy for the purposes of that Act.

4. Scope

This Policy applies to:

  • the ACTF’s directors, officers, employees (whether full-time, part-time, permanent, fixed term, casual or otherwise), contractors and volunteers (and their relatives, dependents and spouses);
  • the ACTF’s related companies (and all references in this Policy to the ACTF are deemed to also be references to the ACTF’s related companies);
  • contractors and suppliers of goods and services to the ACTF; and
  • any other third party who agrees to be bound by this Policy from time to time.

5. Corporations Act and other Legal Protection for Whistleblowers

The ACTF must comply with all obligations in relation to the protection of whistleblowers under:

  • the Corporations Act, which gives special protection to certain disclosers of breaches of that Act;
  • the Taxation Administration Act 1953 (Cth), which gives special protection to certain disclosers of breaches of that Act; and
  • any other applicable law in any jurisdiction which applies to the ACTF.

6. Availability of this Policy

This Policy will be available on the ACTF website and on the ACTF’s internal network.  

7. Breaches of this Policy

    • Any breach of this Policy will be treated as a serious matter, and any person found to have breached this Policy may be subject to disciplinary action.
    • Despite anything to the contrary in this Policy, any determination in relation to disciplinary action (including whether to take disciplinary action against any person, and what disciplinary action to take against any person) will at all times be independent from the persons found to have breached this Policy.

 

Part B – Speaking Up

8. How to Speak Up

    • If you wish to speak up, you should:
      • make a report to any Protected Disclosure Officer;
      • post a report to Level 3, 145 Smith Street, Fitzroy VIC 3065, marked to the attention of one of the Protected Disclosure Officers; or
    • Your report should contain as much information as possible, including details of:
      • the Reportable Conduct;
      • people involved;
      • dates;
      • locations; and
      • any other evidence that may exist.
    • Information received from anyone speaking up will be held in the strictest of confidence, and your identity will be protected in accordance with paragraph 19 and all information and records will be protected in accordance with paragraph 20.
    • Any criminal behaviour should be immediately reported to the Police or other appropriate law enforcement agency.

9. Speaking Up Anonymously

    • You can make a report anonymously if you do not want to reveal your identity.
    • If you make a report anonymously, the ACTF will assess your report in the same way as if you had revealed your identity, and any investigation will be conducted as best as possible in the circumstances, although an investigation may not be possible unless sufficient information is provided.

10. Who to Speak Up to – Protected Disclosure Officers

    • If you wish to speak up, you can report the matter to the following Protected Disclosure Officers of the ACTF:
      • the ACTF’s senior in-house lawyer; or
      • the Chair of the ACTF’s Audit & Risk Management Committee.
    • The contact details for the persons listed immediately above are set out in Part F.

11. False or Misleading Reports

    • If you make a report under this Policy, you should have reasonable grounds to suspect that the information you are disclosing is true, but you will not suffer any detrimental treatment if any information in your report turns out to be incorrect.
    • You must not make a report that you know is false or misleading. If it is found that a person has knowingly made a false or misleading report, this will be considered a serious matter that may result in disciplinary action.

 

Part C – Assessment and Investigation of Reports of Reportable Conduct

12. Preliminary Assessment

    • As soon as possible following receipt of your report (including a report made under Part E), a Protected Disclosure Officer will conduct a preliminary assessment of your report to determine whether any allegations raised in your report should be formally investigated.
    • Except where you have not provided any contact details, as soon as possible following receipt of your report, a Protected Disclosure Officer will contact you to discuss the preliminary assessment process, including who may be contacted and who may assist with the preliminary assessment (as permitted under paragraph 14(c)), and such other matters as are relevant to the preliminary assessment.
    • Unless there are reasonable reasons not to do so, all allegations raised in your report will be formally investigated following the preliminary assessment. An example of where it may be reasonable that allegations in your report not be investigated is where the allegations fall outside the scope of this Policy or applicable whistleblower legislation.
    • All preliminary assessments will be conducted in accordance with paragraph 14.
    • Except where you have not provided any contact details, where appropriate, you will be informed of the progress and/or outcome of the preliminary assessment of your report.

13. Investigation

    • As soon as possible after a determination is made that a report should be investigated, a Protected Disclosure Office will conduct an investigation of the report.
    • Except where you have not provided any contact details, as soon as practicable following a determination that a report be investigated, a Protected Disclosure Officer will contact you to discuss the investigation process, including who may be contacted and who may assist with the investigation (as permitted under paragraph 14(c)), and such other matters as are relevant to the investigation.
    • All investigations will be conducted in accordance with paragraph 14.
    • Unless there are confidentiality or other reasonable reasons not to do so, persons to whom the report relates will be informed of the allegations against them, and will be given the opportunity to respond to them.
    • Except where you have not provided any contact details, where appropriate, you will be informed of the progress and/or outcome of the investigation.

14. Preliminary Assessment and Investigation Process

    • Preliminary assessments and investigations should be conducted as soon as possible.
    • Preliminary assessments and investigations will:
      • despite anything to the contrary in this Policy, at all times be independent from any persons to whom the report relates; and
      • be conducted in an objective and fair manner, and otherwise as is reasonable and appropriate having regard to the nature of the Reportable Conduct and the circumstances.
    • Preliminary assessments and investigations will be conducted by a Protected Disclosure Officer, but other people (including (without limitation) ACTF directors, officers, employees and external advisers), may also be asked to assist with them, in accordance with paragraph 29(d)(ii).
    • All ACTF directors, officers, employees, contractors and volunteers, and contractors and suppliers of goods and services to the ACTF, must co-operate fully with preliminary assessments and investigations.

15. Outcomes of Preliminary Assessments and Investigations

The results of each preliminary assessment and investigation will be recorded in writing in a formal internal report that will be confidentially stored and retained securely, and accessible only by the Permitted Recipients listed in paragraphs 29(d)(i) and 29(d)(iii).

16. Report to ACTF Board

    • A summary of disclosures made under this Policy should be provided to the Board on at least an annual basis.
    • Serious and/or material Reportable Conduct should be referred to the Board immediately.

 

Part D – Protection of Whistleblowers

17. Confidentiality and Protection of Whistleblowers

The ACTF is committed to ensuring confidentiality in respect of all matters raised under this Policy, and that those who make a report are treated fairly and do not suffer detrimental treatment.

18. Protection against Detrimental Treatment

    • If:
      • you have been subjected to (or believe you have been subjected to); or
      • any other person has been subjected to (or you believe they have been subjected to),

detrimental treatment as a result of you or any person making a report under this Policy (including a report under Part E), you are strongly encouraged to immediately report the matter to:

  • a Protected Disclosure Officer; or
  • an officer or senior manager of the ACTF in accordance with Part E.
  • Subjecting another person to detrimental treatment will be a breach of this Policy and will be treated as a serious matter. Any person found to have subjected another person to detrimental treatment will be subject to disciplinary action.

19. Protection of Your Identity

    • Subject to compliance with any applicable legal requirements, if you make a report under this Policy, your identity (and information likely to reveal your identity) will only be disclosed:
      • with your express consent;
      • where allowed or required by law; or
      • to a lawyer for the purpose of obtaining legal advice or representation.
    • If any information may be disclosed which could lead to your identification, all reasonable steps will be taken to reduce that risk.
    • Any disclosures of your identity or information likely to reveal your identity will be made on a strictly confidential basis.
    • The disclosure of your identity (or information likely to reveal your identity) in breach of this Policy will be treated as a serious matter, and any person found to have disclosed your identity (or information likely to reveal your identity) in breach of this Policy will be subject to disciplinary action.

20. Protection of Protected Information and Records

    • Subject to compliance with any applicable legal requirements, all Protected Information and Records will be confidentially stored and retained securely, and accessible only by the Permitted Recipients.
    • The:
      • access of Protected Information and Records by anyone; or
      • release or disclosure of Protected Information and Records to anyone,

not permitted under this Policy will be a breach of this Policy by the persons involved.

  • Any access by, or release or disclosure of, Protected Information and Records in breach of this Policy will be treated as a serious matter, and any person found to have accessed, released or disclosed any information (including Protected Information and Records) in breach of this Policy will be subject to disciplinary action.

21. Speak Up Register

    • All reports made under this Policy will be recorded in a confidential register (“Speak Up Register”).
    • Your name will not be recorded in the Speak Up Register without your express written consent.
    • The Speak Up Register will be confidentially stored and retained securely, and accessible only by the Permitted Recipients.
    • Any access to the Speak Up Register by any person not permitted under this Policy will be treated as a serious matter, and any person found to have accessed the Speak Up Register in breach of this Policy will be subject to disciplinary action.

 

Part E – Special Protections under the Corporations Act

22. Conditions to Corporations Act Protection

Subject at all times to the Corporations Act, the Corporations Act gives special protection to disclosures concerning misconduct, or improper state of affairs or circumstances, in relation to the ACTF and/or a related body corporate of the ACTF (together, “ACTF Group”) if the following conditions are satisfied:

  • the whistleblower is or has been:
    • an officer or employee of an ACTF Group company;
    • an individual who supplies services or goods to an ACTF Group company (whether paid or unpaid) or an employee of a person who supplies services or goods to an ACTF Group company (whether paid or unpaid);
    • an individual who is an associate of an ACTF Group company;
    • a relative, dependent or dependent of the spouse of any individual referred to at paragraphs 22(a)(i) to 22(a)(iii) above; or
    • any other prescribed individual;
  • the report is made to:
    • a Protected Disclosure Officer;
    • an officer or senior manager of an ACTF Group company;
    • an auditor, or a member of an audit team conducting an audit, of an ACTF Group company. The contact details for the ACTF’s auditors (and audit team members) are set out in Part F;
    • the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (“ASIC”);
    • the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (“APRA”);
    • a prescribed Commonwealth authority; or
    • a legal practitioner for the purpose of obtaining legal advice or legal representation in relation to the operation of the whistleblower protection provisions in the Corporations Act; and
  • the whistleblower has reasonable grounds to suspect that the information being disclosed concerns misconduct, or an improper state of affairs or circumstances in relation to the ACTF Group, including that the ACTF Group or an officer or employee of the ACTF Group has engaged in conduct that:
    • constitutes an offence against, or a contravention of, a provision of any of the following (among others):
      • the Corporations Act; or
      • the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 (Cth);
    • constitutes an offence against any other law of the Commonwealth that is punishable by imprisonment for a period of 12 months or more;
    • represents a danger to the public or the financial system; or
    • is any other prescribed conduct.

23. Corporations Act Protections

Subject at all times to the Corporations Act, the protections given by the Corporations Act when the conditions above at paragraph 22 are met include the following:

  • the whistleblower is not subject to any civil, criminal or administrative liability (including disciplinary action) for making the disclosure;
  • no contractual or other remedy may be enforced, and no contractual or other right may be exercised, against the whistleblower on the basis of the disclosure;
  • in certain circumstances, the information is not admissible in evidence against the whistleblower in criminal proceedings or in proceedings for the imposition of a penalty, other than proceedings in respect of the falsity of the information;
  • anyone who causes or threatens to cause detriment to a whistleblower or another person in the belief or suspicion the whistleblower or that other person made, may have made, proposes to make or could make, a disclosure that qualifies for protection under the whistleblower protection provisions in the Corporations Act, may have an order of compensation and other remedies made against them. Detriment includes (without limitation):
    • dismissal of an employee;
    • injury of an employee in his or her employment;
    • alteration of an employee’s position or duties to his or her disadvantage;
    • discrimination between an employee and other employees of the same employer;
    • harassment or intimidation of a person;
    • harm or injury to a person, including psychological harm;
    • damage to a person’s property;
    • damage to a person’s reputation;
    • damage to a person’s business or financial position; or
    • any other damage to a person; and
  • except in certain circumstances, the whistleblower and other persons are not to be required:
    • to disclose to a court or tribunal:
      • the identity of the whistleblower; or
      • information that is likely to lead to the identification of the whistleblower; or
    • to produce to a court or tribunal a document containing:
      • the identity of the whistleblower; or
      • information that is likely to lead to the identification of the whistleblower.

24. Confidentiality

Subject at all times to the Corporations Act, if a disclosure of information is made that qualifies for protection under the whistleblower protection provisions in the Corporations Act, the identity of the whistleblower (and information likely to lead to the identification of the whistleblower) must not be disclosed except where the disclosure is made:

  • to ASIC;
  • to APRA;
  • to a member of the Australian Federal Police (“AFP”);
  • to a legal practitioner for the purpose of obtaining legal advice or legal representation in relation to the operation of the whistleblower protection provisions in the Corporations Act;
  • to a prescribed person or body;
  • with the consent of the whistleblower; or
  • by ASIC, APRA or a member of the AFP to a Commonwealth authority, or a State or Territory authority, for the purpose of assisting the authority in the performance of its functions or duties.

25. Corporations Act Defined Terms

Terms defined in the Corporations Act and used in this Part have the meanings given to them in the Corporations Act.

 

Part F – Contact Details of Protected Disclosure Officers and Others

26. Protected Disclosure Officers

    • ACTF’s senior in-house lawyer:

Name: Francisca Hoffmann-Axthelm

Email: Francisca.Hoffmann-Axthelm@actf.com.au

  • Chair of the ACTF’s Audit & Risk Management Committee:

Name: Andrea Denholm

Email: andrea@tonyayresproductions.com

27. ACTF’s Auditors

    • Auditors: Pitcher Partners

Address: Level 13, 664 Collins Street, Docklands VIC 3008

  • Members of Auditors:
    • Kylee Byrne

Email: kylee.byrne@pitcher.com.au

  • Angelique Zammit

Email: angelique.zammit@pitcher.com.au

 

Part G – Definitions

28. Reportable Conduct

    • Reportable Conduct” means any suspected or actual misconduct or improper state of affairs or circumstances in relation to the ACTF.
    • Reportable Conduct” includes (without limitation) actual or suspected:
      • breaches of laws;
      • criminal activity;
      • dishonest or unethical behaviour;
      • fraud
      • bribery or corruption;
      • conflicts of interest;
      • unauthorised use of confidential information; and
      • concealment of any conduct that amounts to, or may amount to, any other Reportable Conduct.
    • Reportable Conduct” does not include Personal Work-Related Grievances, or conduct that falls under other ACTF employment policies.
    • If you are unsure about whether or not something is Reportable Conduct, you are encouraged to make a report under this Policy.

29. Other Definitions

    • detrimental treatment” includes (without limitation):
      • dismissal;
      • demotion;
      • disciplinary action;
      • harassment;
      • bullying;
      • intimidation;
      • discrimination;
      • retaliation;
      • bias;
      • harm or injury (including psychological harm);
      • damage to reputation;
      • other unfavourable treatment;
      • all of the matters and things set out in paragraph 23(d); and
      • threats of any detrimental treatment.
    • disciplinary action” includes (without limitation):
      • suspension of employment or engagement; and
      • termination of employment or engagement.
    • Personal Work-Related Grievance” includes:
      • information concerning a grievance about any matter in relation to the discloser’s employment, or former employment, having (or tending to have) implications for the discloser personally; and
      • examples of Personal Work-Related Grievances are:
        • an interpersonal conflict between the discloser and another employee;
        • 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; and
        • a decision to suspend or terminate the engagement of the discloser, or otherwise to discipline the discloser.
      • Permitted Recipients” means:
        • the Protected Disclosure Officers;
        • persons assisting a Protected Disclosure Officer with a preliminary assessment or investigation who need to know any relevant information for the purposes of providing such assistance, but only for so long as is necessary to provide such assistance (after which time such persons cease to be Permitted Recipients); and
        • senior managers or directors who need to know any relevant information to take appropriate action, but only for so long as is necessary to consider and implement appropriate action (after which time such persons cease to be Permitted Recipients).
      • Protected Information and Records” means:
        • your report, and all information and records relating to it; and
        • all information and records relating to a preliminary assessment or an investigation.
      • records” includes documents, files and reports.