WHISTLEBLOWING POLICY, 2020 

Forming part of Giant Steps Tasmania’s Personnel Manual

 

Policy Statement

Whistleblowing is when a member of staff, or a member of the community reports suspected wrongdoing at Giant Steps Tasmania. Wrong-doing includes:

  • putting someone’s health and safety in danger;
  • damage to the environment;
  • not obeying the law;
  • covering up wrongdoing;
  • misusing school funds; and
  • actions that negatively affect the welfare of children

Giant Steps Tasmania does not tolerate improper conduct or detrimental action by its staff or Board or the taking of negative action against those who come forward to disclose such conduct.

Giant Steps Tasmania recognises the importance of transparency and accountability in its practices and supports the making of disclosures that also, while not necessarily resulting in a finding of wrong-doing, reveal inconsistencies, anomalies and weaknesses in its practices which can then be addressed.

Giant Steps Tasmania takes all reasonable steps to protect people who make disclosures from any negative behaviour as a result of making the disclosure. It also affords natural justice to all parties involved in the investigation of a disclosure.

Purpose

The aim of this policy is to ensure that all staff, Board members and members of the community understand what might warrant a disclosure, how they should go about making a disclosure and what the result of making such a disclosure might be. To this end, this policy is available on the Giant Steps Tasmania website.

Giant Steps Tasmania’s staff are encouraged to continue to raise appropriate matters at any time with their line manager or the Principal, and to use existing grievance procedures where appropriate. This policy is designed to complement these practices.

References

This policy is informed by the following Act of Parliament:

  • Public Interest Disclosures Act, 2002 

Through this policy, Giant Steps Tasmania ensures that all staff and Board members are aware of the following:

  • It is an offence for a person to take detrimental action against a person in reprisal for a disclosure being made. The Act provides a maximum penalty of a fine of $24,000 or two years imprisonment or both (s.19).
  • It is an offence for a person to divulge information obtained as a result of the handling or investigation of a disclosure. The Act provides a maximum penalty of $6,000 or six months imprisonment or both (s.23).
  • It is an offence for a person to knowingly provide false information under the Act with the intention that it be acted on as a disclosure. The Act provides a maximum penalty of $24,000 or two years imprisonment or both (s.87). 

This Giant Steps’ policy is also informed by the following Australian Standards:

  • AS 8002 Organizational Codes of Conduct
  • AS 8003 Corporate social responsibility
  • AS 8004 Whistleblower protection programs for entities 

Implementation

While a person (persons) is/ are at liberty to raise a matter of concern with an external agency (e.g. Police), they may feel it would be more appropriate to give the school the opportunity to address the issue first.

Where a person (or persons) has/ have concerns that a staff member or member of the Board may be responsible for one or more categories of wrong-doing listed below they may initially choose to discuss the matter informally with the Principal or a Board member.

  • putting someone’s health and safety in danger;
  • damage to the environment;
  • not obeying the law;
  • covering up wrongdoing;
  • misusing school funds; and
  • actions that negatively affect the welfare of children.

 

If this does not resolve the issue, they may move to the formal stage by raising the matter with the Chair of the Board. If the matter is alleged to involve the Chair, the person (persons) must make the submission to another Board member.

Concerns may be submitted verbally (after which the person to whom the disclosure is made will put the main points in writing and request the person who made the disclosure to sign it as a reliable version of what s/he said) or it may be made in writing and signed. The person to whom the allegation is made may request additional information from the person making the allegation. The person making the allegation will receive a response within 15 days.

It is recommended that if a person (persons) raises the matter with the Principal or a member of the Board, but has not been contacted by them within 15 working days of raising the matter that they contact an external agency (e.g. Police).

When a concern is investigated under this Policy and findings are made that substantiate any or all of the allegations made, the Chair of the Board, or another Board member if the disclosure allegedly involves the Chair, may:

  • arrange for the counselling of the person involved on their behaviour and the findings of the investigation;
  • pass the matter on to an external organization (e.g. police)
  • terminate the contract of employment of the person who is the subject of the allegation; or
  • take no further action

 

The Chair, or another appropriate Board member, will write a report on the concern, investigation and outcomes. The report will be held securely at Giant Steps Tasmania for a minimum of 5 years.

Anonymous allegations will be taken seriously and will be investigated, but it should be noted that in instances of anonymous allegations:

  • It is not possible to give feedback to the person (persons) making the allegation
  • Investigations may be hampered by the person to whom the allegation has been made not being able to ask follow up questions
  • Anonymous Whistleblowers are not protected by the Corporations Act 2001

Giant Steps Tasmania will take all reasonable steps to protect the identity of a discloser. Maintaining confidentiality is crucial in ensuring reprisals are not made against the discloser. 

Giant Steps Tasmania will also take all reasonable steps to protect the privacy of witnesses and of the person against whom the disclosure has been made.  Any breach of either the confidentiality or non-victimization requirements, will be treated seriously by Giant Steps Tasmania, and may result in disciplinary action including but not limited to penalties contained in the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2002. 

The submission of malicious and false reports designed to harm a member of Giant Steps Tasmania, or the organisation as a whole will be treated seriously by Giant Steps Tasmania and may result in disciplinary action, including but not limited to penalties contained in the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2002.

Authorised by:

Paul Bowman

Position:

Chair of Board

Signature:

 

Date revisions accepted:

 

Original policy developed by:

Chris Jacobsen

Position:

(Previously) Education Administrator

Date Original Policy developed:

June 2016

Date of first review:

March 2018

Date of last review:

March 2018

Staff consultation period:

February  18th – March 2nd 2020

Revisions prepared by:

Chris Jacobsen, Fairlight Educational Consulting

Date of next review:

March 2022