The concept of whistleblowing and its role in an organisation’s corporate governance and risk management is a developing concept in Australian organisational management. With the limited Australian experience and stakeholder’s reluctance to report improper conduct, STOPline is aware of many frequently asked questions.
What is the Ethics/Integrity/Whistleblower Hotline?
A: The Whistleblower Hotline is an independent and confidential service to receive information relating to improper conduct and supports our business principles and business ethics.
What can be reported?
A: Any breaches of the Code of Conduct, and issues that may adversely affect the organisation. This may include any criminal offence, breach of legal obligation, unsafe behaviour, and harassment or bullying. (see policy for full details)
Why are we introducing this service?
A: We believe that all employees and other stakeholders should be able to assist in ensuring your business maintains its status as a leader of integrity in business. We are adopting best practice in this aspect of corporate governance and will be compliant with international and Australian corporate governance standards.
How do I make a report?
A: We have engaged an independent consultant to manage the receipt, recording and reporting of improper conduct. The STOPline is an independent, confidential and impartial conduit for information that enables the reporting of corrupt or improper conduct. STOPline has people experienced in handling sensitive information from stakeholders.
Who is STOPline?
A: STOPline is an Australian company which specialises in providing integrity/whistleblowing services. It has been operating since 2001 and assists organisations in the public (local, state and federal), private (listed and unlisted) and not-for-profit sectors.
Do I have to give my name?
A: No. Your call to the STOPline can be totally anonymous and the staff of the STOPline will not ask for any personal details. You may volunteer the information confidentially to STOPline only if you desire or you can be overt. If you do not wish to remain confidential from your entity, this information may be provided to the Disclosure Officer/Ethics Committee. If you choose to remain anonymous STOPline will issue a confidential reference and password should you wish to seek the status of your disclosure at some later date. Some legislation (e.g. Corporations Act in Australia) will only provide legislative protection if the caller identifies themselves. STOPline can assist at the time of your contact.
If I make a complaint regarding suspected misconduct, how will I be protected?
A: The Hotline requires all disclosures to be treated with a high level of confidentiality. This includes sanctions by the entity for reprisal or other detrimental action against a person making a disclosure. We have appointed the STOPline to enhance confidentiality within our organisation with respect to the procedures.
How does the STOPline work?
A: The STOPline enables employees and contractors to report in good faith, suspected misconduct via telephone, email, facsimile, mail or online (anonymously if you wish), to an independent organisation with trained staff who will receive your concerns confidentially and provide the confidential information to the Disclosure Officer/Ethics Committee. The program then places procedural requirements on dealing with and finalising the outcome of the disclosure.
Who and what is the Disclosure Officer?
A: A person within the client organisation who is responsible for ensuring that all serious complaints are handled appropriately. The Disclosure Officer/Ethics Committee is responsible for the organisation’s role in managing disclosures and being the contact point for both STOPline and the Board and/or senior management.
When should I contact the STOPline?
A: You can contact the STOPline when you have knowledge of any corrupt or improper conduct by an employee and/or contractor or any person that adversely affects the honest performance of the organisation.
AS AN EMPLOYEE, HOW DO I KNOW THAT SOMEBODY WON’T JUST MAKE SOME FALSE CLAIM TO SETTLE A PERSONAL GRUDGE?
A: The strength of the STOPline is that all allegations will be professionally managed by trained STOPline staff. The experience of STOPline is that vexatious contacts occur very infrequently. The Disclosure Officer/Ethics Committee may decline to investigate the matter if satisfied that the disclosure is trivial, frivolous or vexatious.
Will I be kept informed about the result of making a report?
A: Yes. You will be kept advised about the status of the report, decisions made regarding how the matter is to be handled, timeframes that apply and the result of any investigation and action taken. If you are totally anonymous, you must initiate contact to receive feedback.
If I make a report, am I liable in anyway?
A: Where a person who makes a disclosure is implicated in the misconduct, STOPline will use all reasonable efforts to protect the individual from reprisals; however the act of reporting improper conduct may not shield the person from the reasonable consequences flowing from any involvement in serious misconduct.
Where else can I obtain information about the Whistleblower Hotline and related Policies
A: Full details are available here
What other avenues do people have to complain about behaviour?
A: This policy and the Whistelblower Hotline are not meant to replace the normal means of addressing any concerns about illegal or unethical conduct. However, if you are not comfortable with normal communication channels, then STOPline is available.