1.0 Principles and Purpose

Compassion Australia (“CAU”) is committed to a culture of good commercial practice and highly ethical behaviour.

To assist with this, CAU encourages employees (and others) to raise issues about whether CAU or its employees have complied with applicable laws and other standards of behaviour (such as CAU’s policies or codes of conduct).

This policy sets out the framework for making reporting such issues and associated matters such as the protections and support to those who report, confidentially, and the action CAU will take upon receiving a report.

This policy is available on CAU’s website, within CAU’s policy library and upon request to compassion@compassion.com.au or by calling 1300 22 44 53.

2.0 Application of Policy

2.1 This policy applies to all current and former employees, volunteers, and suppliers of CAU. Other persons (such as third-party contractors, supporters, relatives, dependants or dependants of spouses of any employee) may use the procedures in this policy.

2.2 In this policy, a person to whom this policy applies is referred to as an “eligible person.”

3.0 Objectives

3.1 The objectives of this policy are to-

  • 3.1.1 encourage an eligible person to disclose any malpractice, misconduct, or conflicts of interest of which they become aware, and

  • 3.1.2 provide protection for an eligible person who discloses allegations of malpractice, misconduct, or conflicts of interest, and

  • 3.1.3 indicate when such disclosures will be investigated.

4.0 Whistleblower protection

4.1 To the maximum extent practicable, a person who genuinely discloses an allegation or concern about compliance with laws or other standards of behaviour (the “whistleblower”) will be protected from any adverse action (such as dismissal, demotion, suspension, harassment, or other forms of discrimination) because they have raised such allegations.

4.2 Subject to this policy, a whistleblower will be protected, even if the allegations prove to be incorrect or unsubstantiated (although a person who maliciously or vexatiously makes disclosures or makes false disclosures may be subject to disciplinary action).

4.3 Employees who participate, or assist in, an investigation involving reportable conduct will also be protected. Every effort will be made to protect the anonymity of the whistleblower, however, there may be situations where anonymity cannot be guaranteed. The whistleblower will be informed if court proceedings or a need to offer procedural fairness means that the whistleblower’s identity needs to be revealed.

5.0 Reportable conduct

5.1 Reportable conduct that can be the subject of a protected whistleblower report is anything an eligible person has reasonable grounds to suspect amounts to misconduct or an improper state of affairs or circumstances.

5.2 Examples of things that may be considered misconduct or an improper state of affairs or circumstances include-

  • 5.2.1 dishonesty, or

  • 5.2.2 fraud, or

  • 5.2.3 corruption, or

  • 5.2.4 illegal activities (including theft, drug sale/use, violence, threatened violence, or criminal damage against the assets or property of CAU), or

  • 5.2.5 discrimination, vilification, sexual harassment, harassment, bullying and victimisation, or

  • 5.2.6 acts or omissions in breach of Commonwealth or State or Territory legislation or local authority by-laws, or

  • 5.2.7 unethical behaviour, or

  • 5.2.8 other serious improper conduct (including gross mismanagement, serious and substantial waste of the resources of CAU, or repeated breaches of administrative procedures), or

  • 5.2.9 unsafe work-practices, or

  • 5.2.10 any other conduct which may cause financial or non-financial loss to CAU or be otherwise detrimental to the interests or reputation of CAU, or any of its employees,

  • 5.2.11 any conduct which results in an improper financial or non-financial gain or advantage to CAU, or

  • 5.2.12 the deliberate concealment of information tending to show any of the matters listed above.

6.0 Conduct that is not reportable under this policy

6.1 This policy does not apply to-

  • 6.1.1 personal work-related grievances, or

  • 6.1.2 health and safety reports or grievances,or

  • 6.1.3 general employment grievances and complaints by a person about their own employment or situation.

Reports about these matters should be made under CAU’s Employee Grievance or Health and Safety policies.

7.0 How to speak up about reportable conduct

7.1 Any person who has reasonable grounds to suspect that reportable conduct as defined in clause 5 has occurred, should report to CAU by contacting the Chair of the Board of CAU, a director of CAU, the Company Secretary of CAU, the Chief Executive Officer or the Head of Risk & Compliance.

Telephone contact details can be obtained by calling telephoning 1300 22 44 53.

Email contact information is as follows.

RoleContact Email
Company Secretary  secretary@compassion.com.au
Chief Executive Officer  ceo@compassion.com.au
Head of Risk & Compliance  risk@compassion.com.au

7.2 While CAU encourages reports to itself in the first instance, a report may be made to an external party in appropriate circumstances. Legal advice should be obtained from an independent legal practitioner to clarify when disclosures to an external party (such as CAU’s external auditor or the Australian Securities & Investments Commission) will be protected from claims for breach of confidence or other concerns.

7.3 All disclosures to CAU should provide specific, adequate, and pertinent information with respect to, among other things, dates, places, persons, witnesses, amounts, and other relevant information, to allow for a reasonable investigation to be conducted. A disclosure to CAU pursuant to this policy should specifically say it is pursuant to the Whistleblower Policy and that a formal investigation is requested.

7.4 If a whistleblower disclosure includes the whistleblower’s name and contact details then the person receiving the disclosure will acknowledge having received the disclosure and may initiate a follow-up meeting. However, if the disclosure is submitted on an anonymous basis, there will be no follow-up meeting about the disclosure and CAU will be unable to communicate with the whistleblower if more information is required, or if the matter is to be referred to external parties for further investigation.

7.5 All disclosures received will be dealt with on a confidential basis and whistleblowers are encouraged to disclose their identities, to obtain the protection afforded to them by law.

8.0 Confidentiality and anonymity

8.1 CAU recognises that maintaining appropriate confidentiality is crucial in ensuring that potential whistleblowers come forward and make disclosures in an open and timely manner and without fear of reprisals being made against them.

8.2 CAU will take all reasonable steps to protect the identity of the whistleblower and will adhere to any statutory requirements in respect of the confidentiality of disclosures made. In appropriate cases, disclosure of the identity of the whistleblower, or the allegation made by them, may be unavoidable, such as if court proceedings result from a disclosure pursuant to this policy or there is a threat to life or property or if the company has an obligation to do so.

9.0 Action in response to a whistleblower report

9.1 Upon a disclosure has been received from a whistleblower, CAU will consider the most appropriate action. This might include an investigation of the alleged conduct, either by an appropriate person or a group of people, such as a committee.

9.2 Any investigation in relation to a disclosure will be conducted promptly and fairly, with due regard for the nature of the allegation and the rights of the persons involved in the investigation.

9.3 Any evidence gathered during an investigation, including any materials, documents, or records, must be held securely.

9.4 During the investigation, the investigator will have access to all the relevant materials, documents, and records. The directors, officers, employees, and agents of CAU will be directed to cooperate fully with the investigator.

9.5 Following completion of the investigation, a final report will be issued, and appropriate action taken where applicable.

10.0 Support and protection of a whistleblower

10.1 This policy protects a whistleblower against any reprisals, provided that the whistleblower identifies themselves to CAU as an eligible person, and the disclosure is-

  • 10.1.1 reportable conduct under clause 5 of this policy, and

  • 10.1.2 submitted in good faith and without any malice or intentionally false allegations, and

  • 10.1.3 based on the whistleblower’s reasonable belief that the alleged conduct, or issue related to the alleged conduct constitutes, or may constitute, a material breach of a law or other standard of behaviour,and

  • 10.1.4 does not result in a personal gain or advantage for the whistleblower.

10.2 CAU will not take any adverse action against a whistleblower because they have made a disclosure in the circumstances set out in clause 10.1, unless the whistleblower was a participant in the prohibited activities with respect to which the complaint is made.

10.3 If the whistleblower was involved in the conduct which was the subject of the disclosure, the fact that the whistleblower has made the disclosure will be considered in determining the severity of the disciplinary measures, if any, that may eventually be taken against such whistleblower for being involved in the conduct.

10.4 Any reprisals against a whistleblower are a serious breach of this policy and may result in disciplinary action, including dismissal. This protection applies to anyone providing information related to an investigation pursuant to this policy.

10.5 While it is the right of the whistleblower to remain anonymous, if the whistleblower does not identify themselves and requires complete anonymity, it will be hard for CAU to protect them.

11.0 Communications to the whistleblower

CAU will ensure that, provided the disclosure was not made anonymously, the whistleblower is kept informed of the outcomes of the investigation of the allegations, subject to the considerations of privacy of those against whom allegations are made.

12.0 Review of policy

CAU will periodically review this policy and update as required.

13.0 Further information and advice

For further information, contact the Head of Risk & Compliance at risk@compassion.com.au.

Approved by the Board of Compassion Australia June, 2022