Whistleblower

Whistleblower policy

1. Introduction 

The George Institute for Global Health, together with its subsidiary and associated companies worldwide (The George Institute or TGI), is committed to the highest standards of conduct and ethical behaviour, research integrity and good corporate governance and to operating:

  • legally and in accordance with applicable legislation and regulations;
  • properly, in accordance with organisational policy and procedures; and
  • ethically, in accordance with recognised ethical principles. 

Including:

  • supporting Whistleblowers to make reports based on reasonable grounds of Reportable Conduct involving the Institute’s activities, including its scientific research;
  • ensuring that any Whistleblower who makes a report based on reasonable grounds to assist in maintaining the legal, proper and ethical operations of the Institute, can do so:
    • anonymously if they wish;     
    • without fear of intimidation, disadvantage or reprisal; and
    • without being penalised in any way.

Directors, Officers, Employees and other associates of the Institute are required to cooperate with this commitment by maintaining legal, proper and ethical operations, and if necessary, by reporting non-compliant actions by others.

2. Purpose

The purpose of this Policy is to:

  • ensure the Institute maintains the highest standards of ethical behaviour and integrity;
  • define who can make a protected disclosure (Whistleblowers);
  • define matters about which a protected disclosure can be made (Reportable Conduct);
  • identify who can receive a protected disclosure (Eligible Recipients);
  • encourage the reporting of matters that may cause harm to individuals, or financial or non-financial loss to the Institute, or damage to the Institute’s reputation;
  • establish a process for the Institute to deal with reports from Whistleblowers;
  • ensure the Institute protects the identity (including the disclosure of information that could lead to the identity) of a Whistleblower;
  • provide for the secure storage of the information provided by Whistleblowers under the Institute’s processes; and
  • protect Whistleblowers against detrimental conduct.

3. Whistleblower and protection 

What is a whistleblower?

A Whistleblower is a person who wishes to make, attempts to make, or makes a report of Reportable Conduct in accordance with this Policy; and

  • is, or has been, an associate of the Institute, including an Institute Board Member, Director, officer, employee, student, contractor, supplier, tenderer or other person, paid or unpaid, who has business dealings with the Institute; or 
  • is a relative or dependent of a person listed above.

What protections are afforded to whistleblowers by the institute?

  • A Whistleblower is not required to disclose their identity to receive Whistleblower protections under this Policy but must make a report of reportable conduct in accordance with this Policy.
  • Subject to certain legal requirements, the identity of a Whistleblower, including information that is likely to lead to identification of the Whistleblower, must not occur without the consent of the Whistleblower. 
  • Where anonymity has been requested, the Whistleblower is also required to maintain confidentiality regarding the issue on their own account and to refrain from discussing the matter with any unauthorised persons.
  • The Institute will ensure that if a Whistleblower makes concerns about Reportable Conduct known, the Whistleblower will not suffer any Detriment on account of those actions, providing that those actions:
    • are based on reasonable grounds; conform to the designated procedures outlined in this Policy; and
    • not involving any misconduct of the part of the Whistleblower.
  • Detriment includes civil, criminal and administrative liability (e.g. dismissal, demotion, harassment, discrimination, disciplinary action, bias, threats or other unfavourable treatment) connected with making a report.
  • A Whistleblower may seek compensation and other remedies through the courts if:
    • a loss, damage or injury is suffered by the Whistleblower because of a disclosure;
    • the Institute failed to take reasonable precautions and exercise due diligence to prevent the detrimental conduct.
  • A Whistleblower is encouraged to seek independent legal advice of his rights and remedies.

4. Reportable matters

Reportable Conduct is:

  • conduct which is dishonest, fraudulent or corrupt, including financial fraud or bribery;
  • illegal activity including but not limited to theft, drug sale or use, violence, harassment or intimidation, criminal damage to property or other breaches of state or federal law;
  • official misconduct or maladministration;
  • research misconduct or intentional data mismanagement;
  • unethical conduct or conduct in breach of the Institute’s policies, including but not limited to dishonestly altering company records or data, adopting questionable accounting practices or wilfully breaching the Institute’s Code of Conduct or other policies or procedures;
  • conduct that could be damaging to the Institute, an Institute employee or a third party, including but not limited to unsafe work practices, environmental damage, health risks or abuse of Institute property or resources;
  • conduct which amounts to an abuse of authority;
  • conduct which may cause financial loss to the Institute, damage its reputation or be otherwise detrimental to the Institute’ interests;
  • conduct which involves harassment, discrimination, bullying or victimisation; or
  • conduct which involves any other kind of serious impropriety, including but not limited to serious and substantial waste of public resources, practices endangering the health or safety of employees, stakeholders or the general public, practices endangering the environment and research misconduct.

Reportable Conduct does not include personal work-related grievances. Personal work-related grievances include, but are not limited to, interpersonal conflicts between the Whistleblower and another employee, or a decision relating to the engagement, transfer or promotion of the Whistleblower.  For personal work-related grievances or other issues employees should refer to the Institute’s Grievance Policy on Gwiz.

5. Making a report

To whom can a whistleblower report?

  • If you become aware, on reasonable grounds, of any issue or behaviour that amounts to Reportable Conduct and you wish to report your concerns, then you must report that concern to an Eligible Recipient.

  • An Eligible Recipient is:
    • The Institute’s external whistleblower service (Your Call);
    • the Global Chief Operating Officer, Director Global HR, or Commercial Director George Clinical;
    • the Institute’s Whistleblower Protection Officer (Chief Operating Officer);
    • a member of an audit team conducting an audit of the Institute; or
    • the authorities responsible for the enforcement of the law in the relevant area.
  • A Whistleblower Protection Officer (WPO) is a senior manager of the Institute, designated, authorised and trained by the Institute to receive Whistleblower disclosures.  The WPO for the Institute will be the global Chief Operating Officer, Tim Regan, whose contact details are tregan@georgeinstitute.org or phone +61 2 8052-4336).

Will the institute protect me if i disclose reportable conduct to a member of parliament or a journalist?

Protection will only be offered by the Institute to any Whistleblower who informs a Member of Parliament or journalist of concerns about Reportable Conduct if: 

  • The Whistleblower has previously made a report regarding the matter to an Eligible Recipient and either:
    • At least 90 days have passed since the report was made; and 
    • The Whistleblower does not have reasonable grounds to believe that action is being, or has been taken to address the report; and
    • The Whistleblower has reasonable grounds to believe that making a further report would be in the public interest; or
    • The Whistleblower has reasonable grounds to believe that the information concerns a substantial and imminent danger to the health and safety of a person, persons, or the environment; and
  • The Whistleblower provides written notification to the Institute that:
    • Includes sufficient information to identify the previously made report; 
    • Clearly states that the Whistleblower intends to make a public interest disclosure or an emergency disclosure as defined above; and
    • The information disclosed is no greater than necessary to inform the MP or journalist of the misconduct or the otherwise improper state of affairs.

Will the institute protect me if i disclose reportable conduct on social media or to someone other than an eligible person?

  • No, to be protected by the Institute, a Whistleblower must make any reports of Reportable Conduct to an Eligible Person in accordance with this Policy.

How can a report be made?

  • A report of Reportable Conduct can be made via the Institute’s external whistleblower service’s website Your Call using the code GEORGEINST or Australian telephone number 1-300-790-228.

  • Alternatively, a a report of Reportable Conduct can be made in writing or in person to the WPO and should contain, as appropriate, details of:

    • the nature of the alleged breach;
    • the person or persons responsible for the breach;
    • the facts on which the Whistleblower’s belief that a breach has occurred are based; and
    • the nature and whereabouts of any further evidence that would substantiate the Whistleblower’s allegations, if known.

What other information should a whistleblower receive?

  • Any Whistleblower who makes a report of Reportable Conduct in accordance with this Policy must be informed that:
    • the Institute will take all reasonable steps to ensure that the Whistleblower will not be disadvantaged for the act of making such a report;
    • the Whistleblower can remain anonymous and still receive protection; and
    • the Whistleblower will not necessarily be absolved from the consequences of their involvement in any misconduct complained of.

6. Investigation

  • The Institute must investigate all matters reported under this Policy.
  • The WPO may only dismiss the Whistleblower’s complaint, if on reasonable grounds, the WPO has a high degree of confidence there is no substance to the complaint. Otherwise the WPO must, with the Whistleblower’s consent, on receiving a report of a breach:
    • notify the Principal Director;
    • if the Principal Director is implicated in the disclosure, notify the Chair of the Board; or
    • if the Chair of the Board is implicated in the disclosure, then the WPO has the authority to move directly to appoint an independent, external expert to investigate the reported breach;
    • appoint any person, both internal and external, as he deems fit to carry out investigation (the Investigator); and
    • ensure the Terms of Reference provided to the Investigator include:
      • all relevant questions;
      • that the scale of the investigation is in proportion to the seriousness of the allegation(s);
      • allocation of sufficient resources;
      • a requirement that confidentiality of all parties, including witnesses, is maintained;
      • a requirement that procedural fairness be applied to all parties;
      • a requirement that strict security is maintained during the investigative process;
      • a requirement that information obtained is properly secured to prevent unauthorised access;
      • a requirement that all relevant witnesses are interviewed and documents examined;
      • a requirement that contemporaneous notes of all discussions, phone calls and interviews must be made; and
      • a requirement that the Findings comply with clause 7 of this Policy;
    • where appropriate, provide feedback to the Whistleblower regarding the investigation’s progress and/or outcome (subject to considerations of the privacy of those against whom allegations are made).
    • The investigation must 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, including fair treatment of employees who are mentioned in a disclosure and those who are the subject of a disclosure.
    • Where anonymity has been requested, the Whistleblower is required to maintain confidentiality regarding the issue on their own account and to refrain from discussing the matter with any unauthorised persons.
    • The Whistleblower will be kept informed of the progress and outcomes of the investigation, if the Whistleblower can be contacted, subject to privacy and confidentiality considerations.

7. Findings

  • A report of findings must be prepared by the Investigator and provided to the WPO when an investigation is complete. This report must include:
    • the allegations;
    • a statement of all relevant findings of fact and the evidence relied upon to reach conclusions on each allegation;
    • the basis for each conclusion reached (including the damage caused, if any, and the impact on the organisation and other affected parties) and their basis; and
    • recommendations based on those conclusions to address any wrongdoing identified and any other matters arising during the investigation.
  • The WPO will review the report to ensure the rules of natural justice are observed in the investigation. The WPO will report to the Principal Director of the findings and depending on the nature of the matter, may:
    • accept the recommendations;
    • refer for further investigation; or
    • revise and substitute with appropriate actions.

8. Compliance with the policy

  • All TGI staff must read, understand and comply with this Policy. Any TGI staff member who breaches this policy will face disciplinary action, which could result in dismissal for misconduct or gross misconduct.
  • This Policy reflected the rights and responsibilities of individuals as outlined in the Australian Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Act 2019.
  • A copy of this Policy will be distributed to all officers and employees of TGI and made available on TGI's intranet and published on TGI’s external website.