Whistleblowing is defined as deliberate, voluntary disclosure of individual or organizational wrongdoing by a person who has access to data, events or information about an actual, suspected or anticipated wrongdoing within the organisation.
Whistleblower refers to anyone who attempts to make or wishes to make a report in connection with a wrongful act under this policy and who wishes to avail themselves of the protection offered by this policy.
A wrongful act could be any one of the following, but is not limited to these:
- breaches of legal obligations (including negligence, breach of contract, breach of administrative law)
- criminal offences
- mismanagement of funds
- actual or suspected fraud
- abuse of authority
- disclosures related to miscarriages of justice
- health and safety risks, including risks to the public as well as other employees;
- damage to the environment
- the unauthorised use of organisational funds
- possible fraud and corruption
- sexual or physical abuse of clients
- other unethical conduct or
- the concealment of any of the above.
This policy covers all individuals and institutions who act on behalf of AADO in Australia and AADRO in Afghanistan, regardless of whether or not there is a formal legal agreement between them and AADO.
AADO seeks to conduct its activities professionally, honestly and with integrity. However, all organisations face the risk of unprofessional conduct, criminal behaviour or mismanagement. AADO has a responsibility to take appropriate measures to identify such situations and attempt to remedy them. To this end, we seek to create a culture where concerns about unethical and unacceptable conduct can be raised and heard in a safe environment.
Policies and Procedures
The purpose of this policy is to support and empower all representatives to report any wrongful acts in good faith.
We aim to provide a user-friendly reporting mechanism and pathway for making a report alleging or suspecting wrongful acts.
All AADO representatives have an obligation to report actual wrongful acts or suspected wrongful acts in accordance with this policy.
All AADO representatives have the right to speak freely and honestly to report actual or suspected wrongful acts in a safe environment without fear of retaliation or reprisal.
AADO will respond in a timely, respectful and confidential manner to all disclosures of wrongful acts or suspected wrongful acts.
AADO will take steps to protect its personnel from any detrimental conduct, if they report actual or suspected wrongful acts in good faith.
If an actual wrongful act or a suspected wrongful act is reported under this policy, AADO will endeavour to protect the whistleblower’s identity. In order not to jeopardise the investigation into the alleged wrongful act, the whistleblower is also expected to keep the fact they have raised a concern, the nature of the concern and the identity of those involved confidential.
Generally, AADO will not disclose the whistleblower’s identity unless the whistleblower consents or the disclosure is required or authorised by law and/or the disclosure is necessary to further the investigation.
Mostly, reports made under this policy will be treated confidentially. However, when a report is investigated it may be necessary to reveal its substance to people such as other representatives, external persons involved in the investigation process and, in appropriate circumstances, law enforcement agencies. At some point it may also be necessary to disclose the fact and the substance of a report to the person who is the subject of the report.
AADO will take reasonable precautions to store any records relating to an Incident Report of a wrongful act securely and to permit access by authorised personnel only.
Unauthorised disclosure of information relating to a report, the identity of the whistleblower or information from which the identity of the whistleblower could be inferred will be regarded seriously and may result in disciplinary action, which may include dismissal.
Protection of whistleblowers
Policies and Procedures
Obligation of AADO
No person who raises genuinely held concerns in good faith under this policy will be dismissed or subjected to any detrimental conduct as a result of such action, even if the concerns turn out to be unfounded. Detrimental conduct includes, but is not limited to, unwarranted disciplinary action and victimisation in any of the following forms:
- any form of harassment;
- current or future bias; or
- threats of any of the above.
Any such retaliatory action will be treated as serious misconduct and will result in disciplinary action, which may include dismissal. If a whistleblower believes retaliatory action has occurred or has been threatened, the whistleblower has the right to make a submission to the AADO Committee of Management who will arbitrate the matter.
Obligation of whistleblowers
Whistleblowers must have reasonable grounds to suspect that the information they are disclosing about the company or organisation concerns:
- a breach of law, or
- an improper state of affairs or circumstances.
‘Reasonable grounds’ means that a reasonable person in their position would also suspect the information indicates misconduct or a breach of the law.
Whistleblowers implicated in a wrongful act
Even though a whistleblower may be implicated in the wrongful act, they will not be subjected to any actual or threatened retaliatory action or victimisation in reprisal for making a report under this policy.
However, making a report will not necessarily shield the whistleblower from the consequences flowing from that person’s involvement in the wrongful act. In some circumstances an admission may be a mitigating factor when considering disciplinary or other action.
AADO will treat all disclosures of wrongful acts seriously and protect staff who raise concerns in good faith. However, while protection is provided to whistleblowers under this policy, deliberate false reports will not be tolerated and anyone found making a deliberate false claim or report will be subjected to disciplinary action, which could include dismissal.
Procedure for raising a concern
There are two ways in which you can report actual or suspected wrongful acts with AADO:
- You can complete an Incident Report Form, which can also be found on AADO’s website. Email your form to firstname.lastname@example.org with CONFIDENTIAL in the title of the email and name the person or their position. Alternatively, you can email your form to an external body independent of AADO’s Executive team. Contact details can be found below.
You can choose to provide your contact details only to the person investigating the Incident Report, or you can choose to remain anonymous. Additional supporting materials such as photographs, videos and documents can be attached with the Incident Report.
- You may also raise your concerns verbally with your immediate manager or project supervisor, or directly with the Executive Director or with the Treasurer of the Committee of Management.
You should include full details together with any supporting evidence that may be available.
It is important to complete the Incident Report as this will provide helpful prompts for organising your thoughts and preparing the information that has caused your concern.
When an incident report is received by your manager, the Executive Director or the Treasurer, one of them will take responsibility for the report to start investigation. Upon submitting your report you will be contacted by the investigator.
Communication between you and the investigator including submitted reports and files will be stored for the audit trail.
You should state you are using the Whistleblowing Policy and specify whether you wish your identity to be kept confidential. If you choose to raise your concerns in writing, you must use the form provided (see Appendix A).
How a disclosure will be handled
All disclosures will be taken seriously and the following procedure will be used:
- The whistleblower must disclose at the outset any personal interest they may have in the matter. This must include full disclosure of any involvement the whistleblower has had in the matter.
- The person to whom it was raised will manage the disclosure (the Disclosure Manager).
- The Disclosure Manager will identify a suitable individual who will be instructed to conduct an investigation. AADO undertakes to start the investigation within two weeks of the disclosure. The length and scope of the investigation will depend on the subject matter of the disclosure. In most instances, there will be an initial assessment of the disclosure to determine whether there are grounds for a more detailed investigation to take place or whether the disclosure is, for example, based on erroneous information.
- The whistleblower may be asked to provide more information during the course of the investigation.
- The person investigating the disclosure will prepare an investigation report.
- Appropriate action will be decided by the Disclosure Manager in discussion with the Executive Team. Action may include: initiating a disciplinary process, or informing external authorities if a criminal act such as fraud or theft has been committed. If referral to an external authority is necessary, the AADO Committee of Management will be advised and the whistleblower will be informed, although if AADO considers it appropriate to do so, such a referral may need to be made without the whistleblower’s knowledge or consent.
- If it is found that there is not sufficient evidence of a wrongful act, or the actions of the individual(s) are not serious enough to warrant disciplinary action, it may be appropriate for the Disclosure Manager to take a more informal approach to dealing with the matter. In this circumstance possible outcomes of the investigation could be that:
- The allegation could not be substantiated; or
- Action has been taken to ensure that the problem does not arise again.
If the whistleblower is not satisfied with the response they have received, they have the option to raise the matter directly with the President of the AADO Committee of Management directly.
Corrective action and compliance
Should allegations be found to be unsubstantiated, every effort will be made to address any negative effects on the reputation and morale of personnel involved.
As part of the investigation into disclosures made under this policy, recommendations for change will be drafted to enable AADO to minimise the risk of the recurrence of any wrongful act that has been disclosed. The Executive Director and/or Operations Manager will be responsible for reviewing and implementing these recommendations.
Management of a person against whom a report is made
Generally, any person who is the subject of a report that is investigated, will:
- be informed as to the substance of the allegations;
- be given the opportunity to answer the allegations before any investigation is finalised;
- be informed about the substance of any adverse comments that may be included in any report arising from the investigation before it is finalised; and
- have their defence set out fairly in any report.
AADO recognises that individuals against whom a report is made must also be supported during the handling and investigation of the alleged wrongful act. AADO will take reasonable steps to ensure the person who is the subject of a report, is treated fairly, particularly during the assessment and investigation process. Support provided by AADO may include referral for counselling.
Where a person is named by a whistleblower as being suspected of a possible wrongful act but preliminary inquiries determine that the suspicion is baseless or unfounded and that no formal investigation is warranted, then the whistleblower will be informed of this outcome and the matter laid to rest.
Where an investigation does not substantiate the report, the fact that the investigation has been carried out, the results of the investigation and the identity of the person who is the subject of the report must be handled confidentially.
Afghan Australian Development Organisation
working in Afghanistan as the
Afghan Australian Development and Rehabilitation Organisation (AADRO)
WHISTLEBLOWER INCIDENT REPORT
|YES/NO||I authorise the use of the information provided in this report in accordance with the Whistleblowing Policy.|
|YES/NO||I would like a summary of my concerns and proposed action to be provided to me.|
Note: If you wish to remain anonymous do not complete items 1 to 4 of this questionnaire.
|1. Please state your full name. (Optional)
|2. Please state your position title and your office location. (Optional)
|3. Please state your work telephone number and email address. (Optional)
|4. Please state the name of your immediate manager. (Optional)
|5. Please describe in detail the matter you would like to disclose.
|6. Please state how the matter discovered, including if you were informed about it by others (in which case please state their names).
|7. Over what period of time do you believe that the wrongful act has occurred?
|8. Why do you consider this to be a wrongful act?
|9. Please name all the people you believe are involved or have been involved in this wrongful act.
|10. Are there any other witnesses? If “yes”, please state their names.
|11. Does anyone else know about this matter? If “yes”, please state their names.
|12. Do you have any supporting evidence? If “yes’, please either attach it to your report or else state where it is located, how it can be retrieved and whether it is at risk of being lost or destroyed.
|13. Please include any other details that you believe are relevant. This should include whether you have any personal interest in the matter.
|14. Please state (in detail) if you have any concerns regarding reprisals or recriminatory action taken or that might be taken against you.
Thank you. AADO will act on this matter within two weeks of receiving this report.
Authorised persons to whom a protected disclosure may be made
Afghan Australian Development Organisation (AADO)
|Name: Sarina Greco
Post: Mark as “Confidential”
PO Box 85
FITZROY Victoria 3065
Phone: +61 418 477 277
|Dr Nouria Salehi AM
Post: Mark as “Confidential”
PO Box 85
FITZROY Victoria 3065
Phone: +61 422 667 430
|External independent organisation
Diaspora Action Australia
Post: Mark as “Confidential”
Diaspora Action Australia
Level 6, Melbourne Polytechnic
20 Otter Street
Collingwood, Victoria 3066