Whistleblower Policy

How to make a report 

By phone:

1300 30 45 50 – within Australia (toll free)

+61 3 9811 3275 – overseas (reverse charges apply)

Email:

ipca@stopline.com.au

 

Web:

ipca.stoplinereport.com/

App:

Search for Stopline365 in the iTunes App Store or Google Play to download the free app and submit a disclosure.

Post:

IPC Asia Pacific c/o Stopline, PO Box 403, Diamond Creek, VIC 3089 (Australia)

Fax

Attention: IPC Asia Pacific, c/o Stopline

+61 3 9882 4480

 

1. Commitment

At IPC Asia Pacific, we are committed to conducting our business with honesty and integrity. We aim to be held in high regard by our customers and both internal and external stakeholders.  We encourage a culture of openness and accountability and are committed to ensuring our business practices are of legal, ethical, and to investigate and address any improper conduct if it occurs.

2. Purpose of the Policy

The purpose of this IPC Asia Pacific Whilstleblower Policy (“Policy”) is to set out:

  • Who is entitled to be protected as a whistleblower under this Policy;
  • The protections whistleblowers are entitled to under this Policy; and
  • How disclosures made by whistleblowers will be handled by IPC Asia Pacific.

This Policy will help:

  1. Deter wrongdoing, in line with IPC Asia Pacific’s risk management and governance framework;
  2. To ensure individuals who disclose wrongdoing can do so safely, securely and with confidence that they will be protected and supported;
  3. To ensure disclosures are dealt with appropriately and on a timely basis;
  4. To provide transparency around the IPC Asia Pacific’s framework for receiving, handling and investigating disclosures;
  5. To support the IPC Asia Pacific’s values, code of conduct and ethics policy;
  6. To support the IPC Asia Pacific’s long-term sustainability and reputation; and
  7. To meet the IPC Asia Pacific’s legal and regulatory obligations.

3. Definitions

IPC Asia Pacific means Independent Purchasing Company (Australasia) Limited ACN 082 169 060 and our related bodies corporate.

Whistleblower Officer means the role under the entity’s Whistleblower Policy that is responsible for protecting or safeguarding disclosers, ensuring the integrity of the reporting mechanism and may also be responsible for investigating disclosures or coordinating external investigations

4. Content of the Policy

The content of this Policy has been largely sourced from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (“ASIC”) Regulatory Guide 270 (November 2019) (“ASIC Guidelines”) and adopted to the needs of IPC Asia Pacific as at the date of this Policy.

A copy of ASIC Guidelines can be found at:

https://download.asic.gov.au/media/5340534/rg270-published-13-november-2019.pdf

IPC Asia Pacific will review this policy periodically, or when there are regulatory changes.

5. Who the Policy Applies To

This Policy is made in accordance with the Whistleblower Protection Laws in the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) of Australia (“Corporations Act”) and Taxation Administration Act 1953 (Cth) of Australia.

An eligible whistleblower (“Eligible Whistleblower”) is an individual who is, or has been, any of the following in relation to IPC Asia Pacific:

  1. An officer or employee (e.g. current and former employees who are permanent, part-time, fixed-term or temporary, interns, secondees, managers, and directors);
  2. A supplier of services or goods to IPC Asia Pacific (whether paid or unpaid), including their employees (e.g. current and former contractors, consultants, service providers and business partners);
  3. An associate of IPC Asia Pacific; and
  4. A relative, dependant or spouse of an individual in (a)–(c) (e.g. relatives, dependants or spouse of current and former employees, contractors, consultants, service providers, suppliers and business partners).

It is important to note that a person also qualifies for protection as a whistleblower under the Corporations Act if they are an Eligible Whistleblower in relation to IPC Asia Pacific and:

  1. They have made a disclosure of information relating to a ‘disclosable matter’ directly to an ‘eligible recipient’ or to ASIC, APRA or another Commonwealth body prescribed by regulation;
  2. They have made a disclosure to a legal practitioner for the purposes of obtaining legal advice or legal representation about the operation of the whistleblower provisions in the Corporations Act; or
  3. They have made an ‘emergency disclosure’ or ‘public interest disclosure’.

6. Matters the Policy Applies To

6.1 Disclosable Matters

This section will set out the types of disclosure that qualify for protection under the Corporations Act. These are called ‘Disclosable Matters.’

Term

Example/s

Disclosable Matters

Disclosable Matters involve information that the discloser has reasonable grounds to suspect concerns ‘misconduct’, or an ‘improper state of affairs or circumstances’, in relation to IPC Asia Pacific, or a related body corporate of IPC Asia Pacific.

 

Disclosable Matters also involve information about IPC Asia Pacific, if the discloser has reasonable grounds to suspect that the information indicates IPC Asia Pacific or its related bodies corporate (including their employees or officers) have engaged in conduct that:

(a) constitutes an offence against, or a contravention of, a provision of any of the following:

(i) the Corporations Act;

(ii) the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001;

(iii) the Banking Act 1959;

(iv) the Financial Sector (Collection of Data) Act 2001;

(v) the Insurance Act 1973;

(vi) the Life Insurance Act 1995;

(vii) the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009;

(viii) the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993;

(ix) an instrument made under an Act referred to in (a)(i)–(a)(viii);

(b) constitutes an offence against any other law of the Commonwealth that is punishable by imprisonment for a period of 12 months or more;

(c) represents a danger to the public or the financial system; or

(d) is prescribed by regulation.

 

It is important to note that:

  • Disclosable Matters include conduct that may not involve a contravention of a particular law.
  • Information that indicates a significant risk to public safety or the stability of, or confidence in, the financial system is also a Disclosable Matter, even if it does not involve a breach of a particular law.
  • A disclosure can still qualify for protection even if their disclosure turns out to be incorrect.

 

Misconduct

Is defined to include ‘fraud, negligence, default, breach of trust and breach of duty.’

Improper state of affairs or circumstances

 

Is not defined by the legislation and is intentionally broad.

 

For example, ‘misconduct or an improper state of affairs or circumstances’ may not involve unlawful conduct in relation to IPC Asia Pacific or a related body corporate of IPC Asia Pacific but may indicate a systemic issue that the relevant regulator should know about to properly perform its functions.

 

It may also relate to business behaviour and practices that may cause consumer harm.

 

Reasonable grounds to suspect

Is based on the objective reasonableness of the reasons for the discloser’s suspicion.

 

It ensures that a discloser’s motive for making a disclosure, or their personal opinion of the person(s) involved, does not prevent them from qualifying for protection.

 

In practice, a mere allegation with no supporting information is not likely to be considered as having ‘reasonable grounds to suspect’. However, a discloser does not need to prove their allegations.

 

 

Below are some examples of what these words can mean in practice in relation to IPC Asia Pacific, or a related body corporate.

Subject

Example/s

Misconduct in relation to IPC Asia Pacific or a related body corporate.

Misconduct includes fraud, negligence, default, breach of trust, or breach of duty in relation to IPC Asia Pacific or a related body corporate, or breach of fiduciary duties to members/shareholders

Deliberately or negligently breaching laws in the conduct of its business.

Deliberately overcharging or charging for services not received.

An improper state of affairs or circumstances, in relation to IPC Asia Pacific or a related body corporate.

 

 

Unethical conduct, such as systemic or serious breaches of IPC Asia Pacific policies.

Conduct which may cause financial or non-financial loss to IPC Asia Pacific or be otherwise detrimental to the interests of IPC Asia Pacific, such as financial mismanagement.

Conduct or practices which are illegal.

Corrupt activities.

Requesting and taking bribes.

Fraudulent or other illegal activity or a criminal offence.

Abuse of authority.

Perverting the course of justice.

Abuse of public trust.

Information that indicates that IPC Asia Pacific or our related bodies corporate or any of our officers or employees have engaged in conduct that constitutes a breach of the Corporations Act and other laws administered by ASIC and APRA.

Insider trading.

Trading while insolvent.

Breach of continuous disclosure rules.

Engaging in detrimental conduct towards a person who is, or is thought to be, a discloser.

Breaching the confidentiality of a person who has made, or may make, a disclosure of improper conduct.

Significant mismanagement of funds or resources, or financial malpractice.

Information that indicates that IPC Asia Pacific or our related bodies corporate or any of our officers or employees have engaged in conduct that breaches any other Commonwealth laws, that is punishable by 12 months or more imprisonment.

Bribing a government official.

Theft of the belongings or property of IPC Asia Pacific and/or contractors.

Serious harm to Staff, public, volunteer or contractor safety.

Information that indicates that IPC Asia Pacific or our related bodies corporate or any of our officers or employees have engaged in conduct that represents a danger to the public or to the financial system.

Deliberately or negligently misleading the public about the safety of a product.
Systemic conduct that might pose a risk to stability of, or confidence in, our financial system.

Information that indicates misconduct or an improper state of affairs or circumstances, in relation to the tax affairs of IPC Asia Pacific, or an associate of IPC Asia Pacific and you consider this information may assist the recipient to perform their functions or duties in relation to those tax affairs.

Information about a tax evasion scheme within the business.

Any attempt to conceal or delay disclosure of any of the above conduct.

 

 

6.2 Personal Work-Related Grievances

Disclosures that relate solely to personal work-related grievances, and that do not relate to detriment or threat of detriment to the discloser, do not qualify for protection under the Corporations Act.

Personal work-related grievances are those that relate to the discloser's current or former employment and have, or tend to have, implications for the discloser personally, but do not: 

  1. have any other significant implications for IPC Asia Pacific (or another entity); or
  2. relate to any conduct, or alleged conduct, about a Disclosable Matter.

Subject

Example/s

Some specific examples of grievances that may be personal work-related grievances, include:

 

An interpersonal conflict between the discloser and another employee.

A decision that does not involve a breach of workplace laws.

A decision about the engagement, transfer or promotion of the discloser.

A decision about the terms and conditions of engagement of the discloser.

A decision to suspend or terminate the engagement of the discloser, or otherwise to discipline the discloser.

A personal work-related grievance may still qualify for protection if: 

  1. it includes information about misconduct, or information about misconduct includes or is accompanied by a personal work-related grievance (mixed report);
  2. IPC Asia Pacific has breached employment or other laws punishable by imprisonment for a period of 12 months or more, engaged in conduct that represents a danger to the public, or the disclosure relates to information that suggests misconduct beyond the discloser’s personal circumstances;
  3. the discloser suffers from or is threatened with detriment for making a disclosure; or
  4. the discloser seeks legal advice or legal representation about the operation of the whistleblower protections under the Corporations Act.

Employees are encouraged to resolve their personal work-related grievance(s). An employee can internally raise personal work-related grievances and other types of issues or concerns that are not covered by this Policy by contacting:

Position: Director of People & Culture

Phone: +61 2 8908 7976

Email: Whistleblower@ipca.biz:>

Mail: Level 3, 65 Berry Street, North Sydney NSW 2060 – to be marked ‘Private & Confidential

Employees may choose to seek their own legal advice about their rights and protections under employment or contract law.

 

6.3 Discouraging False Reporting

 

While IPC Asia Pacific strongly discourages deliberate false reporting (i.e. a report that the discloser knows to be untrue), IPC Asia Pacific does not want to deter staff from making disclosures where they may have some information leading to a suspicion, but not all the details.

7. Who can Receive a Disclosure?

This section includes information about:

  1. who can receive disclosures that qualify for protection; and
  2. how disclosures may be made.

7.1 Eligible Recipients in relation to IPC Asia Pacific

It is important to note that a discloser needs to make a disclosure directly to one of the IPC Asia Pacific’s ‘eligible recipients’ to be able to qualify for protection as a whistleblower under the Corporations Act.

 

At IPC Asia Pacific an ‘eligible recipient’ includes:

  1. An officer, such as a director or company secretary of IPC Asia Pacific or its related body corporate;
  2. A senior manager, such as a senior executive within IPC Asia Pacific or its related body corporate
  3. The internal or external auditor (including a member of an audit team conducting an audit) or actuary of IPC Asia Pacific or its related body corporate;
  4. The Director of People & Culture has been appointed by IPC Asia Pacific, to be the Whistleblower Officer and is authorised to receive disclosures that may qualify for protection. They can be contacted as follows:

    Position: Director of People & Culture

    Phone: +61 2 8908 7976

    Email: Whistleblower@ipca.biz

    Mail: Level 3, 65 Berry Street, North Sydney NSW 2060 – to be marked ‘Private & Confidential’. The enclosed report should be addressed to the IPC Asia Pacific Whistleblower Officer, c/o Director of People & Culture.

    A discloser may also make a disclosure by contacting our Whistleblowing Hotline via any of the below methods:

  5. By phone:

    1300 30 45 50 – within Australia (toll free)

    +61 3 9811 3275 – overseas (reverse charges apply)

    Email:

    ipca@stopline.com.au

     

    Web:

    ipca.stoplinereport.com/

    App:

    Search for Stopline365 in the iTunes App Store or Google Play to download the free app and submit a disclosure.

    Post:

    IPC Asia Pacific c/o Stopline, PO Box 403, Diamond Creek, VIC 3089 (Australia)

    Fax

    Attention: IPC Asia Pacific, c/o Stopline

    +61 3 9882 4480

     

    The Whistleblowing Hotline:

    1. is a confidential way for people to whom this policy applies to anonymously (if the discloser wishes to remain anonymous) or if they wish by disclosing their identity, to report illegal, corrupt or unethical conduct occurring within IPC Asia Pacific or its related bodies corporate, without fear of detriment;
    2. is operated and managed by Stopline; and
    3. the Whistleblowing Hotline is not related to IPC Asia Pacific or any of its related bodies corporate and will not record your call or pass on your name, but they will pass on your complaint to our designated Whistleblower Officer for follow up.

    IPC Asia Pacific is committed to identifying and addressing wrongdoing as early as possible, so IPC Asia Pacific encourage people to contact the Whistleblower Officer at first instance. This approach is intended to help build confidence and trust in this Policy, its processes and procedures.

     

    Nonetheless, a discloser can make a disclosure directly to regulatory bodies, or other external parties such as the Whistleblower Hotline, about a Disclosable Matter and qualify for protection under the Corporations Act without making a prior disclosure to IPC Asia Pacific.

    7.2 Legal Practitioners

    The ASIC Guidelines emphasise that disclosures to a legal practitioner for the purposes of obtaining legal advice or legal representation in relation to the operation of the whistleblower provisions in the Corporations Act are protected. This is the case, even in the event, that the legal practitioner concludes that a disclosure does not relate to a Disclosable Matter.

    7.3 Regulatory bodies and other external parties

    The ASIC Guidelines state that it is important to note in this Policy that disclosures of information relating to a Disclosable Matter can be made to ASIC, APRA or another Commonwealth body prescribed by regulation and qualify for protection under the Corporations Act.

    Please see below links to whistleblowing information provided by:

    ASIC

    https://asic.gov.au/about-asic/asic-investigations-and-enforcement/whistleblowing/how-asic-handles-whistleblower-reports/

    APRA

    https://www.apra.gov.au/become-a-whistleblower-and-make-a-public-interest-disclosure

    ATO

    https://www.ato.gov.au/general/gen/whistleblowers/

     

    7.4 Public Interest Disclosure and Emergency Disclosure

    The ASIC Guidelines state that it is important to note in this Policy that disclosures can be made to a journalist or parliamentarian under certain circumstances and qualify for protection.

    Term

    Means

    ‘Public interest disclosure’

    A ‘public interest disclosure’ is the disclosure of information to a journalist or a parliamentarian, where:

    1. at least 90 days have passed since the discloser made the disclosure to ASIC, APRA or another Commonwealth body prescribed by regulation;
    2. the discloser does not have reasonable grounds to believe that action is being, or has been taken, in relation to their disclosure;
    3. the discloser has reasonable grounds to believe that making a further disclosure of the information is in the public interest; and
    4. before making the public interest disclosure, the discloser has given written notice to the body in (a) (i.e. the body to which the previous disclosure was made) that:
      1. includes sufficient information to identify the previous disclosure; and
      2. states that the discloser intends to make a public interest disclosure.

    ‘Emergency Disclosure”

     

    An ‘emergency disclosure’ is the disclosure of information to a journalist or parliamentarian, where:

    1. the discloser has previously made a disclosure of the information to ASIC, APRA or another Commonwealth body prescribed by regulation;
    2. the discloser has reasonable grounds to believe that the information concerns a substantial and imminent danger to the health or safety of one or more persons or to the natural environment;
    3. before making the emergency disclosure, the discloser has given written notice to the body in (a) (i.e. the body to which the previous disclosure was made) that:
      1. includes sufficient information to identify the previous disclosure; and
      2. states that the discloser intends to make an emergency disclosure; and
    4. the extent of the information disclosed in the emergency disclosure is no greater than is necessary to inform the journalist or parliamentarian of the substantial and imminent danger.

     

    The ASIC Guidelines state that:

    • It is important for the discloser to understand the criteria for making a public interest or emergency disclosure.
    • It is important to emphasise that a disclosure must have previously been made to ASIC, APRA or a prescribed body and written notice provided to the body to which the disclosure was made.
    • It is also important to clarify that, in the case of a public interest disclosure, at least 90 days must have passed since the previous disclosure.
    • Finally, the ASIC Guidelines require that this Policy should expressly state that a discloser should contact an independent legal adviser before making a public interest disclosure or an emergency disclosure.

    8. How to Make a Disclosure?

    8.1 Contacts

    As stated above, if you wish to make a disclosure about improper conduct pursuant to this Policy, we encourage you to report it to our designated Whistleblower Officer who has been authorised by IPC Asia Pacific to receive disclosures and has received special training to handle disclosures.

    You may also make a disclosure by contacting our Whistleblowing Hotline via any of the methods detailed above:

    8.2 Anonymous Disclosures

    The ASIC Guidelines require this Policy to note that:

    • Disclosures can be made anonymously and still be protected under the Corporations Act.
    • A discloser can choose to remain anonymous while making a disclosure, over the course of the investigation and after the investigation is finalised.
    • A discloser can refuse to answer questions that they feel could reveal their identity at any time, including during follow-up conversations.
    • A discloser who wishes to remain anonymous should maintain ongoing two-way communication with IPC Asia Pacific or Stopline (depending on which one the discloser chooses to contact at the first instance), so IPC Asia Pacific/Stopline can ask follow-up questions or provide feedback.
    • In practice, if a disclosure comes from an email address from which the person’s identity cannot be determined, and the discloser does not identify themselves in the email, IPC Asia Pacific/Stopline will treat this communication as an anonymous disclosure.
    • A discloser may choose to anonymised email address to protect their anonymity.
    • A discloser may adopt a pseudonym for the purpose of their disclosure— this may be appropriate in circumstances where the discloser’s identity is known to their supervisor, the Whistleblower Officer or equivalent, but the discloser prefers not to disclose their identity to others.

    9. Legal Protections for Disclosures

    This section sets out information about the protections under the Corporations Act that are available to disclosers who qualify for protection as a whistleblower.

    This covers the following protections:

    1. Identity protection (confidentiality);
    2. Protection from detrimental acts or omissions;
    3. Compensation and other remedies; and
    4. Civil, criminal and administrative liability protection.

    It is important to highlight that the protections apply not only to internal disclosures, but to disclosures to legal practitioners, regulatory and other external bodies, and public interest and emergency disclosures that are made in accordance with the Corporations Act.

    9.1 Identity Protection (confidentiality)

    IPC Asia Pacific has legal obligations to protect the confidentiality of a discloser’s identity.

    A person cannot disclose the identity of a discloser or information that is likely to lead to the identification of the discloser (which they have obtained directly or indirectly because the discloser made a disclosure that qualifies for protection).

    The exception to this rule, is if a person discloses the identity of the discloser:

    1. To ASIC, APRA, or a member of the Australian Federal Police (within the meaning of the Australian Federal Police Act 1979);
    2. To a legal practitioner (for the purposes of obtaining legal advice or legal representation about the whistleblower provisions in the Corporations Act);
    3. To a person or body prescribed by regulations; or
    4. With the consent of the discloser.

    A person can disclose the information contained in a disclosure with or without the discloser’s consent if:

    1. The information does not include the discloser’s identity;
    2. The entity has taken all reasonable steps to reduce the risk that the discloser will be identified from the information; and
    3. It is reasonably necessary for investigating the issues raised in the disclosure.

    It is important to highlight that it is illegal for a person to identify a discloser, or disclose information that is likely to lead to the identification of the discloser, outside the exceptions set out above.

    A discloser can lodge a complaint with the IPC Asia Pacific Whistleblower Officer about a breach of confidentiality, their details are set out above.

    Alternatively, a discloser can lodge a complaint about a breach of confidentiality with the Whistleblowing Hotline via any of the below set out above.

    A discloser may also or alternatively lodge a complaint of breach of confidentiality with a regulator, such as ASIC, APRA or the ATO, for investigation.

    9.2 Protection from Detrimental Acts or Omissions

    This section sets out the legal protections for protecting a discloser, or any other person, from detriment in relation to a disclosure.

     

    The ASIC Guidelines state that it is important to note in this Policy that a person cannot engage in conduct that causes detriment to a discloser (or another person), in relation to a disclosure, if:

    1. The person believes or suspects that the discloser (or another person) made, may have made, proposes to make or could make a disclosure that qualifies for protection; and
    2. The belief or suspicion is the reason, or part of the reason, for the conduct.

     

    In addition, a person cannot make a threat to cause detriment to a discloser (or another person) in relation to a disclosure.

     

    Term

    Means

    Threat

     

    A threat may be express or implied, or conditional or unconditional. A discloser (or another person) who has been threatened in relation to a disclosure does not have to actually fear that the threat will be carried out.

    Detrimental conduct

     

     

    Detrimental conduct includes the following:

    1. dismissal of an employee;
    2. injury of an employee in his or her employment;
    3. alteration of an employee’s position or duties to his or her disadvantage;
    4. discrimination between an employee and other employees of the same employer;
    5. harassment or intimidation of a person;
    6. harm or injury to a person, including psychological harm;
    7. damage to a person’s property;
    8. damage to a person’s reputation;
    9. damage to a person’s business or financial position; or
    10. any other damage to a person.

    Examples of what is not

    Detrimental Conduct

     

    The following are examples of actions that are not detrimental conduct (where relevant):

    • Administrative action that is reasonable for the purpose of protecting a discloser from detriment (e.g. moving a discloser who has made a disclosure about their immediate work area to another office to prevent them from detriment); and
    • Managing a discloser’s unsatisfactory work performance, if the action is in line with the entity’s performance management framework.

    If such actions are required, then IPC Asia Pacific will explain the reasons for the administrative or management action in writing to the discloser.

    9.3 Compensation and Other Remedies

    The ASIC guidelines states that it is important to note in this Policy that a discloser (or any other employee or person) can seek compensation and other remedies through the courts if:

    1. They suffer loss, damage or injury because of a disclosure; and
    2. IPC Asia Pacific has failed to take reasonable precautions and exercise due diligence to prevent the detrimental conduct.

    IPC Asia Pacific is committed to ensuring this does not happen by ensuring this Policy is widely communicated and implemented within the business.

    The ASIC guidelines states that it is important to encourage disclosers to seek independent legal advice if feel they might be entitled to compensation or other remedies.

    9.4 Civil, Criminal and Administrative Liability Protection

    The ASIC guidelines states that it is important to note in this Policy that a discloser is protected from any of the following in relation to their disclosure:

    1. Civil liability (e.g. any legal action against the discloser for breach of an employment contract, duty of confidentiality or another contractual obligation);
    2. Criminal liability (e.g. attempted prosecution of the discloser for unlawfully releasing information, or other use of the disclosure against the discloser in a prosecution (other than for making a false disclosure)); and
    3. Administrative liability (e.g. disciplinary action for making the disclosure).

    However, please note that the protections do not grant immunity for any misconduct a discloser has engaged in that is revealed in their disclosure.

    10. Support and Practical Protection for Disclosers

    This section will set out information about how IPC Asia Pacific will support disclosers and protect disclosers from detriment.

    10.1 Identity Protection (Confidentiality)

    IPC Asia Pacific will undertake the following measures and/or mechanisms for protecting the confidentiality of a discloser’s identity.

     

    Measures

    Details

    Reducing the risk that the discloser will be identified from the information contained in a disclosure

    • All personal information or reference to the discloser witnessing an event will be redacted;
    • The discloser will be referred to in a gender-neutral context;
    • Where possible, the discloser will be contacted to help identify certain aspects of their disclosure that could inadvertently identify them; and
    • Disclosures will be handled and investigated by qualified staff.

    Secure record-keeping and information-sharing processes

    • All paper and electronic documents and other materials relating to disclosures will be stored securely;
    • Access to all information relating to a disclosure will be limited to those directly involved in managing and investigating the disclosure;
    • Only a restricted number of people who are directly involved in handling and investigating a disclosure will be made aware of a discloser’s identity (subject to the discloser’s consent) or information that is likely to lead to the identification of the discloser;
    • Communications and documents relating to the investigation of a disclosure will not to be sent to an email address or to a printer that can be accessed by other staff; and
    • Each person who is involved in handling and investigating a disclosure will be reminded about the confidentiality requirements, including that an unauthorised disclosure of a discloser’s identity may be a criminal offence.

    Contacting the Whistleblower Officer

    IPC Asia Pacific’s Whistleblower Officer is responsible for discussing the entity’s measures for ensuring confidentiality of their identity.

    In practice, people may be able to guess the discloser’s identity if:

    • The discloser has previously mentioned to other people that they are considering making a disclosure;
    • The discloser is one of a very small number of people with access to the information; or
    • The disclosure relates to information that a discloser has previously been told privately and in confidence.

     

    10.2 Protection from Detrimental Acts or Omissions

    The section will set out examples of how IPC Asia Pacific will, in practice protect disclosers from detriment.

    Measures

    Details

    Measures and mechanisms IPC Asia Pacific will seek to implement to protect disclosers from detrimental acts or omissions (where applicable):

    IPC Asia Pacific will:

    • Set up processes for assessing the risk of detriment against a discloser and other persons (e.g. other staff who might be suspected to have made a disclosure), which will commence as soon as possible after receiving a disclosure;
    • Implement appropriate strategies to help a discloser minimise and manage stress, time or performance impacts, or other challenges resulting from the disclosure or its investigation;
    • Consider appropriate actions for protecting a discloser from risk of detriment—for example, IPC Asia Pacific may allow the discloser to perform their duties from another location, reassign the discloser to another role at the same level, make other modifications to the discloser’s workplace or the way they perform their work duties, or reassign or relocate other staff involved in the Disclosable Matter;
    • Will implement processes for ensuring that management are aware of their responsibilities to maintain the confidentiality of a disclosure, address the risks of isolation or harassment, manage conflicts, and ensure fairness when managing the performance of, or taking other management action relating to, a discloser;
    • Will implement procedures on how a discloser can lodge a complaint if they have suffered detriment, and the actions the entity may take in response to such complaints; and
    • Will put in place interventions for protecting a discloser if detriment has already occurred.

    The ASIC Guidelines require that this Policy should state that a discloser may seek independent legal advice or contact regulatory bodies, such as ASIC, APRA or the ATO, if they believe they have suffered detriment.

    11. Handling and investigating a disclosure

    This section set out how the entity will investigate disclosures that qualify for protection.

    IPC Asia Pacific will:

    • Provide transparency about how it will handle and investigate disclosures, including timeframes for handling and investigating disclosures;
    • Ensure the confidentiality of its disclosure handling and investigation process; and
    • Ensure appropriate records and documentation for each step in the process are maintained.

    11.1 Handling a Disclosure

    Once IPC Asia Pacific receives a disclosure, it will need to assess whether:

    1. The disclosure qualifies for protection; and
    2. A formal, in-depth investigation is required.

    It is important to highlight that without the discloser’s consent, IPC Asia Pacific cannot disclose information that is likely to lead to the identification of the discloser as part of its investigation process—unless:

    1. The information does not include the discloser’s identity;
    2. The entity removes information relating to the discloser’s identity or other information that is likely to lead to the identification of the discloser (e.g. the discloser’s name, position title and other identifying details); and
    3. It is reasonably necessary for investigating the issues raised in the disclosure.

    It should be acknowledged that in certain circumstances there may be certain limitations to IPC Asia Pacific’s investigation process. For example, IPC Asia Pacific may not be able to undertake an investigation if it is not able to contact the discloser (e.g. if a disclosure is made anonymously and the discloser has refused to provide, or has not provided, a means of contacting them).

    If IPC Asia Pacific determines that it will need to investigate a disclosure, IPC Asia Pacific will determine:

    1. The nature and scope of the investigation;
    2. The person(s) within and/or outside IPC Asia Pacific that should lead the investigation;
    3. The nature of any technical, financial or legal advice that may be required to support the investigation; and
    4. The timeframe for the investigation.

    IPC Asia Pacific will seek to follow best practice in investigations. IPC Asia Pacific recognises that investigations need to be objective, fair and independent, while preserving the confidentiality of the investigation.

    Generally, IPC Asia Pacific will take the following steps:

    IPC Asia Pacific will endeavour to:

    • Investigate the disclosure within a reasonable period of time,
    • Ensure that any investigation is fair and objective;
    • Provide persons who are mentioned in the disclosure or to whom the disclosure relates, an opportunity to respond (where appropriate and subject to its requirements to maintain confidentiality as required by law);
    • Avoid conflicts of interest in carrying out any investigation.

    The investigation team will be coordinated by the Whistleblower Officer. In some cases, IPC Asia Pacific may appoint external investigators such as lawyers or forensic accountants.

    If the discloser can be contacted:

    • the Whistleblower Officer will discuss the likely steps of the investigation with the discloser (including whether the discloser consents to their identity being disclosed);
    • where required by law, we will provide the discloser with feedback from time to time about the status of the investigation, the likely timeframe of the investigation, and the outcomes of the investigation (subject to considerations of confidentiality and maintaining the privacy of persons who were referred to in the disclosure).

      The outcome of any investigation will be reported to the then current Chairman of Independent Purchasing Company (Australasia) Limited. If the investigation substantiates the disclosure, we are committed to addressing any wrongdoing, to the extent practicable in the circumstances.

      The Whistleblower Officer will also provide a quarterly report to the Risk Committee and the Board of Directors regarding:

    • disclosures made under this policy; and
    • investigations conducted, findings and any actions required.

    11.2 Keeping a Discloser Informed

    As mentioned above, IPC Asia Pacific will seek to provide the discloser with regular updates, if the discloser can be contacted (including through anonymous channels). IPC Asia Pacific acknowledges that the frequency and timeframe may vary depending on the nature of the disclosure.

    Where possible, IPC Asia Pacific will acknowledge a discloser after receiving their disclosure.

    In addition, where possible, IPC Asia Pacific will seek to provide updates to a discloser during the key stages, such as:

    1. When the investigation process has begun;
    2. While the investigation is in progress; and
    3. After the investigation has been finalised.

    11.3 Findings

    IPC Asia Pacific will set out separately in more detail how the findings from an investigation will be documented and reported to those responsible for oversight of this Policy, while preserving confidentiality.

    This process will also set out what information the discloser will receive at the end of the investigation. A copy of this process will be annexed to this Policy as part of Schedule 1, when it has been prepared the Risk Committee.

    It should be noted that that the method for documenting and reporting the findings will depend on the nature of the disclosure.

    It should also be noted that there may be circumstances where it may not be appropriate to provide details of the outcome to the discloser.

    12. Ensuring Fair Treatment of Individuals mentioned in a Disclosure

    IPC Asia Pacific will seek to ensure the fair treatment of its employees who are mentioned in a disclosure that qualifies for protection, including those who are the subject of a disclosure.

    IPC Asia Pacific may take the following measures and/or mechanisms for ensuring fair treatment of individuals mentioned in a disclosure (where applicable):

    • Disclosures will be handled confidentially, when it is practical and appropriate in the circumstances;

    • Each disclosure will be assessed and may be the subject of an investigation;

    • The objective of an investigation is to determine whether there is enough evidence to substantiate or refute the matters reported;

    • When an investigation needs to be undertaken, the process will be objective, fair and independent;

    • An employee who is the subject of a disclosure will be advised about the subject matter of the disclosure as and when required by principles of natural justice and procedural fairness and prior to any actions being taken—for example, if the disclosure will be the subject of an investigation; and

    In its sole discretion, IPC Asia Pacific will determine the most appropriate time to inform the individual who is the subject of a disclosure about the investigation, provided that IPC Asia Pacific will inform the individual before making any adverse finding against them.

    The ASIC Guidelines note that in some circumstances, informing the individual at an early stage of an investigation may compromise the effectiveness of the investigation, such as when there may be concerns that the individual may destroy information or the disclosure needs to be referred to ASIC, APRA, the ATO or the Federal Police.

    13. Availability of the Policy

    IPC Asia Pacific employees and officers will be made aware and have access to this policy and the mechanisms for the reporting of Reportable Conduct through IPC Asia Pacific’s induction and ongoing training programs and corporate communications.

    A copy of this Policy is available on the IPC Asia Pacific website and intranet.

    14. Local laws

    To the extent that this Policy is inconsistent with any laws of the jurisdiction in which a staff member is employed, then those local laws must also be adhered to.

    15. Updates

    This Policy may be updated from time to time by IPC Asia Pacific in its sole discretion with or without notice, the latest version supersedes any previous versions of this Policy and takes effect immediately when uploaded onto IPC Asia Pacific’s intranet.

    1. Failure to Comply with this Policy

    You agree to comply with this Policy, as varied from time to time by IPC Asia Pacific.  To the extent that this Policy refers to obligations on IPC Asia Pacific, you agree that they are guides only and are not contractual terms, conditions or representations on which you rely.

    17. Grievances

    Any grievances about this Policy can be dealt with under IPC Asia Pacific's Grievance Handling Guideline or with the Director of People & Culture.

     

    18. Questions

    If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the IPC Asia Pacific People & Culture team at HR@ipca.biz

     


  6. An officer, such as a director or company secretary of IPC Asia Pacific or its related body corporate;
  7. A senior manager, such as a senior executive within IPC Asia Pacific or its related body corporate
  8. The internal or external auditor (including a member of an audit team conducting an audit) or actuary of IPC Asia Pacific or its related body corporate;
  9. The Director of People & Culture has been appointed by IPC Asia Pacific, to be the Whistleblower Officer and is authorised to receive disclosures that may qualify for protection. They can be contacted as follows:

    Position: Director of People & Culture

    Phone: +61 2 8908 7976

    Email: Whistleblower@ipca.biz

    Mail: Level 3, 65 Berry Street, North Sydney NSW 2060 – to be marked ‘Private & Confidential’. The enclosed report should be addressed to the IPC Asia Pacific Whistleblower Officer, c/o Director of People & Culture.

    A discloser may also make a disclosure by contacting our Whistleblowing Hotline via any of the below methods:

  10. By phone:

    1300 30 45 50 – within Australia (toll free)

    +61 3 9811 3275 – overseas (reverse charges apply)

    Email:

    ipca@stopline.com.au

     

    Web:

    ipca.stoplinereport.com/

    App:

    Search for Stopline365 in the iTunes App Store or Google Play to download the free app and submit a disclosure.

    Post:

    IPC Asia Pacific c/o Stopline, PO Box 403, Diamond Creek, VIC 3089 (Australia)

    Fax

    Attention: IPC Asia Pacific, c/o Stopline

    +61 3 9882 4480

     

    The Whistleblowing Hotline:

    1. is a confidential way for people to whom this policy applies to anonymously (if the discloser wishes to remain anonymous) or if they wish by disclosing their identity, to report illegal, corrupt or unethical conduct occurring within IPC Asia Pacific or its related bodies corporate, without fear of detriment;
    2. is operated and managed by Stopline; and
    3. the Whistleblowing Hotline is not related to IPC Asia Pacific or any of its related bodies corporate and will not record your call or pass on your name, but they will pass on your complaint to our designated Whistleblower Officer for follow up.

    IPC Asia Pacific is committed to identifying and addressing wrongdoing as early as possible, so IPC Asia Pacific encourage people to contact the Whistleblower Officer at first instance. This approach is intended to help build confidence and trust in this Policy, its processes and procedures.

     

    Nonetheless, a discloser can make a disclosure directly to regulatory bodies, or other external parties such as the Whistleblower Hotline, about a Disclosable Matter and qualify for protection under the Corporations Act without making a prior disclosure to IPC Asia Pacific.

    7.2 Legal Practitioners

    The ASIC Guidelines emphasise that disclosures to a legal practitioner for the purposes of obtaining legal advice or legal representation in relation to the operation of the whistleblower provisions in the Corporations Act are protected. This is the case, even in the event, that the legal practitioner concludes that a disclosure does not relate to a Disclosable Matter.

    7.3 Regulatory bodies and other external parties

    The ASIC Guidelines state that it is important to note in this Policy that disclosures of information relating to a Disclosable Matter can be made to ASIC, APRA or another Commonwealth body prescribed by regulation and qualify for protection under the Corporations Act.

    Please see below links to whistleblowing information provided by:

    ASIC

    https://asic.gov.au/about-asic/asic-investigations-and-enforcement/whistleblowing/how-asic-handles-whistleblower-reports/

    APRA

    https://www.apra.gov.au/become-a-whistleblower-and-make-a-public-interest-disclosure

    ATO

    https://www.ato.gov.au/general/gen/whistleblowers/

     

    7.4 Public Interest Disclosure and Emergency Disclosure

    The ASIC Guidelines state that it is important to note in this Policy that disclosures can be made to a journalist or parliamentarian under certain circumstances and qualify for protection.

    Term

    Means

    ‘Public interest disclosure’

    A ‘public interest disclosure’ is the disclosure of information to a journalist or a parliamentarian, where:

    1. at least 90 days have passed since the discloser made the disclosure to ASIC, APRA or another Commonwealth body prescribed by regulation;
    2. the discloser does not have reasonable grounds to believe that action is being, or has been taken, in relation to their disclosure;
    3. the discloser has reasonable grounds to believe that making a further disclosure of the information is in the public interest; and
    4. before making the public interest disclosure, the discloser has given written notice to the body in (a) (i.e. the body to which the previous disclosure was made) that:
      1. includes sufficient information to identify the previous disclosure; and
      2. states that the discloser intends to make a public interest disclosure.

    ‘Emergency Disclosure”

     

    An ‘emergency disclosure’ is the disclosure of information to a journalist or parliamentarian, where:

    1. the discloser has previously made a disclosure of the information to ASIC, APRA or another Commonwealth body prescribed by regulation;
    2. the discloser has reasonable grounds to believe that the information concerns a substantial and imminent danger to the health or safety of one or more persons or to the natural environment;
    3. before making the emergency disclosure, the discloser has given written notice to the body in (a) (i.e. the body to which the previous disclosure was made) that:
      1. includes sufficient information to identify the previous disclosure; and
      2. states that the discloser intends to make an emergency disclosure; and
    4. the extent of the information disclosed in the emergency disclosure is no greater than is necessary to inform the journalist or parliamentarian of the substantial and imminent danger.

     

    The ASIC Guidelines state that:

    • It is important for the discloser to understand the criteria for making a public interest or emergency disclosure.
    • It is important to emphasise that a disclosure must have previously been made to ASIC, APRA or a prescribed body and written notice provided to the body to which the disclosure was made.
    • It is also important to clarify that, in the case of a public interest disclosure, at least 90 days must have passed since the previous disclosure.
    • Finally, the ASIC Guidelines require that this Policy should expressly state that a discloser should contact an independent legal adviser before making a public interest disclosure or an emergency disclosure.

    8. How to Make a Disclosure?

    8.1 Contacts

    As stated above, if you wish to make a disclosure about improper conduct pursuant to this Policy, we encourage you to report it to our designated Whistleblower Officer who has been authorised by IPC Asia Pacific to receive disclosures and has received special training to handle disclosures.

    You may also make a disclosure by contacting our Whistleblowing Hotline via any of the methods detailed above:

    8.2 Anonymous Disclosures

    The ASIC Guidelines require this Policy to note that:

    • Disclosures can be made anonymously and still be protected under the Corporations Act.
    • A discloser can choose to remain anonymous while making a disclosure, over the course of the investigation and after the investigation is finalised.
    • A discloser can refuse to answer questions that they feel could reveal their identity at any time, including during follow-up conversations.
    • A discloser who wishes to remain anonymous should maintain ongoing two-way communication with IPC Asia Pacific or Stopline (depending on which one the discloser chooses to contact at the first instance), so IPC Asia Pacific/Stopline can ask follow-up questions or provide feedback.
    • In practice, if a disclosure comes from an email address from which the person’s identity cannot be determined, and the discloser does not identify themselves in the email, IPC Asia Pacific/Stopline will treat this communication as an anonymous disclosure.
    • A discloser may choose to anonymised email address to protect their anonymity.
    • A discloser may adopt a pseudonym for the purpose of their disclosure— this may be appropriate in circumstances where the discloser’s identity is known to their supervisor, the Whistleblower Officer or equivalent, but the discloser prefers not to disclose their identity to others.

    9. Legal Protections for Disclosures

    This section sets out information about the protections under the Corporations Act that are available to disclosers who qualify for protection as a whistleblower.

    This covers the following protections:

    1. Identity protection (confidentiality);
    2. Protection from detrimental acts or omissions;
    3. Compensation and other remedies; and
    4. Civil, criminal and administrative liability protection.

    It is important to highlight that the protections apply not only to internal disclosures, but to disclosures to legal practitioners, regulatory and other external bodies, and public interest and emergency disclosures that are made in accordance with the Corporations Act.

    9.1 Identity Protection (confidentiality)

    IPC Asia Pacific has legal obligations to protect the confidentiality of a discloser’s identity.

    A person cannot disclose the identity of a discloser or information that is likely to lead to the identification of the discloser (which they have obtained directly or indirectly because the discloser made a disclosure that qualifies for protection).

    The exception to this rule, is if a person discloses the identity of the discloser:

    1. To ASIC, APRA, or a member of the Australian Federal Police (within the meaning of the Australian Federal Police Act 1979);
    2. To a legal practitioner (for the purposes of obtaining legal advice or legal representation about the whistleblower provisions in the Corporations Act);
    3. To a person or body prescribed by regulations; or
    4. With the consent of the discloser.

    A person can disclose the information contained in a disclosure with or without the discloser’s consent if:

    1. The information does not include the discloser’s identity;
    2. The entity has taken all reasonable steps to reduce the risk that the discloser will be identified from the information; and
    3. It is reasonably necessary for investigating the issues raised in the disclosure.

    It is important to highlight that it is illegal for a person to identify a discloser, or disclose information that is likely to lead to the identification of the discloser, outside the exceptions set out above.

    A discloser can lodge a complaint with the IPC Asia Pacific Whistleblower Officer about a breach of confidentiality, their details are set out above.

    Alternatively, a discloser can lodge a complaint about a breach of confidentiality with the Whistleblowing Hotline via any of the below set out above.

    A discloser may also or alternatively lodge a complaint of breach of confidentiality with a regulator, such as ASIC, APRA or the ATO, for investigation.

    9.2 Protection from Detrimental Acts or Omissions

    This section sets out the legal protections for protecting a discloser, or any other person, from detriment in relation to a disclosure.

     

    The ASIC Guidelines state that it is important to note in this Policy that a person cannot engage in conduct that causes detriment to a discloser (or another person), in relation to a disclosure, if:

    1. The person believes or suspects that the discloser (or another person) made, may have made, proposes to make or could make a disclosure that qualifies for protection; and
    2. The belief or suspicion is the reason, or part of the reason, for the conduct.

     

    In addition, a person cannot make a threat to cause detriment to a discloser (or another person) in relation to a disclosure.

     

    Term

    Means

    Threat

     

    A threat may be express or implied, or conditional or unconditional. A discloser (or another person) who has been threatened in relation to a disclosure does not have to actually fear that the threat will be carried out.

    Detrimental conduct

     

     

    Detrimental conduct includes the following:

    1. dismissal of an employee;
    2. injury of an employee in his or her employment;
    3. alteration of an employee’s position or duties to his or her disadvantage;
    4. discrimination between an employee and other employees of the same employer;
    5. harassment or intimidation of a person;
    6. harm or injury to a person, including psychological harm;
    7. damage to a person’s property;
    8. damage to a person’s reputation;
    9. damage to a person’s business or financial position; or
    10. any other damage to a person.

    Examples of what is not

    Detrimental Conduct

     

    The following are examples of actions that are not detrimental conduct (where relevant):

    • Administrative action that is reasonable for the purpose of protecting a discloser from detriment (e.g. moving a discloser who has made a disclosure about their immediate work area to another office to prevent them from detriment); and
    • Managing a discloser’s unsatisfactory work performance, if the action is in line with the entity’s performance management framework.

    If such actions are required, then IPC Asia Pacific will explain the reasons for the administrative or management action in writing to the discloser.

    9.3 Compensation and Other Remedies

    The ASIC guidelines states that it is important to note in this Policy that a discloser (or any other employee or person) can seek compensation and other remedies through the courts if:

    1. They suffer loss, damage or injury because of a disclosure; and
    2. IPC Asia Pacific has failed to take reasonable precautions and exercise due diligence to prevent the detrimental conduct.

    IPC Asia Pacific is committed to ensuring this does not happen by ensuring this Policy is widely communicated and implemented within the business.

    The ASIC guidelines states that it is important to encourage disclosers to seek independent legal advice if feel they might be entitled to compensation or other remedies.

    9.4 Civil, Criminal and Administrative Liability Protection

    The ASIC guidelines states that it is important to note in this Policy that a discloser is protected from any of the following in relation to their disclosure:

    1. Civil liability (e.g. any legal action against the discloser for breach of an employment contract, duty of confidentiality or another contractual obligation);
    2. Criminal liability (e.g. attempted prosecution of the discloser for unlawfully releasing information, or other use of the disclosure against the discloser in a prosecution (other than for making a false disclosure)); and
    3. Administrative liability (e.g. disciplinary action for making the disclosure).

    However, please note that the protections do not grant immunity for any misconduct a discloser has engaged in that is revealed in their disclosure.

    10. Support and Practical Protection for Disclosers

    This section will set out information about how IPC Asia Pacific will support disclosers and protect disclosers from detriment.

    10.1 Identity Protection (Confidentiality)

    IPC Asia Pacific will undertake the following measures and/or mechanisms for protecting the confidentiality of a discloser’s identity.

     

    Measures

    Details

    Reducing the risk that the discloser will be identified from the information contained in a disclosure

    • All personal information or reference to the discloser witnessing an event will be redacted;
    • The discloser will be referred to in a gender-neutral context;
    • Where possible, the discloser will be contacted to help identify certain aspects of their disclosure that could inadvertently identify them; and
    • Disclosures will be handled and investigated by qualified staff.

    Secure record-keeping and information-sharing processes

    • All paper and electronic documents and other materials relating to disclosures will be stored securely;
    • Access to all information relating to a disclosure will be limited to those directly involved in managing and investigating the disclosure;
    • Only a restricted number of people who are directly involved in handling and investigating a disclosure will be made aware of a discloser’s identity (subject to the discloser’s consent) or information that is likely to lead to the identification of the discloser;
    • Communications and documents relating to the investigation of a disclosure will not to be sent to an email address or to a printer that can be accessed by other staff; and
    • Each person who is involved in handling and investigating a disclosure will be reminded about the confidentiality requirements, including that an unauthorised disclosure of a discloser’s identity may be a criminal offence.

    Contacting the Whistleblower Officer

    IPC Asia Pacific’s Whistleblower Officer is responsible for discussing the entity’s measures for ensuring confidentiality of their identity.

    In practice, people may be able to guess the discloser’s identity if:

    • The discloser has previously mentioned to other people that they are considering making a disclosure;
    • The discloser is one of a very small number of people with access to the information; or
    • The disclosure relates to information that a discloser has previously been told privately and in confidence.

     

    10.2 Protection from Detrimental Acts or Omissions

    The section will set out examples of how IPC Asia Pacific will, in practice protect disclosers from detriment.

    Measures

    Details

    Measures and mechanisms IPC Asia Pacific will seek to implement to protect disclosers from detrimental acts or omissions (where applicable):

    IPC Asia Pacific will:

    • Set up processes for assessing the risk of detriment against a discloser and other persons (e.g. other staff who might be suspected to have made a disclosure), which will commence as soon as possible after receiving a disclosure;
    • Implement appropriate strategies to help a discloser minimise and manage stress, time or performance impacts, or other challenges resulting from the disclosure or its investigation;
    • Consider appropriate actions for protecting a discloser from risk of detriment—for example, IPC Asia Pacific may allow the discloser to perform their duties from another location, reassign the discloser to another role at the same level, make other modifications to the discloser’s workplace or the way they perform their work duties, or reassign or relocate other staff involved in the Disclosable Matter;
    • Will implement processes for ensuring that management are aware of their responsibilities to maintain the confidentiality of a disclosure, address the risks of isolation or harassment, manage conflicts, and ensure fairness when managing the performance of, or taking other management action relating to, a discloser;
    • Will implement procedures on how a discloser can lodge a complaint if they have suffered detriment, and the actions the entity may take in response to such complaints; and
    • Will put in place interventions for protecting a discloser if detriment has already occurred.

    The ASIC Guidelines require that this Policy should state that a discloser may seek independent legal advice or contact regulatory bodies, such as ASIC, APRA or the ATO, if they believe they have suffered detriment.

    11. Handling and investigating a disclosure

    This section set out how the entity will investigate disclosures that qualify for protection.

    IPC Asia Pacific will:

    • Provide transparency about how it will handle and investigate disclosures, including timeframes for handling and investigating disclosures;
    • Ensure the confidentiality of its disclosure handling and investigation process; and
    • Ensure appropriate records and documentation for each step in the process are maintained.

    11.1 Handling a Disclosure

    Once IPC Asia Pacific receives a disclosure, it will need to assess whether:

    1. The disclosure qualifies for protection; and
    2. A formal, in-depth investigation is required.

    It is important to highlight that without the discloser’s consent, IPC Asia Pacific cannot disclose information that is likely to lead to the identification of the discloser as part of its investigation process—unless:

    1. The information does not include the discloser’s identity;
    2. The entity removes information relating to the discloser’s identity or other information that is likely to lead to the identification of the discloser (e.g. the discloser’s name, position title and other identifying details); and
    3. It is reasonably necessary for investigating the issues raised in the disclosure.

    It should be acknowledged that in certain circumstances there may be certain limitations to IPC Asia Pacific’s investigation process. For example, IPC Asia Pacific may not be able to undertake an investigation if it is not able to contact the discloser (e.g. if a disclosure is made anonymously and the discloser has refused to provide, or has not provided, a means of contacting them).

    If IPC Asia Pacific determines that it will need to investigate a disclosure, IPC Asia Pacific will determine:

    1. The nature and scope of the investigation;
    2. The person(s) within and/or outside IPC Asia Pacific that should lead the investigation;
    3. The nature of any technical, financial or legal advice that may be required to support the investigation; and
    4. The timeframe for the investigation.

    IPC Asia Pacific will seek to follow best practice in investigations. IPC Asia Pacific recognises that investigations need to be objective, fair and independent, while preserving the confidentiality of the investigation.

    Generally, IPC Asia Pacific will take the following steps:

    IPC Asia Pacific will endeavour to:

    • Investigate the disclosure within a reasonable period of time,
    • Ensure that any investigation is fair and objective;
    • Provide persons who are mentioned in the disclosure or to whom the disclosure relates, an opportunity to respond (where appropriate and subject to its requirements to maintain confidentiality as required by law);
    • Avoid conflicts of interest in carrying out any investigation.

    The investigation team will be coordinated by the Whistleblower Officer. In some cases, IPC Asia Pacific may appoint external investigators such as lawyers or forensic accountants.

    If the discloser can be contacted:

    • the Whistleblower Officer will discuss the likely steps of the investigation with the discloser (including whether the discloser consents to their identity being disclosed);
    • where required by law, we will provide the discloser with feedback from time to time about the status of the investigation, the likely timeframe of the investigation, and the outcomes of the investigation (subject to considerations of confidentiality and maintaining the privacy of persons who were referred to in the disclosure).

      The outcome of any investigation will be reported to the then current Chairman of Independent Purchasing Company (Australasia) Limited. If the investigation substantiates the disclosure, we are committed to addressing any wrongdoing, to the extent practicable in the circumstances.

      The Whistleblower Officer will also provide a quarterly report to the Risk Committee and the Board of Directors regarding:

    • disclosures made under this policy; and
    • investigations conducted, findings and any actions required.

    11.2 Keeping a Discloser Informed

    As mentioned above, IPC Asia Pacific will seek to provide the discloser with regular updates, if the discloser can be contacted (including through anonymous channels). IPC Asia Pacific acknowledges that the frequency and timeframe may vary depending on the nature of the disclosure.

    Where possible, IPC Asia Pacific will acknowledge a discloser after receiving their disclosure.

    In addition, where possible, IPC Asia Pacific will seek to provide updates to a discloser during the key stages, such as:

    1. When the investigation process has begun;
    2. While the investigation is in progress; and
    3. After the investigation has been finalised.

    11.3 Findings

    IPC Asia Pacific will set out separately in more detail how the findings from an investigation will be documented and reported to those responsible for oversight of this Policy, while preserving confidentiality.

    This process will also set out what information the discloser will receive at the end of the investigation. A copy of this process will be annexed to this Policy as part of Schedule 1, when it has been prepared the Risk Committee.

    It should be noted that that the method for documenting and reporting the findings will depend on the nature of the disclosure.

    It should also be noted that there may be circumstances where it may not be appropriate to provide details of the outcome to the discloser.

    12. Ensuring Fair Treatment of Individuals mentioned in a Disclosure

    IPC Asia Pacific will seek to ensure the fair treatment of its employees who are mentioned in a disclosure that qualifies for protection, including those who are the subject of a disclosure.

    IPC Asia Pacific may take the following measures and/or mechanisms for ensuring fair treatment of individuals mentioned in a disclosure (where applicable):

    • Disclosures will be handled confidentially, when it is practical and appropriate in the circumstances;

    • Each disclosure will be assessed and may be the subject of an investigation;

    • The objective of an investigation is to determine whether there is enough evidence to substantiate or refute the matters reported;

    • When an investigation needs to be undertaken, the process will be objective, fair and independent;

    • An employee who is the subject of a disclosure will be advised about the subject matter of the disclosure as and when required by principles of natural justice and procedural fairness and prior to any actions being taken—for example, if the disclosure will be the subject of an investigation; and

    In its sole discretion, IPC Asia Pacific will determine the most appropriate time to inform the individual who is the subject of a disclosure about the investigation, provided that IPC Asia Pacific will inform the individual before making any adverse finding against them.

    The ASIC Guidelines note that in some circumstances, informing the individual at an early stage of an investigation may compromise the effectiveness of the investigation, such as when there may be concerns that the individual may destroy information or the disclosure needs to be referred to ASIC, APRA, the ATO or the Federal Police.

    13. Availability of the Policy

    IPC Asia Pacific employees and officers will be made aware and have access to this policy and the mechanisms for the reporting of Reportable Conduct through IPC Asia Pacific’s induction and ongoing training programs and corporate communications.

    A copy of this Policy is available on the IPC Asia Pacific website and intranet.

    14. Local laws

    To the extent that this Policy is inconsistent with any laws of the jurisdiction in which a staff member is employed, then those local laws must also be adhered to.

    15. Updates

    This Policy may be updated from time to time by IPC Asia Pacific in its sole discretion with or without notice, the latest version supersedes any previous versions of this Policy and takes effect immediately when uploaded onto IPC Asia Pacific’s intranet.

    1. Failure to Comply with this Policy

    You agree to comply with this Policy, as varied from time to time by IPC Asia Pacific.  To the extent that this Policy refers to obligations on IPC Asia Pacific, you agree that they are guides only and are not contractual terms, conditions or representations on which you rely.

    17. Grievances

    Any grievances about this Policy can be dealt with under IPC Asia Pacific's Grievance Handling Guideline or with the Director of People & Culture.

     

    18. Questions

    If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the IPC Asia Pacific People & Culture team at HR@ipca.biz

     


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