1. Goals of Diplomacy Training Policy (DTP) Policy
DTP is committed to maintaining a culture of compliance, honesty and ethical behaviour. The purpose of this policy is to provide an avenue for people to raise concerns about misconduct within DTP’s organisation without fear of being penalised or otherwise disadvantaged.
DTP encourages all of its people to challenge any behaviour which they have reasonable grounds to believe breaches the law or is inconsistent with DTP’s policies or procedures. DTP recognises that some people may be hesitant to make a report about Misconduct unless they can be confident that they will be properly protected.
This policy supports and encourages an open compliance culture by clearly identifying:
- who is protected under the policy;
- the process for reporting actual or suspected Misconduct (defined below), including options to do so anonymously or confidentially;
- the process for investigation including managing and responding to allegations; and
- protections for whistleblowers including confidentiality measures and prohibition of any retaliation against anyone who makes a report on reasonable grounds of Misconduct.
The protections afforded by this policy apply to all reports of Misconduct including where the allegation is ultimately unfounded, provided the person has reasonable grounds to suspect the disclosed information indicates such conduct.
This policy will be made available to every employee online including on DTP’s website, as well as given in the starter park to each new employee, contractor or individual associate of DTP.
3. Guiding Principles
3.1 Who is protected under this policy?
This policy applies to all individuals at all levels who are employed or contracted by DTP, and in some cases their relatives or dependents, including:
- an officer;
- an employee;
- an individual with a contract to supply goods or services;
- an employee of a supplier of a contract of goods or services;
- an individual who is an associate of DTP;
- a spouse, child or dependent of any of the above; or
- someone who has been one of the above.
This policy applies irrespective of whether a person is currently (or previously) employed on a fulltime, part-time, fixed term, casual or temporary basis.
3.2 What conduct may be reported under this policy?
If you make a report under this policy, you will be entitled to the protections under this policy provided you have reasonable grounds to suspect the disclosed information indicates Misconduct. The principal protection is that you will not be disadvantaged for making a report.
For the purposes of this policy, “Misconduct” is any conduct of a person (whether a director, employee, consultant, officer or other) connected with DTP which, in the view if the person making the report on reasonable grounds, is:
- illegal, including non-compliance with tax laws or any law of the Commonwealth which is punishable for a period of 12 months or more;
- misconduct in relation to tax affairs;
- a serious or repeated breach of DTP’s policies;
- an improper state of affairs;
- an unsafe work-practice which could be dangerous to the health or safety of any person;
- any other serious or improper conduct; or
- any other conduct which has caused or may cause financial or non-financial loss to DTP or damage to DTP’s reputation.
You must have reasonable grounds for believing that Misconduct has occurred before invoking the whistleblower procedures outlined in this policy. In most cases, you should act on your own observations – what you have seen and heard. In general, you should not act on what others may simply tell you they believe has occurred.
4. Who to report to?
DTP has appointed a Whistleblower Contact Officer (WCO) who is authorised to receive and action reports made under this policy. The WCO is:
Tel: (02) 9385 7381
Email: [email protected]
The WCO’s principal role is to receive reports, to check that the conduct which is the subject of the report constitutes Misconduct which properly falls within this policy, to refer reports properly made under this policy to the Chair of the DTP Board¹ for investigation, and to protect the whistleblower’s interests.
5. Reporting Process
- If you contact a WCO, they will discuss your concerns with you and check that the relevant conduct falls within this policy.
- If the reported conduct falls within the policy, and you wish to make a report under and invoke the protections of this policy, you should make a formal report, using the form attached at Annexure A. If you wish, the WCO can help you complete the report. The report provides certain minimum information which will help DTP act on the report.
- You can make a formal report without first discussing it with a WCO if you wish to do so.
- If you do make a report without first discussing it with a WCO, then within three business days of receiving your report, the WCO will contact you to acknowledge receipt and arrange an initial confidential interview.
- The purpose of the interview will be to ensure that the particular conduct mentioned in the report properly falls within the policy and, if so, to ensure that sufficient information is provided so DTP can carry out an effective investigation.
- All discussions with the WCO, whether informal or formal, do not start or form part of the investigative process.
The WCO will discuss with you whether you want your identity kept confidential. DTP believes that it will be able to conduct investigations more effectively if the whistleblower is prepared to be identified, and DTP is prepared to provide the explicit protections mentioned in this policy (below) to ensure the whistleblower is not disadvantaged by reason of making a report under this policy. However, if you do wish to keep your identity confidential, then you should indicate this on the report form. In this case, the WCO will only send an extract of your report, which omits your name and signature, to the Chair of the DTP Board/Deputy Chair (WPP investigator).
- If the WCO has helped you complete the report, you can leave the completed report with the WCO. If you complete the report by yourself, you should deliver the report to a WCO in a way which you believe will best ensure your confidentiality – for example, by delivering it to the WCO in person or by encrypted email. If you deliver the report by mail, the report should be contained in a sealed envelope addressed to the WCO, and marked private and confidential. Do not send a report by fax, as it cannot be kept confidential.
- The WCO will then proceed to refer the report for investigation to the WPP Investigator.
7. Information you should provide
You do not need to prove the truth of an allegation but you must demonstrate that there are reasonable grounds to believe Misconduct has occurred. To assist with the investigation of your report, you should provide as much information as possible about the Misconduct including:
- what you believe has been done;
- who you believe is involved in the misconduct;
- when you believe it occurred;
- who else you believe knows about the misconduct;
- whether you believe any of DTP’s policies or controls have been breached or circumvented;
- any evidence you may have such as documents or witnesses; and
- whether any previous complaints or reports have been made about the misconduct, and if so, to whom.
DTP will be able to carry out a more effective investigation if you provide as much evidence as you have. However, you should not delay making a report if you have first-hand knowledge of any Misconduct.
8. Can you remain anonymous?
An anonymous report is one where a whistleblower wishes to make a report without revealing their identity – even to a WCO.
You can make an anonymous report. You should send it to a WCO. Obviously, you should not disclose your name in or sign the report.
- Anonymous reports can significantly limit DTP’s ability to investigate the report. If an anonymous report leaves out key facts or information, this may make it much more difficult for DTP to properly investigate the matter.
- DTP encourages whistleblowers to identify themselves so that DTP can be sure they will obtain the protections of this policy.
- If a WCO receives an anonymous report, they will refer the report to the WPP Investigator for review. DTP may refuse or be unable to investigate an anonymous report if the WPP Investigator does not believe that sufficient facts have been provided to justify an investigation or believes that an investigation would be ineffective or too difficult without the authority and co-operation of the whistleblower. DTP may also choose not to investigate or to continue to investigate an anonymous report where the WPP Investigator, based on the information contained in the report or obtained from a preliminary investigation, is not satisfied that the report has been made on reasonable grounds.
9. What happens after a report is made?
After a WCO receives a report of Misconduct covered by this policy, the WCO will refer the report to the WPP Investigator for investigation.
- The WPP Investigator will apply their professional judgement in assessing the report and in determining the appropriate course of action for its investigation and resolution. The WPP Investigator will inform and consult with appropriate members of DTP’s senior management, and they will jointly decide on the appropriate way to investigate the accuracy of the report and the extent of the Misconduct as a matter of priority.
- All reports of Misconduct will be the subject of a thorough investigation with the objective of locating evidence that either substantiates or refutes the whistleblower’s claims.
The following guidelines apply for the investigation of reports made under this policy:
- the WPP Investigator may be the person who investigates the report, but may at any time during the investigation of the report refer it to an internal or external third party for completion of the investigation;
- the WPP Investigator may appoint a third party, including an external party, to investigate the report;
- the investigation, to the extent practicable, will be conducted independently of the practice group or business service group involved, the whistleblower making the report or any person who is the subject of the report;
- the WPP Investigator will take all reasonable steps to ensure that the investigation is fair and unbiased – this means that the rules of “natural justice” will apply and any person who is the subject of the report or who may be affected by the investigation will have the right to be aware of the allegations and evidence against them and the right to respond;
- the investigation will be carried out as soon as reasonably practicable;
- the WPP Investigator will prepare a report of the investigation, which will summarise the conduct of the investigation and the evidence collected, draw conclusions about the occurrence and extent of the Misconduct, and recommend any action to remedy the Misconduct to ensure it does not recur;
- subject to the protections afforded by this policy and applicable law, the WPP Investigator will provide the report to DTP’s senior management.
If the report relates to particularly Misconduct, senior management may also send the WPP Investigator’s report to or otherwise raise the matter with the Board.
- The WPP investigator will, subject to considerations of privacy and confidentiality, inform the WCO of the outcome of the investigation and, if applicable, the action taken to remedy the Misconduct. The WCO will then inform the whistleblower who made the report of the outcome of the investigation. The whistleblower is not entitled to receive a copy of the WPP Investigator’s report, but senior management may decide to do so if they think it is appropriate.
If the investigation reveals that a criminal offence may have occurred, or that a contravention of any legislation may have occurred, DTP may be required or, if it is not otherwise prohibited by law, may choose to report the matter to the appropriate authority, including the police, the applicable professional regulatory authority or the applicable occupational health and safety authority.
DTP will provide the WPP Investigator with appropriate resources so that the WPP Investigator can undertake a proper investigation of the report.
10. Protections provided under this policy
10.1 You will not be disadvantaged for reports made on reasonable grounds
If you have reasonable grounds for making a report under this policy, you will not be personally disadvantaged as a consequence only of having made the report. This means that you will be protected from conduct which causes you detriment including being dismissed, demoted, altered to a position of disadvantage, harassed, intimidated, discriminated, or damage to your property, reputation, business or financial position by reason of making the report.
This is the case even where the report is ultimately unfounded.
However, a person who does not have reasonable grounds to make a report will not receive the protections of this policy. This includes reports which are vexatious, mischievous or frivolous reports.
If following the investigation of a report, the WPP Investigator or senior management determines on creditable grounds that a report has not been made on reasonable grounds, then the WPP Investigator will raise the matter with Human Resources, and this may lead to disciplinary measures, which can include termination of employment and, in particularly serious situations, legal action. DTP recognises that people should be protected, but at the same time cannot allow the whistleblower protection program to be abused to the unfair prejudice of others.
The making of a report under this policy will not shield a person from the consequences flowing from any involvement in the Misconduct. A person’s liability for his or her own conduct is not affected by the disclosure of the conduct under this policy. However in some circumstances the report may be a mitigating factor when considering disciplinary or other action.
All contractors, employees, consultants and officers must honour the protections afforded to whistleblowers under this policy. If any person deliberately seeks to dismiss, demote, harass, victimise or discriminate against a person for making a report under this policy, or otherwise hinders or obstructs or refuses to co-operate with the investigation of the report, that person will be subject to disciplinary measures, which can include demotion or termination of employment.
DTP recognises and accepts that one of the key ways it can ensure that a whistleblower is not disadvantaged is to protect the identity of the whistleblower.
If you have reasonable grounds to make a report under this policy, and want your identity to be kept confidential, the WCO and any person undertaking the investigation into the report will take all reasonable steps to keep your identity confidential.
While DTP is committed to protecting the whistleblower’s identity and keeping it confidential, there may be occasions where this is not possible. In some cases, DTP may be required or compelled by law to disclose the whistleblower’s identity, such as where the investigation leads to criminal charges or a court action. Furthermore, there may be occasions where the nature of the allegations made is such that the whistleblower’s identity can be deduced from the information made available or the nature of the investigation undertaken, or where the whistleblower is given special treatment such as leave of absence.
The whistleblower’s report and all documents connected with the investigation will be kept securely.
The person making the report will receive feedback from the WCO from time to time. Subject to considerations of privacy and confidentiality, you will be informed of the outcome of the investigation of the report. It is, however, impracticable to specify timeframes for investigation and resolution of reports due to the varied nature and complexity of the issues that may be raised.
If after having made a report under this policy you do not believe you are properly obtaining the protections provided by this policy, you can raise your concerns with the WCO or a member of senior management or a member of the Board. DTP will take immediate action to ensure you are protected in accordance with the whistleblower protection program outlined in this policy.
13. Reviewing this policy
The DTP Board of Directors adopted this policy on Whistleblower Protection.
Date of First Adoption: July 2019
Renewed: July 2022
Date for Renewal: July 2025
NB: The DTP Board will review annually whether this process has been used/the number of communications received by the WCO.
- Providing that this is not the individual that is the subject of the investigation/complaints. If the Chair of the
DTP Board is the subject of the complaint then the matter will be referred to the Deputy Chair.