Whistleblowing Policy


Breast Cancer Trials (BCT) is committed to high levels of professionalism, integrity, ethical behaviour, accountability and good corporate governance in its operations. We recognise that, in this context, it is important to promote a work culture in which staff feel comfortable raising concerns about corrupt, illegal or otherwise undesirable conduct without fear of victimisation or reprisals.

BCT also aims to maintain a happy and productive working environment, where Staff Members can work harmoniously together to achieve the goals of the organisation. BCT is only able to provide such a working environment if (amongst other  things) all Staff Members feel that their concerns, complaints or grievances are appropriately dealt with. The handling of  such concerns, complaints and grievances is of particular relevance to BCT’s legal obligations and the obligations of Staff  Members.

This policy is one of a number of policies and procedures that promote an ethical and compliant work culture at BCT. This policy outlines the grievance resolution process as well as summarises the protections that BCT has put in place to allow disclosures of wrongdoing to occur. This policy does not form part of any contract of  employment, and may be varied from time to time.

This policy is not intended to be definitive or prescriptive in the way grievances are resolved. Instead, it seeks to give some guidance about options and processes that might be used to manage grievances.

If you have any questions about this policy, please contact the People Performance and Culture Business Partner.

  • About this policy

    1.1 Our Goals

    ANZ Breast Cancer Trials Group Limited (BCT) aims to maintain a happy and productive working environment, where we can all work together towards the organisation’s goals. We also take our governance and compliance obligations very seriously. We want to maintain ethical, compliant and accountable systems.

    We can only achieve these aims if (amongst other things) all members of staff (ongoing, fixed term, casual and temporary employees, contractors, volunteers and officers) feel that their concerns,
    complaints or grievances are dealt with properly. In this context, BCT wants to encourage you, as a member of our staff, to tell us about:

    • any difficulty you are experiencing at work;
    • any complaint you have about anyone’s behaviour or decisions at work;
    • any concern you have about a potential breach of the law; and/or
    • any other concern you have about non-compliance, misconduct or any system at BCT that is not working the way it should.

    This might include concerns about breaches of the law (including whistleblowing disclosures) or concerns about other things that you consider to be unfair or inappropriate.

    BCT wants you to be able to feel safe and supported, so that you feel confident about raising issues. As part of this, we aim to treat all grievances and complaints earnestly, efficiently, and as fairly and confidentially as is reasonably possible.

    1.2 What does this policy do?

    This policy outlines:

    • what is a ‘personal work-related grievance’ and how this is different from a ‘whistleblowing disclosure’;
    • what you can do if you have a personal grievance and/or want to make a whistleblowing disclosure;
    • how BCT will deal with your grievance or whistleblowing disclosure; and
    • what support and protections we offer eligible ‘whistleblowers’ and people involved in grievances in other ways.
    • In this policy, ‘BCT’ refers to all the company’s committees and sub-committees.
    • This policy is available to BCT’s staff via the Intranet. Eligible whistleblowers who are not staff can access this policy via BCT’s website https://www.breastcancertrials.org.au/.
    • This policy is not (and is not intended to be) contractual in nature, but sets out useful information and explains procedures. You might need to comply with those procedures so that you can access the protections that BCT may make available to you.

    1.3 What can change?

    BCT may vary this policy from time to time.

    It may be appropriate for BCT to depart from this policy in serious circumstances (such as if there is a risk to a person’s life or safety).

  • What is a ‘personal work-related grievance’?

    2.1 General position

    A personal work-related grievance is any complaint, concern or dispute to do with your employment (or previous employment) with BCT which has implications for you personally. For example, a personal work-related grievance might include:

    •  a conflict between you and another staff member;
    •  if you think you have been discriminated against, bullied or harassed; and/or
    • any dissatisfaction about a decision relating to your employment (such as a decision about transfer or promotion, the terms of your employment, discipline or termination).

    Personal work-related grievances are generally NOT whistleblowing disclosures.

    2.2 Overlap with whistleblowing disclosures

    However, a personal work-related grievance might ALSO be a whistleblowing disclosure, if it:

    • has significant implications for BCT that don’t relate to you; and/or
    •  is about various types of unlawful conduct or conduct that is a danger to the public or the financial system that may be the subject of a whistleblowing disclosure under the Corporations Act 2001
      (Corporations Act) or the Taxation Administration Act 1953 (Tax Act), as set out in 3 below.

    If your personal work-related grievance is a whistleblowing disclosure, then it will be attract whistleblower protection.

  • What is a ‘whistleblowing disclosure’?

    3.1 General definition

    A ‘whistleblowing disclosure’ is a disclosure:

    • made by an eligible ‘whistleblower’ (see 3.2, below);
    • of information that is protected under the Corporations Act (see 3.3) or the Tax Act (see 3.4); and
    • to an eligible recipient (see 5 below).

    3.2 Who is an eligible ‘whistleblower’?

    Current staff, former staff, suppliers and associates of BCT and the relatives and dependants of these people may all be eligible whistleblowers.

    Once an eligible whistleblower makes a whistleblowing disclosure, that person is legally protected under relevant legislation.

    3.3 What information can be part of a ‘whistleblowing disclosure’?

    You might be able to make a ‘whistleblowing disclosure’ under the Corporations Act if you have reasonable grounds to suspect that you have information that concerns misconduct or an improper state of affairs or
    circumstances in relation to BCT. This includes information that indicates that BCT has engaged in conduct that:

    • is an offence under, or contravenes, any of the following laws:
      • Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 
      • Banking Act 1959
      • Insurance Act 1995
      • National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009
      • Corporations Act 2001
      • Financial Sector (Collection of Data) Act 2001
      • Life Insurance At 1995
      • Superannuation Industry (Supervision Act) 1993
    • is an offence under any other Commonwealth law punishable by at least 12 months’ imprisonment; and/or
    • represents a danger to the public or the financial system.

    3.4 Under the Tax Act

    You might also be able to make a whistleblowing disclosure under the Tax Act if:

    • you have reasonable grounds to suspect that you have:
      • information which indicates misconduct in relation to BCT’s tax affairs; or 
      • information which indicates an improper state of affairs in relation to BCT’s tax affairs; and
    • you consider that the information may assist the recipient to perform functions/duties in relation to BCT’s tax affairs.
  • Dealing with personal work-related grievances (that are NOT whistleblowing disclosures)

    4.1 What to do if you have a personal work-related grievance?

    If you have a personal work-related grievance, do not ignore the problem or hope that it will just go away. Instead, if you can, ask the person responsible for the conduct to stop.

    If you do not feel that you can do this, or if it doesn’t work, you should talk and/or write to your direct report/manager or the People, Performance and Culture Business Partner (PPCBP). The PPBCBP can be contacted at any reasonable time to discuss any grievance:

    • Name: Joe Kelly
    • Phone: (02) 4925 5253
    • Email: Joe.kelly@bctrials.org.au
    • Hours: Monday to Thursday 8:30am – 4:00pm

    You can also voice your concerns through our external STOPline digital platform:

    • Toll Free Phone: 1300 314 550
    • Email: bctrials@stopline.com.au
    • Website: http://www.stopline.com.au/
    • Fax: (03) 9882 4480
    • Post: Locked Bag 8, Hawthorn VIC 3122
    • App: Search for STOPline for free app (iTunes and Google

    Usually, if either you or BCT is not sure whether the information that you disclose is in fact a whistleblowing disclosure, BCT will treat it as a whistleblowing disclosure for the purposes of this policy.

    Be careful about discussing your complaint with other people. It is very easy for rumours to spread, and this can impact adversely on everyone involved.

    4.2 How might your personal work-related grievance be resolved? Formal and informal processes

    All staff personal grievances are important to us, and we want to address them.

    There are different options for resolving a personal grievance. You may wish (or it may be appropriate) for your grievance to be dealt with either informally or formally.

    Informal resolution is when the people involved resolve the issues between themselves. Sometimes this happens through discussions, or an exchange of correspondence, or a mediated meeting between the people
    involved. Informal resolution will NOT involve BCT conducting an investigation or making a formal decision about what has happened, or what the consequences should be. However, we might help with discussions or communications, or give guidance about next steps.

    Formal resolution is when (either because this is what one of the people involved wants, or because of the nature of the grievance – for example, if it is about a very serious issue) it is appropriate for BCT to make:

    • a formal decision about what has happened, and
    • a decision about what the consequences (if any) should be.

    With personal grievances, BCT has an absolute discretion as to whether or not to use a formal grievance
    resolution process.

    Generally speaking, if there is to be formal resolution:

    • BCT will ask the person with the grievance to describe that complaint, in detail, usually in writing;
    •  the person(s) against whom the grievance is brought will be given details of the allegation(s) against them and be given an opportunity to explain their side of the story;
    • other people (witnesses) may be interviewed, notes will be taken of interviews, and documents
      collected; and
    • after considering the evidence, BCT will communicate its decisions about the facts and about the
      outcomes to everyone involved, usually in writing.

    Potential outcomes

    The potential outcomes of both types of grievance processes are unlimited, and could include:

    • a compromise between the parties involved about the issues raised;
    • a decision that a complaint is correct or incorrect;
    • a solution in which both parties benefit to some extent;
    • disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment or contractor arrangement; and/or
    • no action being taken.
  • Dealing with whistleblowing disclosures

    5.1 Disclosing to BCT

    You can make a whistleblowing disclosure under the Corporations Act or the Tax Act by contacting any of the following people (Contact Officers):

    • an officer or senior management at BCT. If you choose to do this, please contact:
      • Name: Joe Kelly, Heath Badger or Julie Callaghan
      • Phone: 4925 3022
      • Email: joe.kelly@bctrials.org.au; heath.badger@bctrials.org.au; julie.callaghan@bctrials.org.au


    • BCT’s auditor (or a a member of the audit team). If you choose to do this, please contact:
      • Name: Martin Matthews
      • Organisation: PKF
      • Telephone: 4962 2688
      • Email: mmatthews@pkf.com.au

    You can make a whistleblowing disclosure to any Contact Officer in person, by post, by telephone or by email (using their details above). You should ensure that any email or correspondence that you send to a Contact Officer is marked Strictly Confidential.

    If you intend to make a whistleblowing disclosure we ask that you please include in your statement or email/ letter: I am seeking to make a whistleblowing disclosure.

    While it might seem obvious, this will help BCT to:

    • identify your concern as a whistleblowing disclosure;
    • act on your disclosure promptly; and
    • trigger the protections that are available for a whistleblowing disclosure

    You should keep a file note of any correspondence or discussions (including the date and time) for future reference.

    You should not make a whistleblowing disclosure to a Contact Officer who has been involved in the conduct or allegations you are reporting. In that case, contact a different Contact Officer.

    5.2 External disclosures

    If you do not want to contact BCT or its auditor, you can contact the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) or the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) to make a whistleblowing disclosure under the Corporations Act, and you should refer to their policy about how the disclosure might be handled.

    You can make a protected disclosure under the Tax Act to:

    • anyone at BCT listed in part 5.1;
    • a BCT employee who has functions/duties that relate to the tax affairs of BCT’s registered tax of BAS agent (if any); or
    • the Australian Commissioner of Taxation. in which case you should refer to their policy about how disclosures might be handled.

    You can also voice your concerns through our external BCT digital platform, which is an online service at:

    • Toll free phone: 1300 314 550
    • Email: bctrials@stopline.com.au
    • Website: www.stopline.com.au
    • Operating hours: Monday to Friday 9am-5pm

    In some circumstances, you can make public interest or emergency disclosures under the Corporations Act (for example to a Member of Parliament or journalist). However, these disclosures may not be protected
    unless made in the specific circumstances set out in the legislation. For example, before making a public interest disclosure, you must first make a report to ASIC, APRA or another prescribed body, and you must
    wait at least 90 days before making the public interest disclosure. You should ensure you carefully follow the correct process, or you might lose your protections under the law.

    BCT encourages you to speak to an independent legal practitioner at any time if you would like legal advice or representation in relation to a whistleblowing disclosure.

    5.3 Should you make the disclosure anonymously or identify yourself? 

    You can choose to make a whistleblowing disclosure anonymously or through a pseudonym. However, if you do choose to be anonymous, this can sometimes make it more difficult for BCT or an external authority to:

    • make an assessment of and investigate the disclosure; and/or
    • provide you with relevant protections.

    If you choose, instead, to identify yourself when you make the disclosure, please note that the person you contact is legally required to keep your identity strictly confidential. If BCT is aware of your identity, we will aim to work with you to protect your identity.

    5.4 What information should you include in a whistleblowing disclosure?

    If you make a whistleblowing disclosure, you should consider providing as many of the following details as possible, to assist BCT or an authority to determine the best course of action:

    • the specific nature of the conduct or state of affairs that concerns you;
    • the details of the person/s you think engaged or is engaging in any relevant conduct;
    • when and where relevant events occurred (e.g. dates and times);
    • details of anyone else aware of or involved in the conduct or events;
    • details of anyone else who might be able to verify your disclosure;
    • if you have done anything in response to the conduct or events;
    • if you have any concerns about possibly being victimised, and if so by whom; and
    • any supporting information (e.g. documents, file notes, emails, photographs).

    Please state expressly whether you give the Contact Officer permission to disclose your identity to the investigator, so the investigator can contact you to obtain further information if required.

    5.5 Initial assessment of your whistleblowing disclosure
    The PPCBP will conduct a preliminary assessment, to determine whether your disclosure requires further investigation.

    A disclosure will only warrant further investigation if there is some objective evidence of the events, conduct or situation disclosed, or a reasonable suspicion that such evidence exists and may be obtained through further investigation.

    If you have identified yourself to the Contact Officer and given the Contact Officer permission to disclose your identity to the investigator, then the investigator may contact you to obtain further information. If your whistleblowing disclosure concerns the investigator, a member of the Leadership Team will carry out this assessment.

    If you have not identified yourself to the Contact Officer or have not given permission to disclose your identity, the Contact Officer will undertake a preliminary assessment.

    The investigator will endeavour to complete the assessment within two weeks, but this will depend on the circumstances and nature of your disclosure.

    5.6 Investigation of your whistleblowing disclosure
    If BCT decides that a formal investigation is warranted, the law protects your identity in relation to that investigation as set out in 6.2 below.

    BCT also aims to maintain confidentiality about the investigation generally, as far as practicable.

    A formal investigation might involve third parties such as lawyers, accountants, HR consultants or specialist forensic investigators, who will:

    • interview relevant witnesses;
    • collect relevant documentary evidence;
    • make a determination based on the evidence; and
    • document the findings.

    The investigator determines whether the information in the whistleblowing disclosure is proven on the balance of probabilities. The ‘balance of probabilities’ test requires consideration of whether it is more likely
    than not that the alleged conduct has occurred.

    If the whistleblowing disclosures are proven, the investigator will report the outcome of the investigation to the appropriate decision-maker for further action (subject to any concerns about revealing your identity).

    If the whistleblowing disclosures are not proven, but there is evidence of other inappropriate conduct, the matter might be referred to Human Resources. For example, there may be evidence of a breach of BCT’s
    Code of Conduct.

    If the whistleblowing disclosures are not proven, and there is no evidence of other inappropriate conduct, no further action will be taken.

    Whatever the outcome, if the whistleblower can be contacted, the decision maker will advise the whistleblower of the outcome of the investigation.

  • Protections for whistleblowers and others

    6.1 General

    BCT wants to ensure that:

    • staff who report work-related grievances or make complaints in good faith; and
    • whistleblowers who make disclosures in good faith,
    • do not suffer any detriment or disadvantage in retaliation or as a result; and
    • other staff members mentioned or involved in complaints and disclosures are treated fairly.

    The protections set out below aim to achieve this. These protections may also be available to you if you make a disclosure to a legal practitioner to obtain legal advice or representation. Similar protections may also be
    available to you if you make a disclosure under the Tax Act.

    A complaint or whistleblowing disclosure made in good faith that turns out to be incorrect may also qualify for protection. However, protection is not available to a person who deliberately makes a false report – and BCT may take disciplinary action against that person (see 7 below).

    6.2 Protection of identity and confidentiality

    As noted above, you can make a whistleblowing disclosure anonymously, but doing so might make it more difficult for BCT or a relevant authority to assess and investigate your disclosure or provide you with relevant protections.

    It is your decision.

    • If you have chosen to reveal your identity when making a whistleblowing disclosure, BCT may ask you to consent to BCT disclosing:
      • your identity; and/or
      • information that might lead to your identification, for example, if we consider that it would assist an investigation.
    • If you choose not to give consent:
      • the person who knows your identity is permitted to disclose your identity only:
        a. to ASIC, APRA, the Australian Federal Police or (under the Tax Act) to the Commissioner of Taxation;
        b. to a legal practitioner to obtain advice; or
        c. in limited circumstances required by law, for example, where ordered by a court in legal proceedings;
      • BCT will take reasonable steps to make all Contact Officers aware that:
        a. they cannot disclose your identity, even to another Contact Officer; and
        b. they need to keep any notes, records or information about your whistleblowing disclosure secure, in accordance with part 6.3 below; and
      • BCT may disclose any information (other than your identity) that aids its investigation, so long as it:
        a. considers that the information in question aids its investigation but does not reveal your identity; and
        b. takes all steps it deems reasonable or helpful to reduce the risk that you will be identified as a result of disclosing that information.

    6.3 Protection of files and records

    BCT maintains record-keeping and information sharing procedures with the aim of ensuring that all records are stored and handled securely.

    All files and records created from an investigation should be retained under strict security, generally in a file only accessible by the PPCBP, in the course of the investigation, and following the investigation.

    6.4 No victimisation 

    ‘Victimisation’ is what happens if a person is subjected to any detrimental treatment as a result of:

    • making a complaint about a grievance and/or a whistleblowing disclosure; or
    • someone else’s belief that the person has made or will make a complaint or whistleblowing disclosure.

    Victimisation can include, for example, bullying and harassment, termination of employment, physical violence or threats of physical violence, or damage to reputation.

    Victimisation does not, however, include:

    • administrative action that is reasonable to protect a whistleblower from detriment; or
    • reasonable management action, such as setting high performance standards, constructive feedback and legitimate advice and/or peer review.

    Victimisation is strictly prohibited. You should immediately inform the PPCBP if you are subjected to victimisation, or any threat of victimisation, so that BCT can take action.

    The PPCBP may need to work with others in order to manage the risk of victimisation, including relevant managers, or the Leadership Team. The PPCBP is expected to take action in a timely manner to:

    • protect you in the interim, which might include temporarily relocating you or the victimiser, or changing your reporting line;
    • conduct a preliminary assessment of any alleged victimisation;
    • if necessary and if you consent, refer the matter to senior management for further investigation; and
    • if the allegation of victimisation is substantiated, and if you consent, refer the matter to a decision maker for further action.

    Other staff members mentioned or involved in complaints and disclosures also need to be treated fairly. This is partly achieved by their involvement being kept reasonably confidential in accordance with the protections
    set out above. It also means that no decisions should be made that cause them detriment without proper investigation.

    If you raise a concern about someone victimising you and that person is not an employee, BCT will assess, on a case by case basis, the appropriate reasonable steps it may need to take.

    6.5 Other whistleblower protections

    Whistleblowers who make disclosures in good faith have additional protections under legislation, including:

    • whistleblowers are not subject to any civil, criminal or administrative liability (including disciplinary action) for making the disclosure;
      (b) no contractual or other remedy can be enforced, and no contractual or other right can be exercised against a whistleblower on the basis of the disclosure;
    • if the disclosure is made to ASIC, APRA or the Commissioner of Taxation, or is a public interest/emergency disclosure, then the information is not admissible in criminal proceedings or for the
      imposition of a penalty against a whistleblower; and
    • whistleblowers may also seek compensation through the courts if they suffer loss, damage or injury because of a disclosure. Other remedies may be available depending on the type of detriment suffered. For example, a court may grant an injunction to stop victimisation, require an apology to be given, or to re-instate a whistleblower who has been victimised by termination of employment.
  • Involvement in wrongdoing

    BCT will discipline anyone found to have:

    • unlawfully discriminated against, harassed, vilified or bullied another, or otherwise acted inappropriately;
    • victimised a complainant or whistleblower;
    • disclosed information in breach of our confidentiality rules; or
    • lied about a complaint or made a complaint maliciously, or otherwise in bad faith.

    Disciplinary action can involve termination of employment or contractor arrangements.

    Some of the protections under this policy might also not be available to you if you are found to have been
    involved in wrongdoing that is the subject of a complaint or whistleblowing disclosure.

    If you have any questions about this policy, please contact the PPCBP.

  • Additional Information

    ATP-05 STOPline Reporting Flowchart

    POL-1 Code of Conduct

    ATP-02 Practical Guide to Managing Privacy and Confidentiality


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