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whistleblower POLICY

Protecting your right to speak out

Organisational Context

This policy applies to Mercy Community Services SEQ Limited, Mercy Health & Aged Care Central Queensland Limited, Mercy Community Services North Queensland Limited and any other entity to which Mercy Community Services SEQ Limited provides management services (collectively referred to as Mercy Community). Mercy Community is a Catholic ministry continuing God’s mission of mercy by compassionately inspiring and supporting people to live hopeful, connected lives within inclusive communities.


This policy applies to potential and actual Eligible Whistleblowers and Eligible Recipients, all members of the Board, officers, employees, volunteers, students, suppliers, contractors, agents and consultants (and their employees) engaged by Mercy Community. This policy is to be read in line with the relevant operating procedure. This policy does not form a part of a contract of employment or contract for services and is not intended to replace other reporting structures or grievance procedures for dispute resolution. This policy does not affect any mandatory reporting requirements under Commonwealth or State or Territory law.

Policy Statement

The Board is committed to encouraging the highest standards of conduct and ethical behaviour.

The whistleblower protection regime contained within the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (the Act) applies to Mercy Community.

The purpose of this policy is to:

  • encourage people to speak up and report their concerns about any misconduct or wrongdoing at Mercy Community;
  • ensure that people who report their concerns feel safe when doing so;
  • ensure that reports of misconduct or wrongdoing are dealt with appropriately and promptly; and
  • ensure that the identity of any whistleblower is kept confidential in accordance with the Act.

This policy provides a framework to help people understand when and how they can raise a concern about actual or suspected misconduct or wrongdoing at Mercy Community.

Who is a Whistleblower?

A Whistleblower is a person who, anonymously or not, reports concerns about wrongdoing or misconduct by an organisation. A person may be an Eligible Whistleblower in relation to Mercy Community if that person is or has been:

  • an officer or employee of Mercy Community;
  • a supplier of services or goods (whether paid or unpaid) including their employees, to Mercy Community; or
  • a relative, spouse or dependant of any of the above.

The Act provides protections for Eligible Whistleblowers if they report concerns or information about certain types of misconduct or wrongdoing.

What concerns or information can an Eligible Whistleblower report that qualifies for protection under the Act?

An Eligible Whistleblower can report any information about Mercy Community that they have reasonable grounds to suspect concerns misconduct, or an improper state of affairs or circumstances, in relation to Mercy Community. This may include, but is not limited to:

  • illegal conduct such as theft, money laundering or misappropriation of funds;
  • offering or accepting a bribe;
  • failure to comply with, or breach of, legal or regulatory requirements;
  • serious mismanagement of Mercy Community’s resources;
  • engaging in or threatening to engage in detrimental conduct against a person who has made a disclosure or is believed or suspected to have made, or be planning to make, a disclosure.

However, this does not include:

  • false or vexatious disclosures (persons who make a deliberately false or vexatious report may be disciplined and/or face liability for their actions); or
  • personal work-related grievances, i.e. grievances by a person in relation to their employment that has implications for them personally, but does not have significant implications for Mercy Community that do not relate to that person. This does not include Victimisation. Examples of grievances that may be personal work-related grievances include: interpersonal conflict, a decision relating to the engagement, transfer or promotion of a Discloser, a decision relating to the terms and conditions of engagement of a Discloser, a decision to suspend or terminate the engagement of, or otherwise discipline, a Discloser.

Who can an Eligible Whistleblower report their concerns to?

To qualify for protection, an Eligible Whistleblower should report their concerns to specific people within Mercy Community who are ‘Eligible Recipients’, namely:

  • the Mercy Community Whistleblower Protection Officers, who are the General Counsel & Company Secretary and Chief Risk Officer Governance and Risk;
  • General Managers and members of the Executive team; and
  • internal auditors of Mercy Community.

The Company Secretary is not to, and will not, take receipt of reports of concerns about the Chair of the Board or any Directors. Any such reports must be directed to the Chief Risk Officer Governance and Risk.

An Eligible Whistleblower may also report their concerns to the following external reporting channels:

  • external auditors of Mercy Community;
  • the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC);
  • the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA);
  • the Australian Taxation Office (ATO);
  • other regulatory bodies;
  • a legal practitioner for the purposes of obtaining legal advice; or
  • a journalist or parliamentarian under certain circumstances (this is discussed further below).

How does a Whistleblower report a concern?

An Eligible Whistleblower can contact an Eligible Recipient in person, by post, Teams or phone or by email to an Eligible Recipient’s work email address. A person may also send an email to whistleblower@mercycommunity.org.au or telephone the whistleblower hotline on 07 3267 9020 which will be monitored by the Executive Assistant to the Board and CEO who will direct the email and/or phone call to the appropriate Whistleblower Protection Officer(s) (or the CEO or Board Chair as set out further below). Such contact may be made within or outside of normal business hours. Further information is provided on the Whistleblower Protection Standard Operating Procedure.

An Eligible Whistleblower can report their concerns anonymously and still be protected under the Act. A Whistleblower can choose to remain anonymous over the course of any investigation into their concerns and after the investigation is finalised. A Whistleblower can refuse to answer questions that they feel could reveal their identity. If a Whistleblower provides their name and contact details to an Eligible Recipient, this information will be stored confidentially and securely and handled in accordance with the requirements under the Act. It is illegal for a person to identify a Whistleblower or disclose information that is likely to lead to the identification of the Whistleblower except in certain circumstances.

If a person requires further information before reporting a concern about actual or suspected misconduct, they should contact a Mercy Community Whistleblower Protection Officer.

Public interest disclosures and emergency disclosures

Public interest and emergency disclosures

In some circumstances a “public interest” or “emergency” report of a concern can be made to a member of parliament or a qualified journalist and be protected.

The strict criteria that must be met for such reports to be protected are:

  • the Eligible Whistleblower has already made a disclosure (i.e. reported their concern) to ASIC, APRA or a prescribed Commonwealth authority; and
  • 90 days have elapsed since the previous disclosure/report of their concern, the Eligible Whistleblower does not have reasonable grounds to believe that action has been or is being taken in response to the disclosure/report and has reasonable grounds to believe that (in the case of a “public interest” disclosure) the disclosure is in the public interest, or (in the case of an “emergency” disclosure) the Eligible Whistleblower has reasonable grounds for believing that the disclosure concerns an imminent danger that affects the health or safety of one or more persons or the environment in a substantial way; and
  • after 90 days have passed, the Eligible Whistleblower has given written notice to the body to which the disclosure was originally made that they intend to make a “public interest” or “emergency” disclosure.

The person intending to make the disclosure may wish to seek independent legal advice on whistleblower protection (including whether the criteria have been met) prior to proceeding with a public interest or emergency disclosure.

What are the protections and support provided to a Whistleblower who meets the eligibility requirements under the Act?

The Act provides the following protections:

  • subject to limited exemptions identified in the Act, identity protection for the Whistleblower;
  • protection from Victimisation;
  • no civil, criminal or administrative liability (including disciplinary action) for making the report;
  • no contractual or other remedy may be enforced, and no contractual or other right may be exercised against the person based on their report; and
  • the information will not be admissible in evidence against the person in criminal proceedings or in proceedings for the imposition of a penalty, other than proceedings in respect of the falsity of the information.

What support does Mercy Community provide to a Whistleblower?

Mercy Community provides support and practical protection for Whistleblowers, including:

  • taking measures reasonably practicable to ensure the Whistleblower does not experience any victimisation because of their report and Whistleblowers who believe they have suffered victimisation are encouraged to seek independent legal advice;
  • protecting the confidentiality of their identity;
  • providing a support person who will support the Whistleblower through the investigation process; and
  • providing access to an Employee Assistance Scheme.

A report of a concern by a Whistleblower can qualify for protection even if the concern turns out to be incorrect.

Where a Whistleblower is implicated in any wrongdoing, the Whistleblower will not be protected from the consequences flowing from their involvement in the wrongdoing itself. A person’s liability for their own conduct is not affected by their reporting of that conduct under this policy.

How will reports of misconduct or wrongdoing be investigated?

If a Whistleblower reports their concerns to an Eligible Recipient other than a Whistleblower Protection Officer, that report will be sent to the a Whistleblower Protection Officer. Should a Whistleblower Protection Officer be the subject of the disclosure, the CEO may assume Whistleblower Protection Officer responsibilities. If the CEO is the subject of the Whistleblower’s report, the Board Chair may assume their responsibilities.

Subsequently, the Whistleblower Protection Officer(s) (or the CEO or Board Chair if they have assumed the Whistleblower Protection Officer responsibilities) will:

  • appoint a suitable investigator who must, in a timely manner, conduct an investigation in an objective manner and prepare a report of findings and present those findings to the Whistleblower Protection Officer (or the CEO or Board Chair where appropriate) who will ensure the report is appropriately escalated;
  • determine if and when it is appropriate for the person or persons the subject of the Whistleblower’s concerns to be made aware of the matter;
  • keep the Whistleblower appropriately informed if they can be contacted and provide them with a support person and encourage them to access the Employee Assistance Program; and
  • record the Whistleblower’s concerns in a register with restricted access.

Any person participating in the investigation of any concerns reported by a Whistleblower are required to keep confidential any and all relevant information. All investigation materials are to be stored securely and disclosure of all information relating to a report will be limited to those directly involved in managing and investigating the report.

Mercy Community will ensure fair treatment of individuals mentioned in any information or concerns reported by a Whistleblower under this policy by:

  • maintaining confidentiality;
  • ensuring that a suitable support person for the individual(s) mentioned is made available, and they will be present during communications with the individual;
  • the support person must ensure that they are fully aware of the requirements within this policy, especially the aspects regarding confidentiality and protection of the Whistleblower; and
  • the support person must ensure the individuals involved are offered access to confidential independent employee assistance programs.

All reports made by Whistleblowers will be investigated appropriately and in accordance with this policy and the Act.

The Whistleblower Protection Officer(s) will advise the CEO (or the Board Chair if the CEO is the subject of the Whistleblower’s report) of all matters under investigation and reports prepared in the course of the investigation will be shared with the Executive Team members and Board of Directors responsible for Governance, where appropriate. The CEO or the Board Chair if the CEO is the subject of the Whistleblower’s report) will determine an appropriate response to the report.

How will this policy be made available?

This policy is available on Mercy Community intranet, SharePoint, and the Mercy Community website.


In this policy, the following words have the following meanings:

Discloser means an individual who discloses wrongdoing or an Eligible Whistleblower.

Eligible Recipient means an individual who can receive a disclosure.

Eligible Whistleblower means an individual to whom the whistleblower protections apply.

Journalist means a person who is working in a professional capacity as a journalist for:

  • a newspaper or magazine;
  • a radio or television broadcasting service; or
  • an electronic service that is operated on a commercial basis or by a body that provides a national broadcasting service and is similar to a newspaper, magazine or television broadcast.

For the avoidance of doubt, public disclosures on social media or through the provision of material to self-defined journalists are not protected.

Victimisation means causing or threatening to cause any detriment including, but not limited to, injury, dismissal, disciplinary action, demotion, harassment of any form, discrimination, or intimidation.


Related Documents

GOV SOP Whistleblower Protection

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