This version of APNIC’s Whistleblower Policy was adopted on 11 September 2022.
This Policy is available on the APNIC website and the APNIC Foundation website and is also available to employees on APNIC’s intranet. Please check that you are reviewing the latest version. More information about whistleblowing and the whistleblowing protection regime in Australia is available on the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) website.
You should make a disclosure under this Policy if you have reasonable grounds to suspect that the information you are disclosing concerns misconduct or an improper state of affairs or circumstances. The types of disclosures which are protected under this Policy are set out in section 3. The protections available to Eligible Whistleblowers (defined in section 2.2) for such disclosures are set out in section 6.
You should not use this Policy to make vexatious reports or report personal work-related grievances. Personal work-related grievances include interpersonal conflicts with other employees and decisions relating to promotions, terms and conditions of employment, suspension or termination of employment, and disciplinary actions. You must also not make a deliberately false report under this Policy. For further detail, see sections 4.3 to 4.5.
Table of contents
1. Purpose of this Policy
- This Whistleblower Policy (Policy) expresses APNIC’s commitment to ensuring the highest standards of integrity and promoting a culture of honest and ethical behaviour, corporate compliance, and good corporate governance. As part of this commitment, APNIC recognises the need to have robust procedures in place to ensure people can report instances of suspected unethical, illegal, fraudulent or undesirable conduct by APNIC or its officers, employees, or agents, and to ensure that anyone who does report such behaviour can do so without fear of reprisal, discrimination, intimidation or victimisation.
- The purpose of this Policy is to:
(a) promote a culture of good governance, ethical behaviour and accountability at APNIC;
(b) encourage individuals to report suspected wrongdoing as soon as possible to help identify and deter wrongdoing;
(c) guidance as to how to disclose a Disclosable Matter (defined in 4.1 below) and outline the protections available to Eligible Whistleblowers (defined in 2.2 below);
(d) provide transparency around APNIC’s framework for receiving, handling and investigating disclosures; and
(e) support APNIC’s values, credo, and code of conduct policy, its long-term sustainability and reputation, and to meet its legal and regulatory obligations.
2. Who does this Policy apply to?
- This policy applies to APNIC and its related bodies corporate, which includes the APNIC Foundation.
- The legal protections for whistleblowers under this Policy and the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (Corporations Act) are available if you are an ‘Eligible Whistleblower’ which includes the following:
- You must hold, or have previously held, one of the roles above in order to be an Eligible Whistleblower (even if reporting anonymously).
(a) an officer or employee of APNIC (including a casual employee or intern);
(b) a supplier of goods or services to APNIC, whether paid or unpaid, including volunteers, contractors and consultants, or an employee of a supplier;
(c) an associate of APNIC; or
(d) a relative, spouse, or dependant of any of the above.
3. What reports are protected under this Policy?
- To be eligible for the legal protections outlined in this Policy, you must:
- If your report meets all three of the above criteria, it is a Protected Report.
- If your report doesn’t meet the above criteria, we still encourage you to raise your concerns with us. However, only Protected Reports receive the legal protections outlined in this policy.
(a) be an Eligible Whistleblower (see section 2);
(b) report your concerns to an Eligible Recipient or certain other persons (see section 5); and
(c) have reasonable grounds to suspect a Disclosable Matter in relation to APNIC or a related body corporate (see section 4).
4. What matters or conduct is reportable under this Policy?
What is covered?
- Matters or conduct which can be reported under this Policy are “Disclosable Matters”. A Disclosable Matter is any matter or conduct which is, or may be, harmful to APNIC or any of its employees, officers, contractors or customers. Without limiting the type of information that can be disclosed under this Policy, examples of information that is appropriate to disclose includes:
- You must have reasonable grounds to suspect that the information you are disclosing concerns misconduct or an improper state of affairs or circumstances.
- An example of where you would be unlikely to have ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect misconduct or an improper state of affairs is if you make a deliberately false report. However, a disclosure can still qualify for protection even if that disclosure turns out to be incorrect.
- Disclosable Matters do not include most personal work-related grievances. Personal work-related grievances include interpersonal conflicts with other employees and decisions relating to promotions, terms and conditions of employment, suspension or termination of employment, and disciplinary actions.
- Personal work-related grievances should be raised by employees directly with their Manager or otherwise through APNIC’s Human Resources team to allow those issues to be resolved most effectively. Please see APNIC’s Complaint Procedure for guidance on how to report personal work-related grievances.
- A disclosure about a personal-work related grievance will be a Disclosable Matter if, in summary:
(a) dishonest, fraudulent, unethical, or corrupt practices;
(b) harassment, discrimination, victimization or bullying;
(c) unsafe work practices and other significant safety concerns;
(d) information which indicates that APNIC or any employee or officer of APNIC has engaged in conduct that:
(i) constitutes a contravention of specific legislation, including the Corporations Act, Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 (Cth), Banking Act 1959 (Cth), Financial Sector (Collection of Data Act 2001 (Cth), Insurance Act 1973 (Cth), Life Insurance Act 1995 (Cth), National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 (Cth), Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 (Cth); or
(ii) constitutes an offence against any other law of the Commonwealth that is punishable by at least 12 months’ imprisonment; or
(iii) represents a danger to the public or the financial system.
What is not covered?
(a) it includes information about Wrongdoing or is bundled with a report of Wrongdoing;
(b) it includes information about Wrongdoing beyond an individual’s personal circumstances, demonstrates a systemic issue within APNIC or has significant implications for the organisation;
(c) relates to a breach of employment or other laws punishable by imprisonment for a period of 12 months or more;
(d) concerns detriment to you because you have or may be considering reporting Wrongdoing; or
(e) It is made to a legal practitioner for the purposes of obtaining advice or legal representation in relation to the operation of the law about whistleblowers.
5. How do you make a disclosure as an Eligible Whistleblower?
- If you are an Eligible Whistleblower and have reasonable grounds to suspect, or you are aware of, a Disclosable Matter, you are encouraged to report the Disclosable Matter using the channels below.
- If you are not comfortable or able to report misconduct internally (see section 5.14 below), you may report it to APNIC’s external and independent whistleblowing service provider.
- APNIC has contracted Your Call Whistleblowing Solutions (“Your Call”) to receive and manage your report with impartiality and confidentially.
- This option allows you to:
- The Your Call reporting options include:
- Online reports can be made via the website address listed above. You will be required to enter APNIC’s unique identifier code which is APNIC.
- Your Call remains the intermediary at all times, receiving and forwarding communication between all parties. The APNIC Disclosure Officers who will have access to your reports are listed in section 5.15 below.
- Your Call can circumvent any of the Disclosure Officers (see section 5.15 below) upon your request.
- You will be able to securely upload any relevant documentation and/or material relevant to your disclosure.
- After making a disclosure, you will be provided with a unique Disclosure Identification Number (“DIN”) and access to a secure online Message Board.
- The Message Board allows ongoing anonymous communication with Your Call and/or APNIC (depending on your preference). Your Call remains the intermediary at all times, receiving and forwarding communication between all parties. The Message Board can be used to receive updates, share further information/evidence and request support or report retaliation. If you cannot access the Message Board, you can contact Your Call via phone (above) for verbal updates.
- If you are deaf, or have a hearing or speech impairment, you can contact Your Call online or through the National Relay Service. Simply choose your contact method at www.relayservice.gov.au and request Your Call’s hotline 1300 790 228.
- If you have difficulty speaking or understanding English, you can contact Your Call through the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) via 131 450 and ask for Your Call on 1300 790 228. For more information on TIS, please visit https://www.tisnational.gov.au/.
- Certain internal and external persons are eligible to receive your disclosure of a Disclosable Matter if you are an Eligible Whistleblower. These persons are called Eligible Recipients.
- Reports of Disclosable Matters may be made directly to any of APNIC’s Disclosure Officers, being:
- If an Eligible Whistleblower would prefer not to contact anyone internally about the Disclosable Matter, they may make the report directly to Your Call (see section 5.2 above) or may make the report to the following people:
- In certain limited circumstances an Eligible Whistleblower may be able to make a further disclosure to a journalist or a parliamentarian and qualify for protection. For more information, you can:
- It is important that you understand the criteria for making a public interest or emergency disclosure as specific rules apply to qualify for protection. For this reason, you are encouraged to seek legal advice before doing so.
- If you disclose your concerns to the public in another way, the protections set out in Section 6 below will not apply.
External reporting service
(a) remain completely anonymous
(b) identify yourself to Your Call only
(c) identify yourself to both Your Call and APNIC.
(a) Website via https://www.yourcall.com.au/report. This is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
(b) Telephone via 1300 790 228. This is available between 9am and 12am, recognised business days, AEST.
National Relay Service
Making a report internally
Name Role Phone Number Nathan Harvey Finance Director (07) 3858 3105 nathan.harvey (at) apnic.net Karla Skarda Services Director (07) 3858 3249 karla.skarda (at) apnic.net Tony Smith Communications Director (07) 3858 3137 tony (at) apnic.net Anton Strydom Product Development Director (07) 3858 3170 anton (at) apnic.net
Other Eligible Recipients
(a) for a report under the Corporations Act:
(i) a legal practitioner;
(ii) external auditors conducting an audit of APNIC;
(iii) a senior manager of APNIC (e.g. a member of the Executive Leadership Team);
(iv) an APNIC EC Member;
(v) an APNIC Foundation (Australia) Board Member (for disclosures relating to APNIC Foundation);
(vi) Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC);
(vii) Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA);
(b) for a report relating to a tax matter:
(i) a registered tax agent or BAS agent engaged by APNIC; or
(ii) the Commissioner of Taxation where it is information that assist the Commission in their duties in relation to APNIC.
Public interest or emergency disclosures
(a) contact the APNIC Legal team for general information (please note that the APNIC Legal team cannot provide you with personal legal advice);
(b) view Table 2 ‘Public interest disclosures’ and Table 3 ‘Emergency disclosures’ on this page of the ASIC website (link); and/or
(c) seek independent legal advice.
6. Protecting the Whistleblower
- APNIC is committed to protecting those who report a Disclosable Matter and will not tolerate any reprisals, discrimination, harassment, intimidation or victimization against any persons for making or proposing to make a disclosure under this Policy. Such treatment will be regarded as serious misconduct and may constitute grounds for termination. Such treatment is also illegal under Australian law and subject to civil and criminal penalties. A person who is subject to such detriment may also seek compensation or other remedies from a Court if they have suffered loss, damage, or injury because of reporting a Disclosable Matter or because APNIC failed to take reasonable precautions and exercise due diligence to prevent the detriment.
- If you are an Eligible Whistleblower, you are also protected from any of the following in relation to your disclosure of a Disclosable Matter:
- However, it is important that you understand that these protections do not apply in relation to any misconduct you have engaged in that is revealed in your disclosure.
- All disclosures under this Policy will be treated confidentially in order to protect the discloser’s identity, regardless of whether or not you are an Eligible Whistleblower. It is illegal for a person to identify a discloser or disclose information that is likely to lead to identification of the discloser, outside of certain exceptions noted below.
- APNIC will take all reasonable steps to protect the identity of a discloser (unless they choose to be identifiable) under this Policy, including:
- Recipients of a report or any other person with knowledge of the report must not disclose the discloser’s identity unless it is required by law, the discloser provides their consent, the disclosure is made to ASIC, APRA or the Australian Federal Police, or the disclosure is made to a lawyer for the purpose of getting legal advice.
- You may remain anonymous and choose to adopt a pseudonym for the purposes of your report. This may be suitable where your identity is known to the Eligible Recipient to whom the Disclosable Matter is reported, but you would prefer not to disclose your identity to anyone else. You may choose to remain anonymous while making a disclosure, over the course of an investigation and after the investigation is finalised. If you wish to remain anonymous, APNIC encourages you to make your report directly to Your Call (see section 5.2 above).
- It is important to note that, in practice, it may be possible to guess a discloser’s identity if:
- If it is apparent to the person who you report a Disclosable Matter to that it is likely the circumstances above apply, they will endeavour to discuss with you how best to protect your identity. Where this is not possible, the options open to you will be discussed with you.
Civil, criminal and administrative liability protection
(a) civil liability (e.g. any legal action against you for breach of an employment contract, duty of confidentiality or another contractual obligation);
(b) criminal liability (e.g. attempted prosecution of you for unlawfully releasing information, or other use of the disclosure against you in a prosecution (other than for making a false disclosure)); and
(c) administrative liability (e.g. disciplinary action for making the disclosure).
Confidentiality and Anonymity
De-identifying the discloser
(a) all personal information or reference to the discloser witnessing an event will be redacted;
(b) the discloser will be referred to in a gender-neutral context;
(c) where possible, the discloser will be contacted to help identify certain aspects of their disclosure that could inadvertently identify them; and
(d) disclosures will be handled and investigated by the most appropriate staff, or by independent external investigators (see section 7.3 below).
Secure record-keeping and information-sharing processes
(e) all paper and electronic documents and other materials relating to disclosures will be stored securely;
(f) access to all information relating to a disclosure will be limited to those directly involved in managing and investigating the disclosure;
(g) 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;
(h) 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
(i) 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.
(a) the discloser has previously mentioned to other people that they are considering making a disclosure;
(b) the discloser is one of a very small number of people with access to the information; or
(c) the disclosure relates to information that a discloser has previously been told privately and in confidence.
7. How will APNIC assess and investigate a disclosure?
- All documents and other materials forming part of the disclosure of a Disclosable Matter will be stored and dealt with securely.
- Disclosures will be initially assessed by the Eligible Recipient to determine:
- If the disclosure is covered by this Policy and further investigation of the matters raised in the disclosure is considered warranted, your disclosure will be referred for investigation:
- The objective of an investigation of a disclosure is to determine whether there is enough information to substantiate or refute the matters reported in the disclosure.
- Where an investigation needs to be undertaken, we will ensure it is objective, fair and independent. Therefore, any person appointed to investigate your disclosure will be independent of you and any individuals who are the subject of your disclosure, as well as any connected staff members.
- The person tasked with investigating your disclosure will usually be a senior employee who has received training on how to investigate disclosures. If, however:
- All disclosures will be reviewed within two business days of receipt to determine whether it should be handled in accordance with this Policy and whether an investigation is required. The timing of any investigation will depend on the nature of the disclosure, however APNIC will keep the discloser informed in accordance with section 7.8 below.
- APNIC will keep you informed (unless you have chosen to remain anonymous and cannot be contacted) of the progress of the assessment and any subsequent investigation at regular intervals during the process. The nature and extent of these updates may vary depending on the nature of the disclosure, however they will continue until such time as we inform you of the final outcome of the investigation.
Initial assessment of disclosures
(a) the issues raised by the disclosure, including whether the disclosure is that of a Disclosable Matter under this Policy;
(b) the actual risks of detrimental conduct faced by all individuals involved in the disclosure; and
(c) the appropriate steps for both responding to the disclosure and the discloser’s welfare.
(a) internally, where it is considered you can be adequately protected with respect to your disclosure; or
(b) externally to an independent investigator, where it is considered inappropriate for an internal investigation to be conducted (for example, where your identity may not be able to be adequately protected or where the nature or extent of the disclosure warrants an external investigation).
(a) it is considered that additional specialist skills or expertise are necessary; or
(b) if the disclosure concerns any member of the Executive Council or any senior managers, an external investigator may be appointed to conduct the investigation, either in conjunction with, or independently of, the internal investigator.
Keeping you informed
8. Ensuring fair treatment of individuals mentioned in a disclosure
- APNIC will ensure that:
(a) if practical and appropriate to do so, the details of individuals mentioned in the disclosure are handled confidentially;
(b) any person 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 before any action is taken; and
(c) any person who is the subject of a disclosure receives appropriate support services.
9. Reports and investigations
- At the end of an investigation, a de-identified report will be submitted to the Executive Council as appropriate. The report will summarise the conduct of the investigation and the evidence collected, draw conclusions about the extent of any Disclosable Matter and recommend an appropriate course of action to remedy any Disclosable Matter and ensure that it does not recur.
- APNIC will keep appropriate records and documentation for each step in the investigation, while maintaining confidentiality.
10. Ensuring the ongoing effectiveness of this Policy
- APNIC’s Human Resources team will implement a program to ensure all employees are aware of this Policy and their rights and obligations under it.
- APNIC will also ensure that all individuals with roles and responsibilities under the Policy receive induction and regular ongoing training in relation to receiving and handling disclosures, including training relating to confidentiality and the prohibitions against detrimental conduct.
- This Policy will be reviewed by the Executive Council at least once every three years to ensure it remains consistent with all relevant legislative requirements, as well as the changing nature of our business operations.
- The Executive Council (with the assistance of APNIC’s Legal team) will monitor the whistleblower management system to ensure that the broader trends, themes and/or emerging risks highlighted by the disclosures made under this policy are addressed and mitigated as part of its risk management and corporate governance. Who to contact for additional information
- If you require further information in relation to this policy, or how to make a Protected Report, you can contact APNIC’s Disclosure Officers set out in section 5.15 above.
Review of this Policy