Date reviewed: 04 July 2022
Vision Hospital Group (VHG) will not tolerate unlawful or unacceptable conduct by any Workplace Participant so we encourage and support the disclosure of such conduct by providing protections to Eligible Whistleblowers who make Protected Disclosures. This Whistleblower Protection Policy (Policy) documents VHG’s commitment to maintaining a working environment in which Workplace Participants are encouraged to raise concerns regarding actual or suspected contraventions of our ethical and legal standards without fear of reprisal or feeling threatened by doing so. In particular, this Policy aims to:
This Policy applies to all current and former employees and officers of VHG (whether full time, part time or casual), contractors (including doctors), consultants, service providers and suppliers of VHG, as well as relatives, spouses or dependents of all those mentioned.
In this policy all such persons are referred to as "Eligible Person".
Has the responsibility of making a final determination of an outcome if and only when a discloser is dissatisfied with the response tendered to them by the assigned investigator.
Has a responsibility for determining corrective action in relation to protected disclosures.
Has responsibility for determining whether a Disclosure constitutes a Protected Disclosure, conducting or delegating investigations into Protected Disclosures, making recommendations to the CEO where appropriate and ensuring welfare of Eligible Whistleblowers.
Has responsibility for:
Has responsibility for making disclosures about Reportable Conduct to Eligible Recipients where there is reasonable grounds to do so.
Have responsibility for:
All employees of VHG have a responsibility to help ensure compliance with our ethical and legal obligations. If you become aware of a breach, or if you suspect a breach, of law or associated company policy or an instance of misconduct or unethical behaviour you must report it in accordance with this Policy. For the purposes of this Policy, Reportable Matters may include any actual or suspected:
Reportable Matters do not generally include Personal Work-Related Grievances.
Personal Work-Related Grievances are grievances relating to a person’s current or former employment or association with VHG which have, or tend to have, implications for that person but do not:
Examples of Personal Work-Related Grievances include, but are not limited to:
Disclosures relating to these matters should be reported through line management and internal reporting channels. Disclosures relating to these matters do not qualify for Whistleblower Protection under this Policy or Australian laws.
A disclosure may have serious consequences, including potential damage to the reputation of people who are the subject of allegations. Therefore, it is important that those who make a disclosure under this policy do so in good faith, and with Reasonable Grounds for believing that the information being reported is true or likely to be true.
Reasonable grounds means that a reasonable person in your position would also suspect the information indicates a Reportable Matter or a breach of the law.
Disclosures found to involve malicious, false or vexatious allegations may result in disciplinary action up to termination, against the discloser.
If an Eligible Person becomes aware of any matter or behaviour which they believe constitutes a Reportable Matter, they can make a report in writing or in person to an Eligible Recipient including:
Disclosures may also be made to VHG’s auditor, ShineWing Australia or to ASIC (Australian Securities & Investments Commission).
VHG has nominated the Company Secretary as the Whistleblower Disclosure Officer (WDO) and Eligible Persons are encouraged to make reports to them by telephone, email, or in writing to the address below.
Eligible Persons may also disclose information to a Legal Practitioner only for the purpose of obtaining legal advice or legal representation in respect of the application of the Whistleblower Laws under the Corporations Act to the Reportable Matter.
If an Eligible Person is in doubt about how or to whom they may report a Reportable Matter & if the protections of the Whistleblower Laws apply, they should consider obtaining independent legal advice prior to making the report.
VHG encourages all Reportable Matters to be directed through our internal channels as outlined at 5.1 above, in the first instance. This allows VHG an opportunity to identify and address wrongdoing as early as possible and is intended to help VHG build confidence and trust in our Whistleblower policy, processes and procedures.
In certain limited circumstances such as if the Reportable Matter has an imminent risk of causing harm or danger to public health or safety, an Emergency or Public Interest Disclosure can be made to a journalist or a Member of Parliament as a last resort when all other avenues have been exhausted.
These reports may be protected under the Whistleblower Laws and this Policy, where certain circumstances are met. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to Emergency or Public Interest Disclosures.
A ‘public interest disclosure’ is the disclosure of information to a journalist or a parliamentarian, where:
VHG has an external and independent Whistleblower service dedicated to receiving reports from Eligible Persons where they do not wish to report using internal channels.
ProAct Link Whistleblower service can be used to report externally for all concerns where the discloser wishes to report anonymously or externally to a channel that is independent of their employer, VHG or its associated entities.
Disclosures can be made directly to ProAct Link, which is operated by Proactive Strategies. ProAct Link is an Eligible Recipient under this policy.
ProAct Link reporting options are available 24/7:
You can identify yourself or remain anonymous when you make a report to ProAct Link. If you disclose your identity to ProAct Link, you can request that your identity not be disclosed to VHG. ProAct Link will not disclose your identity to VHG without your consent unless it is legally required to do so.
Disclosures can be made anonymously if preferred and will still qualify for the protections under the Whistleblower Laws where the disclosure qualifies as a Protected Disclosure.
Anonymous reports can be made to an Eligible Recipient or to ProAct Link. However, anonymous reports may limit the ability for VHG to investigate and to investigate fully and to provide protections to the discloser.
If you are the person that a report is made to, and you believe that behaviour reported may be regarding a Reportable Matter under this Policy:
Unauthorised disclosure of the Whistleblowers identity or information from which the identity of the Whistleblower could be inferred, will be regarded as a disciplinary matter, and will be dealt with in accordance with VHG’s disciplinary procedures.
For a report to be a Protected Disclosure under this policy, (and therefore provide the discloser with protections under the Whistleblower Laws), the person disclosing must be an Eligible Person (see clause 2) who:
In accordance with the requirements of the Whistleblower Laws, VHG will provide protections for an Eligible Person making a Protected Disclosure in good faith, on reasonable grounds and in accordance with this policy.
These protections include:
VHG’s priority is to protect the identity and confidentiality of a person who raises concerns or makes a disclosure.
Those involved in the investigation or handling of a report, including witnesses, are also required to maintain confidentiality and are not to disclose information about an investigation of a disclosure, or allegations to any person, except for those people responsible for handling, responding to, or investigating the report.
The identity of the discloser (and any information VHG may have regarding the disclosure that could be used to identify the discloser) will only be disclosed if:
VHG will take all reasonable steps to ensure that access to information received as part of a disclosure is restricted to only those involved in the investigation or resolution of the matter.
You will not be discriminated against or disadvantaged in your employment or other contractual arrangements with VHG for making a report in accordance with this Policy, nor will you receive reprisals due to your actions in making such a report. This includes (but is not limited to) protection from:
VHG will take all reasonable steps to ensure that adequate and appropriate protection is being provided for an Eligible Person who reports a Reportable Matter. This protection applies if the matter is proven or not, regardless of whether it is reported to an external authority. VHG will safeguard your interests, having regard to this Policy, the Australian Standard on Whistleblower Protection Programs for Entities, and any other applicable policies and laws.
However, this Policy will not protect the Whistleblower if they are also involved in or connected to the improper conduct or illegal activities that are being reported.
Detrimental conduct does not include reasonable administrative actions and managing an Eligible Whistleblowers
unsatisfactory work performance.
You will be protected from any of the following in relation to a Protected Disclosure:
The protections do not grant immunity for any misconduct you may have engaged in, that is revealed in the disclosure.
You can also seek compensation and other remedies through the courts if you have suffered loss or injury because of the disclosure or if VHG failed to take reasonable precautions to prevent the detrimental conduct.
You can still qualify for the protections under this Policy even if the disclosure turns out to be incorrect or if your legal practitioner has advised you that the disclosure is not a Reportable Matter.
A Whistleblower who has made a Protected Disclosure, must at all times during the reporting process and any resulting investigation process, continue to comply with this Policy.
As part of the initial review of the disclosure, an assessment will be made of the potential risk of breach of confidentiality regarding your identity, and risk of detriment to you.
Decisions regarding response and investigation methods will be made in consideration of these risks, and suitable measures will be considered and implemented to mitigate these risks as required.
Where the disclosure assessment indicates an investigation is practical and appropriate, an investigation will be undertaken.
The VHG Whistleblower Disclosure Officer will review the report and escalate through senior line management as appropriate and coordinate any required investigations. VHG may engage the services of independent investigators as required and appropriate.
Any such investigation shall observe the rules of natural justice and the provisions of procedural fairness towards the persons whose conduct the report relates. Unless there are confidentiality or other considerations that preclude it, persons to whom the report relates will be informed of any allegation at an appropriate time and given the chance to respond to those allegations prior to any actions being taken which may impact on their employment or relationship with VHG.
The investigation process will be conducted so as to protect all paper and electronic documents and other materials relating to the disclosure from unauthorised access.
At the conclusion of the investigation, where you have provided an avenue to contact you, we will report to you on the outcome of the investigation subject to privacy considerations. If you are dissatisfied with the response tendered to you, you may request that the complaint be reviewed by the Board of VHG. Following its review, the Board will notify you of its decision.
VHG’s employees will be made aware and have access to this policy and the mechanisms for disclosing of a Reportable Matter through VHG’s induction and ongoing awareness programs.
The Policy will be available for viewing by any Eligible Person on the VHG’s intranet site and in hard copy at VHG’s Head Office.
This policy will also be available to disclosers who are not directly employed by VHG through publication on the company website at visionhospitalgroup.com.au.
Any employee grievance arising from the implementation of this policy may follow the usual resolution process outlined in the Employee Grievance Policy.
The policy will be reviewed for effectiveness on a bi-annual basis, or earlier as deemed necessary.
Non-compliance with any component of this policy will be treated seriously and, depending on the circumstances, performance management processes may be implemented.