Whistleblower Protection Policy

The purpose of this policy is to provide a supportive workplace where misconduct within Renascent offices and project sites can be raised without fear of retribution. It is intended to encourage the reporting of misconduct, whether openly or, if required, anonymously and to ensure whistleblowers feel confident raising concerns internally without fear of intimidation or reprisal.
This policy is to be implemented in conjunction with the Anti-discrimination, Harassment and Bullying Policy, Code of Conduct and Grievance Policy.

1. When does this Policy apply?

This policy applies on the following circumstances:

  • a) The person who makes the disclosure is within the categories of people who are prescribed as eligible whistleblowers (see ‘Who is eligible for whistleblower protection’ below);
  • b) the disclosure is of a type that qualifies for whistleblower protection (see ‘Disclosable Matters’ - Item 3)
  • c) the disclosure is made to a person to whom a disclosure can be made (see ‘item 6’ of this Policy).

2. Who is an eligible whistleblower?

This Policy applies to any person who is, or has been, any of the following:

  • a) Renascent employees (including permanent, part-time, fixed term or temporary, interns, secondees and managers).
  • b) Renascent Officers (Directors, Senior Managers, Secretary)
  • c) An External Provider (subcontractors, Suppliers and Consultants) who is providing, or has provided goods or services to Renascent, whether paid or unpaid (e.g., volunteering) including their employees: and
  • d) A relative, dependent, or spouse of an individual identified in the previous points.

3. Who is a whistleblower?

  • a) A whistleblower is a person who reports misconduct (being fraud, negligence, default, breach of trust and breach of duty) in accordance with this policy.
  • b) It is expected that the reports are based on reasonable grounds to suspect the information to be disclose in true and accurate from first-hand knowledge, but you will not be penalized if the information turns out to be incorrect. However, you must not make a report that you know is untrue or misleading. Deliberate false reporting will not be covered by this Policy and will not be a protected disclosure. Where it is found that the whistleblower has knowingly made a false report, this may result in disciplinary action.
  • c) It is not the whistleblower’s job to investigate or prove a case of misconduct.

4. Disclosable matters

a) Renascent encourage the disclosure of information that suggests misconduct, an improper situation or circumstance, or a violation of legislation or regulatory requirements, including but not limited to;

  • dishonest, fraudulent, corrupt, including offering or accepting a bribe, money laundering, misappropriation of funds or other activity in breach of this Policy;
  • illegal activity (e.g., theft, dealing in, or use of illicit drugs, violence or threatened violence, harassment or intimidation, criminal damage to property or other breaches of state or federal law);
  • is unethical or in breach of the Company’s policies (e.g., dishonestly altering company records or data, adopting accounting practices that are questionable or willfully breaching the Company’s Code of Conduct or other policies or procedures);
  • is potentially damaging to the Company, an employee of the Company or a third party, such as unsafe work practices, environmental damage, health risks or abuse of the Company’s property or resources.

b) Disclosable matters include conduct that may not involve a violation of a particular law. Disclosures that are not about disclosable matters do not qualify for protection under the Corporations Act. Such disclosures may be protected under other legislation, such as the Fair Work Act 2009.

c) Disclosures relating to personal work-related grievances do not normally qualify for protection. ‘Personal work-related grievance’ includes the following:

  • an interpersonal conflict between the discloser and another employee;
  • a decision that does not involve a breach of workplace laws;
  • a decision about the engagement, transfer or promotion of the discloser;
  • a decision about the terms and conditions of engagement of the discloser; or
  • a decision to suspend or terminate the engagement of the discloser, or otherwise to discipline the discloser.

d) A personal work-related grievance may still qualify for protection if:

  • the disclosure relates to information that suggests misconduct beyond the discloser’s personal circumstances, such as the Company or a related body corporate of the Company breaching employment or other laws punishable by imprisonment for a period of 12 months or more, or engaging in conduct that represents a danger to the public; or
  • the discloser suffers from or is threatened with detriment for making a disclosure; or
  • the discloser seeks legal advice or legal representation about the operation of the whistleblower protections under the Corporations Act.
  • If you have a grievance that is not a Disclosable Matter, and therefore not covered under this Policy, you may still report the grievance to your manager under the Company’s HR Policies and Procedures. We encourage employees to seek legal advice about their rights and protections under employment or contract law, and to resolve their personal work-related grievance.

5. How to report a potential misconduct?

a) There are several ways in which you may report or disclose any issue or behaviour which you consider to be Reportable Conduct. Disclosures may be made in writing (e.g., via email or the Whistleblower Complaints Form on Green House), in person, via telephone, or on an anonymous basis.

b) If you become aware of an issue or behaviour that you believe is a disclosable matter, you can report it to your branch General Manager or any of the Whistleblower Protection Officer listed below. You may contact them either to obtain additional information before making a report or to make a disclosure that qualifies for protection:

5.1 Anonymity

a) A whistleblower can make a report anonymously. However, it may be difficult for Renascent to thoroughly investigate the matters disclosed and therefore Renascent encourages you to share your identity, however it is not mandatory.

b) A whistleblower can refuse to answer questions that they feel could reveal their identity at any time, including any follow-up conversations.

c) If your identity is known to the person to whom you made a disclosure, you can ask them to adopt a pseudonym (fictitious name) for the purposes of disclosure.

5.2 Reporting to Regulators

We encourage eligible whistleblowers to make a disclose to one of the Company’s internal Whistleblower Protection Officer in the first instance. However, you may also make a disclosure to the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission (ACNC) or Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) in relation to Reportable Conduct. However, it is important to remember that ACNC is not an eligible recipient. To be covered by the protections outlined in this Policy, you must ensure you have reported your concerns to an eligible Whistleblower Protection Officer in the first instance.

5.3 Reporting to a Legal Practitioner

You may choose to discuss your concerns with a legal practitioner for the purposes of obtaining legal advice or representation. You will be covered by the protections outlined in this Policy if you have reported your concerns to a legal practitioner.

5.4 Public Interest and Emergency Disclosure

In certain situations, the conduct or wrongdoing may be of such gravity and urgency that disclosure to the media or a parliamentarian is necessary. A public interest and emergency disclosure can only be made to:

a) A journalist, defined to mean a person who is working in a professional capacity as a journalist for a newspaper, magazine, or radio or television broadcasting service

b) A Member of the Parliament of the Commonwealth or of a State or Territory parliament

You will be qualified for protection where you have made a public interest disclosure if:

  1. You have previously disclosed the information to ACNC or ASIC
  2. You have reasonable grounds to believe that the information concerns a substantial and imminent danger to the health or safety of one or more persons, or to the natural environment
  3. You have given written notification, including sufficient information to ACNC or ASIC in your previous disclosure and advised them in writing that you intend on making a public interest disclosure
  4. No more information is disclosed than is reasonably necessary to inform the recipient of the substantial and imminent danger.

5.5 Protection from Detrimental Acts or Omissions

5.5.1 Legal Protections

A person cannot engage in conduct that causes detriment to a discloser (or another person), in relation to a disclosure, if:

a) The person believes or suspects that the discloser (or another person) made, may have made, proposes to make or could make a disclosure that qualifies for protection; and

b) The belief or suspicion is the reason, or part of the reason, for the conduct.

Examples of detrimental conduct that are prohibited under the law include the following:

  1. Dismissal of an employee;
  2. Injury of an employee in his or her employment;
  3. Alteration of an employee’s position or duties to his or her disadvantage;
  4. Discrimination between an employee and other employees of the same employer;
  5. Harassment or intimidation of a person;
  6. Harm or injury to a person, including psychological harm;
  7. Damage to a person’s property;
  8. Damage to a person’s reputation;
  9. Damage to a person’s business or financial position; or
  10. Any other damage to a person.

Examples of actions that are not detrimental conduct include the following:

  1. Administrative action that is reasonable for the purpose of protecting a discloser from detriment (e.g. moving a discloser who has made a disclosure about their immediate work area to another office to prevent them from detriment); and
  2. Managing a discloser’s unsatisfactory work performance, if the action is in line with the Company’s performance management framework.
5.5.2 How the Company Provides Practical Protection

The Company will not tolerate any detrimental conduct against Eligible Whistleblowers who ask questions or report concerns under this Policy.

a) If you are subjected to detrimental treatment as a result of making a report under this Policy you should inform a Whistleblower Protection Officer, or the Branch General Manager.

b) Any employee of the Company engaging in detrimental conduct may be subject to disciplinary action (including but not limited to termination of employment or engagement). The Company may refer any person that has engaged in detrimental conduct to law enforcement authorities for further investigation.

5.6 Compensation and Other Remedies

A discloser (or any other employee or person) can seek compensation and other remedies through the courts if:

a) They suffer loss, damage or injury because of a disclosure; and

b) The entity failed to take reasonable precautions and exercise due diligence to prevent the detrimental conduct.
We encourage disclosers to seek independent legal advice about compensation and other remedies through the courts.

5.7 Civil, Criminal and Administrative liability Protection

A discloser is protected from any of the following in relation to their disclosure:

a) Civil liability (e.g. any legal action against the discloser for breach of an employment contract, duty of confidentiality or another contractual obligation);

b) Criminal liability (e.g. attempted prosecution of the discloser for unlawfully releasing information, or other use of the disclosure against the discloser in a prosecution (other than for making a false disclosure)); and

c) administrative liability (e.g. disciplinary action for making the disclosure).

Note that the protections do not grant immunity for any misconduct a discloser has engaged in that is revealed in their disclosure.

6. Investigation Process  

a) Renascent will investigate all matters reported under this Policy as soon as practicable after the matter has been reported. The frequency and timeframe in which we contact a disclosure may vary depending on the nature of the disclosure.

b) Renascent will investigate the matter and where necessary, appoint an internal or external investigator to assist in conducting the investigation. All investigations will be conducted in a fair, independent, and timely manner and all reasonable efforts will be made to preserve confidentiality during the investigation.

c) The individual who leads the investigation will be referred to as the Whistleblower Protection Officer (WPO) and should be either:

  1. an experienced internal investigator who is independent of the area where the misconduct is alleged to have occurred.
  2. a qualified external investigator independent of Renascent. (Where necessary).

d) If the report is not anonymous, the Whistleblower Protection Officer (WPO) or investigator will contact you to discuss the investigation process and any other matters that are relevant to the investigation.

e) Where you have chosen to remain anonymous, your identity will not be disclosed to the investigator or to any other person and Renascent will conduct the investigation based on the information provided to it. If the disclosure has provided a means of communication (such as a non-identifying email address) the Company will use that as a means of communication to discuss the investigation process.

f) Where possible, the WPO or investigator will endeavor to provide you with regular updates regarding the progress and expected timeframes of the investigation.

g) The person(s) against whom any allegations have been made will also be informed of the concerns and will be provided with an opportunity to respond (unless there are any restrictions or other reasonable bases for not doing so).

h) To the extent permitted by law, the WPO or investigator may inform you and/or a person against whom allegations have been made of the findings. Any report will remain the property of Renascent and will not be shared with you or any person(s) against whom the allegations have been made.

i) An employee, contractor or officer who is the subject of a disclosure may contact the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which is a professional, confidential counselling and advice service paid for by Renascent.

j) No action will be taken against individuals who are implicated in a report until an investigation is complete and the investigator has determined whether any allegations are substantiated. Renascent may temporarily stand down on full pay an employee, contractor or officer who is implicated in a report during the investigation. If the investigator finds the allegations to be unsubstantiated, the employee, contractor or officer will be immediately reinstated to full duties.

k) The findings of an investigation will be documented in the form of a written report.l) Depending on the nature of the disclosure, and the outcomes that are suggested by the investigator, the Company may choose to publish some or all the report to Personnel.m) The findings of the investigation may be subject to considerations of privacy and as such, there may be circumstances where it may not be appropriate to provide details of the outcome to Personnel.

7. Whistleblower Protection  

a) The responsibilities of the WPO include the assurance that action taken in response to the inquiry is appropriate to the circumstances and retaliatory action will not be taken against the person who made the disclosure.

b) Renascent will strive to ensure the whistleblower’s identity is protected from disclosure. It is illegal for a person to identify a discloser or disclose information that is likely to lead to the identification of the discloser outside of the exceptions detailed below.

c) The following unauthorised disclosures will be regarded as a disciplinary matter and misconduct under this policy, and will be dealt with in accordance with the Code of Conduct:

  1. unauthorised disclosure of the identity of a person who has made a report of misconduct; or
  2. unauthorised disclosure of information from which the identity of the whistleblower could be inferred.  

7.1 Confidentiality

a) Measures and mechanisms that may be used to protect the confidentiality of a discloser’s identity include:

b) all personal information or reference to the discloser witnessing an event will be redacted.

c) the discloser will be referred to in gender neutral context.

d) where possible, the discloser will be contacted to help identify certain aspects of their disclosure that could inadvertently identify them; and e) disclosures will be handled and investigated by qualified staff.

f) Secure record-keeping and information sharing processes that will be used include:

  1. all paper and electronic documents and other materials relating to disclosures will be stored securely with limited access rights.
  2. access to all information relating to a disclosure will be limited to those directly involved in managing and investigating the disclosure.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  5. 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.

g) There are certain circumstances where a whistleblower’s identity may be disclosed:

  1. the whistleblower consents to the disclosure.
  2. the disclosure is required by law.
  3. the disclosure is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious threat to a person’s health or safety.
  4. where Renascent provides information to:
    - ASIC, APRA, a member of the Australian Federal Police.
    - a legal practitioner (for the purpose of obtaining legal advice or legal representation about the whistleblower provisions in the Corporations Act); or

h) the disclosure is necessary to protect or enforce Renascent’s legal rights or interests or defend itself against any claims.

i) A whistleblower can lodge a complaint about a breach of confidentiality to one of those persons whose details are listed above. They may also lodge a complaint with a regulator such as ASIC, APRA or the ATO, for investigation.

8. False and Misleading Reporting

Where the information received is found to be:

a) Trivial or vexatious in nature with no substance.

b) Unsubstantiated, and found to be made maliciously.

c) Made knowingly to be false.

This will be treated in the same manner as a false report and may itself constitute wrongdoing. These actions will be taken seriously and may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.

9. Support for whistleblower

The Company will take appropriate measures to support the wellbeing of eligible whistle-blowers. This support may be in the form of:

a) Employee Assistance Program (EAP), counselling and support services, and/or

b) Alternative duties may be offered if available, and/or

c) Where appropriate or permitted, paid time off from work.

Further References

a) Relevant HR Policies

Dated: November 2023