Our Whistleblower Policy



Bendigo UFS Pharmacies, comprising Bendigo United Friendly Societies Pharmacies Ltd and Central Victorian United Friendly Society Limited is committed to the highest standards of conduct and ethical behaviour in all of its business activities, and to promoting and supporting a culture of honest and ethical behaviour, corporate compliance and good corporate governance.

Employees are expected to co-operate with the organisation in maintaining legal, proper and ethical operations, if necessary by reporting non-compliant actions by other people.

Bendigo UFS Pharmacies encourages the reporting of any instances of suspected unethical, illegal, fraudulent or undesirable conduct involving the organisation, and will ensure that those persons who make a report shall do so without fear of intimidation, disadvantage or reprisal.

The purpose of this policy is to:

  • Encourage the reporting of matters that may cause harm to individuals, financial or non-financial loss to Bendigo UFS Pharmacies or damage to the organisation’s reputation;
  • Enable Bendigo UFS Pharmacies to deal with reports from whistleblowers in a way that will protect the identity of the whistleblower as far as possible and for the secure storage of the information provided;
  • Establish policies for protecting whistleblowers against reprisal by any person, internal or external, to the organisation; help to ensure that Bendigo UFS Pharmacies maintains the highest standards of ethical behaviour and integrity.


The Bendigo UFS Pharmacies’ Board of Directors is responsible for adopting the Whistleblower Policy, and for nominating the Whistleblower Protection Officer (WPO).

The current WPO is company secretary, Lachlan Edwards. 

The WPO is responsible for:

  • co-ordinating an investigation into any report received from a whistleblower, and
  • documenting and handling all matters in relation to the report and investigation, and
  • finalising all investigations.

The organisation’s CEO is responsible for the implementation of the Whistleblower Policy.

All staff and directors are responsible for reporting breaches of general law, organisational policy, or generally recognised principles of ethics to a person authorised to take action on such breaches.


Whistleblower – an individual is an eligible whistleblower if the individual is, or has been any of the following in relation to UFS Pharmacies:

  • a director or officer;
  • an employee;
  • a contractor or individual who supplies goods or services or their employee;
  • a member, customer, volunteer or pharmacy student;
  • a relative or dependant of the above, or of their spouse

who, whether anonymously or not, makes, attempts to make or wishes to make a protected disclosure in connection with reportable conduct to an eligible recipient.

Eligible recipient – a protected disclosure can be made to:

  • a Bendigo UFS Whistleblower Protection Officer;
  • a member of the Bendigo UFS Pharmacies Board of Directors;
  • an officer or manager of Bendigo UFS (for the purpose of this definition a Bendigo UFS manager is defined as someone responsible for a team of staff);
  • an auditor or member of an audit team conducting an audit of Bendigo UFS;
  • ASIC or other government authority prescribed by the regulations of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth);
  • a legal practitioner if the protected disclosure is made for the purposes of obtaining legal advice or representation in relation to the operation f the whistleblower provisions in the Act; or
  • in certain circumstances, a journalist or a member of the Commonwealth, State or Territory Parliament if the protected disclosure is a public interest or emergency disclosure made in accordance with the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).

Protected disclosure – is one made by a whistleblower to an eligible recipient in circumstances where the whistleblower has reasonable grounds to suspect misconduct or an improper state of affairs or circumstances in relation to Bendigo UFS Pharmacies, including information that indicates that Bendigo UFS or an officer or an employee of Bendigo UFS Pharmacies has engaged in reportable conduct.


Reportable conduct – includes, but is not limited to, the following: 

  • behaviour which is dishonest, fraudulent or corrupt, including bribery, misappropriation of funds and money laundering;
  • illegal activity such as theft, drug sale or use, violence or threatened violence, harassment or intimidation, criminal damage to property or other breaches of, or failure to comply with, state or federal law;
  • behaviour which is unethical or in breach of Bendigo UFS Pharmacies’ policies;
  • behaviour which is potentially damaging to Bendigo UFS Pharmacies, a Bendigo UFS Pharmacies’ employee or a third party, such as unsafe work practices, environmental damage, health risks or abuse of Bendigo UFS Pharmacies’ property or resources;
  • behaviour which amounts to an abuse of authority;
  • behaviour which may cause financial loss to Bendigo UFS Pharmacies or damage its reputation or be otherwise detrimental to the organisation’s interests;
  • behaviour which involves harassment, discrimination, victimisation or bullying;
  • 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; or
  • behaviour which involves any other kind of serious impropriety.


Breaches of general law, organisational policy or generally recognised principles of ethics – include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • corrupt conduct;
  • fraud or theft;
  • official misconduct;
  • maladministration;
  • harassment or unlawful discrimination;
  • serious and substantial waste of organisation resources;
  • practices endangering the health or safety of persons;
  • practices endangering the environment.

Complaints regarding work health and safety should, where possible, be made through the organisation’s work health and safety procedures.

work-related grievances

Disclosures that relate solely to personal work-related grievances, and that do not relate to detriment or threat to the reportee, do not qualify for protection under this policy.

Personal work-related grievances are those that relate to the reportee’s current or former employment and have, or tend to have, implications for the reportee personally, but do not have any other significant implications for the organisation (or another organisation) or relate to any reportable conduct, or alleged conduct, relating to an organisation.

Disclosures that relate solely to a customer complaint about a product or service that does not include any breaches of the law, organisational policy or generally recognised principles of ethics do not qualify for protection under this policy. 

Customer complaints

Customer complaints include but are not limited to:

  • – complaint about customer service such as not getting a refund for a product
  • – complaint about a staff member not dispensing medication 
  • – complaint about lack of supply or not supplying a product or service

Reportable disclosures by employees

A UFS employee, director, officer, volunteer, pharmacy student may make a reportable disclosure to the organisation’s appointed independent external contact, being Kathie Teasdale of RSD Audit (telephone 03 4435 3550), or the WPO.


Where the whistleblower believes in good faith on reasonable grounds that a UFS employee, director, officer, volunteer, pharmacy student, contractor, supplier, tenderer or other person who has dealings with the organisation has engaged in reportable conduct, breached any provision of the general law or the organisation’s constitution, policies or code of conduct that whistleblower must report their concerns to:

  • – the business unit manager; or, if they feel that this person may be complicit in the breach,
  • – the CEO; or, if they feel that the CEO may be complicit in the breach,
  • – a director; or
  • – the organisation’s Whistleblower Protection Officer (WPO) by email (l.edwards@ofrm.com.au or 5445 10000); or
  • – the organisation’s appointed independent external contact, being Kathie Teasdale of RSD Audit (telephone 03 4435 3550), or
  • – the duly constituted authorities responsible for the enforcement of the law in the relevant area.

For a disclosure to receive protection it must be:

  • – a protected disclosure
  • – reported by a whistleblower
  • – to an eligible recipient

as defined in the Definitions section of this policy above.

Disclosures may be made anonymously, and this anonymity shall, as far as possible, be preserved by the organisation. In this regard, unless an exception exists, UFS will endeavour not to disclose the whistleblower’s identity or any information that is likely to lead to identification. Exceptions to this include where:

  • – the whistleblower gives consent;
  • – UFS is required or authorised by law to disclose; and
  • – It is reasonably necessary for the purpose of investigating the protected disclosure.

A report should be made in writing, where possible, and should contain, as appropriate, details of:

  • – the nature of the alleged reportable conduct;
  • – the person or persons involved in the reportable conduct;
  • – the facts on which the reportee’s belief that reportable conduct has occurred, and has been committed by the person or persons named, are based;
  • – the nature and whereabouts of any further evidence that would substantiate the reportee’s allegations, if known.

Evidence to support the reportee’s concerns should be produced at the time of reporting if it exists. The absence of such evidence will be taken into account in subsequent consideration of whether to open an investigation into the matter. However, absence of such evidence is not an absolute bar to the activation of the organisation’s investigation procedures. The existence of the reportee’s concern is sufficient to trigger reporting responsibilities.

Disclosures made to a legal practitioner for the purposes of obtaining legal advice or legal representation are protected in relation to the operation of the whistleblower provisions of the Corporations Act, even in the event that the legal practitioner concludes that a disclosure does not relate to a reportable matter.

Any whistleblower making a disclosure who informs commercial media or utilises social media or any other means of communication to raise their concern, will not be protected under this policy, unless it is not feasible for whistleblowers to report internally or existing reporting channels have failed to deal with the issues effectively.

Making a disclosure of reportable conduct does not necessarily absolve the reportee of any involvement on their own part in the reportable conduct.

How a report can be made

A report by a whistleblower may be made:

  • – verbally to the above people;
  • – by telephoning 5445 1000 and asking to speak to Lachlan Edwards, the WPO;
  • – in writing by addressing it to the WPO by post to 379 Hargreaves Street, Bendigo VIC 3550;
  • – by completing the online form at the base of this page (www.bendigoufs.com.au/whistleblower-policy)


UFS Pharmacies will investigate all matters reported under this policy as soon as possible after the matter has been reported.

If the person to whom a report has been made believes that the behaviour complained of is unquestionably trivial or fanciful the allegation will be dismissed and the reportee advised in this regard in writing.

If the reportee wishes to pursue the matter even after being advised that the behaviour complained of is unquestionably trivial or fanciful, then the reportee may refer the matter for final decision to:

  • – the organisation’s appointed independent external contact, being Kathie Teasdale of RSD Audit (telephone 03 4435 3550), or
  • – the duly constituted authorities responsible for the enforcement of the law in the relevant area.

The contact person from the above organisations will be advised of the earlier determination of the matter as unquestionably trivial or fanciful.

If the behaviour reported is considered neither trivial nor fanciful, the person to whom a disclosure regarding reportable conduct is made shall notify the WPO, who shall be responsible for ensuring that an investigation of the charges is established and adequately resourced. 

The WPO must 

  • – develop terms of reference for the investigation, in consultation with the CEO (or the Board if the reportable conduct relates to the CEO), to clarify the key issues to be investigated.
  • – develop an investigation plan will be developed to ensure all relevant questions are addressed, the scale of the investigation is in proportion to the seriousness of the allegations and sufficient resources are allocated.
  • – carry out the investigation
    • – in accordance with the rules of natural justice. All investigations will be conducted in an objective and fair manner and shall observe the rules of natural justice and the provisions of procedural fairness, having regard to the nature of the reportable conduct and the individual circumstances. Where an adverse comment about a person is likely to be included in a report, the person affected will be given the opportunity to comment beforehand and any comments will be considered before the report is finalised.
    • – where all relevant witnesses will be interviewed and, where possible, interviews will be recorded. Contemporaneous notes of all discussions, including via telephone and other means of technology will be made and all relevant documentation will be examined.
  • – ensure strict security is be maintained during the investigative process and all information obtained will be properly secured to prevent unauthorised access. 

Subject to the whistleblower’s consent a person may be appointed by the organisation to assist in the investigation of a matter raised in a report.  Where appropriate, UFS Pharmacies will provide feedback to the whistleblower regarding the investigation’s process and/or outcome (subject to considerations of privacy).


A report will be prepared and provided to the board (unless the disclosure is about a director or directors) when an investigation is complete and will include:

  • – the allegations;
  • – a statement of all relevant findings of fact and the evidence relied upon in reaching any conclusions.
  • – the conclusions reached and the basis, including the damage caused (if any) and the impact on the organisation and other affected parties;
  • – recommendations based on the conclusions to address any wrongdoing identified and any other matters arising during the investigation.

Subject to privacy considerations against whom the allegations are made and customary practices of confidentiality, the whistleblower will be kept informed of relevant progress of the investigation and its relevant outcomes.

Protection of Whistleblowers

UFS Pharmacies is committed to ensuring confidentiality in respect of all matters raised under this policy. Any person making a report in good faith will not suffer any sanctions from the organisation on account of their disclosure provided that their actions are based on reasonable grounds and conform to the relevant procedures. UFS Pharmacies will ensure that whistleblowers are treated fairly and do not suffer any disadvantage including in the event that the disclosure turns out to be incorrect or inconclusive.

Protection of identity and confidentiality

Subject to compliance with legal requirements, upon receiving a report under this Policy, UFS Pharmacies will not, nor will any member of the organisation, disclose any particulars that would suggest or reveal a reportees’ identity as a whistleblower, without first obtaining consent to do so.

Any disclosure that a reportee consents to will be made on a strictly confidential basis, however the organisation is able to disclose the complaint without consent to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) or the Australian Federal Police.

Reportees should be aware that the maintenance of anonymity may make the alleged breach difficult to substantiate in any subsequent investigation.

Where anonymity is requested reportees are required to maintain confidentiality regarding the issue on their own account and to refrain from discussing the matter with any unauthorised persons.

Liability and disciplinary action

A whistleblower who makes a protected disclosure, subject to legislative exceptions, cannot be subject to:

  • – civil, criminal or administrative liability (including disciplinary action) for the making of the protected disclosure;
  • – contractual or any other remedies which may be enforced against the whistleblower on the basis of making the protected disclosure; and/or

the information disclosed in the making of the protected disclosure being used against the whistleblower as evidence in criminal proceedings or in proceedings for the imposition of a penalty.

However, a Whistleblower will not be immune from liability if  the whistleblower has provided false information or wrongful conduct engaged in by the whistleblower is revealed by the making of the protected disclosure.

Detrimental conduct

UFS Pharmacies will ensure that a whistleblower does not face actual or threatened detrimental conduct because of the protected disclosure. Detrimental conduct may include:

  • – dismissal;
  • – injury in the whistleblower’s employment;
  • – disadvantageous alteration to the whistleblower’s position or duties;
  • – discrimination against the whistleblower;
  • – harassment or intimidation against the whistleblower;
  • – harm or injury to the whistleblower, including mental harm; and/or
  • – damage to the whistleblower’s property, reputation, business or financial position.

Protection of files and records

All files and records created from an investigation will be retained under strict security and unauthorised release of information to someone not involved in the investigation (other than senior managers or directors who need to know to take appropriate action, or for corporate governance purposes) without the consent of the whistleblower will be a breach of this policy.

Whistleblowers are assured that a release of information in breach of this policy will be regarded as a serious matter and will be dealt with under the organisation’s disciplinary procedures.


The CEO will designate an officer of the organisation to be responsible for ensuring that whistleblowers who make a report in good faith on reasonable grounds suffer no employment-related disadvantage on account of their actions and to provide additional support for the reportee where necessary. Detrimental employment-related treatment includes dismissal, demotion, harassment, discrimination, disciplinary action, bias, threats or other unfavourable treatment connected with making a report. 

Duties of employees in relation to reportable conduct

All employees are expected to make a report under this policy where they become aware of known, suspected or potential cases of reportable conduct. This includes, but is not limited to, reporting breaches of general law, organisational policy, or generally recognised principles of ethics to a person authorised under this policy to take action on such breaches.

The Board of UFS Pharmacies will be informed as soon as possible by senior management of a report once received.

Monitoring and evaluation

UFS Pharmacies will monitor this policy and review it every two years to ensure its fitness for purpose. 

Policy dissemination

This policy forms part of the UFS Pharmacies policies and procedures and is available to employees on the organisation’s intranet. This policy is also available on the organisations website at www.bendigoufs.com.au

Make a report

To lodge a whistleblowing report please complete the form below. Your report and contact details are handled with respect and confidentiality.

    Page updated 27 July 2022