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.
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:
The UFS Pharmacies’ Board of Directors is responsible for adopting the Whistleblower Policy, and for nominating the Whistleblower Protection Officer (WPO).
The WPO is responsible for:
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 – person associated with UFS Pharmacies (being a director, manager, employee, contractor, member, customer or other external party) who, whether anonymously or not, makes, attempts to make or wishes to make a report in connection with reportable conduct and wishes to avail themselves of protection against reprisal for having made the report.
Reportable conduct – includes, but is not limited to, the following:
Breaches of general law, organisational policy or generally recognised principles of ethics – include, but is not limited to, the following:
Complaints regarding work health and safety should, where possible, be made through the organisation’s work health and safety procedures.
Personal 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.
Where the whistleblower believes in good faith on reasonable grounds that a UFS employee, director, officer, 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 employee must report their concerns to:
Disclosures may be made anonymously, and this anonymity shall, as far as possible, be preserved by the organisation.
A report should be made in writing, where possible, and should contain, as appropriate, details of:
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.
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 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 CEO, who shall be responsible for ensuring that an investigation of the charges is established and adequately resourced. If the reportable conduct relates to the CEO a director of the organisation shall be notified.
Terms of reference for the investigation will be developed, in consultation with the CEO (or the Board if the reportable conduct relates to the CEO), to clarify the key issues to be investigated.
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.
Strict security will be maintained during the investigative process and all information obtained will be properly secured to prevent unauthorised access. 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.
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.
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 when an investigation is complete and will include:
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.
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.
This policy forms part of the UFS Pharmacies policies and procedures and is available to staff on the organisation’s intranet. This policy is also available on the organisation’s website at www.bendigoufs.com.au.