Public Interest Disclosures Policy

OBJECTIVE

The Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust (Trust) is committed to its statutory obligations under the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994 (PID Act) previously known as the Protected Disclosures Act 1994. Amendments to the Act were passed in October 2010 and come into effect from 1 July 2011.

This policy is intended to increase the understanding and awareness of all staff of the benefits and importance of our internal reporting system, policy and practice and to state the Trust’s commitment to supporting and protecting staff if they report an alleged wrongdoing.

RATIONALE

The reporting of suspected wrongdoing by staff is vital to the integrity of the Trust. Staff who are prepared to raise their concerns about corrupt conduct, maladministration or other serious wrongdoing are one of the most important and accurate sources of information for identifying and addressing serious problems within the Trust.

By identifying any weak or flawed systems that make the Trust vulnerable to criticism or legal action, internal reporters can help the Trust avoid financial loss, inefficiency and embarrassment. A positive reporting environment is an essential element of the Trust’s culture that promotes ethics and accountability.

Some reports of wrongdoing may be classified as ‘protected disclosures” under the PID Act others may not, however the Trust supports and encourages such reports, as we do not condone or tolerate wrongdoing in the workplace.

In addition to this policy, staff should refer to the Trust’s Code of Conduct, as this sets out the standards of conduct and behaviour we expect of all our staff.

POLICY

Good corporate governance is the responsibility of all staff.  Managers and Supervisors are responsible for creating and supporting a culture at the Trust where staff feel that wrongdoing is not acceptable and reporting is valued and will be taken seriously.

The Trust will:

  • keep the identity of the reporting staff member confidential wherever possible and appropriate
  • protect staff who make disclosures from any adverse action motivated by their report
  • deal with reports thoroughly and impartially and, if some form of wrongdoing has been found, take appropriate action to rectify it
  • keep staff who make reports informed of their progress and the outcome where appropriate
  • ensure managers and supervisors understand the benefits of reporting wrongdoing, are familiar with this policy, and are aware of the needs of those who report wrongdoing
  • provide adequate resources, both financial and human to:
    • encourage reports of wrongdoing
    • provide training for key personnel
    • investigate allegations
    • properly manage any workplace issues that the allegations identify or create
    • remedy any wrongdoing that is found
    • re-assess/review the policy as necessary to ensure it remains relevant and effective.

This policy applies to all permanent employees, whether full time or part time, temporary or casual employees, consultants, individual contractors working for the Trust and interns on placement with the Trust.

Staff who become aware of a colleague who has made a disclosure are encouraged to support the person and protect their confidentiality. The Trust will not tolerate staff victimising or harassing a person who has made a disclosure.

Staff should be aware there are various Trust policies in addition to this one relating to acceptable work behaviour and practices. They are:

  • OHS Policy
  • Grievance Resolution Policy
  • Misconduct Policy
  • Sexual Harassment Policy
  • Fraud and Corruption Policy
  • Anti-discrimination and EEO Policy

All of these can be found in the Trust’s Code of Conduct or on the Trust’s intranet.

PROCEDURE

What should be reported?

Staff should report any wrongdoing they see within the Trust.

Reports about corrupt conduct, maladministration, serious and substantial waste of public money and government information contravention will be dealt with under the PID Act as protected disclosures and according to this policy.

Other wrongdoing or misconduct will be dealt with according to the relevant legislation and policy set out below.

a. Corrupt Conduct: The dishonest or partial exercise of official functions by a person employed under the Government Sector Employment Act 2013.

b. Maladministration is conduct that involves action or inaction of a serious nature that is contrary to law, unreasonable, unjust, oppressive or improperly discriminatory or based wholly or partly on improper motives.

c. Serious and substantial waste of public money is the uneconomical, ineffective use of resources that could result in the loss or wastage of public resources. 

d. Government information contravention is a failure to properly fulfil functions under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act).

e. Other wrongdoing should be reported in accordance with other Trust policies and Code of Conduct. Even if these reports are not dealt with as protected disclosures, the Trust will consider each matter and make every attempt to protect the staff member making the report from any form of reprisal.

Reporting

The Trust will support any staff who report wrongdoing. For a report to be considered a protected disclosure, it has to meet all the requirements of the PID Act. These requirements are:

  • the person making the disclosure must honestly believe on reasonable grounds that the information shows or tends to show wrongdoing.
  • The report has to be made to either the General Manager – Corporate Services or the General Manager, Human Resources.

Reports by staff will not be considered to be protected disclosures if they:

  • Mostly question the merits of Trust policy
  • Are made with the sole or substantial motive of avoiding dismissal or other disciplinary action.

Staff can report wrongdoing verbally or in writing, however staff are encouraged to make a report in writing as this can help avoid any confusion or misinterpretation. If making a report verbally, the person receiving the report must make a written record of the disclosure and ask the person reporting the wrongdoing to sign this record.

To ensure confidentiality of a report staff may request to meet in a discreet location.

There may be some situations where staff may not want to identify themselves when making a report. It is important to realise that an anonymous disclosure may not prevent the staff member from being identified by others. The Trust can only provide necessary protection and support if is known who made the report.

The Trust realises many staff will want their report to remain confidential. The Trust is committed to keeping the identity and the fact that a wrongdoing report has been made confidential. However, there may be situations where this may not be possible or appropriate. If confidentiality cannot be maintained the Trust will develop a plan to support and protect the staff making the report from risks of reprisals.

The staff member reporting a wrongdoing should only discuss the report with those dealing with it. This will include the General Manager – Corporate Services or the General Manager, Human Resources.

Any Supervisor or Manager who receives a report must refer it to the General Manager – Corporate Services or the General Manager, Human Resources.

The person receiving the report will be responsible for:

  • Deciding if a report is a protected disclosure
  • Determining what needs to be done next, including referring it to others
  • Deciding what needs to be done to correct any problem that has been identified
  • Ensuring there are systems in place to support and protect staff who report wrongdoing.

They are also responsible for referring actual or suspected corrupt conduct to the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Feedback to staff who report wrongdoing

Staff who report wrongdoing will be told what is happening in response to their report and will be given a copy of this policy.

The following information will be given within two working days from the date of making the report:

  • an acknowledgement of the disclosure
  • the timeframe for when further updates will be given
  • the name and contact details of the people who can tell you what is happening.

The following information will be given within ten working days from the date of making the report:

  • information about the action that will be taken
  • likely timeframes for any investigation
  • information about the resources available within the Trust to handle any concerns.

During any investigation the following information will be provided:

  • information on the ongoing nature of the investigation
  • information about the progress of the investigation and reasons for any delay
  • advance warning if an employee’s identity is to be disclosed.

The following information will be provided at the end of the investigation:

  • enough information to show that adequate and appropriate action was taken and/or is proposed to be taken in response to a disclosure and any systemic issue brought to light
  • advice about who will be involved as a witness in any future matters, such as disciplinary or criminal proceedings.

Protection against reprisals

The Trust will not tolerate any reprisal action against staff who report wrongdoing.

Penalties can be imposed under the PID Act on anyone who takes detrimental action, substantially in reprisal for the disclosure, against the person who reported the wrongdoing.

The criminal penalties that can be imposed include imprisonment or fines. Detrimental action is also misconduct that justifies disciplinary action. People who take detrimental action against someone who has made a disclosure can also be required to pay damages for any loss suffered by that person.

Detrimental action includes:

  • injury, damage or loss
  • intimidation or harassment
  • discrimination, disadvantage or adverse treatment in relation to employment
  • dismissal from, or prejudice in, employment
  • disciplinary proceedings

Responding to Reprisals

The Trust will act to protect staff who report wrongdoing from reprisals.

Any detrimental action that is or has been taken against someone who has reported wrongdoing must be reported to the General Manager – Corporate Services or the General Manager, Human Resources immediately.

All Supervisors and managers must report any suspicions of reprisal action, or any reports that are made to them.

The employee reporting reprisal action will be kept informed of the progress of any investigation and the outcome.

Staff who make a disclosure in accordance with the PID Act will not be subject to any liability and no action, claim or demand can be taken against an employee for making a disclosure.

The Trust will make sure that staff who have reported wrongdoing, regardless of whether they have made a protected disclosure, are provided with access to any professional support they may need as a result of the reporting process.

Trust managers will support those who report wrongdoing. They are responsible for initiating and coordinating support, particularly to those who are suffering from any form of reprisal.

Sanctions for making false or misleading disclosures

All staff must be aware that it is a criminal offence under the PID Act to wilfully make a false or misleading statement as a result of disclosing wrongdoing.

Support for the subject of a report

The Trust will ensure that staff who are reported for wrongdoing are treated fairly and reasonably. They will be:

  • treated fairly and impartially
  • have their rights and obligations explained according to policies and procedures
  • kept informed during any investigation
  • given the opportunity to respond to any allegation made against them
  • told the result of any investigation 

More information around protected disclosures is available on the intranet. Staff can also access advice and guidance from the NSW Ombudsman’s website at www.ombo.nsw.gov.au.

EXCEPTIONS

Exceptions to this policy can only be made with the approval of the Chief Executive Officer.