NDIS Whistleblower Policy

This policy is only applicable as per the Applicant’s Deed Poll under the NDIS AQA Scheme. If your concern does not fit within the parameters of this policy refer directly to the Complaints Management Process on our website.

https://www.qms.com.au/how-we-work/our-complaints-and-appeals-procedure/

1.1        QMSCS Culture

QMSCS is committed to a culture in which honesty, integrity and business ethics are part of the day-to-day activities.

This culture encourages the reporting of matters which are considered to be unethical, illegal or an act of serious wrongdoing.

QMSCS will address and investigate reported disclosures and will rectify proven wrongdoing.

1.2        Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to provide a framework that assists in identifying instances of wrongdoing and to provide guidance on raising concern about suspected or actual unethical or unlawful behaviour i.e. ‘Disclosable Matters’ that relate directly to the alleged abuse or harm in respect of NDIS providers that QMS has certified.

2        Scope

2.1        This Policy Applies to:

  • QMSCS and its employees;
  • Customers, suppliers, contractors, and subcontractors of QMSCS;
  • Auditors;
  • NDIS participants; and
  • Guardians, relatives and dependents of any persons mentioned above.

2.2        This Policy DOES NOT Apply to:

This policy does not include personal grievances relating to employment and disclosures that do not fall within the definition of this policy and do not qualify for protection under the Corporations Act. These may include (but not limited to):

  • 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.

3        Definitions

3.1        Disclosable Matters:

Disclosable Matters includes information that the discloser has reasonable grounds to suspect concerns, misconduct, or an improper state of affairs or circumstances in relation to:

  • Alleged abuse or harm in respect of NDIS providers that QMS has certified;
  • Is dishonest, corrupt or unethical;
  • Involves theft, fraud, negligence, misappropriation of fund or money laundering;
  • Is a systemic, wilful or serious breach of the law as it relates to QMSCS, or its internal policies or processes;
  • Involves offering or accepting a bribe from any person;
  • Is illegal (e.g., illicit drug sale or use, violence or threatened violence and criminal property damage);
  • Presents a significant or serious threat to the health and safety of workers;
  • Involves a serious mismanagement of QMSCS’s resources;
  • Involves victimisation of someone for reporting a Disclosable Matter;
  • Involves any instruction to cover up or attempt to cover up serious wrongdoing;
  • Interferes with any impending internal or external audit processes;
  • Presents a serious risk to the reputation or financial wellbeing of QMSCS.

3.2        Whistleblower:

A person who raises a concern regarding illegal and/or improper conduct that affects others or themselves. The person is not usually involved in the issue but is wanting to alert others to suspected misconduct. The alert may be raised outside of usual reporting lines or processes.

3.3        Conflict of Interest

  • A situation in which the concerns or aims of two different parties are incompatible.
  • A situation in which a person is in a position to derive personal benefit from actions or decisions made in their official capacity.

3.4        Abuse

The violation of a persons human or civil rights, through an act or actions of commission or omission, by another person, or persons.

Abuse is any form of violence, coercion, exploitation, discrimination, harm or neglect which causes another person psychological or physical pain or suffering.

Types of abuse may include (but are not limited to):

  • Physical Abuse
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Grooming
  • Psychological or Emotional Abuse
  • Financial Abuse
  • Chemical Abuse
  • Abuse through denial of access

3.5        Harm

To result in an adverse effect either physically or mentally (including that suffered from seeing or hearing another person suffer an adverse effect)

3.6        Whistleblower Protection Officer:

  • A QMS CS employee will be nominated as the Whistleblower Protection Officer
  • This person will receive training as identified and relevant to this role.
  • The Whistleblower Protection Officer will support and protect the whistleblower if required.
  • The Whistleblower Protection Officer will provide support and provide assistance to the accused.
  • The Whistleblower Protection Officer will be responsible for the investigation process.

4        Reporting a ‘Disclosable Matter’

4.1        A disclosure can be made to QMSCS by the following:

  • Sending an email to operations@qms.com.au
  • Making an anonymous disclosure through the QMS CS website
  • Reporting directly to the Whistleblower Protection Officer

4.2        The following entities outside of QMS can receive a disclosure that qualifies for protection:

  • The Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand (JAS ANZ)
  • The National Disability Insurance Scheme Commission (NDIS Commission)
  • ASIC
  • Statutory and Regulatory Bodies
  • Legal practitioners

4.3        Protection for whistleblowers

Whistleblowers can make a disclosure confidentially and anonymously, the following protections are afforded to the whistleblower:

  • Immunity against civil, criminal, administrative or disciplinary action
  • An inability to enforce contractual remedies against a party making the disclosure
  • An inability to admit information provided by a whistleblower into evidence in proceedings against them (unless those proceedings are pursued because of the falsity of the information)
  • Protection against victimizing conduct (such as dismissal, demotion, discrimination or similar)
  • Increased anonymity protection for whistleblowers

Whistleblowers are entitled to retain anonymity. However, the information does not need to remain confidential, as long as it can be demonstrated that:

  • The information requires investigation.
  • Reasonable steps have been taken to maintain the anonymity of the whistleblower in conducting such an investigation.

QMS CS will ensure that it reduces the risk of the whistleblower being identified from the information contained in a disclosure, by:

  • All personal information or reference to the discloser witnessing an event will be redacted;
  • The discloser will be referred to in a gender neutral context;
  • Where possible, the discloser will be contacted to help identify certain aspects of their disclosure that could inadvertently identify them; and
  • Disclosures will be handled and investigated by qualified staff.

All reasonable steps will be taken by QMS to ensure that the whistleblower is not subject to any form of victimisation, discrimination, harassment, demotion, dismissal or prejudice from making a disclosure.

5        Steps to be Taken on Receipt of a Disclosable Matter

5.1        Actions in response to a disclosable matter

  • Initial receipt of the disclosure
  • Immediate notification to the NDIS Commission
  • Determination if the disclosure qualifies for protection
  • Protection afforded to the whistleblower (if applicable)
  • Presumption of innocence to the accused
  • Notification to the CEO and Board
  • Determination If a formal, in-depth Investigation is required

5.2        Investigation of reportable Disclosable Matter

  • Determine the nature and scope of the investigation
  • The person(s) within and/or outside of QMSCS that should lead the investigation
  • The nature of any technical, financial or legal advice that may be required to support the investigation
  • The timeframe for the investigation
  • Disclosure to be assessed to determine if an investigation can be conducted internally or externally
  • Investigation to occur following the requirements of procedural fairness and is to include:
    • Statement from whistleblower
    • Whistleblower to provide supporting evidence
    • Consideration of the need for a Factual Investigation
    • Whistleblower to be protected
    • The accused to have the presumption of innocence
    • The accused to respond to the disclosure
    • Collection of additional evidence and advice
    • The Whistleblower to respond (as required)
    • The accused to respond (as required)
    • Final Report
  • All Conflicts of Interest are to be disclosed as a component of the investigation process
  • Findings are to be communicated to the CEO and the Board

5.3        Outcomes

  • On review of the Investigation Report the CEO will determine the action to be taken
  • Action to be taken and findings communicated
  • Investigation Report and Actions are to be escalated to the Board for further consideration into QMSCS Operations with consideration to Risk

5.4        Vexatious Disclosure

Where it is determined from the investigation process that the whistleblower knowingly and intentionally fabricated a Disclosable Matter, for their own personal gain or with malicious intent, they will be subject to disciplinary action.

5.5        Communication

  • Keeping the discloser informed of proceedings
  • Communication of outcomes to person making disclosure
  • Public statement to be made (where warranted) by the CEO

6        Record Keeping

  • All paper and electronic documents and other materials relating to disclosures will be stored securely;
  • Access to all information relating to a disclosure will be limited to those directly involved in managing and investigating the disclosure;
  • 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;
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Records will be retained indefinitely.

7        Related Legislation and Standards

  • Corporations Act 2001 (Commonwealth)
  • Privacy Act 1988 (Commonwealth)
  • Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (Commonwealth)
  • Public Interest Disclosure Act 2003 (Western Australia)
  • Australian Standard AS 8004-2003 Corporate Governance
  • Applicant’s Deed Poll under the NDIS AQA Scheme
  • National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013

8        Review

This policy is subject to ongoing adequacy and content review by the management of QMSCS and by duly appointed legal representatives of QMSCS.

9        POLICY VERSION DETAILS

 

Version Description of Amendment Date Authorised By
1 Original Issue 10/10/2021 A.     McDean

 

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