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Whistle Blowing at Western Sydney University
Thinking About Blowing The Whistle?
Western Sydney University has an unequivocal commitment to ensuring that all reports of wrongdoing are identified, investigated and managed appropriately and that staff and students who report wrongdoing are supported and protected.
What policies and procedures does the University have for investigating and managing reports of wrongdoing?
In accordance with its statutory obligations under the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994, the University has a Whistleblowing (Reporting Corruption and Other Wrongdoing) Policy and Procedures which are also designed to support those who make a report.
Who can make a report?
Anyone, including students and staff.
Can I make an anonymous report?
Yes, but this will probably limit our ability to properly investigate your report. If you are a student or staff member, it is preferable that you identify yourself so we can take steps to assess and manage any risks of reprisals against you for making a report.
What wrongdoing can I report?
- Corrupt conduct (this includes fraud, bribery, obtaining secret commissions, using one’s position to gain a financial or other advantage)
- Serious and substantial waste of public money
- Contravention of the Government Information (Public Interest) Act
What if my report relates to other types of wrongdoing?
If your report relates to other types of wrongdoing, then it may be dealt with under another University policy or process, such as:
- Bullying Prevention Policy;
- Complaint Handling and Resolution Policy;
- Discrimination, Harassment, Vilification and Victimisation Prevention Policy;
- Logging it through the online Non-Compliance Incident Reporting Register maintained by the Compliance Program Unit.
If you are unsure, contact a Disclosure Officer and discuss this with them first (see below).
What information do I have to provide?
We expect you to provide any information or documents that you have in your possession that leads you to think some wrongdoing has occurred. Please note that you must not initiative your own investigation, but we do expect reporters to provide some form of credible evidence to support the concerns raised.
Will my identity be kept confidential?
In most cases, yes. However, there may be cases where your identity will be obvious or may become apparent, or else may need to be revealed for reasons of fairness. It is also very important that you don’t discuss your report with anyone other than the Disclosure Officer to make sure your identity is not inadvertently revealed and also to ensure the integrity of any investigation. This will be discussed with you when you make your report and will also form part of the risk assessment from reprisals (see below).
Will my report be treated as a public interest disclosure?
If you are a staff member or officer of the University (eg, a non-employee member of the Board of Trustees) you are a “public official” as defined in the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994 and your report may qualify as a public interest disclosure, subject to certain criteria specified in the Act and the Policy.
Reports from students and members of the public cannot qualify as public interest disclosures.
How will I be protected from reprisals for making a report?
The Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994 makes it an offence to take detrimental action against a public official who makes a public interest disclosure. If you are a student, then you do not attract protection from reprisals under that Act, but the University will, to the extent it reasonably can, afford you the same protections as for public officials.
The University cannot provide protection from reprisals to members of the public who make a report because of its limited jurisdiction. However, it will cooperate with any inquiries made by the Police or an investigating authority (such as the Independent Commission Against Corruption).
To whom can I make a report?
The University has appointed as number of Disclosure Officers to whom reports can be made, who include:
- Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Barney Glover AO
- University Secretary, Ms Jane Hutchison
- Chief Audit and Risk Officer, Mr Aman Chand
- Associate Director, Complaints Management and Resolution, Dr Ruth Townsend
You can see the full details in clause 6 of the Whistleblowing (Reporting Corruption and Other Wrongdoing) Procedures, and access the contact details of the above Disclosure Officers through the University’s online Staff Directory.
What happens when I make a report?
- You will be asked to provide a written, signed statement setting out all the information you know about the alleged wrongdoing, including any documents.
- Your Disclosure Officer will also arrange for a risk assessment of your situation to identify whether you are at risk and, if so, what measures should be taken to protect you from any reprisals. You will be consulted throughout this process. This will be done on an ongoing basis, as your circumstances may change while the matter is being investigated.
- Once you have signed your statement, the Disclosure Coordinator will decide whether your report should be investigated and the Disclosure Officer will inform you of the decision.
- If your report is investigated, then you will probably be asked to provide further information, including attending an interview.
How long does the process take?
This will depend on the extent and complexity of the circumstances of your report, as well as factors such as number and availability of people who will need to be interviewed as part of the investigation. If your report is treated as a public interest disclosure, we are required to tell you of any action taken within 6 months of you making your report.
Will the University tell me the outcome of the investigation?
The University will advise you of the factual findings of the investigation, but you will not be told of any action taken against individuals for reasons of privacy and confidentiality.
Does the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2022 apply?
The Public Interest Disclosures Act 2022 has not yet come into effect, meaning the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994 remains in force. The University is preparing and will implement the required changes, including to the policy, procedures and training, before the commencement date of the 2022 Act (which will be on 1st October 2023).
Where Can I Get More Information?
You can access the Whistleblowing (Reporting Corruption and Other Wrongdoing) Policy and Procedures from Policy DDS.
You can also obtain information about public interest disclosures from the NSW Ombudsman's Office (opens in a new window). You can also access the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994 here.
- Thinking about reporting serious wrongdoing? (opens in a new window) (NSW Ombudsman)