These guidelines are to be read in conjunction with and provide guidance on Section 5.7: Improper Conduct of the People, Culture and Integrity Policy.
Section 5.7: Improper Conduct of the People, Culture and Integrity Policy and these guidelines, establish the University’s organisation-wide framework for managing Improper Conduct, consistent with the requirements of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2012 (Vic) and, where applicable, the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).
- describes governance arrangements
- aligns requirements under Victorian and Commonwealth legislation to the needs, workings and values of the University
- points to relevant individual position-holders and their responsibilities
under the model of:
- PCI Policy
- Employment screening
- Staff Induction
- Awareness training
- Supplier and partner due diligence
- Implementation of the University’s conflict of interest policy
- University’s compliance program
- Integration with Risk Management Framework
- Regular reporting
- Oversight by Senior Executive and ARC
- Audit by VAGO
- Accessible and effective framework for managing disclosures
1. Independent Disclosure Hotline Service
2. Responsible officers to protect the integrity of the framework and whistleblowers (University Secretary; Disclosure Officer; Welfare Manager / Whistleblower Protection Officer)
3. Risk management
4. Protection from detrimental action
1. Channel disclosures to appropriate officer or agency (Independent Disclosure Hotline; Disclosure Officer; IBAC)
2. Assessment and investigation procedures
3. Confidentiality and information security requirements
4. Report outcomes to VC and ARC
5. Annual audits and reports
6. Respond to and liaise with agencies as required (e.g. IBAC; Minister; VAGO; OVic)
A deﬁnition of “Improper Conduct” is contained in Section 5.7: Improper Conduct of the People, Culture and Integrity Policy.
“Improper Conduct” includes corrupt conduct, serious professional misconduct and conduct that adversely affects the honest performance of functions. Potential examples of corruption in the University context include:
- obtaining property, a financial advantage or any other beneﬁt by deception
- misappropriation or dishonest use of funds or assets
- providing false or misleading information about the University
- bribery, corruption or abuse of office
- unlawful use of University property including computers, vehicles, telephones
- dishonestly falsifying invoices for goods and services
- receiving or giving kickbacks or secret commissions to or from third parties
- staff making false claims for compensation such as overtime or fictitious travel claims
- credit card fraud involving unauthorised or inappropriate use of credit card
- knowingly making or using forged or falsified documents.
Serious professional misconduct is a term used in the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2012 (Vic). It may include serious breaches of a professional code or University policy. It would also cover conduct which is disclosable under the whistleblower provisions of the Corporations Act, such as offences against the Corporations Act itself.
A common example of “conduct that adversely affects the honest performance of functions” would be bribery.
Accountabilities and responsibilities
Council oversees, monitors and receives reports in respect of Improper Conduct matters through its Audit and Risk Committee, the responsibilities and procedures of which are set out in ARC’s Terms of Reference.
The Vice-Chancellor is accountable for the University’s organisation-wide approach to the prevention of Improper Conduct and the implementation of Section 5.7: Improper Conduct of the People, Culture and Integrity Policy and the internal control structures that support it.
The Vice-Chancellor, together with the senior executive, provides leadership and sets the culture that does not tolerate Improper Conduct and which supports strong internal controls.
The Vice-Chancellor is responsible for reporting to Council’s Audit & Risk Committee.
Management is responsible for:
- demonstrating a high level commitment to the prevention of Improper Conduct
- assessing the risk of Improper Conduct in accordance with Section 5.7: Improper Conduct of the People, Culture and Integrity Policy and these guidelines and consistent with the University’s risk management framework
- ensuring there are internal controls in place within their areas of responsibility for prevention and detection of any Improper Conduct in accordance with these guidelines
- promoting staff awareness
- encouraging prompt reporting of matters in accordance with these guidelines.
All staff: The Improper Conduct and Whistleblowing Guidelines apply University-wide to all staff. All staff are encouraged to report any suspected instances of Improper Conduct to the University’s Disclosure Officer or the Independent Disclosure Hotline or, if the staff member wishes to remain anonymous and make a public interest disclosure under the Public Interest Disclosure Act, to IBAC.
The University Secretary is responsible for:
- these Guidelines
- monitoring and reporting on the effectiveness of the University’s framework for managing disclosures and preventing Improper Conduct, comprising Section 5.7: Improper Conduct of the People, Culture and Integrity Policy and these guidelines
- providing advice on making disclosures and Improper Conduct prevention and management
- promoting awareness of the University’s framework.
The Director, Risk and Business Continuity
The Director, Risk and Business Continuity is responsible for ensuring that the University’s framework for managing disclosures and preventing Improper Conduct aligns with and is supported by the University’s broader risk management framework and activities.
The University’s General Counsel is the Disclosure Officer.
External assistance to the Disclosure Officer
The Disclosure Officer has the ability to engage such legal, accounting or other advisers, consultants or experts as considered necessary from time-to-time in the performance of the Disclosure Officer’s duties.
Responsibilities of the Disclosure Officer
The key responsibilities of the Disclosure Officer include:
1. Receive all disclosures made under these guidelines as referred by complainants, other staff who may have received disclosures or through the Swinburne Disclosure Hotline service.
2. Conduct a risk assessment that includes:
a. If the disclosure is made anonymously or confidentially, whether the discloser’s identity may become apparent
b. Risk of detrimental action
c. Risk to others.
d. Under the procedure set out in these guidelines, conduct or commission preliminary assessments of suspected Improper Conduct to determine how the matter is to be handled, taking into account the factors considered by the Disclosure Officer to be relevant, including:
3. Is the matter really a dispute, grievance, interpersonal or some other kind of matter
4. Is the matter really about procedures or workplace practices with which the complainant does not agree rather than anything improper
5. Is the matter frivolous or trivial
6. Is the complaint vexatious
7. How old is the matter and is it still relevant and related to current staﬀ or current circumstances at the University
8. Is it a matter that has already been dealt with in an appropriate way
9. Is it a matter for Swinburne or is it about conduct away from the University
10. Overall, is it a matter appropriate for and worthy of response under Section 5.7: Improper Conduct of the People, Culture and Integrity Policy?
a. Provide advice regarding reporting public interest disclosures to IBAC
b. When it is evident that a further investigation under these guidelines is warranted, take into account whether it is advisable to move immediately to that investigation if, for example:
11. A preliminary assessment may compromise the full investigation
12. Forensic experts are required
13. Promptness of the investigation is important.
a. Decide whether the investigation is to be undertaken internally or externally taking into account such things as:
14. The nature and seriousness of the allegations
15. The person whom the allegation is against
16. Availability and level of expertise internally to deal with the matter
19. Potential for conﬂict of interest.
20. Information security
21. Appoint investigator(s) if warranted
22. Appoint a Welfare Manager or Whistleblower Protection Officer where required to support the discloser and to protect them from any detrimental action, including when a matter is alerted to the University by the IBAC
23. Report to the Vice–Chancellor and other senior executives as appropriate and produce an annual fraud incident report for the Vice–Chancellor.
Welfare Manager / Whistleblower Protection Officer
1. Support the Disclosure Officer in their risk assessment
2. Informed by the risk assessment, support and protect the discloser in relation to the investigation
3. Advise the discloser of the legislative and administrative protections available
4. Listen and respond to any concerns of harassment, intimidation or victimisation in reprisal for making disclosure
5. Keep a contemporaneous record of all aspects of the case management of the discloser, including all contact and follow-up action
6. Endeavour to ensure the expectations of the discloser are realistic.
7. Report any concerns or issues to the Disclosure Officer.
8. When required, comply with guidelines published by relevant agencies such as IBAC or ASIC.
The functions and responsibilities of Internal Audit are documented in the Internal Audit Charter.
Internal Audit provides assurance activities by conducting internal audits that consider governance, risk management and fraud control processes
The external audit process provides assurances to Parliament on the stewardship of the University.
The Victorian Auditor-General’s Oﬃce (VAGO), as Parliament’s external auditor, discharges these responsibilities principally through the certiﬁcation of the University’s ﬁnancial statements.
External audits conducted by the Victorian Auditor-General’s Oﬃce examine fraud control processes and review disclosed matters.