National Dental Care (NDC) is committed to providing a safe place to work and promoting a culture of honesty, integrity and ethical behaviour within our business. Team members are encouraged to disclose improper conduct confidentially, anonymously, in good faith and on reasonable grounds without the fear of reprisal or detrimental action in accordance with this policy.
The purpose of this policy is to comply with the protections for whistleblowers under the Corporations Act 2001 and Taxation Administration Act 1953. National Dental Care Pty Ltd. want to ensure whistle blowers feel comfortable about raising concerns internally by offering a reporting procedure and investigation process that is confidential and protects the whistleblower from victimisation.
This policy applies to Whistleblowers. A whistleblower is an eligible person who is aware of or has reasonable grounds to suspect improper conduct or a wrongdoing and wishes to report the conduct under this policy.
An eligible whistleblower includes both current and former:
- Employees (current and former);
- Providers/Clinicians (engaged under a Facilities & Services Agreement or otherwise);
- Contractors engaged to perform services to National Dental Care;
- Officers (including Directors);
- Suppliers; and
- Any relatives, spouse and dependants of these people.
In addition to the protections under this policy, certain legislation may offer statutory protection of whistleblowers. National Dental Care Pty Ltd. will comply with all applicable legislation.
What is Improper Conduct?
National Dental Care Pty Ltd. defines improper conduct as any concern (actual or suspected) as conduct by a person or persons connected with NDC which is:
- Contravention or suspected contravention of legal or regulatory provisions;
- Endangering health or safety of any person;
- Dishonest or corrupt conduct;
- Constitutes misconduct or an improper state of affairs in relation to NDC;
- A breach of the Code of Conduct;
- A breach of NDC's approved practices and guidelines;
- Illegal activity;
- Impeding internal or external audit processes;
- Financial malpractice, impropriety and fraud - including but not limited to Improper behaviour relating to accounting, internal accounting controls, actuarial, or audit matters;
- In breach of any requirement of AHPRA or the Dental Board of Australia;
- Concealing a reportable wrongdoing;
- A substantial mismanagement of NDC's resources;
- Inappropriate behaviour including discriminatory, sexual harassment and other unethical behaviour; and
- Any deliberate concealment relating to the above.
Making a Disclosure
National Dental Care encourages team members to address their questions, concerns, suggestions or complaints by initially discussing the matter with line management/appropriate departmental manager or established internal reporting mechanism. However, should the team member not feel comfortable in raising the issue in that way, NDC has reporting channels under this Policy where instances of improper conduct can be raised and addressed. These channels any of the following eligible recipients for disclosure:
- Anonymous Report utilising NDC's independent and confidential whistleblower service:
Address: National Dental Care, 6 Holt Street, McMahons Point, Sydney, NSW 2060, Australia
- Human Resources Manager;
- Chief Operating Officer;
- Chief Financial Officer;
- Chief Executive Officer;
- Relevant regulators (ASIC, APRA or other Commonwealth authorities prescribed in the regulations); and
- Disclosures to Lawyers for the purposes of obtaining advice.
Under no circumstances should the team member disclose any information to a news/media outlet, or Members of Parliament unless it is an Emergency Disclosure as permitted under law. Contact details for these individuals are outlined in Appendix 1 and also available on POD (NDC internal directory).
Reporting Improper Conduct
All reports must be made with a genuine and reasonable belief regarding the improper conduct. If a team member of NDC or external supplier has evidence that improper conduct has occurred, they have a duty to report the information through the reporting channels at National Dental Care (see clause 3 'What is Improper Conduct').
Whistleblowers are requested to provide as much information as possible and any known details about the alleged improper conduct (including but not limited to date/s, time, location, name of person(s) involved, possible witnesses to the events, evidence of the events (e.g. documents, emails) and any steps they may have already taken to report the matter elsewhere or try to resolve the concern).
It is preferred that such reports are made in writing, clearly identifying the nature of the suspected improper conduct and the person or persons involved however, a Whistle blower can make a report using any of the below channels:
- Over the phone
- Face to face
Nothing in this policy is intended to restrict team members from disclosing wrongdoing, providing information to, or communicating with a government agency, law enforcement body or a regulator in accordance with any relevant law or regulation.
When making a report, you may do so anonymously. Whilst you are encouraged to share your identity when making a report, as it will make it easier for NDC to address, you are not required to do so. If you do not share your identity, NDC will assess your report in the same way as if you had revealed your identity. However, there may be some practical limitations in conducting the investigation if you do not share your identity.
Investigation of Disclosures
NDC will investigate all disclosures of improper conduct made under this policy as soon as possible after receipt of the disclosure. The investigation will be conducted in a timely, thorough, confidential, objective and impartial manner recognising the principles of natural justice and best practice investigative techniques.
Investigation processes will vary depending on the precise nature of the improper conduct being investigated. In all instances, the investigation will be conducted in a manner that is fair, objective, confidential and independent of the whistleblower or anyone who is the subject of the improper conduct. All information obtained throughout a whistleblower investigation will be held securely and in strict confidence. The assigned investigator will generally be a member of the Human Resources or Executive Leadership team/s, who are not implicated either directly or indirectly in the improper conduct.
Any report will remain the property of NDC and unless it is inappropriate to do so, whistleblowers/complainants where possible will be provided with feedback regarding the outcome of the investigation subject to privacy and confidentiality.
Protections & support available to Whistleblower
National Dental Care will apply the following protections for anyone making a report under this policy or involved in the investigation.
Protection Against Victimisation
- NDC defines victimisation to include; harassment, bullying, discrimination, disciplinary action, dismissal, threats or unfavourable treatment towards a Whistleblower (or person/s involved in an investigation process);
- NDC encourages any person/s subject to victimisation under this Policy to raise their concerns immediately to the investigating officer or through the reporting channels (refer to clause 3};
- No contractual or other remedies may be enforced, and no contractual or other remedy may be exercised, against the Whistleblower on the basis of the disclosure; and
- The information disclosed will not be admissible in evidence against the Whistleblower in criminal proceedings, or proceedings for the imposition of a penalty, other than proceedings in respect of the falsity of the information.
Protection of Identity and Confidentiality
All information received from a whistleblower will be treated confidentially and sensitively. If you make a disclosure, your identity (or any information which would be likely to identify you) will only be shared if:
- The person provides consent;
- The report is made to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), the Australian Federal Police (AFP) or the Tax Commission; and
- The report raised with a legal counsel of National Dental Care (internal or external) for the purposing of obtaining legal advice and/or representation.
Further, the non-identifying content of your disclosure may need to be shared in order to report a matter of significance to National Dental Care's governance bodies, such as the Board and the Clinical Advisory Committee.
Protection of Documentation & Files
- All files obtained throughout this investigation will be maintained in a secure and confidential location;
- Information obtained from the Whistleblower will not be released to any unauthorised;
- Parties (other than the NDC Executive Leadership Team or the NDC Board) without the consent of the Whistleblower; and
- A breach of confidentiality or release of information in respect of a Whistleblower report will be treated as a serious matter and dealt with under the applicable NDC Policy.
National Dental Care have an independent, confidential and free counselling service through our Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) which is available to all team members, clinicians and their family members, including those that raise a disclosure under this policy. You can access the EAP services by calling 1300 360 364 from within Australia or from any other location call (02) 8295 2292. You can also access services by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Corporations Act 2001 (Corporations Act) and Taxation Administration Act 1953 contain protections for whistle blowers who meet detailed specific criteria detailed in the Act. Please refer to the Act(s) to understand the criteria of the whistleblower and the protections extended when a report is disclosed.
This information is available at: https://asic.gov.au/about-asic/asic-investigations-and-enforcement/whistleblowing/whistleblower-rights-and-protections/
When making a disclosure, you will be expected to have reasonable grounds to suspect the information you are disclosing is true. You will not be penalised if the information turns out to be incorrect however, you must not make a disclosure you know is not true or is misleading. Where it is found that you knowingly made a false disclosure, this may be a breach of the Code of Conduct and will be considered a serious matter that may result in disciplinary action. There may also be legal consequences if you make a knowingly false disclosure.
Review and Publication
The NDC Human Resources team will regularly review this policy to ensure its effectiveness and compliance with applicable legislation. This policy will be available on POD, and the NDC Group website.
- Code of Conduct
- NDC Grievance Policy