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Banks improve whistleblower protections

17 December 2016

Sydney, 21 December 2016: The Australian Bankers’ Association has today released new principles for banks to implement the highest standards of protections for whistleblowers.

ABA Executive Director Retail Policy Diane Tate said banks were committed to making sure they better support employees who call out poor behaviour that harms customers or other staff.

“Employees should feel confident to speak up and report inappropriate behaviour without fear of adverse consequences.

“We need to break the ‘us versus them’ mentality; whistleblowers make an important contribution to businesses,” she said.

“The ABA published draft guiding principles for public consultation and has received important feedback from a number of key stakeholders, including Governance Institute.

“We developed these new principles based on experiences and views on whistleblower protections in Australia as well as best practice international standards.

“The guiding principles will strengthen banks’ existing whistleblower policies and programs, with the banks committed to making any necessary changes to meet the principles by July 2017,” Ms Tate said.

A whistleblower policy is of the highest standard if it meets various criteria, including:

  • It is endorsed by the board and executive management team.
  • It is overseen by someone with a sufficient level of authority – an ‘executive champion’.
  • Protections apply to a broad range of people connected to the bank, such as former employees, consultants and suppliers.
  • There is zero tolerance of retaliation against whistleblowers.
  • There are processes for reporting and responding to retaliation or threats of retaliation against a whistleblower.
  • There is proper monitoring of how effective the policy is.

The ABA notes the work underway to improve whistleblowing standards, including the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services inquiry into whistleblower protections in the corporate, public and not-for-profit sectors, the Treasury review of tax and corporate whistleblower protections in Australia, as well as the Griffith University’s Centre for Governance & Public Policy Whistling While They Work 2 research project.

Ms Tate said it was important to raise standards across the corporate sector.

“We welcome the opportunity to provide input to these consultations, and if necessary, amend the guiding principles as standards evolve and legislation changes.”

The new principles are available on the Better Banking website.

ENDS

Contact: Stephanie Arena 0477 470 677 or Nic Frankham 0435 963 913

@austbankers

bankers.asn.au

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