12 October 2016
Sydney, 12 October 2016: The Australian Bankers’ Association has today opened public consultation on how banks can better support and protect staff who call out poor behaviour that harms customers.
“Customers expect banks to have a strong culture – having a robust and trusted framework for staff to raise concerns is an essential part of this,” ABA Chief Executive Steven Münchenberg said.
“As part of the industry’s six point reform plan, banks are implementing the highest standards of whistleblower protections,” he said.
“The ABA has developed draft principles on how banks can strengthen their existing whistleblower programs, based on an analysis of international best practice standards done by Promontory Australasia.
“In the interests of transparency, we are inviting interested parties to provide their feedback on these principles,” Mr Münchenberg said.
The principles outline the importance of the ‘tone from the top’, with the board and executive management championing whistleblower policies, and how protections can be extended to third parties, such as consultants and suppliers.
They also aim to ensure whistleblower programs have clearly defined ways for people to report misconduct, knowing they can remain anonymous and won’t be financially disadvantaged.
To make a submission on the draft principles, email firstname.lastname@example.org by close of business Wednesday, 2 November 2016.
The draft principles are expected to be finalised by the end of 2016, with banks required to ensure their whistleblower policies and programs meet the highest standards by July 2017.
“If staff are confident to speak up about misconduct and unlawful activity, they can save customers and the bank a lot of pain later. It can take courage to stand up and call out poor behaviour, so we should support people who do that,” Mr Münchenberg said.
“We need to break the ‘us versus them’ mentality; whistleblowers make an important contribution to our businesses.”
The ABA conducted some preliminary consultations with regulators and other stakeholders in developing the principles.
The principles and the Promontory Australasia report on best practice whistleblower standards are available at betterbanking.net.au.
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