Under section 1317AI of the Corporations Act, 2001 from 1 January 2020 all public companies, large proprietary companies and proprietary companies that are trustees of registrable superannuation entities (self-managed superannuation funds are not caught) will be required to have a whistleblower policy.

Importantly, this requirement for a designated whistleblower policy captures all charities and Not-for-profits which are structured as public companies limited by guarantee.

These whistleblower policies must contain certain information, namely;

  • a summary of the protections available to whistleblowers;
  • the name or role of the person(s) to whom protected disclosures should be made, and how they can be made;
  • how the company will support whistleblowers and protect them from any resulting detriment;
  • how the company will investigate protected disclosures;
  • how the company will ensure named or affected employees are treated fairly; and
  • how the policy will be available to all officers and employees.

It is the hope that these new reforms will encourage whistleblowers to come forward to assist in the early detection and prosecution of corporate misconduct.

Failure to comply with the mandate before 1 January 2020 will constitute an offence and penalties will apply.

For those corporations with an existing whistleblower policy, a review is needed to ensure it contains all requirements specified under the new legislation.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.