Further Information – disclosures under the Corporations Act

What disclosures will be protected?

A person can make a whistleblower disclosure if he or she has reasonable grounds to suspect that the information being disclosed concerns improper conduct (defined below).

While Mercy Health encourages the making of complaints about conduct that is not in keeping with Mercy Health’s values and Code of Conduct, only disclosures of improper conduct (or suspected improper conduct) attract statutory whistleblower protections.

Improper conduct includes any of the following:

  1. corrupt conduct, including misuse of position for personal gain;
  2. conduct involving a substantial mismanagement of public or company resources;
  3. conduct involving a substantial risk to public health or safety or the environment;
  4. detrimental action (or threats of detrimental action) taken against a whistleblower, or someone who is suspected of or who may be planning to make a whistleblower disclosure or who is cooperating with an investigation of a whistleblower disclosure;
  5. a breach of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth);
  6. misconduct or an improper state of affairs in Mercy Health’s business or operations, such as:
    1. failure to comply with a legal duty;
    2. gross mismanagement or waste;
    3. dishonest or unethical behaviour by an individual that broadly affects Mercy Health’s business or operations;
  7. any matter about which a regulator (such as ASIC) should know about to perform its duty;
  8. a serious breach of Mercy Health’s Code of Conduct that broadly affects Mercy Health’s business or operations; or
  9. fraud or other types of criminal behaviour.

Other complaints may be made locally or to Mercy Health’s Feedback team.


What disclosures will not be protected by whistleblower protections?

The following will not trigger whistleblower protections:

  • Disclosures not based on reasonable grounds. For whistleblower protections to apply, a person making a disclosure must have ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect improper conduct. As a general rule, a mere allegation made without supporting information is unlikely to be a disclosure based on ‘reasonable grounds’.
  • False disclosures. A false disclosure of improper conduct could have significant effects on Mercy Health’s reputation and the reputation of other individuals. In addition, a false disclosure could waste valuable resources. Any deliberate false disclosure of improper conduct (where the discloser knows the information to be untrue), whether under this procedure or otherwise, will be treated as a serious disciplinary matter. Such false disclosures do not trigger whistleblower protections.
  • Personal work-related grievances. As a general rule, disclosures about a ‘personal work-related grievance’ are not disclosures of improper conduct and do not benefit from statutory whistleblower protections. A ‘personal work-related grievance’ is a matter relating to the discloser’s employment (or former employment) having implications for the discloser personally but which does not have have significant implications for Mercy Health or relate to improper conduct. Examples of matters that generally constitute a personal work-related grievance include:
    • an interpersonal conflict between the discloser and another employee;
    • a decision relating to the engagement, transfer or promotion of the discloser;
    • a decision relating to the terms and conditions of engagement of the discloser;
    • a decision to suspend or terminate the engagement of the discloser, or otherwise to discipline the discloser.

Personal work-related grievances are managed in accordance with Mercy Health’s Employee Grievance Resolution Procedure, and should be reported to Human Resources.


Who can make a report?

Any person can report improper conduct to Mercy Health or a relevant authority. However, a person making such a disclosure will only receive statutory whistleblower protections under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) if they are the type of person who is able to make a whistleblower disclosure under that Act.

Under the Corporations Act, a person can make a disclosure that receives whistleblower protections if they are a person who is, or has been:

  1. an officer or board member of Mercy Health;
  2. an employee of Mercy Health;
  3. an individual who supplies services or goods to Mercy Health (whether paid or unpaid);
  4. an officer, director or secretary of a body corporate related to Mercy Health; or
  5. a relative, spouse or dependent of any of the above individuals.

Individuals outside this list may be able to make a whistleblower disclosures directly to a State Whistleblower Agency to receive protection.

If a person makes a disclosure of improper conduct to Mercy Health and that person is not entitled to whistleblower protections, Mercy Health will nevertheless take all reasonable steps to protect that person from detrimental action being taken against them.