We are committed to the aims and objectives of state and federal legislation that protects whistleblowers. Mercy Health does not tolerate improper conduct by its employees, officers or contractors, or reprisals against those who come forward to report improper conduct.
Reports of improper conduct may be made to one of the government bodies referred to below. In some instances, reports of improper conduct may be made to a member of Mercy Health’s Executive team.
None of Mercy Health’s entities are bodies to which Public Interest Disclosures may be made under the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2012 (Vic). To be treated as a ‘public interest disclosure’ (previously known as a ‘protected disclosure’) and to obtain any protections under that Act, a disclosure of improper conduct or detrimental action would, in most cases, have to relate to Mercy Health’s Victorian health services or palliative care services and be made to the Victorian Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC). Individuals should contact IBAC for information about how to report a matter to IBAC (see below for contact details).
Mercy Health does not tolerate detrimental action being taken against any person in relation to the making of a public interest disclosure or another whistleblower disclosure protected by law.
The following information sets out Mercy Health’s procedure for the protection of persons from detrimental action.
The procedure is intended to provide information to individuals within Mercy Health and to individuals outside Mercy Health, for example service providers or clients of Mercy Hospitals Victoria Ltd.
The following procedure specifically applies to public interest disclosures made to IBAC or another relevant authority under the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2012 (Vic) and is a statutory requirement under that Act.
Officers and employees of Mercy Health should consult the Mercy Health Whistleblower Policy and Procedure for additional information.
Procedure for the protection of persons from detrimental action
Detrimental action prohibited
All staff and volunteers are expected to be aware that criminal penalties may apply if an individual takes, or threatens to take detrimental action against a person.
Detrimental action means:
- actions causing injury, loss or damage
- intimidation or harassment, or
- discrimination, disadvantage or adverse treatment
where that action is taken or threatened against another person because of, or in the belief that:
- the other person or anyone else has made, or intends to make, a public interest disclosure
- the other person or anyone else has cooperated, or intends to cooperate, with an investigation of a public interest disclosure, or
- for either of the above reasons, the person incites or permits someone else to take or threaten to take detrimental action against the other person.
Disclosing detrimental action
Any person who believes that detrimental action has been taken (or threatened) against them should report the matter to police or to IBAC, or seek independent legal advice.
If Mercy Health becomes aware that detrimental action has, or may have been taken against an individual, it will consider referring the matter to police or an appropriate agency.
Notifications to IBAC must be made by the individual seeking to make the complaint or notification. Mercy Health cannot make a complaint or notification to IBAC on behalf of an individual.
Information about reporting to IBAC is available on their website.
Protecting individuals from detrimental action
Mercy Health will take all reasonable steps to protect persons from detrimental action being taken against them in reprisal for making a public interest disclosure, or for participating in an investigation of a public interest disclosure that relates to Mercy Health.
All Mercy Health employees and officers are expected to know that it is an offence for a person to take, incite, or to threaten detrimental action against any person because of, or because of a substantial belief that:
- the other person or anyone else has made, or intends to make, a public interest disclosure, or
- that the other person or anyone else has cooperated, or intends to cooperate, with an investigation of a public interest disclosure.
The penalties for taking or threatening to take detrimental action include fines and/or imprisonment for up to two years. Civil action may also be taken in which case compensation may be ordered.
Mercy Health takes its obligations under the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2012 (Vic) to protect individuals from detrimental action seriously. Individuals should be aware that falsely claiming to have made a public interest disclosure is an offence punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment for up to 12 months.
If Mercy Health becomes aware of any detrimental action taken or threatened against a person engaged by Mercy Health, or such a person raises a concern about possible detrimental action being taken against them, the Mercy Health Group CEO (or their delegate) will determine, in consultation with the affected individual (and where appropriate, IBAC or another relevant external agency) the steps Mercy Health can take to avoid, reduce or eliminate the risk of detrimental action being taken against the person.
Welfare support will be offered to the affected individual as required. Employees requiring welfare support will (if appropriate) be referred to the Mercy Health Employee Assistance Program. The Mercy Health Group CEO or their delegate (if appropriate and in consultation with IBAC or another relevant external agency) may provide or arrange other appropriate welfare support to the affected person.
Mercy Health is committed to protecting the confidentiality of an individual who has made a public interest disclosure in accordance with applicable law.
Individuals who have made a public interest disclosure and who are concerned about privacy should raise the matter with IBAC.
Disciplinary action where a person has made a public interest disclosure
Nothing in this procedure prevents Mercy Health from managing a person’s unsatisfactory work performance in line with Mercy Health’s performance management framework.
If disciplinary action is being contemplated in relation to an employee who is known to have made a public interest disclosure (or who is cooperating with an investigation), the Mercy Health Group CEO (or their delegate) will make the final decision as to whether disciplinary or other performance management action will be taken.
In all cases where disciplinary or other action is being contemplated in relation to an employee who is known to have made a public interest disclosure, the Mercy Health Group CEO (or their delegate) must be satisfied that the following can be demonstrated:
- the fact that the employee has made a public interest disclosure (or is cooperating with an investigation) is not a substantial reason for the taking of the action against the employee
- there are good and sufficient grounds that would fully justify action against any other person in the same circumstances, and
- there are good and sufficient grounds that justify exercising any discretion to institute disciplinary or other action.
The Mercy Health Group CEO (or their delegate) will document the process including recording the reasons why the disciplinary or other action is being taken, and the reasons why the action is not in retribution for the making of the disclosure (or for cooperating with an investigation). The Mercy Health Group CEO (or their delegate) will clearly advise the individual of the proposed action to be taken, and of any mitigating factors that have been taken into account.
Phone: 1300 735 135
Fax: 03 8635 6444
GPO Box 24234
Melbourne Vic 3001
Phone: 1300 300 630
Fax: 03 5177 3999
Post: GPO Box 4000
Gippsland Mail Centre
Last reviewed February 3, 2020.