Protecting whistleblowers

The highest set of whistleblower protections is being implemented across all banks for the benefit of the sector’s 145,000 employees. The objective of this enhanced regime is to ensure bank staff feel confident they can report inappropriate behaviour without fear of adverse consequences.

In December 2016, the Australian Bankers’ Association released new Guiding Principles to help banks ensure their whistleblower policies meet the highest standard. This means, among other things, the whistleblower policy is endorsed by the board of the bank, is monitored for effectiveness, and there is zero tolerance of retaliation against whistleblowers.

The principles were developed following consultations with stakeholders and reviews of whistleblower protection both in Australia and internationally.

In 2016, Promontory Australasia conducted a desktop review of bank whistleblower programs and regulatory requirements in Australia, United States, Canada, United Kingdom and parts of Europe, to establish the core elements of a best-practice whistleblower program. The report with findings is available here.

Banks are reviewing their policies and making any changes to make sure they meet the Guiding Principles. This will happen by July 2017.

Banks are also contributing to the various reviews and inquiries underway into whistleblowing practices in corporate Australia.

This page will be updated with more details as they become available, including the ABA’s submissions.

Mr Ian McPhee is independently overseeing this initiative as part of the governance of industry reforms announced in April 2016.