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Whistleblower Policy

Introduction

MIND BLANK LIMITED (“MIND BLANK”) is committed to creating and maintaining an open working environment in which employees, directors, contractors, suppliers, customers, partners and consultants (whether they are full-time, part-time, casual or volunteer) are able to raise concerns regarding actual or suspected unethical, unlawful or undesirable conduct.

The Board of Directors of MIND BLANK recognise that any genuine commitment to detecting and preventing illegal and other undesirable conduct must include a mechanism whereby employees and others can report their concerns freely and without fear of reprisal or intimidation. This policy provides such a mechanism and encourages the reporting of such conduct.

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to:

a)    Promote an open and transparent culture within MIND BLANK.

b)    Encourage employees, directors, contractors, suppliers, customers, partners and consultants to report an issue if they genuinely believe a person or persons has breached MIND BLANK policies or the law.

c)    Demonstrate MIND BLANK’s commitment to a fair workplace and outline the process for managing matters of misconduct.

d)    Protect individuals who in good faith, report misconduct which they reasonably believe to be corrupt, illegal or unethical on a confidential basis, without fear of reprisal, dismissal or discriminatory treatment.

e)    Assist in ensuring that matters of misconduct and/or unethical behaviour are identified and dealt with appropriately.

Definitions

For the purposes of this Policy, the definitions are as listed below:

- “Investigation” - a search of evidence connecting or tending to connect a person (either a natural person or a body corporate) with conduct that infringes the law, or the policies and standards set by MIND BLANK.

- “Misconduct” – unacceptable, improper or unlawful behaviour, wilful or deliberate behaviour that is inconsistent with MIND BLANK’s policies and procedures, and/or the employees’ contract of employment.

- “Whistleblower” - any MIND BLANK employee, director, contractor, supplier, partner or consultant who, whether anonymously or not, makes, attempts to make or wishes to make a report in connection with misconduct and where the whistleblower wishes to avail themselves of protection against reprisal for having made the report.

- “Whistleblower Protection Officer (WPO)” – the Chair of the Board (or delegate) is the  designated MIND BLANK WPO representative. The WPO is tasked with the responsibility of protecting and safeguarding the interests of whistleblowers within the meaning of this policy. The WPO will have access to independent financial, legal and operational advisers as required.

- “Whistleblower Investigations Officer (WIO)” – a designated MIND BLANK representative tasked with the responsibility of conducting preliminary investigations into reports received from a whistleblower. The role of the WIO is to investigate the substance of the complaint to determine whether there is evidence in support of the matters raised or, alternatively, to refute the report made. The WIO will be appointed by the WPO on a case by case basis, depending on the nature of the report. The WIO will be an independent party who is not associated with the area under investigation.

Disclosing Relevant Information

- All MIND BLANK employees, directors, contractors, suppliers, customers, partners and consultants are encouraged to report any genuine concerns that they believe constitute a breach of MIND BLANK policies or the law.

- Matters which should be reported under this policy, whether actual or suspected may include:

a)    dishonest, fraudulent, corrupt or unlawful conduct or practices;

b)    misleading or deceptive conduct, including conduct or representations which amount to improper or misleading accounting or financial reporting practices;

c)    conduct or any proposed conduct, bid, proposal, offer, contract, product or other aspect of MIND BLANK business that breaches the provisions of any Australian legislation (Commonwealth or State);

d)    coercion, harassment or discrimination by, or affecting, MIND BLANK;

e)    breach of MIND BLANK policies.

f)       conduct within MIND BLANK control which is a significant danger to the environment;

g)    conduct endangering the health and safety of any person or persons which has been reported to MIND BLANK management but not acted upon;

h)    any action taken against, or harm suffered by a person as a result of making a report under this Policy; or

i)        any other conduct or act which may cause loss to MIND BLANK or which may otherwise be detrimental to its interests.

Generally, disclosures that concern personal work-related grievances do not qualify for protection under this policy, for example:Generally, disclosures that concern personal work-related grievances do not qualify for protection under this policy, for example: Generally, disclosures that concern personal work-related grievances do not qualify for protection under this policy, for example:

a)    an interpersonal conflict between the discloser and another employee;

b)    a decision relating to the engagement, promotion, suspension or termination of engagement of the discloser; or

c)    a decision relating to the terms and conditions of engagement of the discloser.

- It is preferred that disclosers identify themselves when making a disclosure, as this greatly assists the investigation process. However, disclosers may choose to make their disclosure anonymously.

- Disclosers should provide sufficient information to allow the matter to be properly investigated and disclosers are encouraged to provide contact details (which may be anonymous) through which additional questions can be asked and information provided.

- Whistleblowers may wish to discuss the matter informally with a MIND BLANK representative in order to determine whether an incident of misconduct has occurred. This is an opportune time to clarify the incident, ask questions and become familiar with grievance processes. At all times, discussions will remain confidential.

- Where this is not appropriate, where the whistleblower does not feel comfortable in doing so, or where the whistleblower has previously done so and believes no action has been taken, the whistleblower may contact the CEO directly or the whistleblower can report the misconduct internally by contacting the WPO.

- Nothing in this policy restricts the ability to make a disclosure directly to an authority such as the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), or a legal practitioner for the purpose of obtaining legal advice.

Investigation of Misconduct Reports

- All reports of misconduct will be treated seriously and the subject of a thorough investigation with the objective of locating evidence that either substantiates or refutes the claims/allegations made by the whistleblower. Investigations are to be undertaken by the WIO.

- The WIO responds to all concerns raised and reports to the WPO.

- Following a report of misconduct, the following procedure will be followed:

i) The completed report is to be forwarded to the WPO by the WIO.

ii) The WPO is to review the report and determine the appropriate manner of investigation, and then inform whistleblower the WIO (who is required to inform the Whistleblower) of how the investigation will proceed.

iii) The WIO is to determine what resources are needed and secure access to those resources, including where necessary the assistance of other employees or external professional help (including lawyers, accountants, forensic analysts or operational experts).

iv) The WIO plans and conducts the investigation.

v) The WIO considers process/control improvements (risk assessments, audits, etc).

vi) The WIO prepares an Investigation Report and forwards the Investigation Report to the WPO and where appropriate, the Board of Directors.  

vii) The WIO advises and debriefs the whistleblower.

viii) At the end of the investigation, the WPO will report their findings to the Mind Blank Board of Directors for them to determine the appropriate response. This response will include addressing any unacceptable conduct and taking remedial action required to prevent any future occurrences of the same misconduct.

- In the event of the CEO or a member of the Board being the subject of an investigation or allegation, the Chair will determine the report and corrective measures. All reported incidents and investigation outcomes will be reported to the Board.

- Where allegations of unacceptable conduct made against another person cannot be substantiated, that person will be advised accordingly and will be entitled to continue in their role as if the allegations had not been made.

Anonymity

The identity of the whistleblower will be kept strictly confidential by the WPO and the WIO unless:

a)    the person making the report consents to the disclosure;

b)    the disclosure is required by law, or is being made to ASIC, the Australian Federal Police, the police of a State or Territory or similar authorities, to enable them to perform their functions;

c)    the disclosure is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious threat to a person’s health or safety; or

d)    it is necessary to protect or enforce MIND BLANK’s legal rights or interests.

Protection

A whistleblower that reports matters in good faith and provided he or she has not been involved in the misconduct reported, will not be penalised or personally disadvantaged because he or she has reported a matter. MIND BLANK will not tolerate any instances of legitimate whistleblowers being:

a)    dismissed;

b)    demoted;

c)    subjected to any form of harassment and persecution; or

d)    discriminated against.

- A whistleblower who believes he or she, or his or her family, has been the victim of any of the above by reason of his or her status as a whistleblower, should immediately report the matter to the WPO and the matter will be addressed in accordance with relevant MIND BLANK policies

- Any MIND BLANK employee, director, contractor, partner, supplier or consultant who is found to have dismissed, demoted, harassed, or discriminated against a whistleblower due to his or her status as a whistleblower, will be subjected to disciplinary measures.

- A whistleblower who has been involved in the reported misconduct may be provided with immunity or due consideration from MIND BLANK initiated disciplinary proceedings, by agreement with MIND BLANK. MIND BLANK however has no power to provide immunity from criminal prosecution.

False Reports

- Where it is established by the WIO that the whistleblower is not acting in good faith, or he or she has made a false report of misconduct (including where the allegation has been made maliciously, vexatiously or without any basis), then he or she will be subjected to disciplinary proceedings.

- Whilst not intending to discourage whistleblowers from reporting matters of genuine concern, whistleblowers must ensure as far as possible, that reports are factually accurate, complete, from firsthand knowledge, presented in an unbiased fashion (and any possible perception of bias of the whistleblower is disclosed), and without material omission.

Document Retention & Confidentiality

All information, documents, records and reports relating to the investigation of a reported misconduct will be confidentially stored and retained in an appropriate and secure manner.

Administration

This policy will be reviewed and updated on a regular basis. This policy is published on MIND BLANK’s website.

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Mind Blank acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the Land on which we work.  
We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and extend our respect to all Elders and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia.