Speak Up (whistleblower) Policy

Purpose and objectives

The Board and Management of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and its subsidiaries (Garvan) are committed to accountability, integrity and to high standards of professional and ethical conduct, compliance with relevant laws, regulations, codes we have signed up to, internal policies and procedures, and good governance practices across all aspects of Garvan’s activities and operations.

Garvan is committed to creating an environment where people feel safe to speak up on matters that concern them, and Garvan encourages them to speak up if they observe or suspect any unethical, illegal, fraudulent or undesirable conduct involving Garvan. Garvan will not tolerate any form of retaliation or victimisation as a result of people speaking up in accordance with this policy.

The Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) provides for protections for reporting Reportable Conduct.

The objective of this policy is to encourage reporting of serious wrongdoing that is of legitimate concern by providing a convenient and safe reporting mechanism and protection for people who make serious wrongdoing disclosures.

This policy specifically:

  • Encourages and enables an Eligible Person to Speak Up when they have legitimate concerns and reasonable grounds to suspect that an activity or behaviour constitutes serious wrongdoing and/or could negatively impact Garvan’s reputation
  • Allows the Eligible Person to report anonymously and remain anonymous during the process if they wish
  • Outlines the Speak Up process
  • Outlines the protection provided to an Eligible Person so that they are reassured they can Speak Up without fear of adverse repercussions, intimidation, disadvantage or victimisation

This policy is one of a broader group of policies around appropriate, lawful and ethical behaviour.

You may choose to read our entire Speak Up Policy or by clicking on the links below you can quickly navigate to those sections of our Speak Up Policy which are of most interest to you.

In this policy

Purpose and objectives

Scope and definitions


  1. Who is an Eligible Person under this Policy? 
  2. What should be reported?
  3. Who to speak up to?
  4. Reporting to a Member of Parliament or a Journalist
  5. Process for Speaking Up?
  6. Protection and support for the Eligible Person
  7. Fair treatment for persons named in disclosures
  8. Separation of issues
  9. Availability of policy and training
  10. Governance
  11. Contacts
  12. Related documents

Scope and definitions


Definition in this document


includes dismissal or termination, demotion, harassment, discrimination, warnings or disciplinary action, bias, threats, harm or injury (including psychological harm) or other unfavourable treatment connected with making a report.  This includes being performance managed for making a report.

Eligible Person

a person who wishes to, attempts to or does Speak Up in accordance with this policy who is listed in section 1.

Eligible Recipient

a person to whom a report under this policy can be made.


refers to the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, the Garvan Research Foundation, Australian BioResources and any other subsidiaries or associated entities.

Reportable Conduct

Refers to the conduct outlined in section 2.

Speak Up

to report behaviour outlined in section 2 of this policy to an Eligible Recipient.

Speak Up Case Manager

the person assigned to manage the reported Speak Up case. This maybe the Speak Up Protection Officer, another appropriate and independent Garvan staff member or an external independent expert.

Speak Up Protection Officer

a senior staff member designated, authorised and trained to receive and handle reports under this policy.


refers to all persons employed by Garvan, board members of Garvan and its subsidiaries, as well as any person formally associated with Garvan, including honorary staff, honours and undergraduate students, visiting staff and students, volunteers, and external members of Garvan committees.

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1. Who is an Eligible Person under this policy?

An Eligible Person is one of the following:

  • Staff
  • A supplier, contractor, consultant or an employee of a supplier, contractor or consultant, or other person who has business dealings with Garvan
  • Spouses, dependants or relatives of any person listed above.

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2. What should be reported?

Garvan encourages an Eligible Person to Speak Up where they have reasonable grounds to suspect Reportable Conduct including a breach of any legal or regulatory requirement or Garvan policy. Reportable Conduct may include:


·        Financial fraud

·        Bribery or corruption

·        Financial collusion

·        Embezzlement

·        Potential or actual incorrect financial reporting


·        Threats or coercion

·        Conflict of interest

·        Unethical

·        Dishonesty

·        Official misconduct or maladministration

·        An abuse of authority

·        Breach of Garvan policies or the Code of Conduct

·        Causing an improper state of affairs

·        Human rights abuses

Legal and compliance

·        Illegal activities

·        Violates law

·        Serious non-compliance with codes Garvan has signed up to

·        Modern slavery issues

Environmental and safety

·        Endangers the environment

·        Creates an unsafe environment

Property or resources

·        Misuse or abuse of Garvan’s property or resources

·        Serious or substantial waste

Harassment or bullying can be reported under the Workplace Bullying and Harassment Policy, however, if an Eligible Person isn’t eligible to report under that policy or would prefer to report under this policy they are entitled to do so. 

Research misconduct or fraud should be reported in accordance with the research governance framework however if the Eligible Person prefers to report under this policy they can.  Any reports of research misconduct will be immediately directed to the Chief Scientific Officer via the Speak Up .  Anonymity will still be protected if the Eligible Person has elected to remain anonymous. 

Personal work-related grievances which may include but not limited to interpersonal conflicts, different point of view are excluded from incidents or behaviour that should be reported.

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3. Who to Speak Up to?

We encourage Eligible Persons to use the Speak Up portal which is an online platform allowing complete anonymity from an Eligible Recipient if the Eligible Person wishes to remain anonymous.  This portal is flexible and allows communication with the Eligible Recipient throughout the investigation.  All reports made, regardless of whether the Eligible Person makes the report directly into the Speak Up portal or to a contact listed below, will be entered into the portal and tracked.

The portal can be accessed from https://garvan.whispli.com/speakup

For further information on the portal , please refer to https://whispli.com/whispli-story/

If an Eligible Person is unable to use the Speak Up portal for any reason, a report can be made directly to the Speak Up Protection Officer. When reporting to a Speak Up Protection Officer:

  • Reports must be made either in person, in writing, via email or via telephone; and
  • the Eligible Person must first inform the Speak Up Protection Officer that they wish to make a report under this Policy.

The Speak Up Protection Officer’s contact details are listed in section 11.

Alternatively, if an Eligible Person is unable to use any of the above reporting channels, they may make a report either in person, in writing, via email or via telephone to a senior manager of Garvan or a member of the PwC external audit team.  For contact details refer to section section 11.

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4.  Reporting to a Member of Parliament or a Journalist

If an Eligible Person informs a journalist or a Member of Parliament (MP) about Reportable Conduct they are concerned about, they will be protected under this policy only if all of the following conditions exist:

  1. The Eligible Person has previously made a report regarding the matter to ASIC, APRA, or another prescribed Commonwealth authority; and
  2. They must have lodged a Speak Up report via the portal or to an Eligible Recipient and either:
    • at least 90 days have passed since the report was made, and
      the Eligible Person does not have reasonable grounds to believe that action is being, or has been, taken to address the Speak Up report, and
      has reasonable grounds to believe that making a further report would be in the public interest, or
    • the Eligible Person has reasonable grounds to believe the information concerns a substantial and imminent danger to the health and safety of a person(s) or the environment; and
  3. The Eligible Person must inform Garvan in writing they intend to inform a journalist or MP, and:
    • Include sufficient information to identify the previous Speak Up report, and
    • clearly state that they intend to make a public interest disclosure or an emergency disclosure, and
    • the information disclosed is no more than is necessary to inform the MP or journalist of the misconduct or the otherwise improper state of affairs.

Garvan will not provide protection to the Eligible Person if they Speak Up on social media or to someone other than an Eligible Recipient or in accordance with this section 4.

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5.  Process for Speaking Up?

5.1  How to make a Speak Up Report?

Garvan strongly encourages Eligible Persons to make a report via the Speak Up portal .  Otherwise a report can be made to an Eligible Recipient.  When a report is made, the Eligible Person should advise they are making a report under this policy. 

When making a report, the Eligible Person should provide the following information:

  1. The nature of the alleged behaviour or issue
  2. The person(s) responsible for the behaviour or issue
  3. The facts forming the basis for the belief that a behaviour or issue has occurred, and
  4. The nature and whereabouts of any further evidence that would substantiate the allegations if known.

A report can be made anonymously, although it is preferred that the Eligible Person gives their name as it greatly assists in conducting the investigation.  There may be limitations to what can be achieved if the Eligible Person decides to remain anonymous.     

If the Eligible Person elects to disclose their identity, Garvan will take all reasonable steps to protect their identity and will outline who will be advised of the identity if reasonably required for an investigation.  If an Eligible Person provides their name or their identity, they can request to remain anonymous for the purposes of the investigation.

All necessary steps will still be taken to ensure they do not suffer detriment.   

5.2  What happens when a Speak Up report is made?

When an Eligible Person makes a Speak Up Report, they will be informed that:

  1. All reasonable steps will be taken to ensure they will not be disadvantaged
  2. They can remain anonymous and still receive protection
  3. They will not necessarily be absolved from the consequences of their involvement in the issue or behaviour.

If an Eligible Recipient receives a report directly, they will enter the details into the Speak Up portal . 

The Speak Up Protection Officer will receive notification from the portal and assign a Speak Up Case Manager as appropriate. 

If the Speak Up Protection Officer is implicated, the portal will send a notification to the Group General Counsel and an appropriate Speak Up Case Manager will be assigned once the report has been received.  The Speak Up Protection Officer or Group General Counsel, where applicable, will typically inform the Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Executive Director (ED) that a report has been received and provide details around the report.  The advice of the COO or ED might be sought on how to proceed. 

The Eligible Person will receive acknowledgement of the Speak Up report as soon as practically possible, provided there is a mechanism to communicate.  They will be informed of who has been appointed as the Speak Up Case Manager and their contact details.

The Speak Up Case Manager will decide the appropriate next steps, including whether an investigation is required.

If the COO, CEO or Chairman is implicated, an appropriate independent, external expert will be appointed to investigate the breach external. 

Staff about whom disclosures are made will generally be given an opportunity to respond to the relevant allegations made in the disclosure.

Upon completion of the investigation, a report will be prepared with findings and recommendations and provided to the Speak Up Case Manager who is responsible for taking action.  The Eligible Person will be informed the investigation is complete and the report has been issued if there is a mechanism to do so.  The Eligible Person will not receive a copy of the report but may receive a high-level summary of the report if deemed appropriate.  

If the Eligible Person is not satisfied with the investigation, they can escalate to the Speak Up Protection Officer in writing.  Garvan will commit to review the request but is not obligated to reopen the investigation.  If it is concluded the investigation was conducted properly or no new information exists that would change the results of the investigation, the review of the investigation will be concluded.

5.3  How will the Eligible Person be kept informed of the progress of the investigation?

The Eligible Person will receive communication via the Speak Up portal , or if not possible via this mechanism, in writing where the details have been provided.  The Eligible Person will also be informed every month that the investigation is still in progress if it is continuing. If the Eligible Person requests to be communicated to via another method, then that method will be used. 

Additional information may be requested of the Eligible Person during the investigation. 

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6.  Protection and support for the Eligible Person

6.1  How are Eligible Persons protected?

  1. The Eligible Person has the right to remain anonymous throughout the process and at no time will be forced to reveal their identity if they do not wish to do so.
  2. The Speak Up portal facilitates this and allows for anonymous two-way communication during the process.
  3. The Eligible Person can refuse to answer questions which they feel could result in themselves being identified.
  4. If the Eligible Person discloses their identity at any time in the process, the assigned Speak Up Case Manager must inform them who will have access to their identity
  5. Those involved in the investigation are required to take the utmost care to maintain the confidentiality of the Eligible Person and the investigation.

6.2  What protection does the Eligible Person receive?

  1. When the Eligible Person makes a report based on reasonable grounds and conforms with the designated procedures outlined in this Policy, Garvan provides assurance all reasonable and best efforts will be taken to protect them from suffering any detriment.
  2. The Eligible Person is prohibited from making malicious allegations. If this is found to be the case, disciplinary action may be taken against the Eligible Person.  However, complaints based on reasonable grounds and confirm with the designated procedures outlined in this Policy will not result in disciplinary action if the investigation subsequently finds them to be untrue.
  3. The Eligible Person is not required to disclose their identity to receive protection under this Policy.
  4. Detriment includes dismissal, demotion, harassment, discrimination, disciplinary action, bias, threats or other unfavourable treatment connected with making a report.
  5. This Policy will not protect the Eligible Persons if they are also involved in or connected to the improper conduct or illegal activities that are the subject of a report.

6.3  Risk of detriment or already experiencing detriment

Where an Eligible Person feels detriment is near or imminent, or has already experienced detriment, they should contact the Speak Up Protection Officer who will assess the situation, take appropriate action as well make recommendations for how the situation can be resolved.

Where the Speak Up Protection Officer is implicated, the Eligible Person should contact the Group General Counsel.

6.4  Inadequate resolution

Where the Eligible Person feels their report of detriment has not been adequately resolved, they can contact the Speak Up Protection Officer, in the first instance.  If they continue to feel it has not been adequately resolved, they can escalate the matter to the Executive Director.

6.5  Support for the Eligible Person

  1. An Eligible Person will not be subject to any civil, criminal or disciplinary action for making a report that is covered by this Policy, or for participating in any subsequent investigation by a Garvan.
  2. Staff must not engage in detrimental conduct against an Eligible Recipient who has made or proposes to make a report in accordance with this Policy, because of such report or proposed report.
  3. Support will be offered for the Eligible Person at the time they make a report and they can utilise the support at any time during or after the process. Support offered will depend on the circumstances. 
  4. The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available to all employees.
  5. Wherever possible, and assuming that the identity of the Eligible Person is known, the Eligible Person will be kept informed of the progress and outcomes of the investigation, subject to privacy and confidentiality considerations.

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7.  Fair treatment for persons named in disclosures

All investigations will be conducted in a fair and independent manner and all reasonable efforts will be made to preserve confidentiality of an investigation.

The Speak Up Protection Officer is responsible for ensuring the investigation is conducted by an impartial independent expert.  The person conducting the investigation must ensure all named persons in the report are treated fairly during and after the investigations. 

No action will be taken against Staff who are implicated in a report under this Policy until an investigation has determined whether any allegations against them are substantiated. Any disclosures that implicate Staff must be kept confidential, even if the Eligible Person has consented to the disclosure of their identity, and should only be disclosed to those persons who have a need to know the information for the proper performance of their functions under this Policy, or for the proper investigation of the report.

A Staff member who is implicated in a disclosure has a right to be informed of the allegations against them, and must be given an opportunity to respond to those allegations and provide additional information, if relevant, in the course of an investigation into those allegations (subject to the Eligible Person’s right to anonymity). Support available for persons implicated in a report under this Policy includes:

  1. connecting the person with access to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP);
  2. appointing an independent support person from the People & Culture Team to deal with any ongoing concerns they may have;
  3. connecting the person with third party support providers.

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8.  Separation of issues

Garvan is still able to raise any issues related to work or performance related issues provided they are independent of this process provided they are not influenced by the process.  Whilst the Eligible Person is protected from detriment, it is important they are still effective in their role.

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9 . Availability of policy and training

The Speak Up Policy and the Speak Up portal will be made available on the Garvan internet and intranet. 

All new employees will receive a copy of the policy as part of their induction pack and receive awareness training at induction.  All Eligible Recipients will receive training on what to do if they receive a report and what their responsibilities are. 

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10.  Governance

The Garvan Board will receive a summary of all Speak Up reports made each quarter or in line with the scheduled Board meetings. 

If the Speak Up case carries a high degree of risk, the Chairman of the Garvan Board will be updated as required.

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11.  Contacts 

Speak Up portal link: https://garvan.whispli.com/speakup
Speak Up Protection Officer In writing: Speak Up Protection Officer
Garvan Institute of Medical Research
384 Victoria Street
Darlinghurst NSW 2010
  Telephone:  02 9295 8373
Group General Counsel Telephone:
02 9295 8502
  Email: GGC@garvan.org.au
People & Culture Director Telephone: 02 9295 8137
  Email: PCDirector@garvan.org.au
Executive Director Telephone: 02 9295 8120
  Email: Director@garvan.org.au
Chairman Email: Chairman@garvan.org.au
Garvan Research Foundation Director Telephone:
02 9295 8123
  Email: GRFDirector@garvan.org.au
External Auditor - KPMG Telephone: 02 9335 8441

12.  Related documents

Conflict of interest policy

Grievance dispute resolution policy

Privacy policy

Research misconduct policy

Workplace bullying and harassment policy

Code of Conduct

13.  Document information

Garvan may amend this Policy from time to time, with or without notice to you.  We recommend that you visit www.garvan.org.au/about-us/policies regularly to keep up to date with any changes. 

Policy Name

Speak Up Policy

Administered by

Company Secretary



Description of amendments

Approved by


Review due



Update to include Whispli Portal

Executive Director

20 Dec 20

June 2020



Changed auditor to KPMG

Protection Officer 

21 Sep 21

Sept 22

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