Whistleblower policy

1. Purpose

The purposes of this policy are to ensure that The Sunrise Project:

  • promotes a culture of openness, transparency and accountability;
  • has effective procedures in place to support whistleblowers and detect misconduct; and
  • complies with its obligations as a public company under Part 9.4AAA of the Corporations Act2001.

2. Scope

This policy applies to all current and former Sunrise Board, members, staff, contractors, secondees and volunteers and staff of partner organisations. All of these persons are able to make disclosures under this policy.

This policy forms part of the broader governance and compliance measures within the Sunrise Project.

3. What should be reported

We want to hear from you if you witness or know about any misconduct, including behaviour which:

  • is illegal
  • is corrupt or an abuse of public trust
  • is dishonest or fraudulent
  • is unethical or contrary to Sunrise Project values
  • endangers health and safety or the environment
  • breaches any Sunrise Project policies or repeatedly breaches administrative procedures;
  • is discrimination
  • is harassment and/or bullying
  • is detrimental to The Sunrise Project and could cause financial or non-financial loss, or
  • is maladministration (e.g. unjust, based on improper motives, is unreasonable, oppressive or negligent).

From time to time you may have a complaint in relation to personal work-related grievances or the behaviour of another person in the organisation which is not misconduct. In that case, you should first raise it with your manager or another senior colleague.

4. Scope Where to report

For Sunrise staff and volunteers are encouraged to report their concerns to their manager or another senior colleague. Where this is not appropriate, alternative reporting mechanisms are available.

External whistleblowers (such as staff of partner organisations) should report their concerns to a senior member of Sunrise staff such as the Chief of Operations, Company Secretary, or an Executive Director. Where this is not appropriate, alternative reporting mechanisms are available.

Alternative reporting channels are to be used when:

  • the normal reporting channel is considered inappropriate,
  • senior management have been notified but have failed to deal with it or
  • the whistleblower is concerned about possible retaliation

In any of these circumstances, the whistleblower may provide the report to an eligible recipient such as:

• any Board member

• Auditor.

All of the above persons are called “eligible recipients” under the Corporations ActNote that, under the Corporations Act, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) is not an eligible recipient.

5. How to report

Reports can be made to individuals verbally or in writing through any channel. See Attachment A for contact details.

6. Anonymity and confidentiality

We respect and protect your identity if you choose to make an anonymous report (eg by phone or post). You can choose to remain anonymous while making a report, during investigation of your report, as well as after your case is closed. At any time you can identify yourself, but this is your choice and at no point do you need to do this nor will you be forced to disclose your identity.

If you decide to disclose your identity, your details and the information you provide will be treated in strictest confidence by the recipient. We will work to protect your identity and will outline and document who in the organisation will know you submitted your report. We will also take all steps necessary (and outlined in this policy) to ensure you do not suffer any retaliation.

It is worth noting that while we will make every endeavour possible to investigate your report, there may be limitations to what can be achieved if you decide to remain anonymous.

Correspondingly, we cannot inform you of the progress or outcome of the investigation if we do not know who you are.

7. The investigative process

These are the steps we will go through to investigate a whistle-blowing report:

  1. Report (anonymous or otherwise) is received.
  2. A case manager is assigned to the report to assess it and confirm receipt. This may be the recipient, another senior member of Sunrise staff, a Board member or an external consultant with specialist expertise relating to the report.
  3. The case manager will do an initial assessment to confirm the report is valid and will request permission from the whistleblower to investigate.
  4. The case manager will investigate the report.
  5. When the investigation is complete, the case manager will document the findings and inform you, management and the Board.
  6. The case manager will then hand over all information to management for any subsequent action.

8. How we use third parties

We may use specialist external parties such as auditors, investigators, lawyers or HR consultants to conduct all or part of the investigation where specialist expertise is required or where an internal investigation would be inappropriate.

We may also involve HR consultants or counsellors to ensure staff are appropriately supported during an investigation and subsequent action.

9. Who is alerted to a report

When a report is received, senior managers and the Board may be informed by the recipient where that is appropriate. Any information which could be used to identify an anonymous whistleblower will not be shared unless we are compelled to do so by law.

Note that where serious breaches of the law are alleged, we may be legally obliged to report this to the relevant authorities, including the police. In such instances we may be obliged to cooperate with them in their investigation, in which case it is possible that we may not be permitted to shield your identity. We will still protect you from retaliation if such a scenario eventuates.

10. How the whistleblower is informed

As part of the investigative process, we will update you on the progress of the investigation including:

  • confirmation of receipt of the report
  • that an investigation has commenced
  • who has been notified of the report
  • that the investigation is continuing
  • that the investigation has been closed

We will update you at least once a month during an investigation.

We will strive to provide as much feedback on the investigation as possible. However, there may be information which cannot be shared due to privacy requirements.

11.  If the whistleblower is not satisfied with the result

If you are not satisfied with the result of our investigation, you have the right to:

  • ask for a review of the report and investigation by the Chair of the Board
  • where the investigation has been focused on the actions of the Chair of the Board, you can request it be reviewed by another member of the BoardIf the Chair of the Board or the other Board member determines that the investigation was concluded properly and no new information exists that would change the result of the investigation, the investigation will be concluded.

12. How whistleblowers are protected

It is illegal to fire, harass or discriminate against a whistleblower or potential whistleblower because they make a report.

We will not tolerate any detriment inflicted on you, actual or threatened, because of your report. Anyone found to be victimising or disadvantaging another individual for making a report under this policy will be disciplined and may be dismissed or referred to government agencies for criminal or civil penalties. Other parties that have provided witness statements or been involved in the investigation will also be protected from retaliation.

To this end, all records related to your report and the investigation will be securely stored, with access to the information therein strictly limited to only those people directly involved in the process, as detailed above in ‘The investigative process’.

If you feel you are at risk of detriment because of your report, you should immediately discuss this with the person to whom you have reported initially. If that is not appropriate in the circumstances, you should approach a member of the Board.

With your consent, we may take other actions to provide you with protection, such as putting you on leave or changing your role and the people you work with. In addition, if anyone breaches your confidentiality or causes detriment to you because of the report, that person faces criminal or civil penalties.

13. False or malicious disclosure

If you knowingly make a false or malicious report, you may be disciplined. This discipline may consist of anything from a warning to termination of employment, depending on the circumstances and any legal considerations. Discipline is not the same as retaliation or victimisation.

As your employer, Sunrise is legally obliged to ensure you are protected from retaliation and victimisation, and this obligation does not cease even in the case of false or malicious disclosure.

14. Changes to this policy

Any changes to this policy will be reviewed by and approved by the Board.

Any changes to this policy will be broadcast to all staff via email or through the Slack communication channel.

Document version information will be noted in the document whenever changes are made.

15. Relevant Legislation

Corporations Act 2001 (Cth), Part 9.4AAA, and Regulatory Guide 270 “Whistleblower policies”.

Contact Details

The following contact details may be used to report:

By email

Co-Executive Director, John Hepburn [email protected]
Co-Executive Director, Sam La Rocca [email protected]
Company Secretary, Juanita Pope [email protected]
Global Chief of Staff, Vanessa Pierce [email protected]
Chief of Operations, Giselle Nguyen [email protected]
Sunrise Admin, [email protected]
Chair of the Board, [email protected]
Chair of the Finance, Risk, Audit and Compliance Committee (FRAC),
[email protected]
Auditor, StewartBrown Chartered Accountants [email protected]

By post:

The Sunrise Project Australia Ltd
Ground Floor, 17 Randle Street
Surry Hills
NSW 2010

By phone.

Co-Executive Director, John Hepburn +61 407 231 172
Co-Executive Director, Sam La Rocca +61 413 620 073
Company Secretary, Juanita Pope +61 427 852 784
Global Chief of Staff, Vanessa Pierce +1 (801) 652-5151
Chief of Operations, Giselle Nguyen +61 4491 201 103
Sunrise Admin +61 2 8057 5189
Chair of the Board, Claire Mallinson, +61 418 972 207
Chair of the FRAC Committee, Erna de Vries +61 418 692 402
Auditor, StewartBrown Chartered Accountants +61 294 123 033

The Sunrise Project

Driven by the imperative of climate justice, The Sunrise Project scales social movements to drive the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy as fast as possible.


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