ABA seeks public ideas for whistleblower support

by Miklos Bolza13 Oct 2016
The Australian Bankers’ Association has asked for public suggestions on how banks can provide better support and protection for whistleblowers within the organisation.
“Customers expect banks to have a strong culture – having a robust and trusted framework for staff to raise concerns is an essential part of this,” ABA Chief Executive Steven Münchenberg said.
Bringing in high standards of whistleblower protection is part of the banking industry’s six-point plan, he added. This plan includes the following steps:
  • Reviewing product sales commissions
  • Supporting customers when things go wrong
  • Supporting staff who call out poor behaviour
  • Removing individuals for poor conduct
  • Strengthening the Code of Banking Practice
  • Providing support to ASIC
The ABA has also developed draft principles on how banks can strengthen existing whistleblower protection programs. These are based on international best practice standards completed by Promontory Australia and include:
  • Bank executives demonstrating strong and visible leadership
  • Creating policy that allows a range of people to call out a range of issues
  • Providing clear guidelines on how to report and investigate any claims
  • Supporting and protecting whistleblowers before and after the process
  • Training staff on this program in a known, accessible and effective manner
  • Monitoring the program and performing continual improvements
To further enhance these principles, Münchenberg called on all interested parties to provide feedback. Submissions should be sent to submissions@bankers.asn.au before close of business on 2 November.

Following the receipt of this information, the draft principles are expected to be finalised by the end of the year. Banks will then be expected to implement the highest standards of whistleblower programs by July 2017.

“If staff are confident to speak up about misconduct and unlawful activity, they can save customers and the bank a lot of pain later. It can take courage to stand up and call out poor behaviour, so we should support people who do that,” Münchenberg said.

“We need to break the ‘us versus them’ mentality; whistleblowers make an important contribution to our businesses.”