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About this service

The SpeakUp Service is an independent service that allows SWTAFE employees to raise concerns of suspected fraud, corruption and serious misconduct without fear of retribution or reprisal.

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South West TAFE SpeakUp Service 1800 291 017
South West TAFE SpeakUp Service 1800 291 017

Frequently Asked Questions

What is SpeakUp?

SpeakUp is for reporting suspected fraud and corruption

SpeakUp was launched by SWTAFE in response to issues raised at IBAC, and is therefore designed to support staff to feel safe to report suspected fraud, corruption and serious misconduct (e.g. serious conflicts of interest). SpeakUp is not designed for all workplace matters and does not replace existing ways to make complaints.

Staff should raise concerns with the appropriate manager first

This is the best way to reach a quick resolution. Managers are expected to be responsive to ideas, concerns, complaints and feedback and treat all parties with empathy, fairness, dignity and respect.

Staff should feel safe to raise concerns

Raising concerns about fraud and corruption is part of our responsibility as public sector employees. SpeakUp allows us to fulfil this responsibility and feel safe to do so.

All parties are treated fairly and reasonably

If responding to a complaint, staff will be afforded natural justice. Natural justice requires fulsome information to be put to the respondent for them to be able to reasonably and fairly respond to allegations.

SpeakUp accepts anonymous reports

Across the world, tip-offs are widely acknowledged as one of the best ways to identify fraud, and corruption. The option of anonymity can make staff feel safe to come forward when they may not otherwise out of fear of reprisal.

In practice, many anonymous reports are not progressed because they lack sufficient information to afford the respondent natural justice. In line with best practice, reports to SpeakUp are made through an external provider to assure staff that their anonymity will be protected if they choose to remain anonymous.

SpeakUp will not re-open matters that have already been appropriately dealt with

Matters already dealt with through People & Culture, Fair Work Commission, Ombudsman, or other independent complaints handling bodies, tribunals or courts will not be progressed unless new information is provided.

SpeakUp is for all staff

All SWTAFE staff and contractors can use SpeakUp to raise concerns about suspected fraud, corruption and serious misconduct. SpeakUp contributes to the organisation's efforts to support a confidential reporting culture where we all feel safe to question inappropriate behaviour.

What are the rights of parties involved?

As outlined in the Guidelines for Managing Complaints, Misconduct and Unsatisfactory Performance, employees are afforded:

  • the right to know the allegation(s) being made against him or her;
  • the right to be heard in respect to the allegations;
  • the right to be treated fairly;
  • the right to have a support person or representative present during formal interviews;
  • the right to an investigator and a decision maker who acts fairly and in good faith; and
  • the right that a decision is based on evidence.

SWTAFE commits to consider all reasonable complaints seriously and in a timely way. The timely management of complaints aims to provide closure to all parties.

Legal protections may apply to staff whose reports are determined protected disclosures, including defamation and detrimental action.

Why is SpeakUp an externally hosted service?

An external provider was engaged to meet the logistical needs of a 24 hours service and due to the nature of the reports SpeakUp receives.

By having an external provider as the first point of contact, staff anonymity can be protected when raising concerns about fraud, corruption and other serious matters (e.g. serious conflicts of interest). A complaint raised through SpeakUp carries the exact same weight as a complaint made to the appropriate manager.

What were the issues raised by IBAC that led to the creation of SpeakUp?

IBAC's Operation Lansdowne identified instances of staff being too afraid to speak up about people doing the wrong thing.

SpeakUp is one way we are addressing these issues. We are supporting a culture where staff question behaviour that makes them feel uncomfortable and understand that doing so is part of their responsibility as public sector employees.

Services like SpeakUp are common to large organisations and are known to be an effective way to address serious integrity issues. National and International research shows that the most common detection method for fraud and corruption is through whistleblowing and other reporting mechanisms.

What is the 'triage' assessment and referral process?

This new process brings together a group of experts from relevant parts of the organisation to:

  • Conduct an initial assessment of all SpeakUp matters (except protected disclosures) to ensure only matters requiring further consideration are progressed
  • Ensure all matters are referred to the appropriate area (see below)
  • Manage multi-layered, complex matters, which may require different experts to address different aspects of a matter.

Where are different SpeakUp reports referred to in SWTAFE?

  • Allegations of fraud, corruption and serious conflict of interest (for example, conflicts relating to significant purchases and contracts) are managed by specialist investigators in the Audit, Risk & Compliance Department.
  • Allegations of misconduct such as unsatisfactory conduct, bullying and harassment are first referred to People & Culture, who then provide expert advice to the appropriate manager.
  • Reports that relate to general grievances that do not fall within the above, will be directed to the relevant manager or executive manager.

How are you preventing unreasonable (e.g. vexatious) or frivolous reports from being progressed?

  • Vexatious complaints are not tolerated and SWTAFE is committed to taking appropriate action against staff who regularly make them. The Triage process will assist in identifying and preventing these matters to ensure they are not progressed.
  • We are communicating with staff about SpeakUp processes and scope. For example, staff are advised that complaints about reasonable management action will not be progressed, nor will matters that have already been appropriately dealt with.
  • Analytics will take place on all reports lodged through our complaints processes to identify trends and themes across our various complaints channels, and to prevent channel shopping.

Why does SpeakUp accept anonymous reports?

Across the world, tip-offs are widely acknowledged as one of the best ways to identify fraud, and corruption. The option of anonymity can make staff feel safe to come forward when they may not otherwise out of fear of reprisal.

How do you manage anonymous reports?

All anonymous reports are assessed by the triage process on their merits.

The triage group of experts determines if there is enough information to progress the complaint while affording the respondent natural justice. In practice, many anonymous reports cannot be progressed because the organisation can't independently verify their allegations (by checking records or with other employees) or because we are unable to get back in touch with anonymous reporters to find out more information.

Natural justice requires fulsome information be put to the respondent for them to be able to reasonably and fairly respond to the allegations.

Are there other avenues for me to raise concerns about the conduct of SWTAFE Staff

  • Speak to an appropriate manager
    SpeakUp does not replace existing avenues for raising concerns. You should try and speak to an appropriate manager first. If your concern is about your manager, then you can approach the manager above.

  • The Victorian Ombudsman
    The Victorian Ombudsman accepts complaints from the public about SWTAFE decisions or actions. Including conduct of SWTAFE staff, most commonly after the complaint has already been made to SWTAFE.

    If you are dissatisfied with the outcome or SWTAFE's handling of the matter, you can contact the Ombudsman. If they choose to not investigate they will provide a reason for the decision. For more information or make see: www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

  • Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC)
    You can make report to IBAC about suspected corrupt conduct in the Victorian public sector. Reports made to IBAC must be in writing and should clearly describe the conduct you are reporting, who was involved and where it occurred. Reports can be lodged to IBAC via their website at: www.ibac.vic.gov.au

What happens if my report is considered a "public interest disclosure"?

A public interest disclosure is a report of "improper conduct" or "'detrimental conduct" as defined by the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2012 (Vic).

If you report is a "public interest disclosure" you will be afforded legal protections including:

  • Legal protection from defamation and detrimental action
  • Legal immunity from civil or criminal liability, administrative action (including disciplinary action), and obligations of confidentiality
  • Your name will never be publicised in relation to the matter
  • You and your family, friends and SWTAFE colleagues will be protected from retribution because of making the disclosure.

Who determines if my report is a "public interest disclosure"?

You are not expected to know whether your complaint is a "public interest disclosure".

The Audit, Risk & Compliance Department will consider this using the SWTAFE Public Interest Disclosure Guideline and Procedure.

The matter is then referred to IBAC (within 28 days) who determines whether your report is a "public interest disclosure".