AUDIT UPDATE - REFORMS TO THE WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTIONS REGIME

The ACNC has advised that several charities will be affected by upcoming changes to whistleblower protection laws.

From 1 July, whistleblower protections in the Corporations Act 2001 will be expanded to provide greater shielding for whistleblowers who report misconduct about companies and company officers.

The reforms, which will be enforced by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission, are designed to broaden the definition of whistleblower, extend whistleblower protections and create provisions for civil penalties.

Changes in the Corporations Act will apply to companies registered with ASIC (public companies, including companies limited by guarantee).  It will also apply to incorporated associations that are significantly or principally engaged in trading or financial activities.  Charities that are incorporated associations will therefore need to decide if this applies to them.

Whistleblower protection provided for persons who make eligible disclosures about the tax affairs, including tax avoidance, of another entity.  Separately administered by the Australian Taxation Office, the protections are detailed on the ATO website at ato.gov.au.

The ACNC encourages charities to consider whether they have an appropriate plan for managing whistleblower disclosures.  It encourages public companies and incorporated associations to make themselves familiar with the requirements and obligations of the new rules.

The commission will soon publish more information about whistleblower protections.