DOCS most common areas for breach of Code of Conduct & Ethics
- Category: DOCS Information
- Created: Tuesday, 19 January 2010 08:59
- Written by Alecomm
2.3 Duty of care
You have a general legal duty to take reasonable care to avoid causing harm to another person. You are required to exercise the degree of care that could reasonably be expected from a person in that job.
You should avoid negligent conduct by giving sufficient attention to your actions and decisions, and by obtaining the direction and advice of your supervisor or other appropriate Departmental officer if you are unsure how to proceed.
2.4 Providing advice and making decisions
Procedural fairness should be applied whenever you exercise official powers in situations where there may be an adverse impact on a person (see 4.1 Procedural fairness). Any advice you provide to managers, co-workers and clients should be honest, frank, based on an accurate and balanced representation of all the known relevant facts and should, if necessary, identify the consequences of all known options realistically available. You should ensure you have taken reasonable steps to obtain necessary material to take a decision and be reasonably satisfied that the material is factually correct and relevant. You should record and file the basis for your decision.
3.4 Privacy and confidentiality
Where it is necessary to record personal information, you should make every effort to ensure that there is a legitimate legal need to record the information, that the recording is factual and that information of a confidential nature is kept secure and not discussed with anyone who does not have a legitimate right to know. The Privacy and Personal Information Act 1989 provides for the protection of personal information and for the protection of the privacy of individuals generally.
3.5 Workplace health and safety
You are expected to comply with the Occupational Health & Safety Act 2000, the Occupational Health & Safety Regulation 2001 and Departmental instructions on workplace health and safety. You also have an obligation not to wilfully place at risk or injure yourself and others in the workplace.
4.1 Procedural fairness - (‘natural justice’)
Procedural fairness (or ‘natural justice’) is the principle concerned with ensuring that a fair decision is reached by an objective decisionmaker. When making a decision or recommending a course of action that could adversely affect a person’s rights or interests, you should follow the rules of natural justice.
This means that you should ensure that:
- the person concerned is informed about the matter under consideration, and is given an opportunity to present their case
- you have no personal interest in the matter to be decided or bias as to the outcome, and that you act in good faith (see 5 - Conflict of interest).
You should document and be able to justify any decisions that affect staff or members of the public.
When making decisions or taking action, you should ensure that proper consideration is given to any adverse effects any person or group may suffer from the decision/action. This should then be balanced against the intended purpose of the decision. When exercising a discretionary power you should ensure that the power is being used properly, impartially, equitably and consistently with relevant guidelines or delegations. Decisions and actions should be made in a timely fashion, so that persons affected by the decision are not disadvantaged by undue delay.
When applying procedural fairness in coming to decisions that affect staff, eg. deferral of increments, leave requests, etc you should consider:
- access to information - before the decision or action is taken, the person affected by the decision should be informed of all relevant factors, given the opportunity to put forward his/her case, including commenting on information provided by others, and referred to support
- fact finding - all reasonable steps should be taken to find out the facts which are important and relevant to the decision
- assistance in representation - the person may be assisted or represented in the procedure except where it is specifically prohibited by legislation
- reasons for decision - the person concerned should be informed of the reasons for the decision within a reasonable time
- indication of remedies - the notification of the decision or action should indicate any rights of appeal or normal remedies as well as the relevant time limits.
6.3 Misuse of information
You must not misuse information gained in your official capacity. Section 8(1) of the Independent ommission Against Corruption Act 1988 includes in the definition of corrupt conduct, “any conduct of a public official or former public official that involves the misuse of information or material acquired in the course of his or her official functions, whether or not for his or her benefit or for the benefit of any other person”. Section 309 of the Crimes Act 1900 also makes misuse of information a criminal offence.
- speculation in shares on the basis of confidential information about the affairs of a business or of proposed government actions
- seeking to take advantage for personal reasons of another person on the basis of information about that person held in official recordss
- inappropriately disclosing confidential information held in official records.
9.1 Corrupt conduct and the Department’s duty of care to clients
The role and functions of the Department require that staff must exercise the highest standards of professionalism and integrity in order to meet the duties of care and responsibility the Department owes to its clients, many of whom are vulnerable and/or in crisis. Any matters that have the potential to bring the professional integrity of a staff member, and therefore the reputation of the Department, into disrepute are considered most serious. This includes allegations of corrupt conduct.
9.2 The Director-General’s obligation to disclose corrupt conduct
Under the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988, the Director-General has a responsibility to report certain forms of corrupt conduct to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). Corrupt conduct involves the misuse of public office, for example:
- partiality (ie. bias)
- breach of trust (ie. misuse of one’s position), or
- misuse of government information where such conduct could amount to a criminal offence, a disciplinary offence or give reasonable grounds for dismissal of a staff member.
You are encouraged to disclose any suspected corrupt conduct that you are aware of to your supervisor, a more senior officer, or Corporate HR. You can also report any conduct that breaches the standards contained in this Code of Conduct and Ethics. You can make a protected disclosure within the Department to Corporate HR or to ICAC directly. The Department is also required to report any allegations against staff relating to the abuse of children to the Ombudsman and the Commission for Children and Young People.
If you are aware of, or have information about, misconduct within your work group, you can report this to your manager. If the information concerns another work group, you can report it to the manager of that work group, to a more senior officer or to Corporate HR. For example you can report:
- any abuse or neglect of a client by a staff member
- stealing money or property belonging to a client or the Department
- claims for reimbursement of expenses which have not been incurred
- use of Departmental property or funds for improper or unauthorised purposes
- evidence of staff members' private interests improperly influencing the awarding of contracts, consultancies, appointments, grants, funding, licences, etc
- misuse of confidential information
- fraudulent recording, alteration or destruction of official documents
- discrimination, harassment or intimidation by a staff member against another staff member or a client.
Division 2 - Fraud and related offences
(1) A person who, by any deception, dishonestly:
(a) obtains property belonging to another, or
(b) obtains any financial advantage or causes any financial disadvantage, is guilty of the offence of fraud.
Maximum penalty: Imprisonment for 10 years.