The Code of Conduct for Victorian Public Sector Employees of Special Bodies describes the behaviours that exemplify the values contained in the Public Administration Act 2004 (the Act). The values and this Code build on our public sector’s long tradition of striving to meet the high standards the community rightly expects of it and provide the foundation of the integrity and accountability framework for all public sector employees.
Changes to the Act in 2014 provide for codes of conduct to be issued by the Victorian Public Sector Commission. In doing so, I am mindful that the public sector values on which the Code is based have not changed since first enacted in 2004 and that both the values and the previous Code are well established within the culture of many public sector organisations.
The fact that this Code is being re-issued with only minor changes shows the core behaviours it prescribes remain relevant for public sector employees in an ever changing sector. The changes are intended to clarify existing requirements, particularly in the key areas of conflicts of interest and gifts and benefits, rather than introduce new obligations.
As the public sector continues to adapt and evolve, it is essential that it retains the key attributes that have allowed it to play its critical role with the full confidence of Government and the wider community for over a century.
Those key attributes are its apolitical nature, responsiveness, effectiveness and accountability; and it is precisely these things that the public sector values and this Code seek to reinforce and protect.
Victorian public sector employees work in a vast array of occupations and workplaces. It is important that the Code be expressed in a way that is relevant across this diverse environment and as a result, the Code will need to be supported by additional information and guidance at the local level. As it is not possible to provide a detailed rule for every conceivable situation, organisations ultimately must rely on the accountability of individuals for their own actions and behaviour.
I urge all public sector employees to take the opportunity to refresh their understanding of how the Code of Conduct guides their behaviour and to engage with their colleagues and managers about how they can best adhere to its requirements.