As public officials, how we respond to offers of gifts, benefits and hospitality is critical to earning and sustaining the trust of those we serve.
To fulfil our role of providing impartial advice, the public sector must ensure that offers of gifts, benefits and hospitality do not influence government actions or decision making.
In 2016, the VPSC set minimum accountabilities in the Gifts, Benefits and Hospitality Policy Framework. The minimum accountabilities are binding under Instruction 3.4.11 of the Instructions supporting the Standing Directions of the Minister for Finance 2016.
In 2018, the VPSC updated the policy guide (formerly framework) and supporting resources. These updates assist organisations to implement the policy and highlight the importance of considering conflicts of interest and reputational risks when offering or receiving gifts, benefits or hospitality.
The updates come into effect on 1 July 2018.
Conflicts of interest
The Victorian community trusts that public officials will perform their duties impartially and with integrity. Accepting gifts could give rise to the impression that a public official will favour a particular person or organisation when making decisions or taking action.
Appropriately managing gifts, benefits and hospitality ensures that public officials avoid such conflicts of interest, whether actual or perceived. The VPSC has developed tools and guidance materials on managing conflicts of interest.
Codes of conduct
The codes of conduct require public officials to demonstrate impartiality when they are offered gifts, benefits or hospitality, and to demonstrate accountability when providing hospitality.