This document is part of the Commissioner’s Circulars resource.

Circular Number 2018-01
Issue date:  28 June 2018
Application: All Victorian public sector bodies
Resources: Gifts, Benefits and Hospitality Resource suite at
https://vpsc.vic.gov.au/resources/gifts-benefits-and-hospitality-resource-suite/
Enquiries:  Integrity and Advisory
Victorian Public Sector Commission
(03) 9651 1321
info@vpsc.vic.gov.au

Key points

  • The VPSC has updated its Gifts, Benefits and Hospitality Policy Guide to provide additional guidance on implementing the minimum accountabilities, particularly on how to record and report any offers. The updated guide also highlights the importance of public officials considering conflicts of interest or reputational risks when are they are offered or provide a gift, benefit or hospitality.
  • To build public trust, Victorian public officials and their employers must manage offers in line with community expectations. Public officials must therefore ensure that their personal interests cannot reasonably be perceived to influence them in the performance of their duties. By avoiding such conflicts of interest, public officials set a strong foundation for integrity and avoid reputational damage to the public sector.
  • The updates to the policy guide do not alter the minimum accountabilities, which came into effect in 2016 and which required employers to publish their gifts, benefits and hospitality register online from 1 July 2017.

Updates

The updates include:

  • Changes to accepting gifts – Public officials may now accept ceremonial gifts on behalf of their organisation.
  • Changes to recording – Public officials no longer need to record cumulative offers, although they still need to consider the potential conflicts of interest and reputational risks that may arise. Public officials no longer need to declare the official hospitality they are offered by public sector organisations, where their attendance is consistent with public sector functions, objectives and roles.
  • Changes to reporting – Employers may now provide more generic information about the recipients and donors of declined offers; and publish role titles rather than individual names for accepted offers.

Requirements

The minimum accountabilities for managing gifts, benefits and hospitality are binding on Victorian public officials and their employers under the Standing Directions of the Minister for Finance.

The updated implementation advice outlined in the policy guide comes into effect on 1 July 2018. Departments and administrative offices should review their existing policies and procedures against the policy guide. They should also:

Background

The policy guide (formerly framework) was last updated in 2016. It is supported by a suite of resources to assist public officials and their employers to apply the minimum accountabilities.

Scope

The minimum accountabilities in the policy guide apply to all Victorian public sector officials and their employers. The guidance should be adopted to ensure consistency across the public sector.

Date of Application

The updated policy guide takes effect from 1 July 2018.