Public sector board members from across metropolitan Melbourne gathered last week to focus on integrity.

Run in partnership with Victorian Government Solicitors Office (VGSO) and Victorian Managed Insurance Office (VMIA), the event is part of our ongoing commitment to prevention of integrity failure and increasing public trust in our sector.

The 35 participants came from boards spanning health, education, water and land management, creative industries and emergency services.

The training session used a scenario to explore possible integrity breaches by public sector board members and CEOs. The scenario was inspired by actual integrity failures investigated by the Victorian Ombudsman in recent years.

A panel of experienced board members discussed the key integrity issues raised in the scenario, reflecting on their own experience. Panel chair, Marlo Baragwanath, the Victorian Government Solicitor, was joined by;

  • Dr Zoe Wainer, Chair of Dental Health Services Victoria
  • Lisa Dunlop, Board Director of Women’s Health East
  • Greg Smith, Chair of Country Fire Authority
  • David Middleton, Chair of City West Water

The material encouraged discussion about the Code of Conduct for directors in the public sector and the standards of behaviour required by board members.

Key insights from the panel discussion included:

  • The relationship between the Chair and the CEO is critical to the success of the organisation
  • Boards must ensure that there is a link between their organisation’s strategy and risk
  • Occupational health and safety is a challenging area for boards because the risks are complex
  • When it comes to gifts and hospitality – it is safest to declare everything and accept nothing

Following the discussion, VPSC Deputy Commissioner, Julia Griffith, and public sector risk expert Samantha Zimmerman led discussion groups examining integrity issues and how board members could decide what to do. Discussion covered conflict of interest, the board’s relationship with the Minister and the department. VPSC, VGSO and VMIA each provided guidance to participants to help them navigate integrity issues in future.

Public sector board members can understand their responsibilities in the Code of Conduct for directors.

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