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ICAC warns against taking the road to corruption

Tuesday 20 November 2007

The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has told a gathering of Hunter community leaders that public sector employees need to be wary of embarking on a course of behaviour that could lead to full-scale corruption.

Addressing the group at the ICAC's Hunter Outreach community leaders breakfast in Lovedale today, Deputy Commissioner Theresa Hamilton said that public sector employees needed to be aware that it can be easy to slide down the road of corrupt conduct, which is why corruption prevention awareness and education is so important. 

"Community leaders like you are important to the ICAC, because we hope that if you or someone you know identify, or suspect, corrupt conduct in the public sector you will report it to us," she said.

"The corruption prevention education work that the ICAC does is one way of trying to help public officers to think about where the receipt of a seemingly innocuous gift can lead before it happens," Ms Hamilton said. "It might start with something like a free dinner or other gifts but can then progress to cash incentives.

"That's why it is important for people to be aware of the risks of corruption, not only to themselves but to others that may report to them. Corruption prevention education is instrumental in helping officers to see beyond the gift or free dinner to what might happen down the track before it is too late.

"The ICAC's visit here is designed to help raise awareness about the work of the Commission, and give local agencies the opportunity to learn and understand more about corruption prevention through workshops and forums this week," Ms Hamilton said.

The community leaders' breakfast was attended by approximately 65 individuals including local members of parliament, local councillors and council officers, plus staff from local businesses and members of interest groups.

The ICAC Hunter Outreach visit was also attended by the NSW Police Integrity Commission (PIC) Commissioner John Pritchard, who addressed the breakfast gathering about the work that the PIC does. This week's Hunter Outreach visit, which is being held in the Maitland/Cessnock area from 19-21 November, focuses more on local government. Part two of the program, which will be conducted in Newcastle during March next year, will focus on State agencies.

The specialised workshops, briefings and training sessions will include information on protected disclosures, corruption prevention for managers and fact finding. Councils attending the Outreach activities include Dungog, Great Lakes, Port Stephens, Gloucester, Maitland, Singleton, Cessnock, Muswellbrook, Newcastle, Greater Taree/Murray Valley, Lake Macquarie and Upper Hunter.

The ICAC outreach program has proved highly successful since its inception in 2001. It has included visits to the Illawarra, New England, the Hunter, Mudgee, the Far West, the South East, the Riverina, the Central Coast, the Central West and the North Coast.