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ICAC brings corruption prevention program to New England region

Wednesday 1 May 2019

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) will visit the New England region next week as part of its rural and regional outreach program to bring anti-corruption initiatives and training to centres across the state.

The visit, to be based in Armidale from 6 to 10 May, will include workshops for state and local government agencies to learn the latest ways to prevent corrupt conduct, and activities to help raise awareness in the broader community about corruption risks and the roles and functions of the ICAC.

Another highlight of the program will be a community leaders’ forum to be held on Thursday 9 May, which will feature a panel discussion with ICAC Commissioner Patricia McDonald SC, NSW Ombudsman Michael Barnes, and – joining an ICAC outreach visit for the first time – Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) Chief Commissioner the Hon Michael Adams QC. The agency leaders will discuss the roles of their organisations, and how the community can contribute to helping oversight agencies fulfil their functions.

ICAC Chief Commissioner the Hon Peter Hall QC said that the Commission recognises that corruption and its prevention are not Sydney-centric, and that it is important to share the latest information and techniques with public officials across the state. “I commend the officials who comprise the 70 registrations from 30 agencies we have for the Armidale workshops, who are obviously keen to learn about and enhance their corruption prevention skills and knowledge,” Commissioner Hall said.

Commissioner McDonald also welcomed Chief Commissioner Adams and Mr Barnes to the visit. “It is important for the community to not only be aware of our oversight agencies, but also to understand what our respective roles are,” Commissioner McDonald said.

“When the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission was established in 2017, I was acutely aware of the need to build trust in the LECC in all areas of NSW, not just metro Sydney and surrounds,” Chief Commissioner Adams said. “To date we have established a dedicated community engagement team to carry out this work and our Commissioners regularly conduct regional outreach visits. As a relatively new agency, I look forward to attending the community forum in Armidale to speak with members of the local community and raise awareness of the role of the LECC.”

Mr Barnes acknowledged the importance of the integrity and oversight agencies jointly reaching out to the New England Community. “Of course, people from all over the state have always made complaints to the Ombudsman about government decisions impacting them, but the opportunity to hear first-hand from the heads of the three agencies is novel and hopefully worthwhile,” Mr Barnes said.

Workshops scheduled for this visit include corruption prevention for managers, which focuses on developing an understanding of the nature of corruption, how and why it occurs, and what managers can do to prevent it; and fact-finder, which is an introductory workshop for those who may be required to conduct an internal fact-finding investigation into a complaint or allegations of staff wrongdoing, including misconduct or corruption.

New workshops developed since the Commission’s last outreach visit to the area will include corruption prevention for planning professionals, designed for town planners and related public officials working within the planning system; corruption prevention in procurement and contract management, which aims to assist managers and staff responsible for procurement to identify where systems weaknesses and corruption opportunities may lie; and good governance in small boards, which covers a range of topics and discussion about how local Aboriginal land council and non-government organisation board members and staff all play a role in building good governance in their organisations.

The NSW Ombudsman is responsible for promoting public awareness and understanding of the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994 (“the PID Act”) and monitoring its operation. A workshop is included in this outreach visit for public officials who work in the NSW public sector to ensure public authorities appropriately assess and manage public interest disclosures.

More than 40 people will attend the community leaders’ forum, including elected representatives and senior staff from local and state government agencies and community interest groups. Local agencies, organisations and groups attending the outreach activities include the Department of Education, the Department of Family and Community Services, Department of Industry Training Services NSW, the Department of Primary Industries, the Mid-North Coast Local Health District, NSW Police Force, TAFE NSW, University of New England, Armidale Regional Council, Glenn Innes Severn  Council, Gunnedah Shire Council, Gywdir Shire Council, Inverell Shire Council, Liverpool Plains Shire Council, Moree Plains Shire Council, Tamworth Regional Council, Tenterfield Shire Council, Uralla Shire Council, Armidale Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC), Dorrigo Plateau LALC, Glen Inness LALC, Guyra LALC, Tamworth LALC, Armidale Anglican Diocese, Armidale Care for Seniors Inc, Armidale & District Family Day Care Limited, Armidale Family Support, Armidale Neighbourhood Centre, Armidale Uralla Meals on Wheels, Banbai Enterprises Development Aboriginal Corporation, the Benevolent Society Armidale, Guyra Neighbourhood Centre, the International Erosion Control Association, North and North West Community Legal Service Inc, Northern Tablelands Group of CWA, Northern Tablelands Principals Network, Rotary Club of Armidale, RSL Armidale Sub-branch, Youth Action and the Zonta Club of Armidale Inc.

The ICAC rural and regional outreach program has proved highly successful since its inception in 2001. Previous visits have included to the Illawarra, western NSW, the central coast, the Hunter, the south east, the central west, the north coast, the northern inland, the south coast, the far west, Riverina Murray and the Blue Mountains. The Commission’s rural and regional outreach program last visited the New England Region (Tamworth) in November 2014.

Enquiries and interview requests: ICAC Manager Communications and Media, Nicole Thomas, 0417 467 801.

News Directors/Ed’s note: Media are welcome to attend the Community Leaders’ Forum on Thursday 9 May 2019 at the Armidale City Bowling Club Auditorium, 92-96 Demaresq Street, Armidale, at 7.40 am. Please RSVP to Nicole Thomas at the above number or email nthomas@icac.nsw.gov.au by Monday 6 May 2019.