Codes of conduct
The purpose of a code of conduct is to tell people inside and outside an organisation the standards of conduct that are expected of staff, including in their dealings with the public.
The NSW Public Service Commission has developed The Code of Ethics and Conduct for NSW government sector employees (2015). The code identifies mandatory requirements and best practice requirements for NSW government employees. The code has an explicit corruption prevention focus by dealing with topics such as conflicts of interest and the appropriate use of public sector resources. Public Service Commissioner Direction No 1 of 2015 directs heads of government sector agencies to require employees to comply with the code. If an agency head chooses to do so, the code can also be extended to contractors or volunteers.
NSW local councils are also required to have a code of conduct. The Local Government (General) Regulation 2005 prescribes the Model Code of Conduct for Local Councils in NSW and covers topics such as general conduct obligations, personal benefits, conflicts of interest and use of council resources.
Public sector agencies and local councils may supplement their respective codes with additional provisions, but may not alter or subtract from the codes.
In the ICAC’s experience, merely adopting a code of conduct is not enough. Any code needs to be implemented, modelled from the top and become habitual. Alleged breaches of the code also need to be addressed in a fair but firm manner so that staff understand that misconduct has consequences.