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Human resources

Conflict of Interest

Responsibilities

All employees

All employees, including managers and executive officers, have a responsibility to avoid any Conflict of Interest (COI) that may affect their public duty. Where a conflict is identified, reasonable steps must be taken to address it in order to protect the public interest.

The primary basis for this obligation is the Code of Conduct for the Victorian Public Sector Employees , which is binding on all public sector employees including members of the Teaching Service and the Victorian Public Service (VPS). It is also binding on school  council employees. Other instruments also impose obligations on particular groups within the Department, and this Policy gives effect to those obligations.

All Department employees, including members of the Teaching Service and VPS employees, are responsible for:

  • being aware of their obligations to avoid and address COI
  • continually assessing their private interests and public duties in order and identify whenever they are subject to a COI
  • reporting identified COI to their manager, (or in certain circumstances to the relevant Panel, Committee or Board)
  • assessing the risks related to identified conflicts and taking reasonable steps to address these risks in accordance with Department policy and procedures so that the public interest is protected

Managers

In addition to managing their own COI, managers play a role in supporting their staff to identify and address COI by:

  • being aware of the risks of COI which are inherent to the work of the staff they manage
  • making their staff aware of their obligations under COI policy and other relevant policies and procedures
  • identifying the training needs of their staff members in relation to COI policy and practice
  • advising their staff about appropriate ways to address COI
  • recording disclosures of COI reported to them by staff members
  • assisting staff members to identify and implement appropriate management strategies
  • continually monitoring the work of staff they manage and assessing the risks to which they might reasonably be exposed
  • taking appropriate disciplinary action in relation to employees who apparently fail to meet their obligations under Department policy
  • modelling Department values through transparent and consistent management of their own COI

School councils

School councillors who are not employees of the Department (such as parents) are not bound by the Code of Conduct for Victorian Public Sector Employees. However, they are bound by the Directors’ Code of Conduct and Guidance Notes (also called the Victorian Public Entity Directors’ Code of Conduct 2006) issued by the Public Sector Standards Commissioner. Relevant duties under this code are to:

  • act with honesty and integrity
  • act in good faith in the best interests of the public entity
  • act fairly and impartially
  • use information appropriately
  • use the position appropriately
  • act in a financially responsible manner
  • exercise due care, diligence and skills
  • comply with the establishing legislation
  • demonstrate leadership and stewardship

Principals play a role, as executive officers of school councils, in advising school councillors about appropriate steps they should take to ensure responsible management of risks of COI. Councillors should be referred to the principles and processes outlined in this Policy for guidance.

In addition, regulation 21 of the Education and Training Reform Regulations 2007 requires that if a member of the school council or a member of his or her immediate family has any direct COI (including a pecuniary interest) in a subject or matter under discussion at a school council meeting, that member:

  • must not be present during the discussion unless invited to do so by the person presiding at the meeting
  • must not be present when a vote is taken on the matter
  • may be included in the quorum for that meeting
Chapter of the Conflict of Interest Policy explaining the responsibilities of employees, managers and school councils

Reviewed 09 June 2020

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