This policy outlines the rights and obligations of Victorian government school employees when participating in political activities.
When participating in political activities, Victorian government school employees (including school council employees) should:
- make sure they understand their rights and obligations as public sector employees
- ensure that any political activities they participate in are undertaken outside work and do not create a conflict of interest with their official duties or employment obligations.
Examples of political activities may include:
- developing election advertising material
- handing out how-to-vote cards on election day
- organising or taking part in candidate forums
- campaigning or making political comment on social media
- wearing or displaying political material.
Victorian government school employees:
- have an obligation to perform all official duties in accordance with the Code of Conduct for Victorian Public Sector Employees, and the Victorian Public Sector Values, which include accountability, integrity and impartiality
- have the right to ‘freedom of association’, including the right to form and join trade unions
- have the right to freedom of expression, subject to lawful restrictions such as protecting public order and breach of confidence
- may participate in political activities outside working hours if they are clearly undertaken in a private capacity
- must apply for leave of absence in the usual way to participate in political activities in working hours (including standing for election), and must resign if elected as a member of parliament
- must not let political activities influence or interfere with their work
- must ensure that their political activities do not create a conflict of interest with their official duties
- must inform their line manager if they believe they may have a conflict of interest so a judgment may be made about the extent of any conflict and any necessary interim arrangements. Examples of ways to manage a conflict of interest that cannot be avoided may include the employee taking leave, modification of duties or temporary transfer or secondment to another role
- must not use information gained at work for any other purpose than official duties
- must not use work resources to engage in or support political activities. Examples of work resources may include, but are not limited to, physical resources such as printers and stationery, financial resources such as corporate purchasing cards, IT resources such as email and messaging platforms, and intellectual property such as school branding
- must not solicit students or staff to become agents of any organisation or individual
- must not use their position to advocate for or against particular parties, candidates or issues in relation to an election campaign.
Important: When participating in any political activity (including through social media), Victorian government school employees must only make a personal public comment if it:
- is not about government activity they are involved in or connected with as an employee
- is made clear that any comments relating to Victorian government activities are not official, and that they are speaking only on behalf of themselves
- does not compromise their ability to do their job in an unbiased manner.
Important: Partisan or party political materials, including materials that advocate for or against a particular political party, candidate or political issue in relation to an election campaign, must not be distributed, promoted or displayed in a school, other than for educational purposes.
These instructions do not apply to the display of notices or the preparation or distribution of material that relates to government policy in education that is the subject of public debate encouraged by the government or approved by the department.
Further guidance and support
The Victorian Public Sector Commission has published specific and detailed guidance to support Victorian public sector employees, including employees involved in political activities, to understand their obligations in the lead-up and during local, state and federal elections at Code of Conduct for employees – Guide for employees during election .
Participating in political activities may give rise to a conflict of interest which needs to be managed in line with the department’s Conflict of Interest Policy. This policy includes advice on how to identify, declare and manage conflicts of interest.
Refer to Elections – Employees Contesting Parliamentary Elections for information about employees standing for election.
Related policies or advice
- Code of Conduct
- Conflict of Interest
- Elections – Employees Contesting Parliamentary Elections
- Elections – Schools as Voting Centres and Polling Places
- Members of Parliament and Candidates Visiting Schools
Reviewed 02 May 2023