By Adam Fennessy PSM, Victorian Public Sector Commissioner
The Victorian Public Sector Commission (VPSC) is a key element in the integrity framework for Victoria's public sector. As Commissioner, l lead an organisation where one of our legislative objectives is to maintain and advocate for public sector professionalism and integrity. It is my responsibility to issue codes of conduct that set the integrity requirements for public sector employees, including board members of public entities across Victoria.
These codes of conduct are binding on public sector employees and promote adherence to the public sector values in section 7 of the Public Administration Act 2004.
The codes as based on fundamental cornerstones of integrity, such as:
- transparent and accountable decision-making
- responsible use of powers
- making decisions on merit, without bias, caprice, favouritism or self-interest
- acting fairly, objectively and in an apolitical manner.
For this reason, a breach of code may result in a finding of misconduct.
To assist employees to comply with their obligations under the codes, and to decrease the risk of inadvertent breaches, the VPSC issues guidance materials on a range of integrity topics.
The VPSC also issues guidance materials, model policies and minimum accountabilities for organisations which cover a range of integrity topics, including conflicts of interest, and gifts, benefits and hospitality. These help public sector organisations to develop workplace policies and culture that support employees to comply with their obligations and to feel safe in speaking up if they encounter integrity issues.
I regard the VPSC's integrity functions as critical to establishing and maintaining appropriate behavioral standards expected by the Victorian community. The VPSC's role in Victoria's integrity framework is at the front end, proactively seeking to prevent integrity failures by defining, explaining, and advocating for good conduct.
The VPSC is working to support our Victorian public sector to thrive into the future and deliver its critical services to the Victorian community. It is essential that the key attributes of the public sector, such as its apolitical nature, responsiveness, effectiveness and accountability are retained as these allow the sector to play its critical role with the full confidence of Government and the wider community.
As part of our work program, we continue to build our networks with the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) and other organisations in Victoria’s integrity framework, collaborating to identify and address priority areas for integrity improvements, and on other system-wide integrity initiatives.
Examples of our collaborations with IBAC and other Victorian integrity agencies include new guidance on maintaining integrity while working remotely and updated guidance on strengthening probity in recruitment with pre-employment screening requirements.
Through this and more we seek to bring a proactive approach to integrity improvements in the Victorian public sector in collaboration with our colleagues in integrity agencies.
Find out more via the Victorian Public Sector Commission website.