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Conflict of interest policy

Introduction

The integrity of the Department of Justice and Regulation (the department) is critical to its acceptance in the Victorian community as a provider of services for and on behalf of the community.

Conflicts of interests can seriously affect the integrity of the work of the department. Unmanaged conflicts undermine trust and confidence that department’s work is delivered fairly and transparently, without favour and without bias.

Purpose

This policy outlines the department’s approach to identifying and managing conflicts of interests including:

  • the department's expectations for managing conflicts of interest
  • guidance for identifying conflicts of interest
  • guidance for keeping proper records
  • guidance for managing conflicts of interest.

Scope

This policy applies to all departmental officials, which includes employees, contractors, consultants, volunteers and any individuals or groups undertaking activity for and on behalf of the department.

Statement of Policy

All departmental officials have a duty to put the public interest above their private interests when carrying out their official functions. They are expected to:

  • identify, declare and manage conflicts of interest effectively
  • apply good practice principles and incorporate the effective management of any conflicts of interest into their business as usual practices
  • apply good practice principles and incorporate the effective management of any conflicts of interest into their business as usual practices
  • abstain from any decision-making process in which they could be compromised, or appear to be compromised
  • report any conflicts of interest to the relevant manager as soon as they are identified, and record the details along with any associated management action
  • record conflicts of interest on the approved standard departmental conflict of interest declaration and management form.

 

Guidance

Identifying competing or conflicts of interest

Departmental officials are best placed to identify if and when a conflict or potential conflict exists. They are at the coal-face of relationships and practices that can influence the delivery of public services.

Given the particularly sensitive nature of the work of this department, it is imperative that any actual, potential or perceived conflicts of interest are managed transparently and effectively. Having competing interests is not a problem in itself as long as it is identified and managed effectively.

Whilst conflicts of interests may occur in any part of the department, some functions and activities pose higher risks than others and may require increased vigilance. These high risk areas include recruitment, procurement, grant funding, regulation and working with offenders.

Some common circumstances that raise a conflict of interest include:

Circumstance For example...
relationships and family interests when a relative or associate has a business that provides or could provide services to the department
recruitment where you are on a selection panel and interview someone you know
outside employment or volunteering where you are dealing with the same client group as the department does
favours accepting favours from people, even socially, that could be perceived to influence your professional judgement
private sector providers supporting informal agreements or exceptions to following official processes
membership of groups when the interests of such a group are related to official business (for example, grant funding)
working with offenders where you have a personal connection or relationship with that person

Keeping proper records

There is a standard departmental conflict of interest declaration and management form. Both sides of the form need to be completed when a declaration is made. The form refers declarants to this policy and guidelines provide examples of when the form should be completed in certain circumstances.

Completed, signed forms should be scanned and saved to Business Unit TRIM folders using the top level corporate document type ‘Conflict of interest declaration’, followed by declarant’s name – month & year, for example:
 

CD/17/XXXXX Conflict of interest declaration – Joe Worker – February 2017


Managers are responsible for ensuring that the conflict of interest declarations of their direct reports are recorded appropriately in TRIM and on the relevant conflict of interest register.

Managing the risks

When a conflict of interest has been identified, managers should apply one of the following strategies and document it on the declaration form to ensure the integrity of official functions in their business area:

Strategy Action
Register details of the existence of a possible or potential conflict of interest are formally advised and recorded on the department's standard conflict of interest declaration form
Restrict restrictions are placed on the employee's involvement in the matter
Recruit a disinterested third party is appointed to oversee part or all of the process that deals with the matter
Remove the employee does not participate at all in the matter
Relinquish the private interest concerned is relinquished

*Further guidance is provided on the declaration form.

Policy breaches

Failure to avoid or identify, declare and manage a conflict of interest in accordance with this policy could lead to disciplinary action including dismissal. Contractors may be subject to contract renegotiation, including termination. Additionally, actions inconsistent with this policy may constitute misconduct under the Public Administration Act 2004 and/or corrupt conduct under the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission Act 2011.

Speak up

Employees who consider that conflicts of interests within the department may not have been declared or managed appropriately should speak up and notify their manager or the Assistant Director, Fraud Prevention and Integrity.

The department will take decisive action against employees who discriminate against or victimise those who speak up in good faith.

Related policy and other documents

Public Administration Act 2004
 for Victorian Public Sector Employees 2015
Code of conduct for employees of special bodies 2015
Conflict of interest guidelines:
    Procurement
    Recruitment
    For suppliers and contractors
    For managers
    Central registers
Fraud and Corruption Control Policy
 

Approval

This policy is issued under the authority of the Director, Risk, Audit & Integrity and is subject to annual review (issue date: February 2017, review date: February 2018).

The contents of this document represent the current policy of the department and reflect its current practices and experience.

Contact

The following people may be contacted in relation to the matters arising under the policy:

  • Chief Risk and Audit Officer, 8684 8280
  • Senior Manager, Fraud Prevention and Integrity, 8684 8142

 

 

Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander flags

The department acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the Traditional Custodians of the land and acknowledges and pays respect to their Elders, past and present.