At the heart of the APS is the pursuit of high standards of professionalism – both in what we do, and how we do it. It is the foundation of trust on which public service effectiveness is built.
The Integrity of APS employees and agencies is central to building a high-performing and trusted public service. Integrity in the APS is the pursuit of high standards of professionalism—both in what we do, and in how we do it.
To practise integrity well, knowing the ‘rules’ is necessary but not sufficient—we also need to know how to interpret and apply them successfully in a range of situations. Integrity is a core consideration of our individual conduct and guides how we think and undertake our work as an organisation.
APS Craft: Integrity – Jaala Hinchcliffe
I'm so excited that in the APS Academy, we're looking at integrity as being central to the craft.
What is integrity?
Integrity relates to our own actions, but also relates to what we see around us and knowing what to do when we see things around us, where we think that perhaps people are acting without integrity and/or without accountability and knowing what do you do in that situation?
What’s your advice on how to act with integrity?
My advice to people would always be, if you see a problem or you make an error, the first thing that you should do is let somebody know and let it be fixed because that's how you display integrity.
Why is it important for the APS to act with integrity?
When people see the public service acting with integrity, that increases the view of trust.
Why is it important to continuously practice integrity?
As we develop in our careers, we will come into more and more situations where the decision making is really difficult and it's much more grey than just the black and white of applying rules. And we need to prepare people to be able to be in those situations and to be able to make decisions with integrity. And that takes the provision, not just of understanding the rules, but of being able to practice making decisions with integrity in hard situations.
How will the Academy help develop integrity in the APS?
The APS Academy will provide a space to be able to both understand the rules for more junior employees. And to then for more senior employees be able to operate in that practice situation of applying integrity in grey situations.
We can strengthen our integrity culture by:
- Building APS employees’ awareness, across all levels, of their obligations for working professionally
- Enhancing the capability of APS employees to identify and work through ethical challenges, ensuring we have or can develop the skills, knowledge and abilities to address integrity concerns and make sound decisions
- Assuring accountability for decisions and actions at every level, and systems for addressing concerns about employees’ integrity or conduct appropriately and consistently.
Frameworks & Methodologies
Legislation, including the Public Service Act 1999, Public Service Regulations 1999 and Australian Public Service Commissioner’s Directions 2016, provides a framework for acting with integrity as an APS employee.
The Australian Public Service Commissioner’s Directions 2016 support APS Agencies to incorporate and uphold the APS Values, conduct, recruitment activities and performance management. They were last amended in July 2019.
The code sets out a clear set of rules relating to the professional conduct of all APS employees. The Code is outlined in s13 of the Public Service Act 1999.
The APS Values articulate the Parliament’s expectations of public servants with regard to performance and standards of behaviour. The principles of good public administration are embodied in the APS Values. The APS Values are outlined in s10 of the Public Service Act 1999 with further information on their application in s11 of the Australian Public Service Commissioner’s Directions 2016.
Tools and templates
This guidance sets out the threshold of gifts and benefits which agency heads must declare publically and sets out best practice on how this information should be published.
APS employees have a right to personal and political expression on social media. This right must be balanced with the obligations of APS employment, and the need to be seen as trusted and impartial public servants. The social media guidance provides a practical framework to help employees and agencies strike that balance in a reasonable and proportionate way.
The Australian Public Service Commission has provided two templates that agencies may wish to adapt for the purpose of meeting their declaration of interest requirements in accordance with section 13(7) of the Code of Conduct contained in the Public Service Act 1999.
The Ethics Advisory Services is available to all Australian Public Service employees, including agency heads and SES staff, who wish to discuss and seek advice on ethical issues that occur in the workplace.
The Review of Actions scheme is set out in legislation and supports the APS and Parliamentary Service Employment Principles, which amongst other Principles, provide that the APS and the Parliamentary Service are a career based public service that makes fair employment decisions with a fair system of review.
This ANZSOG research paper, which was prepared for the Australian Public Service Review Panel reviews the APS integrity framework and trust in the APS.
The OECD Recommendation on Public Integrity provides policy makers with a blueprint for enhancing the integrity of government, civil services and society.
APS Academy Courses
APS Induction - Integrity and Values - eLearning
Ethics give entities, their leaders and employees a moral compass. They ensure that the most important policies and decisions are fair, unbiased, and honest. The aim of this course is to ensure you understand the importance of behaving ethically and with integrity in your new role in the APS.
Integrity in the APS - eLearning
This eLearning module is designed to strengthen your understanding of the importance of acting with integrity as you undertake your duties as an APS employee. The module contains information and activities that provide a foundation for navigating integrity issues for new APS employees as they commence their public service career.