What is 'integrity'?
In the Australian Public Service, integrity means doing the right thing – both in what we do and in how we do it.
By the APSC
We have all heard the word ‘integrity’ – it is central to most corporate plans, strategic priorities statements and even job advertisements. But what does it actually mean? In the Australian Public Service (APS), integrity means doing the right thing – both in ‘what’ we do and in ‘how’ we do it. Integrity is about demonstrating sound ethics and values through our work and our behaviour, and earning trust in our ability to act in the best interest of the Australian community (see Fact sheet: Defining Integrity).
How it works
APS frameworks and policies set the standards and obligations for conduct, performance and behaviour of APS employees, agencies and the APS as a whole. This includes the APS Values, Code of Conduct and Employment Principles, which support us to identify and manage risks, make ethical decisions, and act consistently in the public interest.
A number of assurance and governance mechanisms are in place to ensure that integrity standards are being met.
- Agency reporting (e.g. Annual Report, internal and external audits, State of the Service report)
- Code of Conduct
- Anti-corruption and anti-fraud measures
- Investigations and enforcement
- Parliamentary oversight.
It is important to remember that upholding and championing integrity in the APS is not only achieved at the organisational level. Responsibility lies with all APS employees and should be embedded as part of our culture (see Fact sheet: Upholding integrity).
A pro-integrity culture is an environment in which integrity is entrenched as a core consideration of all we do, as individuals and as an organisation. A culture of integrity is driven by a genuine commitment, at every level, to upholding and championing integrity (see Fact sheet: Pro-integrity culture).
What you can do
Together, we can all contribute to a pro-integrity culture by building on the following:
Awareness of your obligations for working professionally and the role and responsibilities of your agency to support you.
- Become familiar and act in accordance with the APS Values, Code of Conduct and Employment Principles, supported by Commission guidance (see APS Values and Code of Conduct in Practice).
- Know your agency’s policies, including conflict of interest and social media policies.
- Understand your performance obligations, including expected behaviours.
Capability to identify and work through ethical challenges, ensuring you have the skills to effectively address integrity concerns. There are resources to support you to build integrity capability, including:
- Integrity in the APS, an eLearning module for new APS employees, containing information and activities that provide a foundation for navigating integrity issues.
- The Commission’s website where a suite of resources have been developed to inform individual conduct and to guide how we undertake our work with integrity.
- The Integrity in the APS Podcast, a four-part series produced by the Commission and the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) ACT. The series explores integrity in the APS from four very different, yet interwoven perspectives.
Accountability for decisions and actions at every level, and systems for addressing concerns about integrity or conduct appropriately and consistently.
- When in doubt, discuss. If you don’t know what is expected of you, if you’re not sure how processes and systems apply in a particular situation, if something doesn’t feel right talk about it with your manager, HR, or the Commission’s Ethics Advisory Service.
Have the conversation!
All employees, at all levels, should be supported to engage in integrity conversations. Regular conversations about integrity are vital to shaping actions, practices and cultures that sustain a professional, ethical and trusted APS. They create an environment where all employees feel safe and supported to raise integrity concerns, which increases the likelihood of preventing misconduct and quickly resolving problems.
For more information on how and when to have integrity conversations, see the Commission’s Guide to Integrity Conversations.