Code of Conduct

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The Code of Conduct establishes a standard by which we conduct ourselves towards others and perform our professional duties on behalf of the University.  Its aim is to help us to aspire to the highest standards of ethical conduct.  The Code must be read in conjunction with the Explanatory Statement for the Code of Conduct which provides further detail regarding the required standards of conduct.


The Code of Conduct applies to all staff of James Cook University while acting in their official capacity.


Personal information - information about an identified or identifiable individual that is not available in the public domain.

Records management - the control and management of records to meet business, legal and regulatory requirements and compliance with standards governing professional practice. It is a business imperative, a corporate responsibility and a critical function performed through the collective actions of individuals.

Record - recorded information in any form, including data in computer systems as well as emails, created or received by any staff member of the University in the course of his/her duties.

Conflicts of interest – occur where staff with a particular interest could be influenced, or might appear to be influenced, in the performance of their duties.

Public comment - includes public speaking engagements, comments on radio and television; and expressing views in letters to the newspapers or in books, journals or notices, or where it might be expected that the publication or circulation of the comment will spread to the community at large.

Staff – for the purposes of this Code, means ongoing, fixed-term and casual staff, including senior management, executive, academic, professional and technical, visiting and adjunct staff, volunteers and conjoint appointments.

Sustainability - the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.  (For definitions of environmental, social, cultural and economic sustainability, please refer to Principle 4 of the Explanatory Statement for the Code of Conduct.)


In our professional actions, and in dealing with other staff, students and the community, we will be guided by the University's Statement of Strategic Intent, the University Plan, the University's policies and other documents contained within the Policy Library, and the Public Sector Ethics Act 1994 (Qld) (hereafter referred to as the Act).

The Act outlines four fundamental ethical principles which are fundamental to good public administration:

  • integrity and impartiality,

  • promoting the public good,

  • commitment to the system of government, and

  • accountability and transparency.

These ethical principles form the basis of the obligations outlined in this Code of Conduct and the associated Explanatory Statement.

In giving expression to the Act, the University has developed the Code of Conduct around four principles which will act to guide the actions of staff.  These principles are outlined below.

Principle 1: Seek excellence as part of a learning community

This principle aligns with the first ethical principle of the Act – 'integrity and impartiality', and the second ethical principle of the Act – 'promoting the public good'.

In our conduct, we will:

  • endeavour to achieve excellence in the performance of our work and strive for continuous improvement;

  • seek discoveries that make a difference through research, reflection and innovation;

  • actively engage in learning and in personal and professional development;

  • value academic freedom, and enquire, examine, criticise and challenge in the collegial and academic spirit of the search for knowledge, understanding and truth;

  • behave with intellectual honesty;

  • undertake teaching and research in a responsible manner;

  • encourage participation in professional external activities, provided that they are appropriate to our roles and they do not impinge upon our prescribed duties;

  • have the right to make public comment in a professional, expert or individual capacity, provided that we do not represent our opinions as those of the University unless authorised to do so;

  • have the right to freedom of expression, provided that our speech is lawful and respects the rights of others;

  • encourage collaboration across boundaries;

  • comply with the ethical standards and legal obligations of our professions; and

  • seek through our work to create a brighter future for the tropics.

Principle 2: Act with integrity

This principle aligns with the first ethical principle of the Act – 'integrity and impartiality', with the third ethical principle - 'commitment to the system of government', and with the fourth ethical principle – 'accountability and transparency'.

In our conduct, we will:

  • behave honestly, impartially and with integrity;

  • act with care and diligence;

  • maintain appropriate confidentiality regarding University business;

  • act in good faith in all of our undertakings;

  • honour our promises, commitments and obligations to stakeholders;

  • act with authenticity, sincerity and truthfulness;

  • engage in genuine dialogue with other staff, students and stakeholders through transparent, open and honest communication and consultation;

  • ensure that ethical governance structures and systems are established and maintained;

  • behave in a way that upholds the integrity and good reputation of the University;

  • protect University resources, and take all possible care to use them in a proper manner;

  • take responsibility for our mistakes, work to rectify problems as soon as possible, and ensure that those who have admitted mistakes are treated with fairness and dignity;

  • not make improper use of our position, status, power or authority to gain, or seek to gain,  a benefit or advantage for ourselves or any other person;

  • only accept gifts and benefits where these are not identified to influence our decision-making;

  • take reasonable steps to avoid, or disclose and manage, any conflict of interest (actual, potential or perceived) in the course of employment;

  • avoid placing ourselves in direct positions of responsibility relating to the employment or studies of a person, where we have, or have had, a close personal relationship with that person;

  • comply with any lawful and reasonable direction given by someone who has authority to give that direction;

  • make well-considered decisions, and provide reasons for these decisions where required, especially where they may have an adverse effect on people;

  • act within the limits of our authority;

  • adhere to proper records management practices and procedures, so that records are complete, up-to-date and capable of providing organisational accountability;

  • maintain the privacy, integrity and security of official and personal information and ensure the proper use of information systems;

  • respond in good faith to those who seek access to non-personal information, provided this is not contrary to the public interest and does not betray commercial-in-confidence principles;

  • disclose wrongdoing and protect those who make a disclosure;

  • avoid any conduct, including alcohol or substance abuse or misuse, which would adversely affect our work performance; and

  • comply with all relevant legislative and statutory requirements.

Principle 3: Behave with respect for others

This principle aligns with the first ethical principle of the Act – 'integrity and impartiality'.

In our conduct, we will:

  • treat fellow staff members, students and members of the public with honesty, respect and courtesy, and have regard for the dignity and needs of others;

  • respect and celebrate diversity;

  • act to ensure equity, fairness and natural justice is afforded to all;

  • seek to resolve disputes in a fair and timely manner;

  • strive to create an environment which provides a safe and healthy workplace for employees, students and members of the community;

  • investigate any complaints that have been lodged against staff or students in a consistent, prompt, fair and timely manner;

  • avoid and not accept behaviours which are unwelcome, discriminatory, intimidatory or abusive;

  • refrain from, and not accept vilification, bullying, harassment or sexual harassment;

  • stand up for the rights of others;

  • use all forms of JCU social media platforms belonging to or connected with the University, for example Facebook pages or Twitter, in a responsible and appropriate manner.

Principle 4: Embrace sustainability and social responsibility

This principle aligns with the second ethical principle of the Act – 'promoting the public good' and the fourth ethical principle – 'accountability and transparency'.

In our conduct, we will:

Compliance with the Code of Conduct and associated Explanatory Statement

  • The University is committed to providing staff with access to education and training in relation to the requirements of this Code and the associated Explanatory Statement for the Code of Conduct.

  • Where uncertain about the Code’s application or interpretation, staff should consult with their Director/College Dean or higher authority if appropriate.

  • Failure to comply with the Code may lead to disciplinary action, and in serious cases may lead to termination of employment and/or criminal prosecution.

Related documents and legislation

Explanatory Statement for the Code of Conduct

Bullying, Discrimination, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy

Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research

Code of Conduct - University Council

Complaints about the Vice Chancellor Procedure

Delegations Registers for Human Resources, Financial Management, Academic and Student

Enterprise Agreement

Fact Sheet Code of Conduct

Fact Sheet Conflict of Interest

Information Communication Technology Acceptable Use Policy

Library Use Policy

Public Interest Disclosure Procedure

Other Policies in the Policy Library

Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes

Public Sector Ethics Act 1994 (Qld)

Acknowledgement:  JCU has drawn to some extent on the Codes of Conduct of Central Queensland University, Edith Cowan University and Newcastle University in preparing this document.

Approval Details

Policy sponsor:

Vice Chancellor

Approval authority:


Date for next major review

(in accordance with the Policy Handbook):


Modification History

[Approval date - the date the approval authority approved the establishment, minor or major amendment or disestablishment]

[Implementation Date - the date the policy was published in the Policy Library and is the date the policy takes effect]

Version no.

Approval date

Implementation date


16-128/04/201628/04/2016Policy Sponsor amended from University Secretary to Vice Chancellor; Head of School in Principle 4 amended to College Dean.Quality, Standards and Policy Officer




Amendments approved by Vice Chancellor 19/12/2012 and by the Executive Committee of Council 20/12/2012





Approved by Council





Note – minor consequential amendments made following approval of Statement on Integrity by Council on 25/02/2010.