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Code of Conduct – University Council
The Code of Conduct establishes a standard by which we conduct ourselves towards others and perform our roles as Members. Its aim is to help us to aspire to the highest standards of ethical conduct as University staff, students and stakeholders and the wider community expect us to be above reproach and to adhere to high standards of conduct in performing our roles as Members and in our private capacities in so far as they reflect upon our roles as members of the University community The Code must be read in conjunction with the Explanatory Statement for the Code of Conduct – University Council which provides further detail regarding the required standards of conduct.
The Code of Conduct applies to all Members and directly covers Members’ conduct at all times whilst acting in their official capacity when representing the University, or attending University events. It also covers any conduct (for example, disgraceful or improper conduct) in their private capacity which:
(a) ought to be perceived as undermining public confidence in the good name or integrity of the University; and
(b) is an impediment to Members’ ability to undertake their role as a Member of Council
For the avoidance of doubt, this Code of Conduct does not apply to conduct that would ordinarily be considered to be of a purely private nature, or which does not constitute an impediment to Members’ ability to undertake their role as a Member of Council.
If Members are acting in their role as a director of a company or entity which is under University control and there is an inconsistency between this Code of Conduct and a duty of the Member as a director under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth), the duty under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) will take precedence.
Committee – means any University Council committee, sub-committee, working party, discussion group or board.
Conflicts of interest – occur where Members with a particular interest could be influenced, or might appear to be influenced, in the performance of their duties.
Member – means:
a member of the University Council;
a member of a Committee, including a Council appointed external member;
a member of the University Council or a Committee who is a director of a company or entity which is under University control.
Personal information - information about an identified or identifiable individual that is not available in the public domain.
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.
Record - recorded information in any form, including data in computer systems as well as emails, created or received by any Member in the course of his/her duties. 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.
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 – University Council.)
In our roles as Members, and in dealing with other Members, University staff, University 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, the James Cook University Act 1997 (Qld) 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 Members. 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 roles and strive for continuous improvement;
actively engage in learning and in personal and professional development;
maintain high standards of performance;
value academic freedom;
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 or the University Council unless authorised to do so;
value the right to freedom of expression, provided that the speech is lawful and respects the rights of others;
encourage collaboration across boundaries;
comply with the ethical standards and legal obligations of our roles; and
seek through the performance of our roles to create a brighter future for the tropics worldwide.
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 Members and with University staff, students and stakeholders through transparent, open and honest communication and consultation;
observe and respect the system of University governance and 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 acting in our roles;
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;
disclose wrongdoing and protect those who make a disclosure and raise concerns appropriately;
avoid any conduct, including alcohol or substance abuse or misuse, which would adversely affect the performance of our roles; 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 Members, University staff and 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;
strive to create an environment which provides a safe and healthy workplace for University staff and students and members of the community;
avoid and not accept behaviours which are unwelcome, discriminatory, intimidatory or abusive;
stand up for the rights of others; and
use all forms of University 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:
strive to minimise the University’s environmental impact and to protect the natural environment;
act to ensure the efficient, effective and sustainable use of resources;
strive to embed environmental, social, economic and cultural sustainability in all our activities;
strive to contribute to the cultural and social well-being of our communities.
Compliance with the Code of Conduct and associated Explanatory Statement
The University is committed to providing Members 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, Members should consult with the Chancellor or the University Secretary.
Failure to comply with an obligation under this Code may lead to action by the Council to remove the Member pursuant to the James Cook University Act 1997 (Qld), and in serious cases may lead to criminal prosecution.
Related policy instruments
Public Sector Ethics Act 1994 (Qld)
James Cook University Act 1997 (Qld)
Date for next review:
Description of changes
|4.0||1/07/2015||Minor amendment approved by Council 23/10/2015. Refer to (7/15) Council minutes for details.||University Secretariat|
Policy sponsor and approval authority amended to reflect approved policy framework. Published 25/06/2015
Quality, Standards and Policy
Updated, re-named and aligned with the staff Code of Conduct. Refer to Council Minutes 3/14 dated 10 April 2014 for further details.
Contact Policy Officer – Governance and Corporate Services
Amendments approved by Vice Chancellor 19/12/2012 and by the Executive Committee of Council 20/12/2012
Previously referred to as version 12-2
Amendments approved by Council
Previously referred to as version 12-1
Policy established (previously referred to as version 99-1)
Note – minor consequential amendments made following approval of Statement on Integrity by Council on 25/02/2010.
conduct, Council, governance, ethics, accountability
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