Code of Conduct – University Council Explanatory Statement

Policy Corporate Governance Code of Conduct – University Council Explanatory Statement

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Intent

This Explanatory Statement provides some background, explanation and context for the principles and responsibilities specified in the Code of Conduct – University Council.

Scope

The Code of Conduct – University Council applies to:

  • each member of the University Council;

  • each member of a Committee, including a Council appointed external member;

  • each member of the University Council or a Committee who is a director of a company or entity which is under University control.

Terms used in this Explanatory Statement which are defined in the Code of Conduct – University Council have the same meaning.

Principle 1: Seek excellence as part of a learning community

High standards of performance

Members, whether in the role of Council member or director of a company or entity under University control owe duties to the University or the company and a duty to take reasonable care in the performance of their role.

Members should:

  • for elected Members of the University Council, declare immediately upon ceasing to be a member of their constituency or otherwise ceasing to meet the eligibility requirement for election to the University Council;

  • submit an apology if attendance is not possible;

  • obtain a leave of absence if the absence will extend for more than two consecutive meetings;

  • be familiar with the contents of key University or company documents provided to them;

  • prepare for meetings and seminars/retreats by reading and considering all approved meeting papers which are either circulated with the agenda or separately distributed or tabled;

  • participate actively and work co-operatively with fellow members and stakeholders to achieve agreed goals; and

  • participate in discussions of and deliberations upon matters before Council, Committees or a company so as to ensure that decisions are made on the basis of a full recitation of Members’ views on such matters.

Right to make public comment

The Chancellor is the official spokesperson for the University Council.

As members of the community, Members will, from time to time, contribute to public debate on political and social issues.  However, where individuals express opinions that are not made in their capacity as Members, they must not identify themselves in association with the University, the Council or the entity controlled by the University unless authorised to do so.

Members commenting publicly in a professional or expert capacity may identify themselves using their association with the University if authorised to do so, but must not represent their opinions as those of the University, the Council or the entity controlled by the University. The University expects that Members will maintain professional standards when they associate themselves with its name in public statements and/or forums.

When making public comment which is considered to be outside a Member’s official duty as a Member, the use of University information and/or resources, including the University name and logo, requires the approval of the Chancellor or an authorised officer.

Freedom of expression

All Members have the right to freedom of expression.   However, this comes with a responsibility to respect the rights and reputations of others.  Academic or constructive criticism is encouraged, but Members must not engage in hate speech as this conflicts directly with the universal value of respect for individuals.

Compliance with ethical standards of roles

Many Members are members of professional bodies which prescribe standards of ethical behaviour.  Occasionally a Member's obligations under the Code of Conduct – University Council may come into conflict with those under their professional code.  The University accepts that a Member must comply with their professional obligations except where there is an over-riding duty of care to the University, in which case the University's obligations prevail.

All Members are expected to strive to keep up to date with changes in the professional, legal and ethical standards relevant to their areas of expertise.

Principle 2: Act with integrity

Behave honestly, impartially and with integrity

Members must act truthfully, ethically and without bias.

Acting with care and diligence

Members are expected to carry out their roles in a professional, responsible and conscientious manner, and to be accountable for their official conduct and decisions.  Members must be aware of the performance standards and obligations expected of them in their roles.  Members must be assisted to maintain their professional skills and keep up-to-date the knowledge associated with their role.

Acting in good faith

Members are expected to act with fairness, decency and good intention at all times.

Act with authenticity, sincerity and truthfulness

Acting with authenticity requires that Members act truthfully at all times and represent themselves honestly.  Transactions and activities must be recorded in a fair and accurate manner.

Transparency, openness and honest communication

Members must maintain transparency in their actions.

All decisions affecting the policy, practice and welfare of a public body or public officers must be transparent.  Decisions and processes should be documented.  Documentation protects all parties involved in a decision, both collectively and individually.

Members must:

  • ensure that minutes of all official meetings are prepared and retained by the secretary; and

  • ensure adequate procedures are observed for documenting all decisions, events and transactions.

Observe and respect the system of University governance

Once elected or appointed to Council or a Committee, a Member must act in the interests of the University and recognise the role of Council as the prime instrument of University governance.

To ensure the effective discharge of this responsibility, Council has established a corporate governance structure which incorporates committees, sub-committees and other delegations to officers.

Members of Council or a Committee are required to adhere to the principles of good governance; and meet their commitments as Members.  Accordingly, Members should:

  • take advantage of the opportunities provided for induction;

  • develop and maintain a clear understanding of the role and purpose of the Council within the context of the changing nature of the University activities;

  • commit to the Mission and Vision statements of the University as adopted from time to time by the Council;

  • develop an understanding of the political and social environment in which the University and its Council operates;

  • stay informed about all relevant activities affecting the Council; and

  • develop and maintain a clear understanding of the role of any Committee on which they serve.

Maintaining the University's public reputation

Members must seek to maintain and enhance public confidence in the integrity of the University as a body receiving public funding, and our actions should not adversely affect the good standing of the University.

Use of University resources

Resources are to be used for officially approved purposes.  However, limited personal use of some resources may be allowed, providing Members employ discretion and respect in using those resources, and providing that such use does not divert them from their work.  The use of phone, internet and email resources must be undertaken in a responsible, safe and productive manner, in line with University policy and procedures and ensuring that University infrastructure is protected.  Personal use must be infrequent and brief.  Resources must not be used for personal gain.

When managing finances on the University's behalf, Members must be mindful that the University is publicly funded, and that all categories of funds are subject to rules for their proper use.

Accountability and taking responsibility for mistakes

Members are accountable for satisfying themselves that the University or its controlled entities have appropriate structures, policies and processes in place for the effective management of their activities, such that statutory and legal requirements are met and that there is a likelihood of efficient, effective and defensible outcomes.

Members must ensure that they are properly informed, satisfy themselves that the University or its controlled entities are complying with statutory and legal requirements, analyse financial statements and management reports with due care, seek explanations where necessary and satisfy themselves on audit reports.

Members of the University Council may be held accountable for perceived or actual mismanagement in a range of ways.  For example:

  • University Council would be accountable for any decision it made which was contrary to the law or clearly negligent;

  • University Council could be held accountable if it chose to make decisions which it has no authority to make, particularly if it could be shown that such decisions were taken with the intent of causing harm;

  • University Council could be held accountable for mismanagement where this could be shown to be the outcome of failure to ensure the existence of adequate procedures or policies within the University (including, for example, workplace accidents); or

  • University Council could be held accountable for financial mismanagement where this could be shown to be the outcome of negligence in monitoring financial reports and compliance with audit requirements.

Gifts and benefits

As a general rule, a Member must not accept a gift or benefit if it could be viewed as intended or likely to cause that person to:

  • make a decision which favours the donor;

  • perform their role in a particular way, which the person would not normally do, or

  • deviate from the proper or usual course of duty.

Members must not, in their capacity as Members:

  • seek or accept in connection with their roles any fee, favour, reward, gratuity or remuneration of any kind;

  • use their public position for personal profit, gain or advantage; or

  • accept a gift if it could be seen by the public, knowing the full facts, as intended or likely to cause a Member to act in a particular way or deviate from public duty.

Members are referred to the Reportable Gifts Register.

Conflicts of interest

Members are expected to avoid, or disclose and manage, situations where a conflict (or reasonable perception thereof) may occur between their private interests and those of the University (or those of their role as a member of the University community).  Any conflicts that do occur must be resolved to ensure that the best interests of the University are served.

Conflicts of interest may include: conflict arising due to personal relationships; financial relationships (including receipt of gifts); outside work (paid or voluntary); use of confidential information obtained in the course of University duties or as a member of the University; or external activities and public comment.

Members of University Council or Committees are referred to the policy Conflict of Interests – University Council to resolve conflict of interest issues which may arise.

Limits of authority

Members must act within the limits of their authority as specified in the James Cook University Act 1997 (Qld), Statutes and the University's policies.

Records management

Members are reminded that, under the Public Records Act 2002 (Qld) the University has a legal requirement to adhere to proper records management practices and procedures.

Documents which form part of the University's public record must not be placed in unofficial or private filing systems. All such documents are to be placed on official files.

Official documents must not be damaged or removed from official files.  They are controlled records, and must be complete, up-to-date and capable of providing organisational accountability when officially scrutinised.

The destruction of records may only take place in accordance with a disposal and retention schedule which has been approved by the Queensland State Archives.

Management of information and information systems

Members must use the University's information systems only for the purpose for which the authorisation was given.  They must not access information where this is not authorised, and must not allow any unauthorised person such access.

Members must take all reasonable precautions, including password maintenance and file protection measures, to prevent unauthorised access.

In relation to personal, confidential or restricted information, Members are reminded that they must disclose this information only when required to do so by law, when called to give evidence in court, or when proper authority has been given.

Raise concerns appropriately

Unless there are strong and valid reasons to the contrary, members of University Council or Committees should:

  • express concerns to the Chancellor about decisions or actions which appear contrary to the Council's public duty, and do so as soon as those concerns arise;

  • as required, report to the Crime and Misconduct Commission, through the Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor as Chief Executive Officer, any information about actual or potentially corrupt or illegal activities;

  • draw other relevant matters to the attention of the Chancellor for possible consideration, information or action by Council or a University Officer;

  • approach the Chancellor if at any time they believe that the information provided to Council is insufficient to enable it to fulfil its responsibilities effectively;

  • action a matter deemed to be of public importance in accordance with the relevant legislation.

Alcohol and substance abuse

Members are expected to perform their roles unaffected by alcohol and other drugs as this could affect the safety of others or detrimentally affect the discharge of their duties.

Compliance with legislative and statutory requirements

Members must uphold the local, State and Commonwealth laws, including the James Cook University Act 1997 and Statutes.   Members must also observe applicable policies, rules, codes, statements and guidelines contained within the Policy Library.

Principle 3: Behave with respect for others

Honesty

Honesty encompasses clarity and transparency in rules, policies, procedures and guidelines and truthfulness in the dealings with each other, members of the University community and the community at large.

Respect and courtesy

Every individual has the right to be treated in a respectful and polite manner.  Members must have regard for the dignity and needs of the people with whom they interact.

Fairness and natural justice

Members must make decisions following the principles of natural justice, which is also known as procedural fairness.  Investigative and decision-making processes must be fair and transparent, and:

  • give an affected individual the opportunity to understand the “case to be met” if a decision may be made which will affect their interests, to view relevant material which has led to a decision regarding their conduct, and to respond to such material before a decision is made;

  • be free of bias and/or the influence of patronage, favouritism or prejudice;

  • take only relevant considerations into account; and

  • be made in good faith in a prompt and timely manner.

Privacy

Members have a duty to maintain the privacy, integrity and security of official information for which they are responsible or to which they are privy.  In particular, personal information is to be accessed only for purposes related to Members’ roles, and Members must not access records or disclose information without a reasonable operational requirement.  University information must not be used for personal gain and provisions of privacy and commercial-in-confidence must be observed in the use of information about the University, its staff and students or business practices.

Health and safety

Each Member of University Council must discharge their responsibilities under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld).

In particular, each Member of University Council must exercise due diligence to ensure that the University complies with its duties or obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld).

Due diligence includes taking reasonable steps to:

  • acquire and keep up-to-date knowledge of health and safety matters; and

  • gain an understanding of the nature of the operations of the business or undertaking of the University and generally of the hazards and risks associated with those operations; and

  • ensure the University has available for use, and uses, appropriate resources and processes to eliminate or minimise risks to health and safety in the course of work, study or research as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking; and

  • ensure the University has appropriate processes for receiving and considering information regarding incidents, hazards and risks and responding in a timely way to that information; and

  • ensure the University has, and implements, processes for complying with any duty or obligation of the University under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld), including:

  • reporting notifiable incidents;

  • consulting with individuals, including students;

  • ensuring compliance with notices issued under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld);

  • ensuring the provision of training and instruction to individuals, including students, about health and safety;

  • ensuring that health and safety representatives receive appropriate training; and

  • verifying the provision and use of the resources and processes mentioned above.

Diversity, discrimination and harassment

Diversity is valued and celebrated.  The University will not tolerate acts of harassment or discrimination (other than positive discrimination).  Members must not harass or discriminate against others on the following grounds: sex/gender, relationship status, pregnancy, parental status, breast-feeding, age, race (including colour, descent or national identity), impairment, religious belief or religious activity, political belief or activity, trade union activity, lawful sexual activity, gender identity, sexuality, family responsibilities or irrelevant criminal record.  Neither must they discriminate against others because of their association with, or relation to, a person identified on the basis of any of the above attributes.  Further information may be found in the Anti-Discrimination Act (Qld).

Sexual harassment

Members must not engage in behaviours which may amount to unwanted or uninvited acts or conduct of a sexual nature which embarrasses, intimidates, humiliates or offends the other person; or, which a reasonable person would anticipate in the circumstances could embarrass, offend or humiliate another. Behaviours which are consensual, welcome and based on mutual attraction, friendship and respect, are not sexual harassment.

Bullying

Members must not engage in behaviours which may amount to workplace bullying, which involves the repeated less favourable treatment of a person by another, or others, which may be seen as unreasonable and inappropriate - it is behaviour that intimidates, offends, degrades or humiliates another person.

Respectful and appropriate use of social media

Members must 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.

Examples of inappropriate use of a JCU social media platform include the posting on-line (in the “public domain”) of any text, images, recordings or other material that is considered:

  • a profanity

  • discriminatory, harassment, bullying or offensive to a culture or another person

  • copyright material which has been reproduced without appropriate approval or without adherence to the Copyright Policy

  • defamatory

  • an advertisement of a personal or private nature without appropriate approval

  • a breach of privacy including personal information about others without appropriate approval or without adherence to the Information Privacy Policy

  • a breach of confidentiality

  • potentially damaging to the University’s reputation or capable of bringing it into disrepute

Strive to create an environment which provides a safe and healthy workplace

Each Member of University Council must discharge their responsibilities under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld).

In particular, each Member of University Council must exercise due diligence to ensure that the University complies with its duty or obligation Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld).

Due diligence includes taking reasonable steps to:

  • acquire and keep up-to-date knowledge of health and safety matters; and

  • gain an understanding of the nature of the operations of the business or undertaking of the University and generally of the hazards and risks associated with those operations; and

  • ensure the University has available for use, and uses, appropriate resources and processes to eliminate or minimise risks to health and safety in the course of work, study or research as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking; and

  • ensure the University has appropriate processes for receiving and considering information regarding incidents, hazards and risks and responding in a timely way to that information; and

  • ensure the University has, and implements, processes for complying with any duty or obligation of the University under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld), including:

  • reporting notifiable incidents;

  • consulting with individuals, including students;

  • ensuring compliance with notices issued under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld);

  • ensuring the provision of training and instruction to individuals, including students, about health and safety;

  • ensuring that health and safety representatives receive appropriate training; and

  • verifying the provision and use of the resources and processes mentioned above.

Principle 4: Embrace sustainability and social responsibility

Understanding sustainability

For the purposes of the Code, the terms environmental, social, cultural and economic sustainability have the following meanings:

Environmental sustainability - occurs when the formal and informal processes, systems, structures, and relationships actively support the capacity of current and future generations to maintain the quality and integrity of the environment on a long term basis.  In the University context, this involves a focus on recycling, waste, pollution, carbon emissions, biodiversity, transport, building design, purchasing decisions and minimising our use of resources, such as energy, water and paper.

Social sustainability - occurs when the formal and informal processes, systems, structures, and relationships actively support the capacity of current and future generations to create healthy and liveable communities.  In the University context, this involves a focus on community, diversity, employee relations, socially-inclusive employment practices, human rights, health and safety, purchasing decisions, transparent reporting and ethical governance structures.

Cultural sustainability - occurs when the formal and informal processes, systems, structures, and relationships actively support the capacity of current and future generations to maintain the heritage and cultural practices of Indigenous and ethnic groups.  In the University context, this involves a focus on cultural diversity, respect for cultural heritage and the development of culturally inclusive practices.

Economic sustainability - occurs when the formal and informal processes, systems, structures, and relationships actively support the capacity of current and future generations to ensure that an entity or community remains viable indefinitely.  In the University context, this involves a focus on efficient and responsible resource use, ethical governance structures, financial performance, responsible management of tangible and intangible assets, the University's influence on the wider economy, society and environment and the prudent management of risks and opportunities.

Embracing sustainability

Members must seek to embed the principles of sustainability in all of their activities, including management of University operations and in the planning, development and management of campus facilities.

Members must consider and take responsibility for the environmental, social and cultural consequences of their decision-making, in order to reduce the University's or a controlled entity’s impact on the environment and to make a positive contribution to our community.

Consideration of sustainability issues must therefore be incorporated into governance, management and operational decision-making, including strategic planning, building and development plans, purchasing decisions, employment practices and community relations.  When arranging travel on behalf of the University or entities under University control, or organising events, Members must consider the environmental impact of their decisions, and consider using video-conferencing (or other appropriate technology) instead of flying, make effective use of scheduling to minimise the number of flights taken, and where travelling by car, arrange to car-pool where possible.

Efficiency and economy

Members must use resources with care and economy in order to obtain value for public money spent and to reduce waste. Members must also aim to reduce reliance on non-renewable resources, to re-use resources where possible (eg by recycling furniture through the Estate Office's Second Life Program) and otherwise to use recycled and recyclable materials where possible. It is essential that Members act consciously to minimise energy and water use (eg by keeping external doors and windows closed and turning off lights and computers when not in use), and to minimise the waste sent to landfill by recycling waste products where possible (eg paper, cardboard, batteries, metal) through the University's recycling program.

Socially-inclusive employment practices

The University is an equal opportunity employer. Members must be mindful, when recruiting new staff, that the University supports and promotes the employment of people from a wide variety of backgrounds, including Indigenous and disabled people, and those from diverse ethnic, cultural and social backgrounds.

Related policy instruments

Conflict of Interests – University Council

Schedules of Delegations for Human Resources, Financial Management, Academic and Enrolments

Related documents and legislation

Public Sector Ethics Act 1994 (Qld)

James Cook University Act 1997 (Qld)

Administration

Approval Details

Policy Sponsor:

Director, Governance Services & University Secretary

Approval Authority:

Council

Approval date:

10/04/2014

Version no:

V2.0

Date for next review:

10/04/2017

Revision History

Version

Revision date

Description of changes

Author

2.0

10/04/2014

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

1.2

19/12/2012

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

 

1.1

12/04/2012

Amendments approved by Council

Previously referred to as version 12-1

 

1.0

02/12/1999

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.

 

Keywords:

conduct, Council, governance, ethics, accountability