Policy Corporate Governance Staff Code of Conduct

Staff Code of Conduct

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The Code of Conduct, which forms part of the terms of employment for staff and in compliance with the Public Sector Ethics Act 1994 (Qld), establishes the University’s expectations with respect to staff professional conduct. Its purpose is to promote integrity through ethical decision-making and behaviour.


The Code of Conduct applies to all staff and affiliates of James Cook University where they are performing work, duties or functions for the University, as well as related activities such as work-related functions, travel, conferences and any circumstances where they are attending as a University staff member or affiliate.


Except as otherwise specified in this Policy, the meaning of terms used are as per the Policy Glossary.


Is a person (other than a Staff member or Student, including Higher Degree by Research Candidates) who is affiliated with JCU by letter of appointment or invitation to work, research or study at the University for a particular activity and typically for a prescribed timeframe and who is bound to comply with the University’s policies during that period (for example, visiting scholars and adjunct appointees).

Conflict of interest

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

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.


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.

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


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.


the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

General Expectations

1.  In our professional actions, and in dealing with other staff, affiliates, students and the community, we will be guided by the values and beliefs expressed in the University's Statement of Strategic Intent, the University Plan, the Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech Policy and other  policies and documents contained within the Policy Library, and the Public Sector Ethics Act 1994 (Qld) (the Act).

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

a)  integrity and impartiality,

b)  promoting the public good,

c)  commitment to the system of government, and

d)  accountability and transparency.

3. These ethical principles form the basis of the obligations outlined in this Code of Conduct (the Code) and are contextualised for JCU below.

Principle 1: Seek excellence as part of a learning community

4.  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;
  • behave with intellectual honesty;
  • encourage participation in professional external activities, appropriate to our roles and they provided they do not impinge upon our prescribed duties;
  • encourage collaboration across disciplinary and organisational boundaries; and
  • comply with the ethical standards and legal obligations of our professions.

Principle 2: Act with integrity

5.  In our conduct, we will:

  • behave honestly, impartially with integrity in a way that upholds the values of the University;
  • act with care, diligence, and in good faith;
  • use University property and money efficiently, carefully and honestly with due authorisation and without misappropriation (see the Fraud and Corruption Procedure)
  • 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;
  • disclose and manage any conflict of interest (actual, potential or perceived) in the course of employment in line with the Conflict of Interest Policy and Procedures;
  • only accept gifts and benefits where these are not identified to influence our decision-making in line with the Reportable Gifts and Benefits Procedure;
  • act within the limits of authority as specified in position descriptions, policies and schedules of delegations;
  • 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;
  • adhere to proper records management practices and procedures, so that records are complete, up-to-date and capable of providing organisational accountability;
  • maintain the confidentiality, privacy, integrity and security of University and personal information and ensure the proper use of information systems;
  • disclose wrongdoing and protect those who make a disclosure in accordance with the Public Interest Disclosure Procedure; and
  • not attend work or perform duties or functions if under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs or medication likely to cause danger to themselves or others or result in inappropriate conduct;
  • and declare any criminal or civil proceedings that may impact on the staff member or affiliate’s duties.

Principle 3: Behave with respect for others

6.  In our conduct, we will:

  • treat fellow staff members, affiliates, students and members of the public with respect and courtesy, and have regard for the rights and needs of others;
  • not engage in vilification, discrimination  bullying, harassment or sexual harassment;
  • act to ensure equity, fairness and natural justice is afforded to all;
  • seek to resolve disputes and complaints in a fair and timely manner and as per the relevant procedure;
  • strive to create an environment which provides a safe and healthy workplace for employees, students and members of the community;
  • be active bystanders to prevent and address behaviours which are unwelcome, discriminatory, or abusive;
  • 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 (see para below on public comment).

Principle 4: Embrace sustainability and social responsibility

7.  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;
  • promote socially-inclusive employment practices; and
  • treat animals with consideration and sensitivity.

Specific Expectations

8.  Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech  Academic Freedom and freedom of speech is an essential element to the conduct of teaching and research in the University. The rights of Staff, students, affiliates and visitors are prescribed in the Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech Policy.

9.  Research Integrity The University is committed to maintaining an environment that fosters responsible research and a research culture that demonstrates honesty and integrity, respect for human research participants, animals and the environment, good stewardship of public resources used to conduct research, and responsible communication of research result. The Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research applies to any person or organisation conducting research under the auspices of JCU.

10. Public comment
Staff and affiliates have a right to participate in public debates on any matter. In doing so, staff are expected to act in a private capacity without referring to their University affiliation except where the matter in question falls within their professional expertise at the University. Professional expertise does not confer protection from action for defamation. Staff should be particularly conscious of the reach and impact of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter and comply with the Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech Policy and the Social Media Policy. Public statements representing the official view of the University are authorised through the Head, Media and Communications.

11. Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Association As per the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld), every person has the right to hold an opinion without interference and has the right to freedom of expression which includes the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, and the right of peaceful assembly and to associate with others.

12. Quality assurance
Staff and affiliates will participate in periodic reviews to ensure the excellence of delivery of all teaching programs, research projects and administrative processes, and in any contract or agreement with partner organisations and suppliers.

13.Outside employment and external duties  When staff or affiliates participate in professional activities outside the scope of their normal duties and as approved under the Staff External Duties and Outside Employment Procedure, that they do not represent themselves as speaking or acting on behalf of the University.

Compliance with the Code of Conduct

14. The University will provide staff and affiliates with access to education and training in relation to the requirements of this 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.

15. Failure to comply with the Code may lead to disciplinary action, and in serious cases may lead to termination of employment. Where a breach of the Code also breaches the law, JCU may also report the criminal activity to the police.

Related policy instruments

Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech Policy

Bullying, Discrimination, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy

Child Safety Policy

Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research

Complaints about the Vice Chancellor Procedure

Compliance Policy

Conflict of Interest Policy

Enterprise Agreement

Fact Sheet Code of Conduct

Fact Sheet Conflict of Interest

Fraud and Corruption Procedure

Digital Technologies Acceptable Use Policy

Information Privacy Policy

JCU Delegations Policy

Public Interest Disclosure Procedure

Reportable Gifts and Benefits Procedure

Right to Information Policy

Social Media Policy

Work Health and Safety Policy

Other Policies in the Policy Library

Other related documents and legislation

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

Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld).

Public Sector Ethics Act 1994 (Qld)

Approval Details

Policy Domain Corporate Governance

Policy Custodian

Vice Chancellor

Approval Authority


Date for next Major Review


Revision History

Version no.

Approval date

Approved by

Implementation date


21-1 29/07/2021 Council 29/07/2021 Policy reviewed and amended to reduce duplication, address the disestablishment of the Explanatory Statement and the Statement on Integrity, implementation of various procedures, and adoption of  the Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech Policy. Chief of Staff
16-1 28/04/2016   28/04/2016 Policy 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.



Conduct, excellence, integrity, respect, sustainability, academic freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of association, public comment, quality assurance

Contact person

Chief of Staff