Policy Corporate Governance Code of Conduct – University Council

Code of Conduct – University Council

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The Code of Conduct establishes the University’s expectations with respect to Council and Committee Members’ professional conduct. Its purpose is to promote integrity through ethical decision-making and behaviour 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 of Conduct applies to all Members of Council and Council Committees 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 or a Committee.

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 or a Committee.

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.


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

Affiliate – 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).

Committee – means any University Council committee, sub-committee, working party, discussion group or board.

Conflict of interests – a conflict of interests involves a conflict between the public duty and personal, private or other interests of a public official, in which the public official has personal, private or other interests which could improperly influence the performance of their official duties and responsibilities. It arises when a Council or Committee member’s personal, private or other interests, or those of a person with whom they have a close personal relationship, conflict with their primary obligation to act in the interests of the University. A conflict of interests may be actual, perceived or potential. It can be pecuniary (involving financial gain or loss), or non-pecuniary (based on enmity or amity) and can arise from avoiding personal losses as well as gaining personal advantage, financial or otherwise, material or otherwise. Conflict of interests includes conflict of commitment.

Member – means:

  • a member of the University Council;
  • a member of a Committee, including a Council-appointed co-opted additional member; and
  • 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.

General Expectations

1.  In our roles as Members, and in dealing with other Members, 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 insofar as it applies to Members, and other policies and documents contained within the Policy Library, the James Cook University Act 1997 (Qld) 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:

  • integrity and impartiality,
  • promoting the public good,
  • commitment to the system of government, and
  • 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 roles and strive for continuous improvement;
  • actively engage in learning and in personal and professional development;
  • maintain high standards of performance;
  • behave with intellectual honesty;
  • encourage participation in professional external activities, provided that they are 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 roles.

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;
  • 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;
  • 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 acting in our roles in line with the Conflict of Interests Policy – University Council and its Committees and Procedure;
  • 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;
  • not attend meetings 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 Member’s duties.

Principle 3: Behave with respect for others

6.  In our conduct, we will:

  • treat fellow Members, affiliates, staff, 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;
  • 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;
  • and
  • 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.  Public comment

Members have a right to participate in public debates on any matter. In doing so, Members 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. Members 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.

9.  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.

10. Quality assurance

Members may participate in periodic reviews to ensure the excellence of governance processes, practices and procedures.

11. Outside employment and external duties  

When Members participate in professional activities outside the scope of their normal duties that they do not represent themselves as speaking or acting on behalf of the University.

Compliance with the Code of Conduct

12. The University will provide Members with access to education and training in relation to the requirements of this Code of Conduct.

13. Where uncertain about the Code’s application or interpretation, Members should consult with the Chancellor or the University Secretary.

14. 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). Where a breach of the Code also breaches the law, JCU may also report the criminal activity to the police.

Related documents and legislation

Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech Policy

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

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

Conflicts of Interests Policy – University Council and its Committees

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

Workplace Health and Safety Policy

Public Sector Ethics Act 1994 (Qld)

Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld)

James Cook University Act 1997 (Qld)


NOTE: Printed copies of this policy are uncontrolled, and currency can only be assured at the time of printing.

Approval Details

Policy DomainCorporate Governance
Policy Sub-domainCulture

Policy Custodian

Vice Chancellor

Approval Authority


Date for next Major Review


Revision History


Approval date

Approved byImplementation date

Description of changes


21-109/09/2021Council09/09/2021Policy reviewed and amended to reduce duplication with the Policy, address the disestablishment of the Explanatory Statement and the Statement on Integrity,  implementation of various procedures and establishment of the Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech Policy.University Secretary
4.01/07/2015  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

Contact person

University Secretary