Privacy and Transparency: Disclosing outcomes of misconduct complaints—a discussion paper

Last updated: 16 Sep 2014

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This paper seeks the views of the public, Australian Public Service (APS) agencies and employees about the extent to which information about the outcome of a misconduct complaint should be disclosed to the complainant and to others.

All APS agencies are encouraged to respond. In addition, the Australian Public Service Commission (the Commission) would like to hear from other interested stakeholders, including individuals who have reported suspected breaches of the APS Code of Conduct.

This paper has been developed in consultation with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC). Submissions will be shared with the OAIC and may be published on the Commission's website unless respondents request otherwise.

Terms of reference

Public confidence in public administration is crucial to the effective working of government, and often depends on the proper balance of competing interests. Public confidence in the APS relies on a transparent, accountable public service—but also on due regard being had to the privacy of individuals and to the effective management of the APS.

In this context, the Commission is reviewing Service-wide practice for disclosure of information about the outcome of misconduct complaints.

Providing information about the outcome of complaints of misconduct should help to give confidence to complainants, employees, and the public that suspected misconduct is taken seriously and addressed appropriately by agencies. At the same time, however, an employee whose conduct has been called into question has the right to privacy and to expect that their personal information will not be unreasonably disclosed, nor their reputation unjustifiably damaged.

The Commission is therefore considering the following questions:

  • What information should be provided to people, including members of the public, who allege breaches of the APS Code of Conduct about the outcome of their complaints?
  • Should information about proven misconduct be disclosed to people other than complainants, such as the wider agency workforce?
  • If information should be disclosed to people other than the complainant, under what circumstances?
  • What do agencies need to consider in making decisions about these matters?

How to provide comment

Questions about the consultation may be directed to the Ethics Advisory Service on (02) 6202 3737. Please send your comments by 7 October 2014 to the Ethics Advisory Service: ethics@apsc.gov.auor by post to:

Ms Karin Fisher
Australian Public Service Commission
16 Furzer Street
Phillip, ACT 2606