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4: APS Values

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The APS Values provide the philosophical underpinning of the Australian Public Service (APS) and articulate its culture and operating ethos. They reflect public expectations of the relationship between public servants, and the Government, the Parliament and the Australian community.

The Values are set out in section 10(1) of the Public Service Act 1999 (PS Act).Agency heads must uphold and promote the APS Values (section 12 of the PS Act). Their leadership is important in articulating the role of the Values and how they complement the agency’s overall corporate vision and organisational goals. Agency heads must have systems in place to ensure that employees understand and apply the Values.

Chapter 2 of the Public Service Commissioner's Directions 1999 (the Commissioner’s Directions), issued as required under section 11 of the PS Act, provides directions for agency heads and APS employees on each of the Values. The Commissioner’s Directions aim to ensure that agency heads (and APS employees) understand their responsibilities in relation to the Values. They set out the minimum requirements that an agency head must meet in upholding and promoting the Values. These are usually in the form of measures that an agency head must put in place in the agency, but the Commissioner’s Directions also place more direct obligations on agency heads. For example, they require agency heads to, among other things, ‘at all times model and promote the highest standards of ethical behaviour’ (clause 2.5), take all reasonable steps to demonstrate accountability (clause 2.6), communicate the strategic vision of the agency to employees (clause 2.9) and promote an understanding among employees of the core public interest ethos of the APS (clause 2.15).

In addition, chapters 3 and 4 of the Commissioner’s Directions contain material about the Values relating to diversity and merit. Chapter 3, Diversity in Employment, makes additional arrangements (by placing requirements on agency heads) to provide for an APS that is free from discrimination and that recognises and utilises the diversity of the community it serves. Chapter 4, Merit in Employment, sets out the minimum requirements an agency head must meet in upholding and promoting the merit value.

For more information:

  • APS Values (Australian Public Service Commission website)
  • Ethics Advisory Service (Australian Public Service Commission website)
  • Employment framework
  • Public Service Act 1999(section 10(1))
  • Public Service Commissioner’s Directions 1999
  • Public Service Regulations 1999
  • Circular No. 2006/3: Amendment to the Public Service Regulations 1999
Last reviewed: 
8 June 2018