Employees of the Australian Public Service (APS) occupy a position of trust. They are entrusted by the Government and the community to undertake important work on their behalf. With this trust comes a high level of responsibility which should be matched by the highest standards of ethical behaviour from each APS employee.
Together the APS Values, the APS Employment Principles and the APS Code of Conduct set out the standard of behaviour expected of agency heads and APS employees. They provide the public with confidence in the way public servants behave, including in their exercise of authority when meeting government objectives.
The Public Service Act 1999 (PS Act) requires APS employees and agency heads at all times to behave in a way that upholds the APS Values. Agency heads and Senior Executive Service employees must also promote the Values. All employees must inform themselves of their obligations under the PS Act.
The conduct of public servants, both inside and outside the workplace, can have implications for the confidence the community has in the administration of an agency or the APS as a whole.
This guide is structured around the three professional relationships that are a central part of work in the public service: relationships with the Government and the Parliament; with the public; and with public service colleagues.
The guide also contains information about how to deal with ethical problems that commonly arise in particular circumstances. It does not have the answer to every ethical problem that an employee may be faced with at work. It does however provide principles which will point to an answer in many cases.