Public service values: not just known, but internalised to have integrity impact

The Victorian Public Sector Commission is trying to get to the bottom of why some people ignore the values set out in codes of conduct, even though they are familiar with them, the state’s commissioner Belinda Clark revealed to The Mandarin. And values aren’t just about integrity, they’re about equality and diversity too.

It’s one thing to know the rules, and another entirely to assimilate the principles behind them.

As part of the nation-wide move towards relying more heavily on values over black-letter rules in setting the tone for public service integrity, the Victorian Public Sector Commission has recently updated its employee code of conduct.

This values-focused approach recognises that rules alone are not the best way to prevent abuses, given the capacity of wrongdoers to knowingly exploit loopholes and grey areas. Instead, making values clear acknowledges that people know if they are not acting with integrity. In addition, it sets a clear means of interpreting the rules for all and helps foster an appropriate workplace culture.

Both New South Wales and South Australia have made recent efforts to incorporate a more value-based approach in their public sectors.

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