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Ethical conduct a priority for Justice and Attorney-General

The Department of Justice and Attorney-General has an Ethics Awareness Strategy to promote ethical and professional conduct by employees throughout the organisation.

The Department takes ethical misconduct very seriously and utilises all options under the Public Service Act 2008 when dealing with possible and actual staff misconduct.

When an officer is suspected of serious misconduct and cannot continue in their existing workplace, the Public Service Act 2008 requires that the Director-General (or delegate) must consider all options to place the person in another role/ location before considering suspension. Suspension, in the first instance, must be on full pay.

Suspension on “no pay” only occurs when there is significant or compelling evidence of wrongdoing such as admissions of wrongdoing to an administrative or police investigation, or eyewitness accounts of serious misconduct.

A show cause process must occur giving the person the opportunity to make a case as to why they should not be suspended on no pay.

Once the criminal matters are finalised by the police and courts a department’s options under the Public Service Act 2008 include:

• Termination of employment

• Reduction of classification level and a consequential change of duties

• Transfer or redeployment to another public service employment

• Forfeiture or deferment of a remuneration increment or increase

• Reduction of remuneration level

• Imposition of a monetary penalty

• If a penalty is imposed, a direction that the penalty be deducted from the employee’s periodic remuneration

• A reprimand.

Criminal incidents occur very infrequently within the Department of Justice and Attorney-General. During the last two years there has been two incidents of fraud, one of theft and another of stealing as a servant.

In each of these cases, staff awareness and commitment to ethical conduct has led to the identification, investigation and subsequent charging of four individual administrative staff.

In three of the four cases the Department chose to terminate employment. In one case, the employee resigned.

In one of the four cases, the employee was on secondment to the Department of Health and the employee was terminated upon return to Justice and Attorney-General following the conclusion of legal action.

While the staff member involved was officially sacked in November, they had been suspended without pay since May 9, almost five months earlier.

State Government employees are expected to adhere to the provisions of the Code of Conduct for the Queensland Public Service, including those relating to ethical standards, workplace behaviour and personal conduct. (The whole-of-government code was developed by the Public Service Commission at took effect 1 January 2011.)

Should an individual employee ignore their responsibilities under this code then the Department of Justice and Attorney-General utilises a risk management program to identify potential or actual breeches. This requires managers and supervisors to identify all fraud risks within their workplace and appropriately mitigate and monitor this risk. Each of the four criminal matters instigated against staff were identified by staff through this process.

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Last reviewed
20 December 2011
Last updated
5 November 2015

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