Conflict of Interest

Conflict of Interest Policy

Policy Code: CG1059

Purpose

The University values integrity and is committed to ensuring that both its activities and those of its community members conform to the highest standards of administrative conduct. This Policy confirms the responsibilities of all members of the University community to avoid (where possible) and transparently declare and manage conflicts of interest.

Scope

This procedure applies to all members of the University community.

Definitions

Term Definition
Conflict of interest

A conflict of interest is a conflict between a member of the University Community’s public duty to act in the best interests of the University and their private interests.  A conflict of interest exists whether it is:

  • actual – it currently exists;
  • potential – it may arise, given the circumstances;
  • perceived – members of the public could reasonably form the view that a conflict exists, or could arise, that may improperly influence the performance of their duties to the University, now or in the future.
Conflict of duty A conflict of duty (also known as conflict of role) is a conflict of interest that can occur even if a Member of the University Community does not have any private interest at stake.  It is a conflict between a Member of the University Community’s public duty to act in the best interests of the University and their duty to another public or private sector organisation.  It exists due to the Member of the University Community’s role with the other organisation (e.g. as a committee member, employee, volunteer, or organisation member).
Members of the University Community Includes staff, members of the University Council and members of any board, committee or other body established by or constituted under the University Statutes and Regulations.
Private Interest

A private interest can be direct or indirect.  A direct interest is held by the Member of the University Community.  An indirect interest is held by a relative or close associate of the Member of the University Community, for example:

  • an immediate family member (e.g. spouse, partner, child parent, sibling);
  • a regular household member (i.e. someone who normally resides with the Member of the University Community); or
  • another close associate (e.g. friend, relative, business associate, rival, enemy).

A private interest can be financial or non-financial, or a mixture of both.  It can arise from a wide range of personal or professional/business-related sources.

Financial interests include actual, potential or perceived financial gain or loss.  Money does not need to change hands.  The interest exists if the Member of the University Community (or a relative or close associate):

  • owns property;
  • holds shares, investments or other business interests;
  • has a position in a company bidding for University work;
  • receives benefits such as concessions, discounts, gifts or hospitality from a particular source;
  • holds office in a corporation (public, private or trustee), incorporated association, or other entity; or
  • has any other relevant financial interest, for example:
  • is entitled to receive income derived from a contract;
  • is a beneficiary or trustee of a trust; or
  • is entitled to receive income from an office held for payment/reward or from a trade, vocation or profession.

Non-financial interests may arise from personal or family relationships or from involvement in sporting, social or cultural activities.  They include a tendency towards favour or prejudice resulting from friendship, animosity or other personal involvement with another person or group.  If personal values are likely to impact on the proper performance of a public duty, this can also lead to a conflict of interest.  Enmity as well as friendship can give rise to a conflict of interest.

A non-financial interest includes a personal relationship.  A personal relationship may involve:

  • familial relationships (siblings, parent/child, husband/wife, de facto spouses, partner, cousins, relations by marriage such as brother/sister-in-law);
  • emotional relationships (including sexual relationships and close friendships); and
  • financial relationships (commercial relationships where pecuniary interest is present).

A personal relationship can occur between a staff member and a current or prospective student of the University.

Staff Includes any person who has an employment contract with the University on a full-time, part-time, sessional or casual basis, or those employed through a contract for services.
Supervisor The management position (no lower than a Dean of a School or Director) to which the staff member reports.  The Vice Chancellor reports to the Chancellor.

Policy Statement

All members of the University community must take reasonable steps to avoid a conflict of interest wherever possible. 

Where a conflict of interest exists (or may exist at some time in the future) the member of the University Community must declare and manage that conflict of interest in accordance with the Conflict of Interest Procedure.

Council members and Vice Chancellor’s Senior Team members must comply with the Declaration of Private Interests and Related Party Disclosures processes detailed in the Conflict of Interest Procedure.

Responsibility

  • The Council is responsible for monitoring the implementation, outcomes and scheduled review of this policy and its accompanying procedure.
  • The Director, Corporate Governance, is responsible for maintaining the content of this policy as delegated by the Council.

Promulgation

The Conflict of Interest Policy will be communicated throughout the University community in the form of:

  1. an Announcement Notice via FedNews website and on the ‘Recently Approved Documents’ page on the ‘Policies, Procedures and Forms @ the University’ website to alert the University-wide community of the approved Policy; and
  2. distribution of e-mails to VCST, Deans of School, Directors or equivalent.

Implementation

The Conflict of Interest Policy will be implemented throughout the University via:

  1. an Announcement Notice via FedNews website and on the ‘Recently Approved Documents’ page on the ‘Policies, Procedures and Forms @ the University’ website to alert the University-wide community of the approved Policy; and
  2. an annual email reminder to VCST, Deans of Schools, Directors or equivalent to cascade to all staff.