Conduct and Ethics Manual

Version 11

24 July 2017


The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) delivers important outcomes for Australia in a complex environment, both domestically and abroad.

It is the clear expectation of the Government and the Australian community, as well as my own, that we will maintain the highest standards of professionalism, probity and, accountability in the course of the work we do.

It is essential that our behaviour demonstrates a strong ethical culture, informed by the department’s Values Statement. This, in turn, is founded upon the Australian Public Service (APS) Values and Employment Principles, the APS Code of Conduct, the DFAT Code of Conduct for Overseas Service and the Locally-Engaged staff (LES) Codes of Conduct at overseas posts.

I take allegations of misconduct very seriously. Alleged misconduct will be investigated promptly and fairly. When appropriate, sanctions have and will be applied to individuals who are found to have breached the APS Code of Conduct, the DFAT Code of Conduct for Overseas Service or a post’s LES Code of Conduct.

This Conduct and Ethics Manual is the principal source of departmental guidance and policy on conduct and ethics issues for all categories of staff – APS staff, LES and contract staff. It is reviewed regularly to ensure its provisions remain up to date and relevant and I welcome any comment from staff on improving it.

The purpose of the Manual is to help each of us make appropriate, ethical decisions in our work, and to set out in a transparent manner, the department’s procedures for dealing with conduct and ethics matters. In addition to the Manual, the department’s Conduct and Ethics Unit is also a valuable source of advice available to staff.

We each share a responsibility to support and promote a culture that actively upholds an ethical workplace and does not tolerate unethical behaviour. This Manual is an important tool to help us meet this important objective and I commend it to you.

Peter Varghese
January 2016

Document Revision History

Version Number Date Revised by (name & position) Changes (location & nature)
1 16/12/09 DIR MCS
2 08/10 A/g DIR MCS
  • Revised version of Chapter 11
  • New guidance on managing requests from Ministers’ offices (Chapter 8)
3 10/10 EO MCS Revised Ch 8 to take account of APSC/Ethics Advisory Committee comments
4 12/10 Ethics Committee Manual revised and Version 2 approved
5 03/11 EO MCS Revision to Whistleblowing in DFAT section 10.2.12
6 11/11 EO MCS Amendments to sections 11.2.24; 11.1.45; 11.1.52(a) to clarify operation of these provisions.
7 04/12 EO MCS Amendments to Chapter 8 (8.4 and 8.5) consistent with APSC Circular 2012/1: Revisions to the Commission’s guidance on making public comment and participating online.
8 06/13 MCS Amendments throughout to reflect amendments to Public Service Act 1999 and Public Service Regulations 1999 as provided in the Public Service Amendment Act 2013.
9 10/14 MCS Amendments throughout to reflect the integration of AusAid, international Climate Change and Tourism functions; amendments to the Privacy Act 1988 and the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct; and introduction of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013. Changes also reflect updates to DFAT policy on public comment.
10 01/16 MCS Amendments to: Introduction and Chapter 3.2 to reflect the DFAT Values statement; Chapter 5.3 on the process around Outside Employment requests; Chapter 5.4 relating to departmental policy on employment after leaving the department.
11 01/17 MCS New chapter on child protection.
11 24/17 EES Update Section names

Document Archive

The original version of this Manual and all superseded versions of this Manual are archived in EES.

The Administrative Circulars replaced by the original version of this Manual were:

  • P0308 Public Service Act 1999 - New Departmental Procedures for Determining Breaches of the APS Code of Conduct
  • P0352 Making a Whistleblowing Disclosure and Protection for Whistleblowers
  • P0397 Acceptance of Gifts or Other Benefits: Sponsored Travel
  • P0400 Reporting Fraud or Misconduct
  • P0458 Procedures for Dealing with Gifts, Benefits and Hospitality
  • P0526 Outside Employment for APS Employees and Locally-Engaged Staff
  • P0591 Revised Code of Conduct for Overseas Service
  • P0704 Conduct and Ethics: Use of Department-Licensed Computer Software for Work Purposes at Home
  • P0826 Conduct and Ethics: Revised Policy Guidelines on Conflicts of Interest
  • P0830 Code of Conduct: Movement of APS Staff between Agencies
  • P0861 Use of Internet Social Networking Tools by Departmental Staff
  • P0950 Lobbying Code of Conduct and Post-Separation Employment
  • N625/09 APSC Ethics Advisory Service and DFAT Conduct and Ethics Unit.
  • Other documents replaced by the original version of this Manual were:
  • Human Resources Manual Volume 1 Chapter 13
  • Locally Engaged Staff Management: A Better Practice Guide Chapter 14.