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When should I report misconduct?

What do you do if you see a colleague behaving inappropriately?

APS Values and Code of Conduct in Practice publication provides advice for managers and employees in the APS about the application of the Code of Conduct and the APS Values. Section 9 of the publication discusses reporting misconduct in more detail.

You can also get advice from the Ethics Advisory Service on 02 6202 3737.

All APS employees have to comply with the requirements of the APS Values and Code of Conduct contained in the Public Service Act 1999. But not all behaviour that we might see as unacceptable is a breach of the Code or should be treated as a breach.

That doesn't mean that you can turn a blind eye to something you know is wrong. All APS employees have an obligation to ensure that misconduct is dealt with fairly and effectively. Managers have their own duty to ensure behaviour in their workplaces meets the right standard.

Your agency may have specific policies on what misconduct to report and arrangements in place to make reports. Check what's on your agency's intranet or get advice from your agency's Ethics Contact Officer.

If you have any questions about this article, please submit them via the form on the Integrity: your questions answered page.

In many cases, the best approach will be to discuss it with the person directly. Let them know what your concerns are in a constructive and respectful way. It may be that they did not know that what they did or said was a problem and a short conversation can often be helpful

If you think the behaviour was deliberate, or careless, you could also consider raising it with the person's immediate manager.

Serious misconduct often needs to be dealt with more formally, and you may need to make a written report.

Gossiping about it never helps. Once you've made your report, it's best to keep your concerns confidential. Don't share them with people who don't need to know.

Last reviewed: 
29 March 2018