Conduct and Ethics Manual

Management, Conduct and Corporate Strategy Section, Conduct and Ethics Unit

March 2014


The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade works in a complicated and fast-paced domestic and international environment.  Amid these pressures, it is imperative that department staff maintain the highest standards of professionalism, probity, accountability and conduct.  We need to ensure that all of our actions are informed by a strong ethical culture grounded in the APS Values and Employment Principles, the APS Code of Conduct, the DFAT Code of Conduct for Overseas Service and LES Codes of Conduct at overseas posts.

To support this, the department created this Conduct and Ethics Manual in 2009 and has since worked to ensure that its provisions remain up to date.  This Manual is the principal source of departmental guidance and policies on conduct and ethics issues for all categories of staff– APS (i.e. A-based) employees, LES employees and contractors.

Ethically sound decision-making is not always a question of finding the one “right” answer.  The intention of this Manual is to help staff arrive at an answer that is justifiable, accords with our Codes of Conduct and meets departmental objectives.  As a primary point of reference, the Manual should be supplemented with broader consultation, including with the department’s Conduct and Ethics Unit.

The department takes misconduct very seriously.  Alleged misconduct is investigated promptly and fairly.  When appropriate, sanctions are 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.

We all share an important responsibility to support and promote a workplace culture that does not tolerate unethical behaviour.  This Manual is an important tool in achieving our shared objective.

Peter Varghese
July 2013

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.

Document Archive

The original version of this Manual and all superseded versions of this Manual are archived in MCS and CEU.

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