Trust, Service

& Accountability

Behaving Ethically

Good practice guides

Good practice guide 1 – deciding and acting ethically

To make the best-available decision:

  • Scope the problem
    Clarify the scope of the problem, and consider carefully how the problem affects (or may affect in the future) work colleagues; clients and customers; stakeholders; and the government of the day. Wherever possible, consult affected people and communities.
  • Develop options
    Develop a mix of options that address these questions:
    • Duties: What are your responsibilities as defined by the law, Government policies, agency procedures, and your role description? Is it legal? Is it consistent with the principles & policies of the agency and the NSW government sector?
    • Results: Which options will yield the greatest benefit (or least harm) to the most people, and minimise the number of people who might be disadvantaged – in the short and longer term? What will the consequences be for my colleagues, the agency and yourself? What will the consequences be for other parties?
    • Justice: Which options support due process, transparency, fair compensation for any loss, and fair treatment of those affected by any decision?
    • Rights: Which options support the legal rights of citizens?
    • Public interest: Which options best advance the public interest, without regard to your own reputation, career, personal views or potential for personal gain or loss?
    • Resources: What is the likely impact on government finances, workforce, infrastructure and other assets?
    • Innovation: Can the issue be addressed in new ways (such as the redesign of services, reengineering of work practices, or a new model of service delivery)?
  • Evaluate and decide
    Choose the option that best addresses the above issues and is in the public interest, supports integrity, builds trust, delivers better services and ensures accountability. To establish if your actions are consistent with the Ethical Framework consider your answers to the following questions:
    • Integrity: Would your colleagues say you had considered the views of all interested parties and acted in the right way, even if it was at your personal cost?
    • Trust: Would your action, if it became public, build confidence in the public sector?
    • Service: Would your clients and customers say your actions improved the quality of the services they receive?
    • Accountability: Would the head of your agency say your actions are consistent with the Ethical Framework and the law?
  • Implement
    Implement the decision in ways that are consistent with the objectives, values and principles of the Ethical Framework.
  • Review and identify opportunities for continuous improvement.


Good practice guide 2 – encouraging ethical behaviour by other employees

Ways to support the ethical behaviour of other employees include:

  • Personal
    Encourage your colleagues to act ethically by making ethical decisions and acting ethically yourself.
  • Interpersonal
    Encourage all employees to openly discuss ways to better implement the Ethical Framework in their individual actions, your team’s practices and in your services to clients and customers.
  • Organisational
    Ensure the leadership, culture, governance, management and work practices, individual employee behaviour and customer services of your workplace are consistent with the Ethical Framework.

The Public Service Commission will provide additional advice and guidance to the government sector as needed to support conduct that is consistent with the objective, core values and principles of the Ethical Framework.