A lunchtime conversation hour with the leaders of Victoria's integrity agencies:
- IBAC Commissioner, The Honourable Robert Redlich AM, KC
- Victorian Ombudsman, Deborah Glass
- Victorian Auditor-General, Andrew Greaves.
The conversation focuses on current integrity risks and challenges, and why they matter. Speakers cover topics including public sector governance, conflicts of interest, procurement and what constitutes corruption. There is also a Q&A session.
This event was targeted to employees working in the Victorian public sector and local government.
It is captioned and Auslan interpreted. If you require any further accessibility support or information, please contact us at email@example.com or 1300 735 135.
Good morning, and welcome to today's webinar on Integrity Matters. My name is Roberta Skliros, and I would like to begin the webinar by acknowledging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander throughout Australia. We would like to acknowledge Elders past, present and emerging. We acknowledge the Wurundjeri, the traditional owners of the land we meet on today, and their continuing connection to land, see an air.
I pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging, and any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people attending today. I am joined by these people today, one to speak on integrity, something I'm passionate about. Integrity is all about doing the right thing, a theme that continues to generate much focus by the Australian community of the public sector and government, and rightly so.
Many of us here today work in the Victorian public sector, or local government sector, and therefore understand the high standard of integrity that we must help ourselves to, because of the trust of the community of us in our roles.
I am joined by the three heads of Victoria's body. Andrew Greaves, Deborah Glass, and Robert Redlich.
I will give you some background so everybody understands the back ground. The honourable Robert Redlich, AM KC, was previously a judge in the High Court of Victoria. And served as Queen's Counsel. He has many achievements in practice, and was recognised as Queen's Counsel in 1984. Welcome, Robert.
Andrew Greaves is the auditor general of Victoria. Andrew holds a fellow as a CPA, and also Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand. He started in the Australian National Audit Office in 1984. After this, he has held senior roles in VAGO, from 2004 till 2011, as the assistant national auditor General, and was appointed as auditor general of Queensland, before returning into thousand 16 as Victorian Auditor-General’s Office
Deborah Glass OBE is the Victorian Ombudsman. She has undertaken roles overseas in the banking and financial regulation sector and was appointed Police Complaints Authority and the independent Police Complaints Commission in London.
She took up the position of Victorian Ombudsman in 2014. In this role she is responsible for investigating complaints about actions or decisions made by Victorian public organisations. She is committed to ensuring fair and reasonable decision-making and holds a firm believer in public-sector integrity and advancing human rights.
Welcome, Andrew, Robert and Deborah.
We have received a number of questions from the public, but before we get started, I will make a note on time. As I'm sure you are all aware, Victoria's state election is coming up on Saturday 26 November.
But Andrews term is coming to an end.
The webinar has been chosen not because of the upcoming state election, but because this date was a time when the availability of our panellists aligned. There may be some constraint on the questions that people are able to answer today, and our panellists will carefully navigate through the conversations, taking in the context of today and they will navigate as carefully as they can.
Alright, let's get started this morning with our first question.
And I will take our first question to Deborah. How do you describe a positive integrity culture, to somebody new to the team?
Well, that is working in the public interest, accountability, transparency, etc, and I want to share with you a quote that is a few years old now.
Official policies specify what management want to happen. Company culture determines what action happens and which rules are obeyed, bent or ignored.
I think it is fascinating that it is actually 30 years old, and what it says is how much culture starts at the top and needs to go through the organisation. So, leaders and managers that the corporate culture in an organisation. It is not something that is confined to the government's risk side of the organisation. Responsibility for it does not set with a single department, or a single desk of an agency.
And it recognises that it is an ongoing process. So just to pluck out a couple of less controversial examples from some of my reports, and I have written a couple of public reports today.
There was a report that went over some exposures of some alpine ski resorts. In one of the findings of the report, somebody who had come from a private-sector background was misusing funds, he was treating them as his own and was treating the ski resort as his own personal playground. He was treating people on the public purse, and was treating it as private accommodation for his friends and family.
And the staff so that is something they were able to do and thought that was OK. And there was no doubt in my mind that the importance of that culture being set, and it was a negative culture. People will see that, and follow suit.
Another example, and I will share it and I'm keen to get thoughts from my colleagues on this, in the Ballarat Arts Centre, a few years ago, the CEO recruited and (inaudible) salary. And in the Council, what they created was a perception, not always the reality, but the perception that this kind of behaviour was OK.
So, it creates some poor conduct, not being conscious of the dangers of nepotism, creates the impression that certain behaviours are acceptable, and fundamentally, that undermines public confidence in institutions.
Andrew, you have something to say on this?
AUDITOR GENERAL GREAVES:
Referring to the US Treadway Commission, out of that they developed an internal framework, the COSO model that is all about establishing an efficient organisation, with compliance and reliable reporting. And the foundation level of the COSO model is that we do what we call the control environment, as part of the entire organisation and then within the controlling body, is the tone from above.
And as auditors, and I am sure in our respective roles, we always exercise to try to understand leadership, management's attitude, their attitude towards integrity.
And I think what I would like to talk about in relation to integrity, because people always feel that integrity and corruption are two sides of the coin. People think that if I have integrity then I am not corrupt, but in the absence of corruption, it is necessary to demonstrate integrity, but I feel it is two ends of a continuum. They might be black corruption and grey corruption but there is a continuum, a spectrum.
I reference the work of AJ Brown, at Griffith University, who talks about integrity and corruption, at two ends of a spectrum. He talks about how you do not demonstrate integrity by simply the absence of corruption, you talk about running a service efficiently, equitably, and being in compliance of the law. It is not just about saying that you have an absence of the wrong thing, you do it by doing the right thing. That is how you have integrity culture.
Most organisations have clearly defined codes of conduct. There are always two questions in relation to the codes of conduct, the first is are they clearly understood? And secondly, is the organisation ensuring that they are enacted on a day to day basis?
Last week I attended a public sector conference, with a large number of delegates from around Australia. And there were a large number of organisations who expressed that they wanted to look at organisations who have a good culture of integrity, and see that there is a freedom amongst the staff to express their views, fearlessly, without fear of repercussion, and that I think is at the core, if we are looking at someone to say what does a good culture of integrity mean?
It means understanding the code, and recognising that wherever people say there are small levers that things are not done precisely where they should be, that people are able to stand up and call out that things are not being done as they should.
Alright, moving on to our next question in the interest of time this morning. Most of us have a critical role in speaking truth to power, what does this term mean to you?
AUDITOR GENERAL GREAVES:
Potentially the concept, it's a loaded concept speaking through the power and it reflects the fact there is a power relationship, in the context of the Victorian Public Sector and more broadly. Just responding to your opening remarks about the election period, having worked in three jurisdictions, I will generalise my comments, it's an observation having worked at the Federal, Queensland and Victoria. Click to power, I think the first reflection is following on from what Robert said.
If you want people to get people to speak to the power you need a safe environment to do that. I also attended the concept -- there was a lot of reflection on face diversity, and more broadly diversity, and other attributes, within an organisation.
If I go back to treat the power, the thing that exercises it in this equation, as Auditor General, is when we look at the responsibility of the public service across Australia, state and federal to provide, as it is sometimes characterised frank and fearless advice, Phyllis responding to the power dynamic.
I like to refer to it as full and frank advice. Full, in the sense that, where I've seen public servants fail to provide an obligation for impartial advice to businesses, a lot of it is about being – what has been euphemistically expressed as being economical with the truth. In other words, what we are telling our ministers, telling government, is not – it's honest and truthful, but we haven't given them the whole truth.
And me, that is quite a disturbing approach, taking the attitude that, what I will do, I will only put in the information that serves our agenda, as a public service, try to convince a minister of the merits of our advice. Or, I might second-guess what I think the government wants to hear in its advice, so I might want to shape the advice and cherry pick, so it is supportive of a government agenda, without necessarily giving all of the information that is required and demanded, if you try to take a balanced view of the world, and come up with an informed decision.
So, I think over three jurisdictions, I'm pleased in the Victorian context, most recently in the service Commissioner has updated the guidelines.
Particularly separate guidelines for senior executives, and those advising ministers.
It has always put to me, and one of the examples that has put me in the setting is the government has made a decision, Andrew, so our job was to implement the decision.
And your job as a public servant is to implement the government's agenda. But you're not there to frustrate the agenda, or to second-guess the decision, or continually contest the decision after it is made.
You need to be mindful, as a public servant that, if you haven't had – if the government has had the benefit of the advice before, it is worthwhile informing them after the decision, particularly if there are unintended consequences or risks that I thought about in the context of the original decision. Might we have a fair way to go in speaking truth to power a mark in the way we frame advice to government. I'm sure others have a view on that.
so, in the public sector, it discharges the duty, and in the public trust, mainly that they discharge their functions, ensuring that what they say and do serves the public interest.
Picking up on your point, Andrew, about meeting the government of the days objectives, these are comments that we make, drawing on Victoria, and a Federal level, and my commissioners around Australia, that what we have seen over recent decades is far too much weight being given by public servants to the obligation to assist the government in it achieving its objectives. And in 2013, the speech was made, the head of the public service in Victoria, about the component that he added to the concept of frank and fearless advice. He added the obligation of responsiveness.
That is, a public servant should be responsive to the needs of government.
And, that must never be allowed to override those other obligations, so as to ensure that when, no matter what level you are at within the public service, you are always discharging that function in accordance with your duty to the public trust.
And make sure it serves the public interest.
Most of the audience are aware I have a live investigation into the public service, and the corollary to that is, is it in favour of what we describe as frank and fearless advice. So, we will not talk about that, because it's an ongoing investigation.
But, hold that one for 2023. But, the one thing I would pick up around speaking truth to power, we talked about the atmosphere in which people feel free to challenge. I will also mention the whistleblowing regime and the importance of that in speaking truth to power.
Even though they are not confident about the organisation, that they don't think that it is creating the kind of environment where you can challenge management or leadership about its actions and decisions, the whistleblower regime does provide protections and anonymity for people who want to come forward with allegations that are deserving of investigation.
I mentioned mitigations involving CEOs before.
That took courageous whistleblowers, and good on them. They went to IBAC, or came to my office, and they were concerned about what was going on here. It resulted in real change, including the CEOs. And the creation of a culture that will take notice of these things.
Thank you, Deborah, that's good advice. OK, moving on to question three, I refer this 1 to you, Robert. The recent IBAC investigation highlighted corruption risks associated with complex of interest in the public sector. What are your views on managing complex, and the impact on public trust?
I think, the question, in the operation, the most recent operation in publishing the report as a CEO for many years, and being discharging his obligations in accordance with the principles of the conflict of interest, this comes back to a report I made earlier. The starting point will always be codes or standards understood, strangely enough, or principles, there seems to be a perennial misunderstanding of exactly what is entailed by a conflict of interest.
It is a bit of a mystery to me, why it is so poorly understood. I suspect the answer, in part, is because it is not adequately and rigorously enforced within every organisation. So, in the case of Nira, the conflicts of interest will go on for 20 years.
Where the CEO bestowed benefits on a particular company, in which he had an interest to his partner, held in a senior position in the company.
The main difficulty in conflict of interest is deception and conflict of interest. Most people understand when there is an actual concept, they say they can't do that, because a reasonable person is informed and looking at what they do, and they have concerns that maybe I won't impartially go by discharging the function.
It's a really important concept, and picking up the point about soft corruption, it is an important area because it is the start of a problem which will then lead to something more significant.
If I can pick up on that, Robert, you are so right, so many disclosures that I get to investigate go down to perceived conflicts. And, if I have one message to the public sector about managing complex, it's about the importance of perception, which is as real, in a way, as the reality.
So, I put out a report not long ago into the local council, and the allegations of corruption as a planner, and property developer. And, you can see where that came from, the planner was having Christmas lunches with a property developer, and there were things which were declared.
But so often it goes down to confidence, and things that are not actually corruption, but it creates an impression that, if it is managed in the first place, would not result in an investigation by the ombudsman.
The importance of recognising the perceptions and conflicts and dealing with those.
AUDITOR GENERAL GREAVES:
Reflecting on what Robert said, I too, quite often mystified by these overstatements. But, doesn't seem to be uppermost, or foremost in people's minds. With the audit reviewing, the emergency expenditure, we find there are a number of examples where people have declared, received, or potential conflicts, and you try to get to the bottom of it and part of it is the lack of awareness of the need – a lack of appreciation that this is an integrity matter. So, I'm trying to understand the human dimension, why people don't even think to think about conflict of interest. So, sure, the guidelines should be there, but how is it in the organisation, in my own organisation we have a standing agenda item in organisational groups, and the first item is conflict of interest.
So, we make it practice, good housekeeping, and that seen throughout the entire organisation, we are positively stating that we have no actually potential or perceived conflicts of interest.
So, more work needs to be done in that space, but I think the other psychological factor that could be played in people's minds here, is they therefore perceived conflict of interest as bad, but really, the way to manage conflict of interest is to declare it.
If it is declared, and open, and not about, then it can be managed within a process, whether a recruitment or procurement process, it doesn't matter. It doesn't automatically mean corruption, let's just declare it, then we can manage it. And I don't think people appreciate that that is a way to manage conflict of interest.
I think the concept of managing conflict is misunderstood, and it means that I can stay in conflict, as long as it is managed. No, it means you need to remove the conflict.
AUDITOR GENERAL GREAVES:
You recuse yourself from the decision.
And that's what we see, there is a perception that conflict is a bad thing. We all have conflicts, there's nobody in public or private life that does not have some conflict of interest in their day-to-day work or life. So, it is normal.
But, it is how you deal with it, which demonstrates your integrity.
Thank you. OK, we have discussed some of the conversations of corruption risks, and governments, but when it comes to the governance and institutions, is it enough for public officials desperately say trust is?
Know, is the answer to that question. I won't expand on the social contract between government and people, but the fact is that if the public sees unfair decisions, if there is no accountability, no transparency in decision-making, then that fundamentally undermines public trust.
Such a huge part of my job, exposing these things, and saying how you could have done it better. Just to dust off a few recent examples, the importance of community consultation. We looked at how the environment protection authority was making decisions in relation to toxic soil from the Westgate Tunnel project.
In the end, we found their decision-making was sound, it respected human rights, but where it went wrong with the failure to consult and communicate. An what that meant was that people were really scared in the community about where this stuff is going to be dumped.
And the response at the time from the EPA was that we were not going to engage because people were angry. And that is precisely the point where you do need to consult and confront the facts and evidence and things that you have. So I think that is an example of how that undermines public confidence in our public institutions, by a failure to engage and consult.
And we have seen other examples, and I will pluck another out of the air. The border crossings scheme, when Victoria was not only looked down, quite -- locked down, but quite recently locked out. A key issue there was there was an exemption scheme on paper, and it looked very sound, but when you looked at the fairness of decision-making, you found a lot to answer for.
And what you see from that, where there is no reason for the decisions, for example. No reasons are given. On the face of it, the decisions seem unfair. Again, these undermine public trust in government.
So, there is some very simple basic tools you can derive from that. Open and transparent decision-making. Provide a clear complaints process. Complaints are like a canary in a coal mine here, they can actually identify where the public is concerned before it becomes an issue that is taken to the ombudsman. There are some really simple techniques that the public can follow -- that the public sector can follow to engage the public in their decision-making. And I encourage them to follow that.
AUDITOR GENERAL GREAVES:
I think we have to acknowledge nationwide that there is less trust in government than that has ever been before. And I have been saying now for some time that the explanation for that really lies in the redistribution of power within executive government, and for that, I mean that you look at the concentration of power around leaders, and we look at the increasing sphere of influence in ministerial advisors. We look at the delegation and responsibility for the individual ministers in discharging their functions, and finally we look at the decreased role in which the public service now plays in providing policy advice, and as we touched on earlier, on the reticence to be frank, and give fearless independence advice.
Good example of that is the saga that arose in relation to the former Prime Minister, and his determination to give himself a number of ministerial portfolios. That highlights the number of pillars of government working together to produce unsatisfactory outcomes. The failure of power and the distortion of responsibility between the leader and ministers, and the failure of public service to speak up and say, "You can't do that."
Now that distribution of power has been shifting, for the best part of four decades. My predecessor in the NSW ICAC wrote in a really powerful text 20 years ago that all of those issues exist, but no government in four decades, there has been no attempt made international level -- made at a national level, to stop that from happening, and until that happens, I fear that we will continue to see it happening.
It is quite difficult, I think we see West minutes -- Westminster conventions being applied, and we are prohibited from questioning a member of Parliament on government objectives.
So I will pivot now to another branch --
AUDITOR GENERAL GREAVES:
I will pivot now to something that Robert was discussing. To a really frank disclosure by government as to how it is performing. For decades, all jurisdictions have struggled with the way we report on how we perform to the public, and our service performance information and financial information, is after 30 years, it is still the best, and a work in progress.
And I often despair, that the reporting by government, and its performance is confusing, and does not focus on the things that matter, does not use measures that are efficient and effective in service delivery. And that is probably part of the reason of the public attitude towards government.
And I spoke to (inaudible) a few years ago and they said Andrew, you have got it wrong. When they say they do not trust the government, they are talking about the government in power, not the government sector. And I don't think I trust that distinction.
If people say they do not trust in the public sector, the public sector are the agencies that are putting out the information, the reports that are talking about performance. And I think there is a huge amount of work still to be done, to build or to rebuild trust, by openly and honestly reporting on how they are going, against our plans, our priorities or whatever.
Andrew, I think it is important that we keep to the conventions, I understand your reluctance to speak. But right now there is less priority than there has been for a very long time, about what the standards are, and with the ministers, very often we hear the argument, oh, I have a very large department and many advisers that I am responsible for, I can't be responsible for every decision that they make.
Often there is no priority as to when they should be responsible and if there is any application of those principles, what that application should be. And there is no satisfaction in writing, and there is answer -- and satisfaction about the standards.
AUDITOR GENERAL GREAVES:
We need to see guidelines on the relationship between secretary and senior secretary in the Parliament and revising those guidelines that they have. Those guidelines also talk about ministerial advisors and the relationship with public sector advisers and they did caution the public sector.
They say they stand apart and are impartial. And one of those things that struck me on reading those updated guidelines, and what I am alluding to in my answers, is that on reflection, not all the necessary information that should have been referred to the Minister was being referred up. And I just wonder, whether that was a lack of role clarity and responsibility, you know, to what extent is the delegation of a signed authority down in the public sector clear on what needs to be referred up or does not need to be referred up.
I can recall from many, many years ago in another jurisdiction seeing a brief come back down from the Minister say, "Never briefed me on this again." And the guidelines kind of say, well the Minister might say this year because it is not a ministerial matter and they do not need to be briefed on it.
Or maybe the Minister needs more information. Clearly, there is 1/3 reason, which I don't want to speak to at this point. And when it comes to integrity, what is the relationship with the Minister? What kind of briefings opening up? Am I giving full advice, and my not being critical with the truth? Is it Frank? And the role of the public sector and the public servant, and being careful in the approach when providing advice.
You have touched on the influence of the advisor but it is important to remember that historically, the advisor is first and foremost a political adviser, not giving advice about whether or not the particular matter serves the public interest. So the advisor is opened to revising a -- providing a two-pronged role, and may not be advising as to the purpose that was intended.
AUDITOR GENERAL GREAVES:
Not to invalidate the role of an advisor, but I think it is well understood and well practised around Australia, not to criticise the role of the advisor, but the guidelines say that the public sector needs to understand that there is another source of advice. But they need to understand their part and be impartial and independent, and bring their knowledge, independence and put that in their advice, not try to second-guess, and as you say, try not to be overly influenced by their advisers. Try not to second-guess what needs to go up to the Minister. And again that is in the guidelines and I will certainly be using the guidelines and future workers go through the decision-making process. -- In future work as I go through the process.
Robert, a question about what you are optimistic, any work that you have left unfinished, take as much time as you need.
One has a great deal to be optimistic about. Because in Australia's Federation, we rightly look to the federal government to provide leadership on issues, and integrity leadership is critical.
And I think that having a federal body, that will largely replicate the functions of all of the state bodies will mean that not only there will be much more public attention focused on these sorts of issues but it will also provide a new form of protection, with the integrity agency. It immediately becomes that much higher, the state government to then intrude into the role, with the state integrity agency.
So, I am optimistic about the future, whilst at the same time, repeating my concern that the rise of (inaudible) is the inevitable result of the redistribution of power in the last four decades. What would I change if I could change one thing? I would remove the requirement by the Victorian and interstate that provides too much focus on criminal offences.
It was said that it was a mistake to focus on crimes in the integrity commission, and black commission. Everybody knows that crime is committed with fraud, where there are financial gains to be obtained by the decision-maker, soft corruption, which is a much, much greater problem. Means that integrity agencies need to lift their gaze beyond traditional criminal activity. And if we look at recent experience by interstate permissions, Queensland and South Australia, the commission has not necessarily gone in the way the agency would have hope, there is no indication that those agencies were performing useful, effective purposes, but they were focusing on proving crimes, also there is a question as to why and the police focusing on those things? You do not need to have an elaborate integrity agency to investigate and prosecute criminal activity.
So, my hope is that over time, particularly with the Federal commission, that it is not going to be restricted to pursuing criminal conduct, but we will see around Australia, much more focus on soft corruption issues.
Debra, you've been there since 2014.
Yes, I really struggled with it, I will confess to this small audience. But I landed on a similar point to yours, Robert, I'm optimistic with the increased public in integrity, and I think that's a good thing. It's good thing that we have a regime, it's a good thing that people are increasingly – this is what a sense, increasingly confident about cutting forward, when they think we're doing the wrong thing.
Ultimately, we are all expanding what creates an integrity culture, is the willingness to come forward. And we simply rely on getting into people's books and records, we would never get anywhere near enough to the heart of where things go wrong.
So, you have got to have the insiders who say we are not happy with this.
So, I am optimistic about that, I'm optimistic about the overall importance that the public now places on integrity and public life. It is a critical thing.
AUDITOR GENERAL GREAVES:
I'm in the last
Part of my term as well, so I should be reflecting, but I will save it for next year's webinar.
I will confide, that in security matters, the risk of integrity, and I echo the two speakers and what they have just said. Particularly acknowledging the potential for influence at federal anticorruption commission.
I was taken by the work that is done at the Commonwealth level already, in integrity, and having a focus on integrity.
And the evidence that needs to be undertaken, and is being undertaken, and the integrity of maturity. I think they commend themselves with every jurisdiction, they should all be taking that lens and applying it to our own organisation, and integrity risk assessment in the business at the organisational level, program level, and sometimes the individual procurement transaction.
I'm optimistic that, through osmosis, and through the sharing of information and knowledge that we will lift integrity.
What might debilitate against that, we spoke about tone at the top, and leadership is so important, and the other reflection we have, and we all experience, I think, or being the jurisdictions over the last few decades, what people talk about is the hollowing out of the public sector. The loss of knowledge, skills, experience, the degradation and capacity.
And that can lead to inefficiency. We don't have the skills retained in the public service, and I was heartened
by the approach is being spoken about at the Commonwealth level, reaped building the capability and capacity of the public sector, and using consultants when they should be used, and employing full-time public service in the more traditional roles, so, I guess, I'm hoping, I am optimistic that that would be a direction that other jurisdictions can take.
and, that repeated a really important observation in the review, the hollowing out of the public sector has contributed to their lack of influence in directing government the right way. It is a really important consideration. And, I encourage people to write the review – – read the review, because there's so many lessons to be learned from it.
Thank you stop that concludes the precession questions we have, and have a bit of time for a live audience question or two. I will just see if any are coming through. So, we received some questions from small organisations across the public sector. What are some examples of fraud and corruption in agencies with very limited resources?
I start with the culture point, you don't need a lot of resources to set the tone that integrity matters. The tiniest agency, the head of the department make it clear that they have a concern that these things are important.
And, it's about – as you describe in your office, Andrew, you make sure that you read the conflict of decoration, and you care about these things, you make it clear these things are important. You don't need to have a lot of resource to set a positive tone.
AUDITOR GENERAL GREAVES:
I couldn't agree more, the challenge with small organisations, the resource challenge, we can't set up the separation of duties as we might otherwise wish to. Which build control into the system, and help prevent or detect fraud or corruption.
But, really, the tone of the top permeates the organisation, and the smaller the organisation, the easier it is to permeate. A new see the organisation knows how to behave. And in the organisation, you see people walking the floor, and physically experience the organisational tone from the top. So, I think that is probably the response, you can't build expensive, costly internal controls, it needs to be about people's attitude and culture, absolutely.
Do you think it's harder in a virtual world to do that?
There are certainly challenges me experience, because you don't get to walk the floor, so yes, I think the new world created is quite challenging, and trying to manifest, if you like, the attitude of management. But, there are other ways of doing it.
the other way -- the other side of that is that there are lessons to be learned, and is much more likely that work and very speedily inform the organisation, and be effective.
I think we have time for one or two more. What advice would you recommend public service who witnessed questionable acts from superiors, and are seeking to involve oversight to investigate potential role doing? Are there particular resources or items with oversight bodies, that carry out more weight when determining the case?
Is a simple answer, make a disclosure. We assess everything, surfer comes to me, we will assess, if it is a matter that we refer to IBAC.
So, if you think someone has done something dodgy, you have emails that support is provided, and we ask, if you think something is questionable. What we are looking for, doesn't need the threshold for culture? And that is the test we are obliged to apply under the law. In the IBAC applies, in its own assessments. So, give us whatever you can to support your concern that conduct is involved.
it's important to emphasise that it is confidential, and protected. And IBAC gets a vast number of complaints per year, 25, 6000, more. And, what is immediately discerned is, if you have someone on the inside who knows what is going on, it becomes very apparent in the content of the complaint, and invariably, what we learn is communication and discussion, and of course it is always done with whatever limitations the person providing the information wants to impart. But, I don't think it is necessary that the entirety of a course of conduct be disclosed, it is enough to make clear in the disclosure that you know what is going on.
I also want to make it known that we accept anonymous disclosures. Sometimes you get an anonymous disclosure, without the evidence that allows you to turn over the stones, to determine if there is something there that is capable of investigation.
If in doubt, or if you're really concerned, make an anonymous disclosure, and provide enough to give us the material to decide if there is something there.
AUDITOR GENERAL GREAVES:
That's the challenge, I will put a question in. It occurs to me, what your advice is, if they want to become investigators themselves, will they give you caution them against – if there is a sense there may be corruption, do you caution them against doing the investigation on their own to the other half, to give you evidence, or would you rather than give you the evidence.
Just give us the evidence.
AUDITOR GENERAL GREAVES:
Leave it to the experts.
Great, I think we can squeeze one more in. So, the final question is, what advice would you give someone in working in your organisations?
Why? I suspect all three of us are situation where we are always looking for good people, particularly investigators, and investigative backgrounds come from a large range of areas, you don't need to have – it really depends on the skill set.
But, we are always looking for good people with integrity, and public sector values, with skills of a wide variety and look at the website, if there is a census.
we are in need of valuable people across the board, investigators, with intelligence, analysts
Call takers, complaint handlers.
Was talking with Robert about how to set up an integrity commission. One thing that is important is diversity. One underpinning concept from any organisation, particularly in the integrity frame, is to have diversity. And social economic diversity, or range of things. So, I welcome, we are always continuously improving, as we know, about looking for people who are open, and inquiring minds, and analytical ability, of course, that is something we look for with people, we conceptualise and understand frameworks. So, just reach out.
Is the good that there's only two, not three men?
Thank you, to the panel, is a thought-provoking conversation, and we know that the audience will, and thank you to the audience for attending today as well. We do appreciate the time and the valuable insights for all of us today. For the audience, just a reminder this session will be recorded, so you can access it post session. I make note, we received an abundance of questions from the attendees today. And, we will, focus on the contents and themes of those questions, and to consider them for future sessions on Integrity Matters.
After the session today, I understand you will receive a feedback survey, so we encourage you to provide feedback, and you feel necessary to improve these sessions, thank you everyone, thank you to the panel, take care and have a good afternoon.