The community expects public officers (officers) to carry out their roles with integrity. One way they do this is by making sure their personal interests do not conflict with their public duty.
Sometimes officers are offered gifts, benefits and/or hospitality in the course of their work. Usually these are offered as a token of appreciation and carry no expectation. In other cases, they may be an attempt to influence an officer’s decisions. This is why there may be good reasons for officers to decline gifts, benefits and hospitality. Acceptance may give the impression that an officer favours a particular person or organisation when making decisions. While this may not be the intention, perceptions matter.
Effectively managing the risks of gifts, benefits and hospitality is essential to maintain public trust and give confidence that decisions are being made fairly and impartially.
Given the range of authorities in the WA government sector, it is not realistic for there to be a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Your authority’s approach should be based on a thorough assessment of its risk environment.
This guide provides information on a good practice approach to managing the risks of gifts, benefits and hospitality. It covers:
- understanding the risk environment
- using ethical codes and policies to set expectations
- educating, communicating and reinforcing expectations
- recording, reviewing and monitoring practice
- providing gifts, benefits and hospitality.
When adopted and implemented, these practices can reduce the likelihood of:
- officers inappropriately accepting or providing gifts, benefits and hospitality
- clients, suppliers and stakeholders inappropriately offering them.
Note that this information is provided as guidance; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such.
Any preferential treatment, privileged access, favours or other advantages offered to an officer above their normal salary or engagement entitlements. A benefit is usually intangible – something that can be experienced such as personal services, job offers or discounts on goods and services.
Conflict of interest
A situation arising from a conflict between the officer’s personal interests and their public duty. A conflict of interest should always be managed in the public interest.
A conflict of interest can be categorised as:
- actual – where an officer’s personal interests and public duties conflict; it is happening now and needs to be declared and managed
- potential – where the conflict between an officer’s personal interest and public duty is likely to occur in the future
- perceived – where a reasonable third party could form a view that personal interests could improperly influence the officer’s decisions now or in the future, whether or not this is in fact the case.
Anything of value offered either directly or indirectly to an officer above their normal salary or engagement entitlements. A gift is usually tangible – something that can be seen or held such as a box of chocolates, bottle of wine or ticket to a concert.
Gift, benefit and hospitality register
A record of declared offers and acceptances of gifts, benefits and hospitality. Declaration requirements and expectations are determined by the authority.
High risk positions, functions and activities
Includes but is not limited to those:
- who have the most interaction with clients, suppliers and stakeholders
- who have discretionary decision-making powers
- who work with limited or no supervision
- who work away from the main site
- who are responsible for:
- purchasing goods and services
- managing contracts
- allocating grants
- undertaking inspection and regulatory roles
- managing facilities
- exercising powers over planning and land development
- who work in internal audit or integrity roles
- whose impartiality needs to be beyond doubt.
The friendly reception and treatment of stakeholders such as offering refreshments at a business meeting, providing meals to conference delegates and sponsored travel or accommodation.
An offer that would be perceived by the recipient and community as being of high value and/or high risk such as jewellery.
A public sector agency (department, SES organisation and non-SES organisation), local government, public university, government trading enterprise, other entity and some boards and committees.
For the purposes of this guide has the meaning given by section 1 of The Criminal Code and includes those appointed to, employed in and contracted to public authorities.
An offer that would be perceived by the recipient and community to be of low value and/or low risk such as like a box of chocolates to say ‘thanks’.
Western Australian government sector
A collective reference to WA public authorities.
Legislation and other instrumentsShow more
The references to legislation and other instruments below may be relevant to an authority’s management of gifts, benefits and hospitality. It is not exhaustive and the authority should determine what applies to it.
- Authority’s enabling legislation
- Criminal Code: Chapter XIII – Corruption and abuse of office, Section 82 – Bribery of a public officer, Section 83 – Corruption
- Public Sector Management Act 1994 – Section 9
- Local Government Act 1995 – Section 5.103
- Financial Management Act 2006
- State Records Act 2000 – Part 3
- Freedom of Information Act 1992
- Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 – Section 19
- Liquor Control Act 1988 – Division 3A
- Electoral Act 1907 – Part VI Division 3
- Sample gifts, benefits and hospitality declaration form
- Sample gifts, benefits and hospitality register
- Gifts, benefits and hospitality template text: Information for public officers
- Accountability for managing tickets and hospitality checklist
- Decision-making tool: GIFT test
- Decision-making tool: HOST test