To draw together legal, ethical, probity and behaviour principles applicable in the governance of Intersex Human Rights Australia (“IHRA”).
This policy governs probity and ethics.
Organisational ethics for IHRA refer to the moral rules and regulations that influence our governance. In other words, they are the moral values that guide the way decisions are made. Some ethics are imposed by law. For example, court rules dealing with lawyer client privilege dictate some ethical decisions for lawyers. However, there are also organisational decisions that do not fall within the guidelines of the law, in which ethical or moral judgements must be made.
Ethical codes often address main areas such as:
- Informed consent
- Respect for intellectual property
- Responsible publication
- Responsible mentoring
- Respect for colleagues
- Social responsibility
- Human rights protection
- Bodily integrity and bodily autonomy
Probity (i.e., correctness, scrupulousness, integrity) becomes a crucial issue when dealing with situations where people, for one reason or another, are unable to protect themselves from abuse. It balances the rights of the community to be protected against the rights of the individual. A probity requirement protects the community and puts the interests and rights of all individuals and a group above those of a particular individual.
Probity cannot just be specified in terms of finance, management or quality. Probity is appraised within a context of values and standards. Any attempt to define it in a watertight legal framework will fail. It varies with the context, what is being done, what is being planned and who is making the decision. It serves to mediate community-based activities against the self-interest of individuals. The law would consider it from the point of view of whether a reasonable person would consider the conduct to be acceptable. For example, “Can this person be trusted to serve the community rather than him or herself when there is a conflict of interest?” – that is, is he or she a person of good standing?
Conflicts of Interest
The number one duty of any director of IHRA is to act in the interests of IHRA. Generally, a conflict of interest situation arises when a director’s duty to IHRA clashes with their duties, obligations or interests elsewhere, such as their business or workplace interests, or even those of their family or friends.
Perceived Conflicts of Interest are as damaging to an individual or organisation as Actual Conflicts of Interest. The measure is “what effect is this having on my role and the organisation that I represent?”
IHRA will adopt ethical conduct in all areas of its responsibilities and authority.
IHRA directors will:
- act honestly and in good faith at all times.
- declare all interests that could result in a conflict between personal and organisational priorities.
- ensure scrupulous avoidance of deception, unethical practice or any other behaviour that is, or might be construed as, less than honourable in the pursuit of IHRA’s mission and objectives.
- not disclose to any other person confidential information other than as agreed by IHRA or as required under law.
- act in accordance with their fiduciary duties, complying with the spirit as well as the letter of the law, recognising both the legal and moral duties of the role.
- not do anything that in any way denigrates IHRA or harms its public image.
- make every reasonable effort to ensure that IHRA does not raise community, supplier or stakeholder expectations that cannot be fulfilled.
Conflicts of Interest
Any conflicts of interest or potential conflicts of interest must be declared by a director of IHRA and documented in the minutes of the committee meeting.
Any IHRA director who believes another IHRA director has an undeclared conflict of interest should specify in writing the basis of this potential conflict and share this with the chair of the board, or a co-executive director, for actioning.
IHRA directors will declare any conflicts of interest either at the start of a board meeting or when a relevant issue arises. The nature of this conflict of interest will be entered into the meeting minutes.
Where a conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest is identified and/or registered:
- the IRHA director must not participate in discussion or vote on a matter, unless, recognising the small size of our organisation, expressly invited to do so by unanimous agreement by all other IHRA directors present.
If a person declares themselves to have existing or potential conflict of interest confidentiality will be respected. If a person alleges that another person has a conflict of interest, whether existing or potential, and if IHRA cannot resolve this allegation to the satisfaction of both parties, the matter will be referred to an ad hoc ethics sub-committee of the board which may be established as required. This sub-committee will make a recommendation to the board as to what action will be taken.
IHRA directors will document and report to the board any governance breaches and complaints, including those received from regulatory authorities. Such breaches and complaints may include: bribes, non-compliance to code of behaviour, corruption, fraud, deliberate omissions, theft of inventory or funds, false invoicing, misdirection or misappropriation of remittances received, unauthorised use of credit card, theft of intellectual property or confidential information, financial reporting fraud, release or misuse of misleading information, insider trading, misuse of position by IHRA members or staff to gain some form of financial or other advantage.
Disclosures of improper conduct by individuals under the Whistleblowers Protection Act 2001 are considered a source of detection of governance breaches.
All apparent governance breaches will be assessed and investigated to determine their cause and reduce the chance of recurrence.
Board members and co-executive directors must refer all criminal breaches to the Police for investigation.
Where an IHRA director is found to be involved in a governance breach the member may be removed or suspended.
Fraud and Corruption
- will not tolerate fraudulent or corrupt behaviour and will aim to deter and prevent such behaviour in the performance of its business operations.
- will view the responsibility for an anti-fraud culture as the joint duty of all those involved in giving direction, determining policy and management.
- will respond against fraud and corruption whether it is attempted against IHRA from outside or from within its own workforce.
- expects that staff and directors will lead by example in ensuring adherence to legal requirements, contracts procedure rules, financial procedure rules, codes of conduct and professional practice.
- will provide clear guidelines by which concerns can be raised by staff, volunteers and members and those outside the organisation who are providing, using or paying for services.
- expects the co-executive directors to deal swiftly and firmly with those who defraud IHRA or who are corrupt.
- will ensure that procedural and operating activities are established and monitored to deal with situations of suspected or actual wrongdoing, fraud and corruption.
- will regularly assess the adequacy of the internal control environment and consider whether improvements are required and implemented where fraud or corruption is suspected or proven.
- will positively encourage staff, volunteers and members to raise any concerns that they may have on these issues when they are associated with the organisation’s activities.
- will use the Whistleblowers Protection Act 2001 for guidance on the support and safeguards that are available to people that do raise concerns.
- will ensure concerns are treated in confidence, properly investigated and dealt with fairly.
- will ensure internal abuse of this Policy, such as raising malicious or vexatious allegations, are dealt with as a disciplinary matter.
The Responsible Officer
As the Responsible Officers, the co-executive directors will:
- promote awareness of the principles and practices it contains;
- maintain records of malpractice, including concerns and allegations received, matters arising from audits, investigations and evidence and the outcomes;
- report within two working days to the board of directors.
Authorised date: 25 March 2021
Review due date: 30 June 2021