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State public service given stern reminder about ethics, behaviour

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South Australia’s 107,000 public sector employees have been issued a stern reminder of their expected behaviour, following the fallout from recent scandals in Canberra.

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Commissioner for Public Sector Employment Erma Ranieri this afternoon sent an email to all staff with “an essential and timely reminder”.

“As South Australian public sector employees, our relationship with the government and community is established on trust and the expectation that we will act respectfully and with the utmost professional integrity,” she said in her email.

“Like many of you, I have been alarmed at the recent reports and news stories on harassment within workplaces across Australia.”

Ranieri pointed workers to the public sector’s code of ethics which she said “clearly details expected conduct and behaviour of all public sector employees”.

“It is binding 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” she said.

“I cannot be clearer: bullying, harassment or disrespectful behaviour will not be tolerated. If you are found to have engaged in these behaviours, you are in breach of the Code and you may be subject to disciplinary sanction, which may include termination of employment.

“There is no place in the Public Sector for this type of behaviour.”

She told employees it was “crucial” they reported unethical behaviour.

“All employees are required to do so under the Code to ensure we create an environment in which all of our colleagues and the public feel safe,” she said.

“Any behaviour of a fellow public sector employee that you suspect violates a law, presents a danger to public health or safety, or amounts to inappropriate conduct or behaviour must be reported to one or more of the following, depending on the circumstances:

“I recognise this can be challenging,” she said.

“You may feel unsafe or fear repercussions, but please be assured you can make a report to my Office under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2018, which protects your identity and ensures you will not be victimised.”

Ranieri also told employees she was “aware that recent reports and media coverage can bring to the surface challenges you may have faced in your past”.

“There is support across the sector such as peer support officers, mental health first aiders and employee assistance program providers who are available to assist,” she said.

“We are all responsible for keeping our workplaces safe and respectful for everyone. If you need help or see anything inappropriate, please report it.”

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