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Key issues

While considering issues of ethics and conduct, it is important to know if any ethical or conduct frameworks apply to the organisation or worker and if so, what does this mean? Also, are those frameworks mandatory or optional, enforceable or unenforceable? It is also important to know whether the details of such frameworks are written to a minimum, basic or comprehensive standard.

If there are no relevant ethical or conduct frameworks, what does this mean for the workers and for the organisation. This will vary in each case.

Many community workers work under prescribed ethical and conduct standards. These standards, however described, should be observed and followed by community workers at all times. Standards are set out in a number of different ways:

codes of ethics
codes of conduct
legislative standards
contractual or service standards
service or client charters.

To complicate matters, participation within ethical and conduct frameworks may or may not be mandatory and the standards may or may not be enforceable.

In recent times, documents such as service charters or client charters have tended to reflect the concept of mutual standards to be observed by worker and client. Many Government agencies have service charters that reflect the “rights” and “responsibilities” of their clients.
Though ethical and conduct rules do not change regularly, they are not static. It is important to keep up to date by:

maintaining membership of associations
continuing professional development
subscribing to professional journals etc

When reviewing ethics and conduct issues within your organisation, ask yourselves:

Do we know what ethical or conduct frameworks apply?
Do we keep up to date?
What policies and procedures are in place to ensure currency of knowledge?
Are those policies monitored?
Are there any other standards that need to be met?