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Conflicts of interest

Specific conflicts
Community Services Act & Disability Services Act

A conflict of interest may occur when a person allows a personal interest to clash with a public duty. Acting in conflict of interest is to act unethically and sometimes unlawfully. In a general way, acting in conflict of interest calls into question the trust and confidence that the public needs to put in service providers, particularly those who suggest they are independent, unbiased and non-partisan.

Examples of unethical and unlawful acts in conflict of interest might be where a city councillor takes a monetary payment in exchange for confidential information, or where a community worker takes a substantial gift in exchange for provision of services not normally available.

When considering conflicts of interests for your organisation and its community workers, ask yourselves:

does your organisation have a policy on conflicts of interest?
does your organisation have particular policies on conflict situations?
has a risk assessment been carried out to identify possible areas of conflict?
has the outcomes of the risk assessment been addressed and implemented?
is risk assessment undertaken in an ongoing way?
do you have policies on misuse of confidential client information?
do you have policies on non-declaration of relevant personal interests?
do you have policies on unsanctioned acceptance of gifts and/or monetary payments?
do you have policies on misuse of business property?

Specific conflictsBack to top

Specific conflicts might include:

misuse of confidential client information
non-declaration of relevant personal interests
unsanctioned acceptance of gifts and/or monetary payments
misuse of business property.

A checklist of things to do to help ensure against conflicts of interest would include:

identifying relevant codes, rules, and by-laws
ensuring that workplace policies accord with relevant codes
ensuring that your organisation has a process to assess client conflicts
identifying who is responsible for assessment and reporting
identifying if there are professional supports or advisers available
do you need to advise in writing.
how can you advise without breaching confidence

Community Services Act & Disability Services ActBack to top

Both Community Services Act (and Regulations) and Disability Services Act (and Regulations) establish requirements about conflicts of interest:

The Disability Services Regulation requires organisations to keep and implement a conflict of interest policy (regulation 12)
The Community Services Regulation requires organisations to keep and implement a conflict of interest policy (regulation 16)