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OAIC gift policy

Purpose

This document outlines the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s (OAIC) policy on gifts or benefits. It gives staff members, supervisors and Directors guidance on what to do when gifts or benefits are offered to an OAIC staff member or are to be provided to others. Implementation of the policy will ensure that the integrity and reputation of the OAIC are not compromised.

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Introduction

As an independent regulatory agency, the integrity and reputation of the OAIC are critical. From time to time OAIC staff may be offered gifts or benefits. These situations may be sensitive, and they must be handled in a way that demonstrates that OAIC staff members cannot be improperly influenced.

At all times, staff members must act in accordance with the Australian Public Service values and code of conduct.

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Principles

In general:

  • gifts or benefits that may be perceived as representing a conflict of interest should not be accepted
  • gifts or benefits worth over $50 must be recorded on the Gift Register, whether they are accepted or not
  • gifts or benefits worth $50 or less may be recorded on the Gift Register
  • if a gift or benefit is provided on behalf of the OAIC, it must be recorded on the Gift Register.

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Definition

A gift or benefit may include but is not limited to:

  • offers of cash or shares
  • bottles of wine, manufacturer’s samples or personal items
  • promotional materials, including clothes, books, USBs or DVDs
  • sponsored travel
  • airline competition prizes
  • airline upgrades
  • meals or other hospitality
  • accommodation and hire car discounts
  • entertainment, such as meals, seats at sporting or theatre events or golf days
  • discounts on commercial items
  • free or discounted places at training courses, conferences or seminars
  • plants or flowers
  • lottery tickets
  • small items like pens, notepads or keyrings.

Gifts or benefits may be offered to staff members outside normal working hours or while they are on leave. This policy applies in all circumstances.

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Managing offers of gifts or benefits

Should I accept?

Always exercise caution. Consider:

  • is the person or organisation in a contractual or regulatory relationship, or involved in a purchasing process, with the OAIC?
  • is the person or organisation’s primary purpose to lobby Ministers, members of Parliament or agencies?
  • would accepting create an actual or perceived conflict of interest?
  • would accepting create a feeling of obligation?
  • would accepting the gift or benefit reflect poorly on the OAIC if reported in the media or raised before a parliamentary committee?

Where possible staff members should discuss offers of gifts in advance with their Assistant Commissioner.

If you accept

In some cases gifts may be offered in good faith and with no intention or ability to undermine impartiality or independence. An example could be a small gift made by an international visitor. In such cases refusal of a gift may cause embarrassment.

Any gift accepted by an OAIC staff member is accepted on behalf of the OAIC and becomes the property of the OAIC.

Gifts or benefits worth over $50 must be reported promptly to the Assistant Commissioner Operations, using the ‘Record of gift offered to the OAIC’ form. The Assistant Commissioner Operations may decide that the gift will be retained for official purposes, disposed, or retained by the staff member who received it.

The ‘Record of gift offered to the OAIC’ form will be placed on the Gift register.

Staff members may report gifts or benefits worth $50 or less, but this is not mandatory.

If you don’t accept

If a gift or benefit worth over $50 is offered but refused, the circumstances must be recorded on the ‘Record of gift offered to the OAIC’ form.

The ‘Record of gift offered to the OAIC’ form will be placed on the Gift register.

Staff members may report gifts or benefits worth $50 or less that are offered but refused, but this is not mandatory.

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Providing gifts

In some cases the OAIC may offer a gift for official purposes, for example to acknowledge a guest speaker. Any gifts purchased from OAIC funds must be approved in advance by the Assistant Commissioner Operations and reported on the ‘Record of gift offered to the OAIC’ form.

The ‘Record of gift provided by the OAIC’ form will be placed on the Gift Register.

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Gift register

The Gift register will be maintained and held by the Assistant Commissioner, Operations.

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Relevant references

Approval forms

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This page makes up a part of the OAIC Information Publication Scheme IPS