Code of Conduct Investigations

If you are in the Australian Public Service, it is possible that you might become one of the hundreds of people who are investigated each year for a code of conduct breach.

What we do

Australian Public Servants are bound by a statutory code of conduct which requires them to adhere to certain standards of conduct. The Code of Conduct is far reaching, in that it does not just prescribe the way an APS employee has to behave in when at work, but also more broadly in upholding the reputation of the particular Agency, the APS and (while overseas) Australia.

If you are an Australian Public Servant, you need to be very careful when responding to official requests for information in connection with your employment because if you give false information or respond in a way that is misleading that may of itself be a breach of the Code of Conduct.


Breaches of the Code of Conduct can lead to an investigation. The specific process varies between government agencies, but generally speaking you can expect:

  • You will be given written notice of the complaint about breach;
  • There will be a period of investigation and information gathering including interviews with the people involved;
  • You will be asked for your written response;
  • You will be given a written determination about whether a breach has occurred;
  • If you have been found to be in breach, you will be given an opportunity to make submissions about the appropriate sanction; and,
  • You will be given a written determination about any sanction that will be applied.

Code of Conduct investigations can also bring up a multitude of legal issues, including whistle-blower protections, discrimination, procedural fairness and many others.

Not necessarily, but these matters need to be taken seriously as they affect your livelihood and your prospects of future work as an APS employee.  Getting assistance can really make a difference to the outcome.  We have a wealth of experience in Code of Conduct matters — both on the employee side and on the the agency side — and we can add value by:

  • Explaining the Code of Conduct obligations in light of the notice you have received, so that you understand whether the matter is trivial or serious.
  • Helping you draft your written submissions to put your side of the story in the best possible light.
  • Attending investigatory meetings as a support person, to help minimise stress and ensure sure you understand what is happening.
  • Ensuring the process (including any investigation) is being properly conducted.
  • Providing advice about whether you might have a claim against someone at the end of the process.

To get one of our specialist lawyers on your case now, click here