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Code of ethics and conduct

Purpose

This Code of Ethics and Conduct has been developed to provide all workers at the Art Gallery of NSW (the Gallery) with an ethical framework for decision making, actions and behaviour.  This forms part of the worker’s contract with the Gallery.

The Ethical Framework is to be demonstrated by all workers engaged by the Gallery in their working relations with other workers, clients, customers, stakeholders and the government of the day.

The Code applies at all times when workers are acting in the course of or in connection with the Gallery.

Our mission

From its base in Sydney, the Art Gallery of New South Wales has a mission as the State art museum to serve the widest possible audience as a centre of excellence for the collection, preservation, documentation, interpretation and display of Australian and international art, and a forum for scholarship, art education and the exchange of ideas.

Application

This Code applies to all workers engaged by the Art Gallery of NSW including all employees, all volunteers, all contractors, all Trustees, all Board and Committee members and all interns.

Definitions 

Director means the Director under section 4 of the Art Gallery of NSW Act 1980, and includes a person appointed as acting Director

Employee means a worker who is paid by the Gallery’s Human Resources Department and holds a casual, temporary or on-going position at the Gallery.

Gallery means the Art Gallery of NSW and includes all work sites owned or operated by the Gallery.

Gallery Executive includes the Director, Deputy Director and Director of Collections, Chief Operating Officer, Director of Public Engagement and the Director of Development.

GSE Act means the Government Sector Employment Act 2013

GSE Rules means Government Sector Employment Rules issued by the NSW Public Service Commissioner

Worker means an employee, volunteer, contractor, trustee, board or committee member or intern engaged by the Gallery.

Introduction

Part 2 of the GSE Act establishes the Ethical Framework for the Government Sector which applies to the Gallery.  The objective, core values and principles of the Ethical Framework are to be demonstrated in the conduct of all Gallery workers.

Objective

  • Recognise the role of the government sector in preserving the public interest, defending public value and adding professional quality and value commitments to the Government of the day.

  • Establish an ethical framework for a merit-based, apolitical and professional government sector that implements the decisions of the Government of the day.

Core values

The core values for the Gallery and the principles that guide their implementation are:

 Integrity

  • Consider people equally without prejudice or favour

  • Act professionally with honesty, consistency and impartiality

  • Take responsibility for situations, showing leadership and courage

  • Place the public interest over personal interest.

Trust

  • Appreciate difference and welcome learning from others

  • Build relationships based on mutual respect

  • Uphold the law, institutions of government and democratic principles.

  • Communicate intentions clearly and invite teamwork and collaboration

  • Provide apolitical and non-partisan advice

Service

  • Provide services fairly with a focus on customer needs

  • Be flexible, innovative and reliable in service delivery

  • Engage with the not-for-profit and business sectors to develop and implement service solutions

  • Focus on quality while maximising service delivery

Accountability

  • Recruit and promote employees on merit

  • Take responsibility for decisions and actions

  • Provide transparency to enable public scrutiny

  • Observe standards for safety

  • Be fiscally responsible and focus on efficient, effective and prudent us of resources.

General provisions

There is no hierarchy among the core values and each is of equal importance.

 Nothing in the ethical framework gives rise to, or can be taken into account in any civil cause of action.

Mandatory conduct

All Gallery workers have responsibilities to:

  •  Demonstrate high levels of personal conduct consistent with the Ethical Framework

  • Seek assistance when unsure about how to implement the Ethical Framework

  • Promote the implementation of the Ethical Framework to their colleagues

  • Report possible breaches of the Ethical Framework to relevant officers.

 

All Gallery Executives, Managers and Supervisors have the responsibilities as outlined above and in addition:

  • Lead and promote implementation of the Ethical Framework in their workplace

  • Ensure their workplace culture, practices and systems (including recruitment and promotion) operate consistently with the Ethical Framework

  • Recognise and promote worker and team conduct that exemplifies the Ethical Framework

  • Act promptly and with due process to prevent and address any breaches of the Ethical Framework

  • Ensure that any real or perceived conflicts of interests are avoided or effectively managed.

  • All Senior Executives must declare in writing private interests that have the potential to influence, or could be perceived to influence, decisions made or advice given by the senior executive

The Director of the Gallery has the responsibilities as outlined above and in addition:

  •  Lead and promote implementation of the Ethical Framework across the Gallery

  • Ensure the general conduct and management of the functions and activities of the Gallery is in accordance with the core values of the Ethical Framework

  • Oversee the implementation of the Ethical Framework and make improvements where necessary

 

When is the Ethical Framework to be applied?

The Ethical Framework is to be applied at all times in working relations with colleagues, clients, customers, stakeholders and the government of the day.

How do I act in the public interest?

You should treat all people with whom you have contact in the course of your work:

  • Equally without prejudice or favour

  • With honesty, consistency and impartiality

You should also in the course of your work:

  •  Place the public interest over your personal interest

  • Uphold the law, institutions of government and democratic principles

  • Provide apolitical and non-partisan advice

  • Provide transparency to enable public scrutiny

  • Be fiscally responsible and focus on efficient, effective and prudent use of resources.

Acting in the public interest requires leadership, courage and innovation to develop practical recommendations and actions that are consistent with the core values and will help the Government of the day achieve its objectives.  Acting in ways that are expedient or convenient, but which do not promote the integrity, trust, service and accountability of the public sector is not in the public interest.

How do I manage conflicts of interest?

Sometimes you may find that your private interests make it difficult for you to perform your duties impartially in the public interest.  This may happen when there is a direct conflict between your current duties and responsibilities and your private interests (an ‘actual’ conflict of interests); when a person could reasonably perceive that your private interest are likely to improperly influence the performance of your official duties; whether or not this is in fact the case (a ‘reasonably perceived’ conflict of interest) or when you have a private interest that could conflict with your official duties in the future (a ‘potential’ conflict of interest.)  Actions you should take include:

  • Always disclose actual, potential or reasonably perceived conflicts of interest to your manager as soon as you become aware of the conflict

  • Where a conflict of interest occurs it should always be resolved in favour of the public interest, rather than your own.

To resolve any conflicts of interests that occur, or could occur, a range of options is available depending on the significance of the conflict.  These options include, but are not limited to:

  • Informing likely affected persons that a disclosure has been made, giving details and the agency’s view that there is no actual conflict or the potential for conflict is minimal.

  • Appointing further persons to a panel/committee/team to minimise the actual or perceived influence or involvement of the person with the actual or reasonably perceived conflict

  • Where the person likely to be concerned about a potential, actual or reasonably perceived conflict are identifiable, seeking their views as to whether they object to the person having any, or any further involvement in the matter

  • Restricting the access of the person to relevant information that is sensitive, confidential or secret

  • Directing the person to behave at all times in ways that are consistent with the Gallery’s responsibilities and functions

  • Removing the person from duties or from responsibility to make decisions in relation to which the ‘conflict’ arises and relocating those duties to another employee (who is not supervised by the person with the ‘conflict’).

  • Persons with a conflict who are members of boards or committees absenting themselves from or not taking part in any debate or voting on the issue.

Gallery employees who undertake procurement processes for the Gallery such as purchasing supplies, equipment or engaging contractors and consultants are banned from accepting gifts, benefits and hospitality from such providers.  If gifts, benefits or hospitality is inadvertently accepted, they are to be recorded in the Gifts Register and either retained by the Gallery or donated to Charity.

As a senior executive, how do I declare private interests?

A senior executive (including an acting senior executive) must make a written declaration of private financial, business, personal or other interests or relationships that have the potential to influence, or could be perceived to influence decisions made or advice given by the senior executive.

Where a senior executive has no such private interests to declare a nil return must be made.

After a senior executive makes an initial declaration, a fresh declaration must be made:

  • As soon as practicable, following any relevant change in the senior executive’s private interests

  • As soon as practicable, following the senior executive’s assignment to a new role or responsibility.

  • At least annually.

A form is available on the intranet or from Administration to declare private interests.

A senior executive must provide their declaration to the Director of the Gallery.  The Director of the Gallery must provide their declaration to the Secretary for the Department of Justice.

How do I treat colleagues, customers, clients and stakeholders?

All Gallery workers are to treat their colleagues, customers, clients and stakeholders by:

  •  Considering people equally without prejudice or favour

  • Acting professionally with honesty, consistency and impartiality

  • Taking responsibility for situations, showing leadership and courage

  • Placing the public interest over personal interest

  • Appreciating difference and welcoming learning from others

  • Recognising and respecting the rich culture and history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their ongoing connections to Australia

  • Building relationships on mutual respect

  • Upholding the law, institutions of government and democratic principles

  • Communicating intentions clearly and inviting teamwork and collaboration

  • Providing apolitical and non-partisan advice

  • Providing services fairly with a focus on customer needs

  • Being flexible, innovative and reliable in service delivery

  • Engaging with the not-for-profit and business sectors to develop and implement service solutions

  • Focusing on quality while maximising service delivery

  • Recruiting and promoting employees on merit

  • Taking responsibility for decisions and actions

  • Providing transparency to enable public scrutiny

  • Observing standards for safety

  • Being fiscally responsible and focus on efficient, effective and prudent use of resources.

How should I interact with lobbyists?

All Gallery employees must comply with Premier’s Memorandum M2014-13 – NSW Lobbyists Code of Conduct published on the Department of Premier and Cabinet website, as amended from time to time.

You must use Gallery resources in an efficient, effective and prudent way.  Never use Gallery resources – money, property, equipment or consumables – for your personal benefit or for an unauthorised purpose.

 If you are responsible for receiving, spending or accounting for money, ensure you know, understand and comply with the requirements of the Government Sector Finance Act 2018, the Public Works and Procurement Act 1912 and the Government Advertising Act 2011.

Can I make a public comment on behalf of the Gallery?

Workers are not authorised to make public comment on behalf of the Gallery to a journalist or to the media unless they have been authorised by the Director or the Communications Team.

Public comment includes public speaking engagements, expressing views or comments in print media, online, on radio, television, social media, blogs, letters or comments to newspapers or articles in books, journals notices or any forum where it might be expected that the publication or circulation of the comment will spread to the community at large. 

Should a worker be approached by a journalist or a media outlet for comment or an interview, or if they are unsure of Gallery media policy, they can contact the Communications Team who will determine the best way to handle the enquiry.

Workers are not authorised to provide images of the Gallery or artworks from the Gallery’s collections or exhibitions directly to media.  Again, please contact the Communications Team should a media outlet request an image for publication.

What about social media?

Liking, sharing, or making positive comments about the Gallery’s posts is at the worker’s discretion.  Workers may make positive comments about the Gallery and works from the Gallery’s collection and exhibitions on their own social media channels, if the following guidelines are adhered to.

  • Respect colleagues and always ask permission before posting images of individuals.

  • Preserve the confidentiality of non-public and proprietary information as well as the security of artworks by always seeking permission before posting images of installation under production in both public and non-public spaces, or back-of-house areas.

  • Workers are expected to maintain the same standards of professional conduct and behaviour online as is expected in the workplace

  • Workers are encouraged to wherever possible tag the Gallery in posts @artgalleryofnsw

  • Workers are not authorised to use social media to disparage the Gallery.  If workers feel aggrieved about anything related to their work at the Gallery, they should discuss the issue with their supervisor or manager, or follow the Gallery’s grievance procedures.

Sharing images of artworks and events at the Gallery is important and encouraged, however Gallery workers must be mindful of, and adhere to, image rights and restrictions.

In some exhibitions photography of artworks may not be permitted due to contractual obligations.

The Gallery owns copyright to a very small number of works in the collection. Most of the artworks on display, within the Gallery at any time, are protected by copyright. The Gallery respects artist’s copyright and we ask that you do too.

On request Rights and Image Licensing can assist you with advice on which artworks can and cannot be shared on social media. They can assess the copyright status of an artwork for you, if required provide you with the correct contact for seeking permission and also provide correct caption attribution.

Posting images of artworks on social media without permission could result in legal action against the individual and may also damage the Gallery’s reputation and relationships with artists and/or lending institutions. It is your responsibility to avoid infringing artist copyrights.

The prior approval of the Director is required before employees of the Gallery may engage in any form of paid employment outside their official duties.

In all cases when outside employment is considered, employees should give their Gallery employment first consideration, and no work for personal financial gain should be undertaken it if conflicts with the purposes of the Gallery or could raise doubts over their professional integrity or could give rise to a situation of conflict of interest.  For further information please see the secondary employment policy.

Workers are advised they need to avoid offers of employment that require the use of confidential Gallery information or intellectual property. Former workers are not entitled to use confidential information gained while employed by the Gallery. Workers must be careful in their dealings with former workers and ensure that no confidential information is passed on, particularly information that may benefit former workers.

The collection

Employees with responsibility for the collection should ensure that all artworks accepted either temporarily or permanently, are acquired in accordance with the established policy and procedures of the Gallery and are properly and fully documented.

Employees should allow scholars access to the collection of the Gallery, subject to there being no possibility of damage being caused to artworks.

Employees who conduct scholarly research related to collections should recognise that there is an obligation to make available to the Gallery the results of that research within a reasonable time after completion of the work, or during the process of that research if appropriate.

All Gallery workers should attend Caring for the Collection Workshops and abide by the guidelines outlined at these sessions.

Training

All new employees, volunteers, contractors, board or committee members or interns are provided with a copy of the Code prior to commencement of duty and are to attend an induction session regarding the application of the Code.  When major changes are made to the Code the Gallery will distribute the Code and hold information sessions on the changes.

Behaviour contrary to the code

The effect of behaviour that is contrary to the code

Behaviour contrary to this Code and to the Ethical Framework for the Government Sector can bring individual employees into disrepute, undermine productive work relationships in the workplace, hinder customer service delivery and damage public trust in the Gallery or the broader government sector.

If you are unsure of what is appropriate conduct under any particular circumstances, discuss the matter with your supervisor, manager or the relevant members of the Gallery’s Executive.

If you see behaviour contrary to this code

If you see someone act in ways that are contrary to this Code, you should in the first instance discuss that person’s behaviour with your immediate supervisor or manager or report your concerns to any members of the Gallery’s Executive. 

If you believe certain conduct is not just unethical, but may also be corrupt, a serious and substantial waste of government resources, maladministration or a breach of government information and privacy rights, then report your concerns to the Gallery’s Public Interest Disclosure Coordinator which is the Chief Operating Officer, the Director or the relevant investigating authority (such as the Ombudsman, the Independent Commission Against Corruption or he Auditor General).  Under the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994, it is both a criminal offence and misconduct to take reprisals against an employee who makes a public interest disclosure. 

In cases where the allegation is minor or of a low level, your manager will usually discuss this matter directly with you.  If the allegations are more serious, a formal process may be required.

If you are investigating an allegation of a behaviour that is contrary to this Code, you must ensure your decision-making is fair and reasonable by acting with four principles:

  • Procedural fairness for both the complainant and staff member

  • Investigations should be handled expeditiously.  This will minimise the potential for breaches of confidentiality and lack of procedural fairness

  • Confidentiality for all parties, where practicable and appropriate, until such time as the investigation process is completed

  • Meticulous record keeping, including recording of reasons for all significant decisions

For employees of the Gallery, the GSE Act and GSE Rules set out how allegations of misconduct are to be dealt with.

Part 8 of the GSE Rules sets out the procedural requirements for dealing with allegations of misconduct, which include requirements that you be advised of the detail of the allegation; the process to be undertaken to investigate and resolve the matter and that you be provided with an opportunity to respond to the allegations.

The GSE Act sets out the actions that the Director may take where there is a finding of misconduct against an employee.  These actions are as follows:

  • Terminate the employment of the employee (without giving the employee an opportunity to resign

  • Terminate the employment of the employee (after giving the employee an opportunity to resign)

  • Impose a fine on the employee (which may be deducted from the remuneration payable to the employer)

  • Reduce the remuneration payable to the employee

  • Reduce the classification or grade of the employee

  • Assign the employee to a different role

  • Caution or reprimand the employee

Grievance process

If a worker feels aggrieved regarding the implementation of this Code, including the application of GSE rules regarding misconduct and the matter has been dealt with by the Director, they may seek to have the matter considered by the President of the Board of Trustees and/or the Chair of the Finance, Audit and Risk Committee.

Relevant legislation

A principle of the Ethical Framework is to uphold the law.  The law includes but is not limited to:

  • Art Gallery of NSW Act 1980

  • Government Sector Employment Act 2013

  • Government Sector Financial Act 2018

  • Anti-Discrimination Act 1977

  • Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009

  • Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994

  • Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988

  • Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998

  • Public Works and Procurement Act 1912

  • Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002

  • Work Health and Safety Act 2011

  • Government Advertising Act 2011

  • Ombudsman Act 1974

  • State Records Act 1998

  • Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act1998

  • Child Protection (Working with children) Act 2012

  • Crimes Act (1900)

Good practice guides

Good practice guide 1 – deciding and acting ethically

To make the best available decision:

Scope the problem

Clarify the scope of the problem and consider carefully how the problem affects (or may affect in the future) work colleagues; clients and customers; stakeholders and the government of the day.  Wherever possible, consult affect people and communities./

Develop options

Develop a mix of options that address these questions:

  • Duties: What are your responsibilities as defined by the law, Government policies, Gallery procedures and your role description?  Is it legal?  Is it consistent with the principles and policies of the Gallery and the NSW government sector?

  • Results: Which options will yield the greater benefit (or least harm) to the most people and minimise the number of people who might be disadvantaged – in the short and longer term?  What will the consequences be for your colleagues, the Gallery and yourself?  What will the consequences be for other parties?

  • Justice: Which options support due process, transparency, fair compensation for any loss and fair treatment of those affected by any decision?

  • Rights: Which options support the legal rights of citizens?

  • Public interest: Which options best advance the public interest, without regard to your own reputation, career personal views or potential for personal gain or loss?

  • Resources: What is the likely impact on government finances, workforce, infrastructure and other assets?

  • Innovation: Can the issue be addressed in new ways (such as the redesign of services, reengineering of work practices or a new model of service delivery?

Evaluate and decide

Choose the option that best addresses the above issues and in the public interest, supports integrity, builds trust, delivers better services and ensures accountability.  To establish if your actions are consistent with the Ethical Framework consider your answers to the following questions:

  • Integrity: Would your colleagues say you had considered the views of all interested parties and acted in the right way, even if it was at your personal cost?

  • Trust: Would your action, if it became public, build confidence in the public sector?

  • Service: Would your clients and customers say yopur actions improved the quality of the services they receive?

  • Accountability: Would the Director of the Gallery say your actions are consistent with the Ethical Framework and the law?

Implement

Implement the decision in ways that are consistent with the objectives, values and principles of the Ethical Framework.

Review and identify opportunities for continuous improvement.

Good practice guide 2 – encouraging ethical behaviour by other workers

Ways to support the ethical behaviour of other employees include:

Personal

Encourage your colleagues to act ethically by making decisions and acting ethically yourself.

Interpersonal

Encourage all workers to openly discuss ways to better implement the Ethical Framework in their individual actions, your team’s practices and in services to clients and customers./

Organisational

Ensure the leadership, culture, governance, management and work practices, individual employee behaviour and customer services of the Gallery are consistent with the Ethical Framework.

Further information

For further information about this Code of Ethics and Conduct please contact the Gallery’s Human Resources department.

As it is not possible to provide detailed guidance in relation to all situations where ethical conflicts might arise, if in any doubt, workers are strongly encouraged to discuss matters with their manager or executive member.