Professional Conduct Coordinator
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Professional Conduct Coordinator

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Improving Accountability, Transparency and Governance

 

Our Professional Conduct Coordinator is helping Council improve its transparency, accountability and governance.

The Professional Conduct Coordinator is responsible for coordinating and undertaking independent investigations into complaints against Council staff and services in the areas of:

  • corrupt conduct
  • maladministration
  • serious waste of public funds

This appointment is one of the many changes Council has made to improve its systems, procedures and policies following the 2008 Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Hearing. The employment of a Professional Conduct Coordinator has been in place at Council since September 2008.

If you have concerns about suspected unethical, fraudulent or corrupt behaviour, you should contact Council’s Professional Conduct Coordinator or the ICAC. Council's Professional Conduct Coordinator (Catherine Geenty) can be contacted by calling (02) 4227 7111 or emailing pcc@wollongong.nsw.gov.au.

Specifics of the Professional Conduct Coordinator Role

The PCC determines and allocates complaints to the appropriate person or body for investigation. This includes ensuring the complaints are referred to the appropriate statutory body, such as ICAC, NSW Ombudsman, Division of Local Government or NSW Police. The PCC tables reports on the issues being investigated to Council's Corporate Governance Committee. This committee considers the reports in a closed session. Some of the recommendations are reported to the committee in open session and some of the information in the report is protected disclosure and therefore confidential. The PCC is also Council’s coordinating Public Interest Disclosures Officer. Public Interest Disclosure Officers work within the provisions of the Privacy legislation.

The recommendations of the Professional Conduct Coordinator about changes required on systemic issues or process or policy changes are provided to the relevant Director or Manager, Executive Management Committee, Audit Committee or Corporate Governance Committee.

The role of the Professional Conduct Coordinator (PCC)

 

 
The role of the PCC is to provide a complaints management service specifically relating to four areas:

 

  1. Alleged corrupt conduct, involving the dishonest or partial exercise of official functions by a public official;
  2. Maladministration, involving action or inaction of a serious nature that is contrary to law, unreasonable, unjust, oppressive, oppressive or improperly discriminatory or based wholly or partly on improper motives;
  3. Serious and substantial waste of public money, including the uneconomical, inefficient or ineffective use of resources that could result in the loss or waste of local government funds;
  4. Breaches of the Council Code of Conduct that are relevant to items (a), (b) and (c) above.

The PCC gives guidance and advice to the General Manager and Council officers about how to improve probity, accountability and transparency in decision making to reduce the likelihood of corrupt conduct and maladministration. This is done through proactive education and training of Council staff in relation to matters such as ethical decision making, fraud and corruption prevention awareness, internal reporting policy, and expected standards of behaviour as described in the Council's Code of Conduct. In addition, the PCC refers to the relevant manager for appropriate action systemic issues or process/policy changes identified during the complaints management process.

Who can make a Complaint?


Complaints can be made to the PCC by a member of the community, a Council staff member, or a Councillor.

Who is Covered?


Complaints can be made to the PCC about the alleged conduct of Council staff (permanent, temporary, full time or part time), contractors, consultants and volunteers.

A complaint about the PCC should be made to the General Manager .

Complaints relating to the General Manager and/or the Councillors are covered under the Code of Conduct Complaint Handling Policy.  Under this Policy, complaints relating to the General Manager should be referred to the Lord Mayor and complaints relating to any Councillor should be referred to the General Manager.

Process of Assessing Complaints


A PCC Assessment Committee, comprising the General Manager, the PCC, the Manager Human Resources and the Manager Governance and Information meets on a monthly, or as needs basis..

The Committee :

  • undertakes an initial assessment of a complaint and determine whether it should be investigated, referred elsewhere in Council for appropriate action or referred to an external agency such as the ICAC or the Department of Local Government;
  • makes a determination following an investigation, as to what, if any, further action is required including but not limited to possible disciplinary action, changes to policies/procedures to address systemic issues, training and education;
  • assesses matters for closure and any recommendations on systemic issues, once a complaint is finalised. 

The PCC:

  • makes an initial preliminary assessment of a complaint to determine whether it is a matter that falls within their role as described above;
  • refers the matter to another area of Council if it is outside the jurisdiction of the PCC and inform the complainant accordingly;
  • refers to the PCC Assessment Committee matters within their jurisdiction for a determination as to appropriate action including whether referral to any external bodies such as the ICAC, NSW Ombudsman, Division of Local Government or NSW Police is required;
  • coordinates and/or undertakes further inquiries/investigations as requested by the PCC Assessment Committee and report back to the Committee once such actions are complete;
  • refers matters to the PCC Assessment Committee for a final determination once all relevant information is available;
  • implements the PCC Assessment Committee determination including closing complaint cases, making recommendations for process improvement on systemic issues and informing all relevant parties of the outcome.

What matters are not covered by the PCC?

There are a range of issues which are not within the jurisdiction of PCC including:

  • Grievance and dispute procedures as set out in the Local Government State Award;
  • Performance Management issues;
  • Complaints the subject of current investigation by the ICAC, the NSW Ombudsman, the NSW Police, the Minister of Local Government or the Department of Local Government;
  • Matters relating to the dismissal of an employee or any industrial disciplinary issue;
  • Matters where a remedy or right of appeal deemed adequate by the PCC

Assessment Committee already exists, whether or not the complainant uses the remedy or right of appeal, unless the matters relates to alleged maladministration, corruption or serious and substantial waste of public money which are not likely to be addressed through the remedy or right of appeal;

  • Matters concerning the actions or conduct of private individuals, unless such persons were Council employees or Councillors at the time such conduct was alleged.

Public Interest Disclosures

The PCC facilitates Council's obligations and reporting under the NSW Public Interest Disclosure Act 1994 (PID Act). This Act relates to the protection of public officials and others in making disclosures, where the nature of those disclosures meets the requirements for consideration under the PID Act. The PCC is Council’s coordinating Public Interest Disclosures Officer.

Making a Complaint

If you have concerns about suspected unethical, fraudulent or corrupt behaviour, you should contact Council’s Professional Conduct Coordinator on (02) 4227 7111 or by emailing pcc@wollongong.nsw.gov.au.
 
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