Public Accountability

The University is a public institution, established for the benefit of the South Australian community.

The University of Adelaide is established in continuance by the University of Adelaide Act 1971 (SA) with the object being "the advancement of learning and knowledge, including the provision of university education." The Council is the governing body of the University and has a statutory obligation to oversee, monitor and advance the object of the University.

While the University is not a public sector agency, there are public accountability obligations set out in the University of Adelaide Act (the Act) and other State and Commonwealth legislation.

Under the Act, the Council must ensure that a report on the activities of the University is provided to the Minister (SA) each year. The Annual Report is tabled in the South Australian Parliament.

The University is an agency under the Freedom of Information Act 1991 (SA), the Ombudsman Act 1972 (SA) and the State Records Act 1997 (SA). The University is a public authority under the ICAC Act 2012 (SA). Our financial accounts are audited by the Auditor-General because the University is a public authority under the Public Finance and Audit Act 1987 (SA).

Many of the University's activities are funded by Government and the community. We are accountable to regulators, auditors and funding bodies for the expenditure of public monies.

An overview of some accountability agencies and obligations are set out below. See also: Educational Compliance and Research Ethics, Compliance and Integrity.

  • Ombudsman

    The Ombudsman Act 1972 (SA) provides for the appointment of an Ombudsman whose role is to resolve complaints arising from actions & decisions of government agencies.

    The Ombudsman can also investigate complaints made against Universities including the University of Adelaide. Complaints that can be investigated by the Ombudsman include any action or inaction by the University relating to University administration.

    This means that as a staff member of the University, actions undertaken in your University capacity could be investigated by the Ombudsman. It could also mean that you may be contacted by the Ombudsman to provide evidence or participate in an investigation - you must comply with the Ombudsman's requests.

    For more information about the Ombudsman please refer to the Ombudsman Act 101 or to the legislation.

  • Auditor General

    The Public Finance and Audit Act 1987 (SA) provides for the appointment of an Auditor-General as the independent auditor of the South Australian public sector.

    The Auditor-General contributes to public sector financial accountability and performance and is responsible for the audit and examination of state and local government agencies.

    The University is an agency under the Act and is subject to audits performed by the Auditor General.

    For more information about the Auditor General SA please visit the South Australian Auditor-General website.

    Annual Reporting

    In accordance with the Public Finance and Audit Act 1987 (SA), the University of Adelaide must comply with its reporting requirements as outlined in the Treasurer's Instruction 19 - Financial Reporting and submit an Annual Report.

    The Annual report must include the University's Annual Financial Statements, Budgetary Control & Reporting and Maintenance of Financial Records.

    For more information about the University's financial reporting obligations please see the requirements set out in the Treasurer's Instruction.


  • ICAC

    As a member of the University of Adelaide community you are a Public Officer under the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 2012 (SA). All University Officers, employees (including those seconded to other organisations), titleholders, consultants and contractors providing services to the University are considered "Public Officers".

    As a Public Officer you have a responsibility to report all incidents of apparent or actual Fraud or Corruption in the workplace. 

    Complaints or reports under the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 2012 (SA) should be made to the Office for Public Integrity. For more information about your reporting obligations or how to make a report please refer to the University's ICAC resources for Public Officers webpage and Reporting to Office for Public Integrity FAQs.

  • ACNC

    The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) is a government organisation that manages a register of charities in Australia. The University of Adelaide is on the ACNC's Charity Register and must comply with a number of ongoing obligations to remain on the list.

    These obligations include;

    For more information about the ACNC and the University's obligations as a registered charity, please visit the ACNC website.


  • Funding agreements

    The University has a number of funding agreements with bodies such as the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the Australian Research Council (ARC) as well as block funding and research grants.

    Many of these funding agreements have terms relating to the expenditure of the funds and the University must comply with these for the continuation of the agreements.

    For more information about University policies and procedures for funding agreements please visit the University's Research Grants, Contracts and Consultancies Policy and the Contracts and Agreements Policy.

  • Anti-bribery legislation

    The Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) establishes two types of offences relating to the bribery of Public Officials in any Australian or international jurisdiction:

    • Providing a bribe or a gift to a public official in any Australian or international jurisdiction in order to influence their decision;
    • Falsifying any sort of accounting document to conceal a bribe

    There are significant penalties for individuals (including imprisonment) and for the University for any contravention of the Act. More information about Anti-Bribery Legislation and Penalties is available here.

    Transparency International

    Transparency International is an independent international organisation with a mission to advance accountability, integrity and transparency globally. The organisation has assisted in the creation of anti-corruption conventions and held companies accountable for corruption both locally and internationally.

    Transparency International also collects data on corruption and produces documents such as the 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index which illustrates corruption globally. There is also an anti-corruption glossary which provides more information about different types of corruption to be aware of and other key terms around prevention.

Reporting suspected wrongdoing

Have you seen something in the University that you think is wrong? Depending on the circumstances, there are certain people you can, and should, talk to.

Whistleblower protection

If you're concerned that there might be action taken against you for reporting wrongdoing, you may wish to make a protected disclosure under the University's Whistleblower Policy.