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Integrity and Public Accountability

Have you seen something in the University that you think is wrong?

Everyone involved with the University is expected to act with integrity and be accountable for their actions.
Everyone is expected to report activity or behaviour that they reasonably believe is wrong.

The University does not tolerate illegal activity or those who disregard the laws, codes or University policies that govern its activities. If you have information about something that you suspect or reasonably believe is wrong, you should make a report. This page will help you work out how you can make a report.

Who should I talk to if I suspect wrongdoing?

Depending on the type of wrongdoing that you are concerned about, there are certain people you can, and should, talk to. This might be your Supervisor/Manager, Head of School/Branch, Human Resources Advisor or you may need to make a report to the South Australian Office for Public Integrity.

If you reasonably suspect the wrongdoing involves corruption, or serious or systemic misconduct or maladministration in public administration you must make a report to the Office for Public Integrity ('OPI'). Failure to comply with the Act may in itself constitute misconduct.

If you are concerned that action might be taken against you if you make a report, refer to the Whistleblower Protection section below.

Before you report, first ask: what kind of information do I have?

Is it about:

  • Fraud or Corrupt Activity?
    The Fraud and Corruption Control Policy requires that you report information about suspected fraud, corruption or bribery. In the first instance you should report it to your Supervisor or Head of School/Branch. It is important that you are clear about: the information, or evidence, that you have, the reasons for your report, and details of the person or persons involved.
    • Corruption

      Corruption means the misuse of office or conferred power for personal or private advantage and may include bribery, fraud, nepotism, extortion or dishonesty. Corruption includes conspiring to aid, induce or conceal these offences. Corruption can include improper action taken by personnel to further the purported interests of an organisation.The following are examples of instances of corruption:

      • Improperly using an official position to gain an advantage for oneself or another person
      • Facilitating dishonest behaviour by another for an incentive or "a slice of the action"
      • Allowing personal relationships to improperly influence a decision
      • Unauthorised use, release or destruction of data for personal advantage

      For more information about reporting suspected corruption please refer to the Fraud and Corruption Control Reporting Procedures Diagram.

    • Fraud

      Fraud includes dishonestly obtaining or attempting to obtain a benefit or advantage for any person or dishonestly causing or attempting to cause a detriment to the University of Adelaide or Controlled Entities. The following are examples of instances of fraud:

      • Forging or falsifying documents or signatures
      • Authorising payments for employees for tasks they have not performed or are not qualified to perform
      • Taking University Resources for a personal project that is unrelated to your employment
      • Dishonest use of a University credit card or borrowing from the petty cash tin

      For more information about reporting suspected fraud please refer to the Fraud and Corruption Control Reporting Procedures Diagram.

    • Bribery

      Bribery means offering a person who has official duties in an Australian or other jurisdiction a reward or inducement in order to influence another person in the exercise of official duties. The following are examples of instances of bribery:

      • Paying or accepting secret commissions or "facilitation payments" to ensure a permit will be issued
      • Accepting financial or other reward for amending a student enrolment or transcript
      • Taking a payment in exchange for unauthorised access to University systems

      For more information about reporting suspected bribery please refer to the Fraud and Corruption Control Reporting Procedures Diagram.

    • Facilitation Payments

      Facilitation payments are unofficial payments offered to public officials to secure an administrative outcome or speed up a routine government activity. In some countries, such payments are asserted as customary or as normal business practice. A modest payment by Australian standards may be considered very differently by your host nation, however. The reality is that such payments cannot be justified and are illegal. They are bribes.

      An international movement to eliminate “facilitation payments” has grown in recent years. Most OECD countries have banned them. Many jurisdictions, including Australia, have laws to make it clear that such payments constitute bribery.

      Regardless of where this activity occurs, an Australian may be prosecuted under section 70.2 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth) if they 'provide or offer to someone (directly or indirectly) a benefit that is not legitimately due to that person, with the intention of influencing a foreign public official in the exercise of their duties, in order to obtain or retain a business advantage.' Prosecutors do not have to prove intent to bribe or that a successful business outcome ensued.

      Division 490 of the Criminal Code also makes it an offence to intentionally or recklessly falsify accounting documents to conceal bribery. This means that any person or organisation hiding bribery payments by falsifying financial records, on purpose or through indifference to irregular accounting practices, could be prosecuted.

      Any activity that could be construed as bribery under these laws would be subject to penalties, including significant fines and up to 10 years in prison.

      Facilitation payments should not be made. Irregularities in accounts should not be ignored. Report any requests for facilitation payments or evidence of falsified accounts to your Head of School or Branch.

    • Conflict of Interest

      A conflict of interest is when your personal interests conflict with your duties as a University employee. The Behaviour and Conduct Policy requires that you must report any actual, perceived or potential conflict of interest.

      Failing to declare or properly manage a declared conflict of interest or conflict of duty is a breach of the policy and could be a criminal offence. The following are examples of what an undisclosed conflict of interest may look like:

      • Allowing a personal relationship to improperly influence a decision
      • Receiving a personal benefit by allowing family or friends to improperly access University services
      • Without approval, undertaking external work or employment in conflict with an obligation to the University
      • Obtaining a service or benefit from a potential contractor that may influence your decision on a contract or tender application
      • Accepting a gift from a student and marking their assessment more favourably - if you are offered a gift by a student and feel that accepting that gift could affect your ability to assess the student objectively, you should not accept the gift. Please read more about accepting gifts from students.

      To declare a conflict of interest please refer to the Conflict of Interest Procedure and complete the Conflict of Interest Disclosure Form.

      For more information, please refer to the HR Handbook, the Behaviour and Conduct Policy and the Conflict of Interest Procedure and Disclosure Form.

    • Undue Influence

      Undue influence is when someone, because of their status or position, seeks or is able to derive an outcome that is favourable to them by exerting pressure over you. That pressure is designed to get you to act against the university's best interests or your employment obligations, for example, to comply with university policies and procedures.

      This is similar to a conflict of interest in that a relationship of confidence or trust exists between the two people, but is different in that the benefit is disproportionate.

      The following are examples of undue influence:
      • A well-known alumnus seeks to influence the naming of a building under terms that are inconsistent with the University’s policy.
      • An industry leader makes it clear to a researcher that funding will only continue if a research outcome that favours their business interests is discovered.
      • A highly respected scholar you meet at an international conference offers to collaborate and then asks you to disregard international sanctions that strictly preclude such an arrangement.

      Be alert to indicators of possible undue pressure, such as:

      • Being asked to meet and do business at an unusual or inappropriate time or place
      • Being asked to do business in secrecy
      • Insistent demands that the 'deal' be finalised immediately
      • Over-stating (catastrophising) the consequences of delay
      • Agitation or encouragement to not follow due process, obtain approvals or seek advice.

      The consequence of undue influence can be damaging to you and to the University. If you think that you are being subjected to undue influence, you should refer to the Conflict of Interest Procedure and seek further advice from your supervisor or Legal and Risk Branch.

    You may have obligations under the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Act to make a report to the Office of Public Integrity.

    For more information about when and how you should make a report, please refer to the Office of Public Integrity website.

  • Academic Integrity?

    Academic integrity broadly describes our expectations about the way teaching and research activities are conducted and fostered within the University.* Expectations about integrity are reflected in laws, codes and University policies intended to ensure:

    All members of the University community are expected to act with integrity in all that they do.

    The following are examples that do not meet the expectations and standards of academic integrity:

    • Persistently ignoring instances of plagiarism in a student's submitted assignments
    • Claiming sole authorship for a collaborative research publication
    • Pursuing publication of research findings without the consent of all researchers involved
    • Neglecting to protect or disclose to the University commercially viable intellectual property
    • Deliberately infringing copyright of a third party by reproducing created material on the University's website

    If you are concerned about an activity that does not uphold the principles of Academic Integrity you should report to your supervisor and/or consult the relevant University policy and procedures.

    The Office of Research Ethics, Compliance and Integrity provides detailed information and support about research integrity to the University. If you wish to report a suspected instance of research misconduct, please refer to the section below.

    *The Academic Board is responsible for monitoring and advising on issues of academic integrity.

  • Research Misconduct?

    A complaint or allegation may be a breach of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research if it involves both:

    • intent, deliberation, recklessness or gross and persistent negligence; and
    • serious consequences, such as false information on the public record, or adverse effects on research participants, animals or the environment.

    Examples of research misconduct include:

    • Fabrication, falsification, plagiarism or deception in proposing, carrying out or reporting the results of research;
    • Failure to declare or manage a serious conflict of interest; and
    • Avoidable failure to follow research proposals as approved by a research ethics committee, particularly where this failure may result in unreasonable risk or harm to humans, animals or the environment.

    Research Misconduct also includes the wilful concealment or facilitation of research misconduct by others.

    If you suspect Research Misconduct you should contact a Research Integrity Advisor who can provide you with confidential advice as to what constitutes research misconduct or serious misconduct, the rights and responsibilities of a complainant and the procedures for dealing with allegations of research misconduct within the University.

  • Non-Compliance with a Law?

    If you think a law is being breached within the University you should report it. You can raise the issue with a Local Compliance Officer in your area (please see your area's Legal Compliance page) or speak to your Head of School.

    If the issue is confidential, or you are unsure what action to take, contact the Manager Compliance on
    8313 0482.

    Most incidents of non-compliance are not intentional and may only become obvious once they have happened. Reporting can ensure actions are put into place early, before a breach or potential breach becomes more serious.

    The following are examples of non-compliance with the law:

    • A Senior Manager finishes employment at the University and orders his notebooks to be destroyed and all of his emails to be deleted (Breach of the State Records Act)
    • A school hosts its end-of-year exhibition at an off-campus location, selling alcohol without obtaining a liquor licence (Breach of the Liquor Licensing Act)
    • Testing of a drone commences without proper licensing (Breach of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations)

    For more information about Legal Compliance please visit the Compliance page of the Legal & Risk website.

  • A Bullying or Harassment Issue?

    The University's Behaviour and Conduct Policy sets standards of behaviour for all University personnel. Under the Policy, bullying and/or harassment of any kind is unacceptable. It is also prohibited by law.

    Examples of bullying or harassment might include:

    • Abusive, insulting or offensive language or comments
    • Unjustified criticism or complaints
    • Continuously and deliberately excluding someone from workplace activities
    • Withholding information that is vital for effective work performance
    • Setting unreasonable timelines or constantly changing deadlines
    • Setting tasks that are unreasonably below or beyond a person’s skill level
    • Denying access to information, supervision, consultation or resources such that it is detrimental to the worker
    • Spreading misinformation or malicious rumours
    • Changing work arrangements, such as rosters and leave, to deliberately inconvenience a particular worker or
    • Excessive scrutiny at work

    If you encounter bullying or harassment you should talk to your supervisor. If you find yourself in a position where you would feel uncomfortable reporting to your supervisor, you can contact a Fair Treatment Contact Officer.

    For more information about reporting bullying or harassment please consult the Health, Safety & Wellbeing Handbook or contact the HSW Manager in your Faculty/Division.

  • A Workplace Conflict?

    The Staff Complaints Procedure allows the University to deal with complaints from staff members about the behaviour of other staff members or about issues that adversely affect their ability to work productively in a positive environment. The complaint resolution process aims to resolve conflict and improve working relations at the local level.

    If you have a workplace grievance, you should first discuss with your supervisor. For more information about reporting a workplace conflict or making a complaint please visit the Human Resources website.

  • A Workplace Health and Safety (WH&S) Issue?

    If you need to report a workplace health and safety problem, you should advise your area's Health and Safety Officer as soon as possible.

    If you are unclear about whether the issue is a work, health and safety issue, please contact the HSW team.

  • IT Security?

    Under the University's IT Acceptable Use and Security Policy University IT account holders must:

    • Report any security weakness or threat to University IT facilities that they suspect or observe to the Technology Service Desk immediately on 8303 3000
    • Report any known or suspected breaches of the IT Acceptable Use and Security Policy and its associated Procedures to the Technology Service Desk as soon as possible. If the breach is particularly sensitive or serious, they may choose to report the breach directly to the IT Risk Management Team by emailing
    • Report lost, stolen or damaged computers or other IT equipment to the Technology Service Desk as soon as possible. The loss or damage should also be reported to Legal and Risk on 8303 4539 as an adverse event for insurance purposes

    If you have know of any incident or threat to the University's IT security, please submit a Security Incident Form.

    For more information about secure computing practices, please visit the Technology Services SecureIT website.

Are you concerned that there might be action taken against you if you report?

Whistleblowers play a vital role in exposing misconduct and illegal activity within the workplace. Most whistleblowers are close enough to see wrongdoing because they are a part of the organisation or work area. Fraud and corruption is often first detected as a result of everyday work activity. This closeness to the activity can make it difficult for someone to report misconduct to another employee or manager.

Protection for whistleblowers is required by law and is a way of encouraging people to speak up by ensuring that they are protected from reprisals. No-one should be fired, mistreated or adversely affected for doing the right thing. The University has a Whistleblower Policy which establishes a reporting structure to protect those making a report.

To find out more about how you may be protected under the Act visit the Whistleblower Protection page.

For further information contact or phone 8313 34539.


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