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Service Agreement Information Kit for Funded Organisations

4.27 Gifts, Benefits and Hospitality Policy

Department of Health and Human Services

Who does this policy apply to?

This policy applies to organisation funded by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Policy purpose

To ensure that organisations funded by the Department of Health and Human Services are aware of the department’s expectations around funded organisations providing gifts, benefits and hospitality to department staff.

Legislation and /or regulation

Standing Directions of the Minister for Finance 2016.

Organisation requirements

Organisations are expected not to:

  • offer department staff gifts or benefits, either directly or indirectly, and offers of hospitality will be limited to token offers of basic courtesy (such as tea and coffee during a meeting); or
  • take any action in order to entice or obtain any unfair or improper advantage.

Background

According to the Standing Directions of the Minister for Finance 2016, Victorian government departments are required to develop and implement a gifts, benefits and hospitality policy applying prescribed minimum accountabilities. The minimum accountabilities can be summarised as:

Public officials offered gifts, benefits and hospitality:

  • do not, for themselves or others, seek or solicit gifts, benefits and hospitality.
  • refuse all offers of gifts, benefits and hospitality that:
    • are money, items used in a similar way to money, or items easily converted to money;
    • give rise to an actual, potential or perceived conflict of interest;
    • may adversely affect their standing as a public official or which may bring their public sector employer or of the public sector into disrepute; or
    • are non-token offers without a legitimate business benefit.
  • Declare all non-token offers (valued at $50 or more) of gifts, benefits and hospitality (whether accepted or declined) on their organisation’s register, and seek written approval from their manager or organisational delegate to accept any non-token offer.
  • Refuse bribes or inducements and report inducements and bribery attempts to the head of the department or their delegate (who should report any criminal or corrupt conduct to Victoria Police or the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission).

Implementation

To increase transparency, accountability and improve certainty regarding expectations of departmental staff and public officials the department has introduced a revised policy (in 2016) on gifts, benefits and hospitality.

The policy embodies the minimum accountabilities. It states that employees must refuse all offers of gifts, benefits or hospitality from people or organisations about whom they are likely to make decisions involving; tender processes, including managing a contract once the tender process has ceased, procurement, enforcement, licensing, or regulation, awarding of grants, sponsorship or funding allocations to agencies or organisations.

In many instances offers from organisations will be required to be declined but may nevertheless trigger an internal administrative process for the department. In many circumstances the details of the offer will be required to be recorded on a publically available register regardless of whether they have been accepted or declined.

The policy embeds a culture of integrity to mitigate risks associated with the offering and receipt of gifts, benefits and hospitality.

To support the implementation of this policy, funded organisations are expected not to:

  • offer department staff gifts or benefits, either directly or indirectly, and offers of hospitality will be limited to token offers of basic courtesy (such as tea and coffee during a meeting); or
  • take any action in order to entice or obtain any unfair or improper advantage.

Further information

Name: Charmaine Harris
Title: Principal Integrity Advisor, Corporate Integrity
Telephone: 9096 0040
Email: corporate.integrity@dhhs.vic.gov.au