In April 2018 the Commissioner commenced a survey which sought to better understand the attitudes and experiences of public officers in relation to integrity in South Australian public administration.

The results of the survey, which the Commissioner has published in a report available on his website, have highlighted a range of issues that should act as a catalyst for agencies to review their operations.

The survey identified widespread concern amongst public officers about reporting impropriety. There was clear anxiety around reporting, with more than half of participants stating that they would be worried about their job if they reported. Although sadly this is not surprising and is consistent with much of the research on whistleblowing, it is incumbent upon every agency to best ensure a safe environment where a willingness to report improper conduct is valued rather than discouraged.

The survey also indicated that the framework for reporting was not as well established as it could be. Only 65% percent of participants agreed their agency has policies and procedures for reporting and only 45% agreed that they were provided information about reporting. It is important that every agency has in place policies and procedures for reporting and that those policies and procedures are effectively communicated to all staff.

A high number of survey respondents reported encountering particular types of corruption or inappropriate conduct over the last five years. The most prevalent types of conduct were bullying and harassment, nepotism and favouritism.

Similarly, a high proportion of participants identified their agency as being highly or extremely vulnerable to a range of corruption and inappropriate conduct risks. Again, bullying and harassment, nepotism and favouritism figured prominently.

The ICAC Public Integrity Survey 2018 has provided a valuable insight into perceptions, attitudes and experiences of corruption or inappropriate conduct in South Australian public administration.

It has told us that listening to staff is fundamental because staff attitudes drive culture and culture drives integrity.

You can read the survey report online.

This article was published in Issue #1 - February 2019 of ICAC's Integrity Matters newsletter.