Welcome to the South Australian Public Sector

We are a modern, flexible workplace that wants our workers to thrive and make a positive contribution to South Australia.

With a workforce of over 100,000, our agencies and departments span numerous areas including: health, environment, resources, transport, community service, justice, and education. Each strives to make a positive impact.

Today, you’ll learn a little more about the South Australian Public Sector, our ethics and our values.

As a new starter, this session is designed to welcome you.

Your agency or department will conduct a formal, local induction to ensure you are aware of relevant policies and procedures.

This is a self-paced session that should take approximately 30 minutes to complete.

As your progress cannot be saved, you will need to complete the session in one sitting.

Our commitment to you

Please watch the following video from Erma Ranieri, Commissioner for Public Sector Employment, welcoming you and discussing our commitment to help you be effective in your new role in the public sector.

Four foundations of public service

The values and standards outlined in the Code of Ethics for the South Australian Public Sector build upon the four foundations of public service – Democracy, Impartiality, Accountability and Diversity.


It is the role of the public sector to support the Government of the day, under law and the Constitution, in achieving the common good, primarily by providing services to the community.

This means collaborating with the community when designing and delivering services, and involving them in the decisions that affect their lives.


Impartiality is about being detached from the influence of vested interests within the community and remaining politically neutral in carrying out your duties.

You can still hold a personal political opinion in the same way as ordinary members of the public.

However, political neutrality means that, in the performance of your public sector duties and functions, you must act impartially and effectively implement the policies for the Government of the day – regardless of your personal political opinions.

You must rely on evidence to provide objective, frank and thorough advice to government and implement ministerial directions promptly and thoroughly.


Accountability is about holding yourself accountable for everything you do and to the people we serve.

This accountability starts with the ministers who are accountable to Parliament.

You are accountable, in turn, to your minister/s for doing things within your delegated authority and performing your role within the values and standards of conduct outlined in the Code of Ethics.


The South Australian Public Sector should be as diverse as the community it serves.

Diversity is about acting fairly and equitably in your dealings with the community, customers, the Government and your fellow employees.

It also means respectfully and openly seeking the views and experiences of all people, regardless of their nationality, gender (including chosen gender), cultural or social background, sexuality, religion, age, or physical or intellectual ability.

Code of Ethics

The new Code of Ethics for the South Australian Public Sector (the Code) came into effect on 13 July 2015. It is the responsibility of each person employed in the public sector to familiarise themselves with the Code and ensure they follow it.

The Code is issued under the Public Sector Act 2009 (PS Act) where it is referred to as the Code of Conduct. It builds on the principles outlined in the PS Act and sets out the professional standards expected of every public sector employee.

The Code is divided into four sections:

  1. Application of the Code, including the roles of chief executives and other organisational leaders
  2. Four foundations of public service: Democracy, Impartiality, Accountability and Diversity
  3. The Public Sector Values
  4. The Professional Conduct Standards.

Code of Ethics training is required and is available on the Office of the Commissioner for Public Sector Employment website. Alternatively, your agency may have the training included in its local induction package.

The Code of Ethics for the South Australian Public Sector is vital to each and every public sector employee and how we operate.

Listen here to Erma Ranieri, Commissioner for Public Sector Employment, discussing the importance of the Code.

All public sector employees are bound by the Code of Ethics

Employees must observe the Code of Ethics, which is the Code of Conduct under section 6 of the PS Act.

The Code is an important part of the framework that governs or guides the conduct of public sector employees.

Some employees, such as health professionals and lawyers, are additionally bound by occupation-specific or professional codes of conduct.

Our conduct is also governed and guided by:

What are the possible consequences of behaviour by public sector employees that contravene the Code of Ethics?

The Professional Conduct Standards within the Code of Ethics are the Code’s disciplinary provisions. Failing to comply with these standards is defined as misconduct in the PS Act.

Employees found to have committed misconduct may be liable to disciplinary action.

This disciplinary action will vary depending on the specific facts and circumstances of what’s occurred and the nature of their employment as a public sector employee.

Disciplinary sanctions could range from a warning, reprimand, suspension from duty, reduction in pay, or termination of employment (depending on your employment arrangements).

As well as the potentially significant personal impact of misconduct by an employee, misconduct by an employee has the potential for far wider ramifications.

Inappropriate conduct can lead to a loss of confidence in the public sector and/or the Government of the day by the general public and often involves the commitment of substantial time and money in managing such conduct.

Public Sector Values

The Public Sector Values reflect that, as a public sector, we are focused on the ever-changing needs of South Australians and the place of government in helping to grow the State’s prosperity and wellbeing.

These values help underpin and build a modern, flexible, thriving public sector.

Public Sector Behaviours and Values

The Public Sector Values – Service, Professionalism, Trust, Respect, Collaboration and Engagement, Honesty and Integrity, Courage and Tenacity, and Sustainability – provide the framework that all employees should endeavour to embody in their work.

  • Organisational practices

    Prioritise the needs of the community in the design and delivery of services.

    Uphold the rights of each individual to access services as easily as possible.

    Establish service standards that apply to all customers.

    Collaborate with business and community partners to improve service delivery and respond to complaints.

    Successful personal behaviours

    Serve people courteously, fairly and effectively.

    Know who your customers are, understand their needs and take their views into account.

    Recognise and value internal and external customers equally.

    Go the extra mile in order to deliver the best outcomes.


    Don’t disrespect, ignore or devalue others, particularly those you serve.

    Don’t use a process or procedure as an excuse for stalling or hand-balling an issue.

    Don’t provide lower standards of service to customers who are employed in the public sector.

    Don’t refuse to listen to, or act upon, complaints about poor service.

  • Strive for excellence

    Promote best practice in leadership and management and prioritise employee performance management.

    Build impartial relationships with the Government of the day.

    Encourage pride in the profession of public service.

    Foster a culture that drives innovation to improve service and productivity.

    Successful personal behaviours

    Exhibit the highest standards of professional behaviour, including working conscientiously and competently in a polite and helpful manner.

    Provide honest and objective advice and carefully implement direction without undue delay.

    Pursue individual growth and professional learning to develop strengths and improve weaknesses.

    Strive to create new and better ways of doing things.


    Don’t accept underperformance, or tolerate, and thereby promote, bad attitudes.

    Don’t act in a way that is contrary to the priorities and decisions of the Government of the day.

    Don’t act in a way that brings the reputation of the sector into disrepute.

    Don’t accept ineffective practices when outcomes could clearly be improved.

  • Organisational practices

    Establish strong partnerships between organisations.

    Create organisational structures that give employees the greatest possible freedom and autonomy.

    Establish collaborative work practices through strategically and culturally aligned work places.

    Build a systematic approach to establishing and enhancing the community’s trust.

    Successful personal behaviours

    Encourage people from other teams and organisations to work with you to achieve the best possible outcomes.

    Embrace responsibility and deliver on commitments to colleagues and leaders.

    Rely on colleagues to collaborate in pursuit of common goals and objectives.

    Follow through on obligations to individuals and the community, and keep them informed of progress.


    Don’t allow structural and cultural barriers to hinder success.

    Don’t tolerate a difference between what is said and what is done among colleagues or leaders.

    Don’t refuse to recognise that others may be able to do the job as well as you.

    Don’t allow administrative priorities to interfere with your relationship with the community.

  • Organisational practices

    Applying empathetic people management skills to bring out the best in employees and prioritise their wellbeing.

    Implement programs that reward and recognise excellent outcomes.

    Educate employees about diversity’s role in strengthening our workplaces and communities.

    Promote respect for the impact of decisions on the lives of employees and the community.

    Successful personal behaviours

    Identify and understand the situation, feelings and motives of your associates.

    Acknowledge the contributions of your peers.

    Appreciate openly that people have different backgrounds, circumstances, needs and capabilities.

    Listen considerately to colleagues, customers, clients, stakeholders and partners.


    Don’t take a ‘one size fits all’ approach to working with people.

    Don’t neglect to recognise the work of others.

    Don’t discriminate.

    Don’t give greater weighting to your own opinions over others without clear justification.

  • Organisational practices

    Build systems and processes that strengthen partnerships with all sectors of the community.

    Facilitate closer relationships within and across public sector organisations, including other service providers.

    Create systems that enable open feedback and transparent decision-making.

    Encourage open dialogue to understand the diverse needs of the community.

    Successful personal behaviours

    Engage genuinely with stakeholders and the community, and work with them to improve outcomes.

    Build professional relationships with peers in other teams and organisations.

    Involve people in decisions that affect them.

    Ask questions to jointly define problems and identify solutions.


    Don’t act on untested assumptions about colleagues, customers, clients, stakeholders and partners.

    Don’t make decisions or take actions without engaging those most affected.

    Don’t ignore potential personal biases in decision-making.

    Don’t avoid diversity of views and opinions or treat them as an obstacle to decision-making.

  • Organisational practices

    Implement and uphold the Code of Ethics for the South Australian Public Sector.

    Create a culture that encourages openness and transparency.

    Ensure all decisions and actions can withstand scrutiny.

    Create a culture that promotes frank and honest discussion.

    Successful personal behaviours

    Follow the values and standards contained in the Code and model that behaviour as an example for others.

    Fully and accurately disclose information and share available resources without being prompted.

    Take action based on the best available evidence and argument.

    Conduct difficult conversations with empathy, sensitivity and a determination to resolve issues.


    Don’t tolerate or fail to report unethical behaviour or misconduct.

    Don’t inappropriately share or withhold information or resources.

    Don’t ignore the evidence, or manipulate it to justify a pre‑determined decision.

    Don’t neglect to raise issues with those directly involved.

  • Organisational practices

    Develop people to think innovatively about policy, services and people management.

    Help employees to be resilient in challenging times.

    Minimise unnecessary bureaucracy and be flexible in the approach to solving problems.

    Build systems that encourage innovation and accept occasional failures as a necessary part of progress.

    Successful personal behaviours

    Suggest and support new ideas and better ways of doing things.

    Listen attentively, question thoughtfully, challenge openly and encourage others to do the same.

    Challenge ineffectiveness and remove obstacles to enable yourself and others to succeed.

    Learn from failure without being discouraged and apply that knowledge to achieve better outcomes.


    Don’t fail to contribute for fear of being judged.

    Don’t avoid or undermine progress because it seems difficult or threatening.

    Don’t allow rules and regulations to hinder progress or become an excuse for inaction.

    Don’t hold back when there is evidence of better ways of working.

  • Organisational practices

    Design structures, systems and services to consume resources more efficiently over time.

    Take collective action to improve productivity and maximise the impact on limited resources.

    Promote the use of business cases and cost-benefit analyses to ensure the most efficient use of tax-payer resources.

    Work together to leave a lasting legacy for future generations of South Australians.

    Successful personal behaviours

    Identify the long-term resource impacts of the programs and services you design.

    Seek opportunities to collaborate to maximise the collective impact of resources and reduce duplication.

    Manage information, finances, people and assets prudently.

    Focus on solutions which continue to produce outcomes for the community over the long-term.


    Don’t rely on established solutions where more economical options may apply.

    Don’t resist working with others in order to retain control of resources or outcomes.

    Don’t invest time and money in work that is not producing value.

    Don’t design convenient short-term solutions to complex long-term problems.

  • South Australian Independent Commissioner Against Corruption

    The South Australian Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC) is supported by the Office for Public Integrity South Australia. ICAC safeguards and enhances the confidence in the integrity of public administration in South Australia.

    All public officers have an obligation to report certain types of conduct, and information about how these reporting obligations might affect you is contained on the Code of Ethics page.

    Health, safety and wellbeing

    The South Australian Government is committed to supporting the health, safety, wellbeing and resilience of public sector employees and we all have a part to play. Please read through the five sections below – Introduction, Employees, Managers, Agency and Commitment.

    Our people ensure that the public sector delivers the infrastructure and services needed to help South Australia thrive.

    As an employee, you can only do this if you are safe, healthy and supported at work. A person who is injured because of safety failures is someone who cannot contribute to providing services to the people of South Australia.

    Your health, safety and wellbeing is supported at the highest levels of government. Chief executives have issued statements confirming their commitment to, and expectations for, health and safety in their workplaces. The Government is equally committed to ensuring that, should you be injured while performing your work duties, you are supported to achieve an early and effective return to work.

    Everyone in the workplace has responsibilities for health and safety, as legislated under the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (WHS Act).

    As your employer, we have a legal responsibility (under section 19 of the WHS Act) to ensure that:

    • The work environment is safe.
    • Machinery, equipment and chemicals that you use are safe and are appropriately stored and maintained.
    • There are safe systems of work (arrangements are in place to allow work to be done safely eg policies and procedures which clearly explain ‘how we do things’, work processes are safe) to allow you to do your job safely.
    • Necessary training and supervision is provided to allow you to do your job safely.
    • There are adequate facilities to ensure welfare at work.
    • Where appropriate, that workers’ health is monitored to prevent illness and injury.

    These responsibilities are met through the health and safety management arrangements of each ‘responsible agency’ of the Crown.

    As an employee, you also have legal responsibilities under section 28 of the WHS Act to ensure that you:

    • Take care for your own health and safety.
    • Take care that your own actions or omissions do not adversely affect the health and safety of others.
    • Follow reasonable instructions and directions designed to enable work to be done safely.
    • Co-operate with health and safety policies and procedures affecting the workplace.

    If you do find yourself injured at work, your agency will help you to achieve a safe and sustainable return to work at the earliest possible opportunity. The rights are responsibilities applying to work-injured employees are detailed in the Return to Work Act 2014.

    If you are a manager, you may have additional duties under the WHS Act, or be required to take actions to ensure that your agency complies with the Act. The WHS Act defines workers broadly to include contractors and subcontractors, labour hire workers, volunteers, trainees, and students as well as employees. Duties are owed to these groups as well as to visitors attending government workplaces, whose safety may be impacted by the activities undertaken at the workplace.

    Be aware that the WHS Act allows for duties to be shared by multiple duty holders. This is commonly seen where contractors are engaged and both the government agency engaging the contractor as well as the contractor, and any subcontractors, all have duties in relation to health and safety. In this case, it is a requirement that duty holders consult, cooperate and coordinate to protect safety for everyone in the workplace. Duties are also owed to other people attending government workplaces whose safety might be impacted by the activities undertaken at the workplace. These may include volunteers, visitors, trainees, and students.

    As a senior manager, you may be considered to be an ‘officer’ under section 27 of the WHS Act if your role is defined as being ‘a person who makes, or participates in making, decisions that affect the whole, or a substantial part, of a business or undertaking of the Crown or public authority’. The WHS Act places a positive duty on officers to demonstrate due diligence in fulfilling their obligations.

    Additional training and information will be provided to officers and other managers by your agency to assist you to meet the additional requirements of your role.

    All government agencies develop policies, procedures and processes to manage health and safety. You should ensure that you have familiarised yourself with all relevant procedures and other mechanisms that are in place to protect your health and safety at work. Agencies will make you aware of these during your induction and will ensure that you have ongoing access to information, for example through your agency’s intranet. As an employee, you are also strongly encouraged to become engaged with consultation processes for health and safety in the workplace, for example by having input to the development and review of procedures or by involvement in workplace health and safety committees.

    Health and safety is not just about physical safety. Psychological health and safety issues can cause the longest absences from work. The public sector aims to foster workplace cultures that promote job satisfaction, motivation and productivity through an engaged workforce. Prioritising mental wellbeing helps us to create high-performing and sustainable workplaces. Most agencies offer wellbeing programs and also provide access to confidential counselling services through their employee assistance programs.

    At a whole-of-government level, ongoing improvements in health, safety and wellbeing are guided by the Building Safety Excellence (BSE) strategy. Its objectives are to:

    • Ensure that safety is given the highest priority in the work of the public sector.
    • Assist agencies to identify challenges to health and safety, and address them before they adversely impact on workers.
    • Build work environments that promote wellbeing.
    • Provide leadership and drive safety performance to support a high performing public sector.
    • Enable the safe return to work of injured workers.

    The strategy establishes four pillars of safety excellence, each supported by a number of key result areas which agencies use to tailor their own initiatives for improvement.

    The BSE pillars describe characteristics of organisations that have strong cultures for safety and have demonstrated the ability to manage risk effectively. They are:

    • Safety leadership
    • Wellbeing and engagement
    • Risk management
    • Performance measurement.

    Working with diversity

    South Australia has a diverse community and to respond to it properly, we need a diverse public sector. Having a workforce that reflects our community helps produce programs and policies that take into account the experiences and needs of all our citizens.

    A South Australian public sector workforce that is diverse and representative of the community allows more effective decision-making. It also increases the sector’s capability of providing an effective service to all stakeholders. Government provides a broad range of services, and building a workforce that is reflective of the community assists in providing a higher level of service provision to the broader community.

    Respect for diversity means providing opportunities to people from a broad range of backgrounds so that the public sector benefits from a variety of skills, experience and knowledge. Agencies are encouraged to use recruitment approaches that achieve workforce diversity and address workplace barriers.

    Unlawful discrimination occurs when a person or group of people is treated less favourably than others on the basis of a real or presumed characteristic specified in legislation (age; caring responsibilities; chosen gender; disability; marital or domestic partnership status; pregnancy; race; religious appearance or dress; sex; sexuality; spouse or partner’s identity).

    The Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth) also protects people from discrimination because of their religion, social origin, political opinion, irrelevant criminal record, medical record, or trade union activity in employment, including recruitment.

    There are a number of websites and programs which have been developed to encourage us all to reflect on discrimination, equity and diversity, and challenge our conscious and unconscious biases.

    The websites to the right have been provided to you for information should you wish to read more on diversity at your convenience.

    General government information

    There is a variety of general government information about Record KeepingSocial MediaSecurity and Performance Management and Development that you will need to know and understand to work within the South Australian Public Sector.

  • Good record keeping supports a democratic government and enables greater transparency and accountability.

    The official records of government are a vital asset that enables government agencies to transact and provide services to the community as well as to manage risk and support evidence-based decision-making. The official records of government also help support an individual’s rights and entitlements as well as provide a unique view in to government’s interactions with the community over the generations.

    All employees have a responsibility under the State Records Act 1997 to commit to good record keeping practices and to ensure records are maintained in good order and condition regardless of the format the records take. Records are created and maintained in order to satisfy business need, legislative obligations and historical use.

    Employees should familiarise themselves with their agency’s obligations under the State Records Act and adhere to any information and recordkeeping policies developed by their department.

    Destruction of official records cannot take place without a determination (Disposal Schedule) made by State Records and approved by the State Records Council. The unauthorised destruction of, or tampering with, official records is illegal and can have serious consequences that may result in legal action against an individual, agency or government.

    Further advice and support relating to the creation, management, use, access, and disposal of official records can be sought from State Records of South Australia.

  • Technology has forever changed the way people communicate and share information. While the wide range of technologies commonly referred to as social media are fundamentally no different to other forms of communication, they are potentially revolutionary because they can connect large numbers of people with relative ease.

    Activities on social media websites should be considered public activities. Despite the availability of privacy functions, the possibility exists for content to be shared beyond intended recipients.

    The protocols that apply when you are acting as an official representative of your agency are the same whether you are talking to the media, speaking at a conference or using social media. You can learn more by visiting Social Media Guidance for Agencies and Staff. The purpose of this guide is to create awareness of some of the opportunities social media presents for the Government as well as making agencies and staff aware of how to manage the potential risks.

  • The South Australian Government is committed to ensuring it maintains a safe and secure environment for service delivery and government operations. The Government’s approach to security is to encourage a culture that places the security and safety of our people above all else.

    The Protective Security Policy Framework sets out the basis upon which South Australian government agencies effectively manage security risks to provide the necessary protection of our people, information and assets, and to minimise disruption to service delivery and government operations.

    Agency governance arrangements ensure that appropriate protective security strategies are developed, implemented and managed, with ultimate accountability resting with chief executives. However, security is the responsibility of all employees and you can play a part in ensuring a safe and secure working environment.

    Each agency will have its own policies and procedures designed to safeguard its people, information and assets. It is recommended you familiarise yourself with these policies and procedures.

  • The public sector works to deliver a stronger South Australia and that’s because our workforce continues to make a difference. Our people are our priority. That’s why we want to work in partnership with you so that you are clear about expectations, and can achieve your full potential in the public sector.

    We want to see you succeed and hear your thoughts on what you need to help make this happen. Performance management and development is a planned approach for setting clear expectations, and continuously improving the performance of all employees to enable a high performing public sector.

    You can expect to participate in regular performance management and development conversations with your line manager, supported by a documented plan and reviews at least twice a year. This will help you to align your work and the work of your team, with your agency’s objectives and the South Australian Government’s priorities.

    Through regular, respectful performance conversations, managers and employees can build a shared understanding of expectations, what success looks like in your role, and how it can be supported, achieved and maintained. These conversations provide an opportunity for two-way feedback, to share expertise and perspectives, build on strengths and capabilities, work together to create solutions, and recognise achievements. This is essential to help you reach your full potential in your role and work towards achieving your career goals.

    Each agency has its own approach to support employees to participate in performance management and development. All new employees are expected to work with their line manager to establish a performance agreement within 90 days. This is part of our commitment to developing and supporting you, and promoting a culture of productivity, growth and excellence.