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Declaration of Interest procedure

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Section 1 - Preamble

(1) This Procedure is effective from 28 August 2023.

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Section 2 - Purpose

(2) This Procedure:

  1. supports the University to maintain the highest standards of conduct and integrity while meeting its objects set out in section 5 of the Deakin University Act;
  2. sets out the processes by which individuals identify, declare, manage and record relationships or activities that could give rise to conflicts of interest (COI) or potential for foreign influence or foreign interference.
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Section 3 - Scope

(3) This Procedure applies to all University members and associates and includes the controlled entities.

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Section 4 - Policy

(4) This Procedure is pursuant to the Integrity policy.

University expectations

(5) The University is committed to the highest standards of integrity in undertaking its core activities of teaching, research and community engagement, and ensuring that decision-making is free of undue influences, interests or relationships that conflict with, or give rise to, the potential for or perception of:

  1. a COI
  2. corrupt or improper conduct
  3. foreign influence
  4. foreign interference.

(6) A COI can be:

  1. actual: involves a direct or real conflict between an individual’s duties and responsibilities to the University and a competing interest or obligation, whether personal or involving a third party;
  2. potential: arises where an individual has an interest or obligation, whether personal or involving a third party, that has the capacity to develop into conflict with their duties and responsibilities to the University;
  3. perceived: exists where it could reasonably be perceived, or give the appearance, that a competing interest could improperly influence the individual’s duties and responsibilities to the University.

(7) Members of the University and associates have a responsibility to:

  1. avoid a COI;
  2. identify and declare any personal or external interests, associations or affiliations including possible influences or potential for foreign influence or foreign interference, that may unduly affect the integrity and proper conduct of the University (a ‘Disclosable Interest’); and
  3. comply with any direction given by the University required to be take in order to avoid or manage a COI (whether actual, potential or perceived) to the University’s reasonable satisfaction, including to provide information and documents.

(8) A COI that cannot be managed within the University’s risk appetite may be considered unacceptable by the University. The University retains the discretion to not approve a COI, which may impact on the capacity of an individual to perform and continue their role as an officer, staff member, student, researcher or associate of the University, as the case may be.

(9) The University will provide resources and training including compliance modules and advice to support members of the University to fulfill their obligations under this Procedure.

(10) Persons subject to this Procedure may seek advice from their leader, budget centre head, relevant committee chair or meeting secretary, research manager, Research Integrity Advisers, contract manager, or the Office of General Counsel. Further guidance is available at Disclosures and Declarations of Interest.

What is a Disclosable Interest?

(11) A Disclosable Interest is an interest that may impact upon an individual’s duties and responsibilities to the University and their ability to impartially undertake and perform their role, and must be disclosed to the University. Disclosable Interests may arise or exist through:

  1. personal relationships,
  2. affiliations or associations,
  3. voluntary or remunerated activities including external employment, outside work and consultancies,
  4. financial interests,
  5. company director obligations, or
  6. any other relevant interest or activity.
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Section 5 - Procedure

Making a Declaration of Disclosable Interests

(12) Subject to clause 14, members of the University and associates must identify and declare any Disclosable Interest as defined under clause 8 in this Procedure:

  1. prior to any COI arising; and/or
  2. as soon as practicable after the individual becomes aware of the interest;
to the individual’s relevant leader, research or contract manager or the area head in the first instance and then document the interest in the University’s register via the Conflict of Interest Declaration or Membership of a Company Board or Directorship Declaration.

(13) Members of Council and Executive will make a declaration of interests to the Secretary of Council via the Key Management Person Declaration of Private Interest form, and will advise the Vice-Chancellor directly of any COI as they may arise.

(14) Members of the University and associates are required to make a declaration of their Disclosable Interest to Deakin:

  1. prior to employment or engagement and thereafter not less than annually;
  2. as soon as practicable once an interest is anticipated or identified.

Managing a declaration

(15) The individual’s relevant leader, research or contract manager or the area head who receives the declaration, will consider the declaration and discuss with the individual any necessary actions required in order to either avoid a COI or to manage a COI to the University’s satisfaction, and provide relevant directions to the individual making the declaration.

(16) The University will maintain a register of declaration of interests.

(17) Declarations and any management plan necessary to address a COI are required to be independently review and endorsed by General Counsel.

(18) Declarations will be considered confidentially on a case by case basis, and may require input and approval of officers and staff including but not limited to: the head of the area, executive member, Chief People and Culture Officer (or nominee), Chief Financial Officer, Director Audit, Risk and Business Continiuty and Vice-Chancellor, and in relation to members of Council, the Chancellor.

Conflict Management Plan

(19) COI are ideally best avoided.

(20) A Disclosable Interest may be assessed by the University as a COI.

(21) If a COI is assessed and cannot be avoided, a conflict management plan may be required to be documented to the University’s satisfaction and implemented in order to appropriately manage that conflict over its duration.

(22) Assessment of Disclosable Interests, a Declaration and approval of an appropriate COI management plan are coordinated for and on behalf of the University by the General Counsel and are ultimately subject to the review and determination by the Vice-Chancellor (or delegate) and in relation to members of Council, the Chancellor.

(23) If the General Counsel (or nominee) does not endorse the proposed COI Management Plan, an individual may request a review of the decision by the Vice-Chancellor or nominee.

Meeting procedure

(24) At each meeting of a University body, the Chair is required to ask members whether they have any disclosable interest or COI to declare in respect of any item on the meeting agenda.

(25) A member of a University body who has an interest in a matter being considered or about to be considered by the University body, must as soon as practicable make a declaration of the nature of the interest:

  1. at a meeting of the University body; or
  2. in writing addressed to the Chair.

(26) If the Chair receives a declaration by a member under clause 24 or 25, the Chair must ensure that the declaration is reported at the next meeting of the University body and recorded in the minutes.

(27) After a declaration of interest is made by a person under clause 24 or 25, unless the University body otherwise directs:

  1. the member must not be present during any deliberation with respect to that matter;
  2. the member is not entitled to vote on the matter; and
  3. if the member does vote on the matter, the vote must be disallowed.

Failure to declare a Disclosable Interest

(28) Members of the University who fail to make a declaration of Disclosable Interests, avoid a COI, make a declaration of a COI, or comply with a requirement of a COI Management Plan, may be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with the Staff Discipline procedure, the Research Integrity Breaches procedure, Student Misconduct procedure or other relevant process.

(29) Associates who fail to: make a declaration of relevant interests, avoid a COI, or comply with a requirement of a COI Management Plan, may be terminated, their employer notified or other appropriate action may be taken in accordance with the terms of contract in place with Deakin University.

Reporting and Complaints

(30) All members of the University and associates must report any concerns that they have about any interests or other integrity matters relating to:

  1. another staff member, student, to their leader or relevant University budget centre head, contract manager, research manager or executive; or
  2. to the University via the independent and externally hosted services Stopline. Reports to Stopline may be made anonymously.

(31) A complainant seeking the statutory protections afforded by the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2012 (Vic) must take their complaint to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) or the Victorian Ombudsman. The University’s obligations in respect of a public interest disclosure are set out in the Public Interest Disclosures procedure.

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Section 6 - Definitions

(32) For the purpose of this Procedure:

  1. associate: Contractors, consultants, volunteers, visiting appointees and visitors to the University.
  2. conflict of interest (COI): exists when a University member or associate allows a personal interest, including any duty owed to another person, employer, affiliate or entity, including a foreign entity, to come into actual, potential or perceived conflict with the duty they owe to the University. This includes but is not limited to a situation where the staff member, associate, or anyone with a personal relationship with the staff member is in a position to benefit personally, directly or indirectly, as a result of the conflict.
  3. External employment: work undertaken by a staff member for a person or organisation other than the University, for which the staff member receives payment, recompense or other consideration from the person or other organisation, and includes being a director or an external organisation(whether remunerated or not).
  4. Financial interest: a monetary gain, includes but is not limited to:
    1. direct payment (such as salary, consultancy payments, speaking fees, panel memberships)
    2. indirect payment (funding for travel, accommodation, professional development, hospitality)
    3. payments to support research, such as funding from an industry or interest group
    4. company shares or options
    5. royalties
    6. directorships
    7. some scholarships
    8. operational or infrastructure support
  5. personal relationship means immediate family (as defined in the Deakin University Enterprise Agreement 2023) and includes any person known to the staff member by reason or relations of similar status to marriage, sexual relationships, civil partners, business or financial relationships.
  6. Member of the University means members of Council, staff including academic or professional staff, officers, executive or Honoraries appointed by the University as well as students.
  7. University Body: University Council, the Academic Board, Executive, Faculty Boards, Institute Boards and their committees, and such other bodies, committees and working parties as the University may from time to time establish.