Conflicts of Interest

The University is committed to maintaining an organisational culture that ensures real, potential or perceived conflicts of interest or commitment are managed fairly and transparently.  In accordance with the Conflicts of Interest Policy and Procedures, staff members and other members of the University community have an obligation to protect the reputation of the University by maintaining high ethical standards, fairness and integrity in all dealings.

A conflict of interest refers to a situation where a conflict arises for an individual between two (2) competing interests. These are often, but not exclusively, interests of public duty versus private interests. This refers to real, potential or reasonably perceived conflicts of interest. Conflicts of interest can involve financial or non-financial interests of a member of the University community and the interests of a business partner or associate, family member, friend or person in a close personal relationship with the member of the University community.

Additionally, a conflict of commitment may exist when a member of the University community has a relationship that requires a commitment of time or effort to non-University activities, such that an individual, either implicitly or directly, cannot meet the usual obligations to the University.

A more detailed list and examples of what may or may not constitute a conflict of interest can be found below. If you are uncertain as to whether or not a real, potential or perceived conflict exists, contact the Director, Strategic Services and Governance.

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Situations where a conflict of interest MAY occur

Without limiting the circumstances, the following are general indicators which can give rise to situations where a conflict of interest may occur. These indicators do not as a matter of course, automatically give rise to conflicts of interest, but they are examples that should you to reflect carefully and cautiously in your dealings to avoid any conflicts of interest in such circumstances:

  • Decisions regarding suppliers, customers and other persons in respect of the selection and/or on-going dealings related to doing or seeking to do business with the University;
  • Business or close personal relationships with competitors or businesses operating in the same area as the University or one of its units;
  • Decisions regarding recruitment, appointment, promotion or other personnel decisions relating to staff members;
  • Decisions and dealings with potential staff members;
  • Holding memberships, directorships, executive positions, shareholdings or ownership of other companies, organisations or businesses that are in serious competition or conflict with the University;
  • Close personal relationships with another staff member, student or other person associated with or contracted to the University;
  • Decisions regarding students including: assessments, scholarships, prizes, examination results and other matters relating to a student’s academic progress or record;
  • A researcher’s affiliation with, or financial involvement in, any organisation or entity, with a direct interest in the research being conducted, or the provision of materials for the research, which may result in a conflict of interest. This is a compliance requirement of the Australian Code for Responsible Conduct of Research and the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research ;
  • Acceptance of benefits or financial benefits, for example, gifts, entertainment, travel, accommodation expenses;
  • Acceptance of hospitality;
  • Access to University documents and information obtained in the course of employment;
  • Employment (or voluntary work) external to the University of any kind whilst still employed by the University if that work may be in conflict with the objectives of the University;
  • Ownership of intellectual property;
  • Circumstances where the member of the University community's external activities encroach on time or attention that should be devoted to the affairs of the University;
  • Requests for public comment including public speaking, comments on radio or television, opinions expressed in letters to newspapers or in books or journals, blogs, tweets, social networking sites or notices; and/or
  • Use of University facilities, resources and/or and equipment for personal benefit or the benefit of a third party.

Activities which are normally or ordinarily accepted as NOT being conflicts of interest

  • Participation in scientific or professional association activities, editorial responsibilities, or service on scientific review boards and panels;
  • The acceptance of honoraria for commissioned papers and occasional lectures;
  • Service as a consultant to outside organisations (provided the arrangement is in accordance with the University's External Work Policy);
  • Service on boards and committees of organisations (public or private) that does not unduly distract a staff member from his or her University obligations; or
  • Performance of duties that are specified in a staff member’s position profile.

Activities that MAY potentially present conflicts of interest

  • Where a member of the University community has a financial/personal interest in an enterprise with which the University does business and could be perceived to be in a position to influence relevant business decisions;
  • Situations where the time or creative energy that a staff member devotes to an activity additional to their University commitment appears substantial enough to compromise the amount or quality of their University activities (this underlines the use of the term conflict of commitment that may include those listed above);
  • Activities for which members of the University community are personally remunerated from an external source/party (such as, research projects, conferences, teaching programs, or remunerative consulting agreements. that involve, or might reasonably be perceived to involve, the University's name, facilities, equipment and/or staff;
  • Activities that violate, or might reasonably be perceived to violate, any of the principles governing research supported by funds administered through the University insofar as these principles are relevant to individual behaviour;
  • A staff member having a commitment paid or unpaid outside the University that involves frequent or prolonged absence from the University on non-University business;
  • Holding positions, such as Chief Scientific Officer, in companies sponsoring and conducting research at the University while simultaneously being a staff member;
  • Chairing a committee responsible for allocating internal funding for research at a faculty or University level where funding is granted to the Chair's organisational unit; and
  • Providing lecturing and tutoring services for another tertiary education provider.

Activities that MAY be incompatible with University policies

  • Situations in which a staff member assumes a business relationship or responsibilities for an outside organisation that diverts the staff member’s attention from their University duties, or creates other conflicts of loyalty. These could be paid or unpaid positions;
  • Use of unpublished information emanating from University research or other confidential University sources for personal profit, or assisting an outside organisation by giving it unreasonably exclusive access to such information;
  • Consulting under arrangements that impose obligations that conflict with the University's intellectual property or with the University's obligations to its research sponsors;
  • Circumstances in which research that could and ordinarily would be conducted within the University, is conducted elsewhere to the disadvantage of the University and its legitimate interests;
  • Negotiations by a member of the University community of the terms under which any intellectual property, or other property of the University, is to be sold, licensed or transferred to an external entity in which the member of the University community has a financial interest;
  • A member of the University community holding shares in a company controlled by one of the students or staff over whom they have responsibility;
  • A member of the University community holding shares in a company that is sponsoring research at the University, where that research is managed or controlled by the member of the University community or he/she could be perceived to be in a position to influence relevant decisions;
  • A member of the University community directing University resources that can influence an external entity's development where they or family members are directors or shareholders of that entity;
  • A member of the University community accepting gifts of value, grants and/or favours from persons or associates who would be seen to benefit from the making of these gifts;
  • A staff member involved in the admission, supervision, assessment or examination of a student with whom they have, or have had, a close personal or financial relationship;
  • A member of the University community taking part in any selection, promotion, reclassification, evaluation or grievance process with prospective or current staff members with whom they have, or have had, a close personal or financial relationship;
  • A member of the University community using University assets or confidential University information for his or her personal gain, or for the benefit of family or friends;
  • A member of the University community with responsibility for the supervision of a student or another staff member with whom they have or have had a close personal relationship;
  • A staff member taking part in the assessment of a tender application where they have, or have had, a close personal or financial relationship with a person or organisation submitting a tender application;
  • A member of the University community undertaking research/clinical trials which are sponsored by a company in which the researcher (or an associate of the researcher) has a business relationship or financial interest, or holds an executive position;
  • A member of the University community holding an equity interest or executive position in a start-up company that has contracted with the University to conduct further research;
  • A staff member providing accommodation to a student at a staff member's residence; or
  • A staff member accepting payment for private tutorials for students enrolled at the University.