Victoria’s corruption watchdog has conducted 29 investigations into alleged serious public sector and police misconduct over the past year, its annual report shows.
IBAC on Tuesday tabled its 2022/23 Annual Report which describes work undertaken to prevent and expose public sector corruption and marks the tenth anniversary since the commission started operations.
Over the 12 months, IBAC received 3,558 complaints and undertook 29 investigations and preliminary inquiries into alleged serious public sector corruption and police misconduct, the report says.
The total number of complaints and notifications received in 2022/23 decreased by five per cent compared to 2021/22 but was up 26 per cent increase from 2020/21.
The commission delivered 11 special reports and made 68 formal recommendations to improve conduct by public sector agencies, local government and police.
In 2022/23 IBAC’s public sector work focused on high-risk agencies, major infrastructure projects and improper influence.
“We play a key role in ensuring public sector employees can identify and report corruption,” Acting Commissioner Farrow said.
“Our ongoing prevention and education initiatives will continue to educate the public sector on the risks of corruption, while also promoting a robust integrity culture.”
Clear standards for public servants
It comes as the Victorian Government moves to introduce a suite of integrity reforms to ensure clear standards for the public service, ministers and ministerial staff.
“Good governments rely on public servants giving frank and fearless advice – these reforms will build on our work to ensure all those who serve the Victorian people understand their roles and responsibilities,” Premier Jacinta Allan said in a statement on Tuesday.
“To clarify the partnership between elected government and the public service, the codes of conduct and guidance for Ministers, ministerial staff and the Victorian Public Service will be updated and the government will introduce new legislation and training.”
It comes after a series of damning reports including IBAC’s April 2023 Operation Daintree investigation into the procurement process for a $1.2 million training contract awarded by DHHS which found senior executives failed to provide frank advice about their doubts to the minister.
The Department of Health was strengthening its procurement policies, systems, and practices to address issues identified by Operation Daintree, Ms Allan said.
In Feburary 2023 IBAC released its report into Operation Clara, which found a former Victorian Government minister improperly lobbied in favour of a $31 billion development proposal proposal on behalf of the development consortium, while it also released key reports in 2022 into lobbying and branch stacking.
Boosting integrity training
Ms Allan said employment arrangements of ministerial staff will be legislated to ensure the responsibilities, expectations and reporting lines of staff are transparent and appropriate.
The Victorian Public Sector Commission (VPSC) and Victorian Secretaries Board are also strengthening integrity programs and introduce new training and materials for public servants, and the government is strengthening mandatory induction and regular code of conduct training for ministerial staff.
The state government also announced last month that consultation had started for a new Parliamentary Integrity Commission with power to investigate allegations of misconduct by MPs and minsters, including inappropriate workplace behaviour.
IBAC says it is also planning to trial a new rating scheme to assess the strength of integrity systems on selected government departments in 2023/24.
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