Research on the typology, drivers, and mitigation strategies for misconduct risks associated with public authorities or public officers when there is a power imbalance with a member or members or the public.
The Board has endorsed a research project with the objectives of identifying any improvement in policy and procedure that might be adopted in Tasmania to prevent or reduce the risk of misconduct within public authorities or by public employees when there is a power imbalance with a member or members or the public.
The project will examine the misconduct prevention mechanisms applied by selected public authorities in Tasmania (and other relevant jurisdictions) when there is a power imbalance with a member or members or the public.
We will further consider strategies to mitigate risks and prevent misconduct in power relationships. This may include management support, education of staff or other resources required to achieve best practice or bring about cultural change with respect to dealing with relevant misconduct risks.
This project will run alongside the State Government undertaking three concurrent public inquiries/reviews with the underlying theme of abuse in power relationships in the public sector: the Commission of Inquiry into the Tasmanian Government's Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Institutional Settings; the Independent Review of the Public Trustee, and the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner’s Review of the Tasmanian Ministerial and Parliamentary Services relating to workplace discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying.
These inquiries/reviews are set in different institutional contexts however have similar themes, suggesting potential systemic issues and misconduct risks in power relationships in the public sector. It is intended that Project Jupiter build on this work without duplicating the focus or recommendations of the inquiries/reviews.
The aim of the project is to produce concrete recommendations for misconduct prevention mechanisms in the public sector. This will be achieved by:
- Identifying improvements in policies and procedures for public authorities when managing power imbalances
- Reviewing misconduct prevention mechanisms applied by selected public authorities, and
- Considering strategies to mitigate risks and prevent misconduct in power relationships, e.g., management support for cultural change and staff education.
The methodology will consist of three main activities:
- Desk review of relevant literature, administrative data and Commission statistics
- Key Information Interviews with non-government stakeholders eg advocacy groups representing the interests of people particularly vulnerable to exploitation in interactions with public sector
- Interviews with agencies in focus (currently Department of Justice and Tasmania Police, though this may expand as the project progresses).
Recommendations for misconduct prevention and risk mitigation factors may apply to individuals, organisations and/or systems, and will be framed in the context of findings from the Government’s inquiries/reviews.
The project will be approached iteratively, remaining responsive to the external context and the sensitivity of the subject matter. The final report is tentatively proposed to be available publicly in November 2022.