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Conflict of Interest Policy

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Section 1 - Purpose

(1) QUT has a duty, under the Public Sector Ethics Act 1994, to ensure that any conflict of interest will be resolved or appropriately managed in favour of the public interest.

(2) QUT recognises that a conflict between a staff member’s University duties and their personal or other interests may arise from time to time. QUT expects that staff will recognise, declare, and appropriately manage conflicts of interest, including potential or perceived conflicts of interest, to promote accountability and public confidence in the integrity of QUT’s teaching, research and business operations.

(3) This policy sets out requirements for identifying, disclosing relevant interests and for managing conflicts of interest to reduce the risk of corruption, misconduct and bias in QUT’s operations and decision-making processes.

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Section 2 - Application

(4) QUT’s conflict of interest policy applies to all persons covered by the QUT Code of Conduct - Staff, and to higher degree research students participating in University research. The Policy applies to all activities where a conflict of interest might arise, including teaching, research, engagement, commercial or business operations.

(5) The term 'staff member' is used throughout the policy to mean all members of the University community to whom this Policy applies.

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Section 3 - Roles and Responsibilities

Position Responsibility
Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar
Oversees management of conflict of interest processes within the University.
Approves QUT’s procedures for the disclosure and management of conflicts of interest.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Research) Approves procedures for the disclosure and management of conflicts of interest in research in accordance with this policy and the QUT Code for Responsible Conduct of Research.
Director, QUT Governance Implements procedures for University level disclosure of interests.

Provides advice to staff members, and to managers and supervisors, on conflict of interest issues.

Reports to University committees regularly on disclosed interests, and to the Vice-Chancellor and President annually.
Managers and Supervisors Ensure that staff members are aware of the University's requirement for disclosing and managing conflicts of interest.

Record and monitor any disclosures made by their staff in accordance with this Policy.
All University staff members Are responsible for promptly identifying, formally disclosing and managing any interests which result in a conflict, or a potential or perceived conflict, with their duties and responsibilities at QUT.
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Section 4 - Identifying Conflicts of Interest

(6) A conflict of interest is a discord between a staff member’s University duties and responsibilities and their personal or other interests or duties, where this could inappropriately influence the performance of University duties and/or the conduct of the staff member. A conflict of interest may be of a personal, professional, pecuniary or non-pecuniary nature, and will include a conflict of duty, where a staff member has duties or roles in another organisation which may conflict with their University duties. Consideration should also be given to interests relating to associates such as close family members.

(7) Conflicts of interest may be:

  1. actual, where there is an existing or current conflict between a staff member’s personal or other interests, and the scope and ambit of their duties or role within the University;
  2. perceived, where it could appear to a reasonable person that a staff member's personal or other interests may inappropriately affect the performance of their duties and/or their conduct - whether or not this is true;
  3. potential, where a staff member’s personal or other interests could possibly conflict with their official duties and responsibilities in the future.

(8) In the event that a staff member is uncertain whether a conflict of interest obligation arises under this policy, the staff member may seek advice from their supervisor or from the Compliance Officer. Consideration may be given to the materiality of the interest, that is, whether the interest is such that there is a realistic expectation that the staff member (or associates such as family members) may directly or indirectly gain a benefit or suffer a loss depending on the outcome or how an issue is addressed or a decision made by the University.

(9) However, where there is any question concerning the materiality of an interest, to ensure that integrity and accountability requirements are met, the expectation is that the staff member should declare such a situation as an interest in accordance with the requirements of this Policy.

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Section 5 - Disclosing Conflicts of Interest

(10) Actual, potential or perceived conflicts of interest must be disclosed in accordance with the requirements of this section. Some interests may fall into several of the categories listed below.

University Level

(11) Disclosures are managed at University level if:

  1. they relate to a member of Council or a University level committee (QUT Committee Structure); or
  2. the interest could impact on the University in general, either due to the nature of the conflict, or the duties or role of the staff member concerned.

(12) University level disclosures must be made in accordance with the QUT Disclosure of interest procedures (QUT staff access only) and, where relevant, Council Procedure 1 - Committee Operations. Disclosures are recorded in the University's Register of Disclosed Interests maintained by QUT Governance.


(13) Disclosures resulting in a conflict of interest relating to the design, conduct, outcome, reporting or publication of research must be made in accordance with the QUT Code for Responsible Conduct of Research and the Procedures for managing conflicts of interest in research (QUT staff access only).

(14) A disclosure must be made according to the QUT Disclosure of interest procedures (QUT staff access only) for individual or personal research funding, award, support or grant from a foreign entity.

Relationship with a Foreign Entity

(15) A disclosure must be made according to the QUT Disclosure of interest procedures (QUT staff access only) where an individual has an affiliation, relationship or individual financial compensation arrangement with certain Foreign Entities.

Gifts and Benefits

(16) A gift or benefit received during the course of a staff member's duties may give rise to a conflict of interest and must be disclosed and recorded in accordance with the Staff Gifts and Benefits Policy.

Personal Relationships

(17) A staff member’s personal relationships must not improperly influence, or be seen to influence, their decisions or actions in the performance of their QUT duties. Any personal relationship that presents a conflict of interest must be disclosed and managed in accordance with the QUT Disclosure of interest procedures (QUT staff access only).

Local Level

(18) Other interests which may impact on the exercise of a staff member’s duties must be recorded and managed at the local level by the staff member and their Supervisor (guidelines are located on the Conflicts of interest and disclosure webpage on the Digital Workplace (QUT staff access only)).

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Section 6 - Managing Conflicts of Interest

(19) All actual, potential or perceived conflicts of interest must be managed. Staff members with an interest should not seek to influence, directly or indirectly, the advice provided by, or actions of, management in matters relating to the interest.

(20) A risk based approach to management and treatment options should be taken, based on the University’s Risk Management Framework (QUT staff access only). Risk considerations to be taken into account may include reputational, compliance, financial, operational and other forms of risk. The approach taken to managing a conflict of interest should be documented. The four management treatment options are as follows:

Avoid the Conflict of Interest

(21) Avoiding a conflict of interest which poses an unacceptable risk to, or impact on, the University's interests is the preferred and recommended strategy. To avoid a conflict of interest, the staff member concerned is removed from the decision-making process in relation to the matter concerned or requested to relinquish the interest which is creating the conflict.

Accept and Reduce the Conflict of Interest

(22) A conflict of interest may be reduced by ensuring that the staff member concerned has restrictions placed on their involvement in the relevant matter, or by having another staff member or organisational area take responsibility for the matter.

Share the Conflict of Interest

(23) A conflict of interest may be shared by involving a third party to oversee or monitor part or all of the decision-making process that deals with the relevant matter.

Retain the Conflict of Interest

(24) This treatment is only suitable for low risk potential or perceived conflicts of interest. In suitable cases, a conflict of interest may be retained and the staff member continues to be involved in the matter concerned, subject to regular review of the situation by the supervisor.

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Section 7 - Monitoring Conflicts of Interest

(25) All disclosed interests should be reviewed by the staff member and their supervisor on at least an annual basis to ensure that the information remains correct, and that management treatments continue to be appropriate and effective.

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Section 8 - Obligations of Key Management Personnel

(26) Key management personnel (members of Council, Heads of Division and University senior executive officers) are required to disclose interests which will enable the University to identify related party transactions for the purposes of preparation of QUT’s annual financial statements, in compliance with accounting standards. For this purpose, related parties includes close family members and any entities controlled or jointly controlled by either the key management personnel or close family members. The QUT Disclosure of Interests form provides guidance on these disclosures.

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Section 9 - Failure to Disclose

(27) Failure to disclose and manage an interest will be dealt with as a breach of the QUT Staff Code of Conduct or QUT Code for Responsible Conduct of Research. For persons covered by this policy who are not employed at QUT, their association with QUT may be terminated.

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Section 10 - Privacy and Confidentiality

(28) The personal information recorded as a result of the disclosure of conflicts of interest remains strictly confidential. It will be managed in accordance with QUT’s Information Privacy Policy and will only be further disclosed in the following circumstances.

  1. A staff member must discuss any conflicts of interest with their Supervisor to ensure a proper management strategy is put in place.
  2. It is a requirement of Council Procedure 1 - Committee Operations that Council and University level committees, are made aware of any disclosures made by members.
  3. The Vice-Chancellor and President receives an annual summary report on the Register of Disclosed Interests, the Register of Disclosed Interests for Research, and the Significant and Reportable Gifts Register.
  4. The Vice-President (Administration) and University Registrar must be advised by a supervisor of any conflicts of interest which pose immediate and significant risks to the University and its operations.
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Section 11 - Definitions

Term Definitions
Key Management Personnel (KMP)
Means members of QUT Council , Heads of Division and University senior executive officers. Key management personnel is a term used in Accounting Standard AASB 124 - Related Party Disclosures, which is defined as “…those persons having authority and responsibility for planning, directing and controlling the activities of the entity, directly or indirectly, including any director (whether executive or otherwise) of that entity".
The Commonwealth Department of Education, Skills and Employment has provided further guidance on KMPs via the “Financial Statement Guidelines for Australian Higher Education Providers”, in which the Government confirms that Executive Deans are not considered KMP’s: “[Key Management Personnel] should have authority and responsibility for planning, directing and controlling the activities of the whole entity, and not just a faculty.”
For the avoidance of doubt, Key Management Personnel means:
  1. Members of QUT Council
  2. The Vice-Chancellor and President
  3. Heads of Divisions; and
  4. Senior Executive Officers.
Refer to the Organisational Structure Policy for further details.
Personal Interest
A personal interest is anything that can have an impact on a staff member, including on the people the staff member is related to or associates with. Personal interests can bring benefit or disadvantage. A personal interest may be pecuniary or non-pecuniary in nature:
  1. a pecuniary interest involves a staff member’s personal financial interests. This may include a financial interest in a company or a private business operated outside QUT working hours. A pecuniary interest may also exist where a person, with whom the staff member has a personal relationship, has a material interest as an employee, a major shareholder, a Director or a principal of a company, partnership or business undertaking.
  2. a non-pecuniary interest involves all personal interests of a non-financial nature. This includes personal relationships or involvement in sporting, social, political or cultural activities. It may influence the conduct of the staff member, including a tendency towards favour or prejudice resulting from friendship, animosity or other personal involvement with another person or group. This may also include professional activities which lie outside the staff member’s University duties.
Personal Relationship A personal relationship is a relationship between a staff member and another person, or persons, unrelated to their University responsibilities and duties. This may include friendships, family relationships, intimate relationships (ie consensual romantic and/or sexual relationships), or even acrimonious relationships. A personal relationship does not include a staff member’s professional interactions with other members of the University community in the performance of their responsibilities and duties.
University Senior Executive Officers Are officers listed in the Organisational Structure Policy, Senior Executive Officers.