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Board of Trustees Ethical Framework

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Purpose

(1) The exercise of good governance requires sound, purposeful and ethical decision-making consistent with the University's Mission and Values.

(2) The University is a statutory corporation established by the Western Sydney University Act 1997 (NSW). Its object and functions are, in broad terms, to promote scholarship, research, free inquiry, the interaction of research and teaching, and academic excellence.

(3) The Board of Trustees is legally charged with the responsibility of making decisions consistent with the purpose of the University as articulated in its founding Act. The Board is also expected to demonstrate ethical standards of governance, not just in exercising due diligence in decision-making, but also in stewardship of the University’s resources to ensure organizational sustainability and the continuing ability to contribute to the public good ‘having particular regard to the needs and aspirations of residents of Greater Western Sydney’ (3a).

(4) Specifically, Board members are required to:

  1. act always in the best interests of the University as a whole;
  2. act in good faith, honestly and for a proper purpose;
  3. exercise appropriate care and diligence;
  4. not improperly use his or her position, and his or her access to information, to gain advantage for that member or for someone else; and
  5. disclose and avoid conflicts of interest.

(5) Decision-making invariably involves dealing with uncertainty and ambiguity. An Ethical Framework or Code of Ethics ‘expresses fundamental principles that provide guidance in cases where no specific rule is in place or where matters are genuinely unclear’. The Code of Conduct provides much more specific guidance on standards of personal and professional conduct. Similarly, the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research sets out principles and responsibilities that researchers and institutions are expected to follow when conducting research. Critical to this endeavour are the moral leadership and espoused values of the institution and the shared values and expectations of honesty and integrity that characterise an institution’s leadership and culture.

(6) The ethical considerations that reflect good governance are often complex and individual members of the Board bring a diversity of experience, knowledge and personal values that are highly valued and respected. The Ethics Framework is designed as a point of reference against which decisions can be tested in Leadership and Governance to ensure decisionmaking is on the basis of evidence and reason and consistent with the University's Values and Beliefs rather than personal conviction.

Mission To be a university of international standing and outlook, achieving excellence through scholarship, teaching and learning, research and service to regional and international communities, beginning with the people of Greater Western Sydney
Vision To secure success for our students and the Greater Western Sydney region through innovation and discovery in a dynamic and technology-enabled world.
Values • Commitment to our region and communities
• Excellence and quality
• Scholarly rigour and integrity
• Equity and inclusiveness
• Recognition and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their diverse knowledge systems
• Collegiality and participation
• Academic freedom
• Relevance and responsibility
• Ethics and accountability
Beliefs • The primacy of the student experience
• Environmental and social responsibility
• Accountability to the traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait custodians and owners of the lands we occupy
• A vibrant and inclusive intellectual community
• Opportunity for excellence
• Being connected locally and internationally
• Valuing, developing and rewarding our staff

Principles

(7) As an ethical organisation we will test whether we are making the right decisions against the following principles:

Act with integrity in the public good

(8) We are mindful of our responsibilities as an anchor institution of Western Sydney having particular regard for our region’s needs and aspirations.

  1. Is this decision consistent with our Mission, Values and Beliefs?
  2. Are we acting in the public good and have we considered long as well as short-term consequences?
  3. Is this decision likely to advance equity, access and inclusion?
  4. Have we adequately considered the full range of potential consequences?

Respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges

(9) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing are central to all our activities and we seek to ensure that our decisions are respectful and inclusive of these ways of knowing.

  1. Have we considered potential impact/divergent perspectives?
  2. Have we consulted/included Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives in our decision-making?
  3. Has our decision making been mindful and respectful of the knowledge and values of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people?

Pursue excellence

(10) We aim to achieve excellence in all that we do, and assess opportunities on the basis of the quality of potential outcomes.

  1. What evidence of quality has been presented?
  2. What benchmarking has been undertaken?

Promote academic freedom and preserve institutional autonomy

(11) We promote freedom of enquiry in the pursuit of truth and ensure that our governance processes preserve institutional autonomy and enable critical reflection coupled with accountability.

  1. Is there an issue to defend?
  2. What ethical guidelines are relevant?
  3. What are the appropriate mechanisms?
  4. What mechanisms are in place to safeguard institutional autonomy?

Be sustainable

(12) We will ensure that we exercise stewardship of our resources to support the capacity of both current and future staff and students to pursue knowledge and lifelong learning.

  1. What are the available options?
  2. Have the benefits and risks been rigorously evaluated?
  3. Have alternatives been seriously considered?

Be engaged

(13) We ensure that we are informed, responsive and accessible to the communities that we serve.

  1. Have we sought informed opinion from a diversity of sources?
  2. Have we genuinely engaged and listened to other views and been prepared to adapt our thinking?

Ethical decision-making will also be evidenced in how we make decisions:

Demand the best reasons

(14) We apply scholarly rigour and integrity to our decision-making drawing on the best available evidence.

Be accountable

(15) We ensure that our decision-making is transparent and that we realise our commitments.

Be involved

(16) We encourage all of our members to participate fully in decision-making, regardless of role, recognising that the University is enriched by the diversity of contributions.

Be collegial

(17) We recognise and acknowledge the knowledge and contribution of all members of the University and engage in consultation and robust debate to enhance our collective capability.

Be respectful

(18) As a student-centred institution, we draw on the experience, and seek and respect the voices, of our students.
We strive to develop an ethical organisational culture based on trust and we engage respectfully with our staff.

Be consistent

(19) Organisational consistency in the principles applied to inform decision-making is important in a dynamic and rapidly evolving sector.

  1. Is our decision-making consistent with relevant precedents?