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Curtin University
Integrity and Standards Unit

Conflicts of Interest / Gifts, Benefits and Hospitality

Conflict of Interest Register  

Before registering a conflict of interest / gift, benefit or hospitality or assessing and making a decision on a previously disclosed matter, please take time to review the procedures, guidance and FAQs below.

 

Click here to access the electronic Conflict of Interest register via the Conflict of Interest System, if you wish to:

  • DISCLOSE an actual, perceived or potential conflict of interest / gift, benefit or hospitality; or
  • ASSESS and make a decision about a previously disclosed conflict of interest / gift, benefit or hospitality; or
  • REVIEW your previously registered disclosures or assessments            

Procedures and Guidance

Code of Conduct

The Curtin Code of Conduct outlines seven (7) professional standards of behaviour that all parties to the Code should understand and strive to meet. One of these standards concerns Conflicts of Interest / Gifts, Benefits and Hospitality. A key message in this standard is the need to avoid conflicts of interest in the first place, if possible. This is explained further in the FAQs below.
Conflict of Interest Procedures - Appendices


The Conflict of Interest procedures provide essential guidance on how Curtin University expects its officers to conduct themselves in relation to disclosing and managing conflicts of interest / gifts, benefits and hospitality. More details associated with the procedures are found in the following appendices:
  • Appendix 1:  Types of Conflicts of Interest (includes a comprehensive set of examples - for illustrative purposes only)
  • Appendix 2:  Guidelines for determining if a conflict of interest exists
  • Appendix 3:  Strategies for managing conflicts of interest
Process Flowchart


A one page flowchart which shows the high level process flows in relation to conflicts and gifts processing.
System User Guide


A detailed guide with step-by-step instructions on how to use the Conflict of Interest System to electronically disclose and assess conflicts of interest / gifts, benefits and hospitality
System Email Correspondence
    Under the Conflict of Interest System, automated email correspondence is issued as part of pre-defined electronic workflows. Please note that only the following two Curtin email addresses are used by the system to generate emails to system users:

FAQs - for those disclosing a conflict of interest / gift, benefit or hospitality

To assist you in obtaining a better understanding of your obligations in relation to notifying the University of conflicts of interest / gifts, benefits and hospitality under these procedures, please refer to the following FAQs:

If you are a party to the Code of Conduct, then these procedures apply to you. Refer to the Code for more detail.

As a party to the Code, if you take reasonable steps to:

  • avoid conflicts in the first place; and
  • disclose them when there is a requirement to do so

you are demonstrating behaviour that aligns with Curtin's core values and showing that you are acting in the best interests of the University. From a whole-of-University perspective, a good system of disclosure minimises the risk of corruption, misconduct and bias in the University's operations and decision-making processes.

The Code reflects the importance of compliance when it states under clause 6.3 ... Breaches of the Code or any of the legislation, regulations, codes, policies or procedures it reflects may result in sanctions being applied by the University.

Here are some examples of where public figures have had their integrity brought into question as a result of a failure to properly disclose conflicts of interest / gifts, benefits and hospitality in the course of their employment or duties:

There is potential for conflicts in all aspects of University operations e.g. teaching, research, assessment, staffing and commercial activity.

However, you also need to take reasonable steps to avoid conflicts of interest in the first place and not accept gifts, benefits or hospitality if, by doing so, a conflict would be created.. Here are some examples where the specified action indicates that reasonable steps have not been taken to avoid a conflict of interest: 

  • where you do not follow University-approved staff recruitment or supplier selection processes by personally sourcing and engaging a family member to do University work, either as a casual employee or contractor.
  • where you accept a directorship in an external company or entity that you are aware supplies the University with goods or services, or is negotiating a contract to do so. 

In the above examples, engaging in the specified behaviour, disclosing the matter as a conflict and then expecting a nominated responsible officer to address the conflict would not negate the fact that you have failed to take reasonable steps to avoid getting into the situation in the first place. 

If you are unsure, its best to seek advice from your line manager or the ISU.

It is your responsibility to identify and disclose your own conflicts of interest (whether actual, perceived or potential), but it is the responsible officer you nominate in disclosing the conflict who makes the final decision as to whether a conflict exists and, if so, how it should be managed. This will usually be your line manager.

Appendix 2 may be of assistance in helping you to determine if you need to disclose a conflict.

There is nothing wrong with seeking advice first, or disclosing a matter which turns out not to be a conflict of interest once it has been independently assessed. 

You need to determine the responsible officer who is best placed to make an independent decision as to whether a conflict of interest exists in relation to the matter you are disclosing, and if so, how that conflict should be managed.

In determining how the reported conflict should by managed, the responsible officer will consider the strategies outlined in Appendix 3.

The responsible officer should usually be your line manager, but not always. It depends on the situation in which the conflict of interest arises e.g. being placed on a staff selection panel where one of the candidates is a relative or close friend would require an immediate disclosure to the Chair of the selection panel.

If you have formally registered a conflict, and knowledge of that conflict could impact later on a process being run or a decision being made by another University officer in the course of their duties, you are obliged to inform that officer of the matter.

Failure to do so could be viewed as a breach of these procedures and the Code, particularly if you are unduly advantaged (financially or otherwise) or the University disadvantaged by your failure to inform the relevant officer.

Provided there are no changes in the circumstances that resulted in your conflict being disclosed and addressed earlier, you do not have to re-register the same disclosure to the same responsible officer.

You should inform both the ISU and the responsible officer who you originally submitted your conflict notification to if any changes arise that may:

  • alter that responsible officer's original decision that there was no conflict to be addressed; or
  • impact on the need for or effectiveness of the management strategy originally specified by the responsible officer at the time it was determined that there was a conflict of interest that needed to be addressed.

A situation may arise where you, as a third party, suspect that an individual has not taken reasonable steps to disclose a conflict or that a disclosed matter is not being managed appropriately.

In such cases, please first seek advice from the ISU as this may represent a breach of the Code and warrant further independent investigation.

FAQs - for those assessing and responding to a conflict of interest / gift, benefit or hospitality disclosure

To assist you in obtaining a better understanding of your obligations as a responsible officer in relation to assessing and responding to conflict of interest / gift, benefit or hospitality disclosures that have been directed to you, please refer to the following FAQs:

If you have been formally notified of a conflict of interest that needs to be addressed via email, the first thing you need to do is to access the Conflict of Interest System to promptly assess the disclosure and determine whether it represents a conflict of interest, as per the procedures.

The guidance provided in Appendix 2 may assist you in the process.

You will need to indicate via the Conflict of Interest System that no management strategy is required (and provide a reason).

Once you have submitted your decision in the system, the ISU will be automatically notified by email. The ISU will then review your decision in the system.

If the ISU accepts your decision based on the information provided, it will electronically sign-off the disclosure. This will result in a further automated email being sent to the original discloser informing them of your decision.

If the ISU does not accept your decision based on the information provided (e.g. because the procedures have not been followed or more information is required), you will be notified of this via email and requested to make any necessary amendments to your original decision via the system.

You will need to determine the most appropriate strategy for dealing with the actual, perceived or potential conflict and submit it along with detailed instructions on what needs to be done, via the Conflict of Interest System. The guidance provided in Appendix 3 may assist you in this process.

Once you have submitted your decision in the system, the ISU will be automatically notified by email. The ISU will then review your decision in the system.

If the ISU accepts your decision based on the information provided, it will electronically sign-off the disclosure. This will result in a further automated email being sent to the original discloser informing them of your decision.

If the ISU does not accept your decision based on the information provided (e.g. because the procedures have not been followed or more information is required), you will be notified of this via email and requested to make any necessary amendments to your original decision via the system.

If you can't make an assessment based on the information provided, then the Conflict of Interest System provides a means for you to send the disclosure back to the discloser for further information.

This is explained in more detail in the Conflict of Interest User Guide.

You will need to monitor the decisions you made via the Conflict of Interest System to ensure the objectives of the strategies are still being achieved.

As a responsible officer, if you are made aware or if you determine that a strategy no longer sufficiently addresses the previously disclosed conflict, you will need to develop a new strategy.

Please contact the ISU for assistance if this happens and we will deactivate the old disclosure and request that a new disclosure be registered and sent to you.

FAQs - general information on types of conflicts

The following FAQs may assist you in understanding some of the key types of conflicts covered by the procedures:

The University has identified 13 types of conflict of interest that you may face in your daily work. Each category is described in more detail (with sets of examples) in Appendix 1: 

  1. Financial Interests
  2. Research
  3. Close personal relationships between individuals
  4. Close personal relationships between individuals and students
  5. Personal views of individuals towards others
  6. Gifts, benefits and hospitality
  7. Sponsorships and other agreements
  8. Secondary employment
  9. Use of University facilities and equipment
  10. Use of official information
  11. Personal beliefs
  12. Public comment
  13. Multiple roles

Research activities provide many opportunities for conflicts of interest to arise.

Moreover, the University endorses the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, which places additional responsibilities on researchers in relation to conflicts of interest (refer to Part A, section 7 in the Australian Code).

In fact, section 7 of the Australian Code specifically states that ... institutions need to have a comprehensive policy in place to cover the likely range of circumstances (pertaining to conflicts of interest).

Please refer to section 2 of the Appendix 1 guidelines for more information on conflicts of interest arising from research activities.

As per the procedures, a "close personal relationship" is one where there ... is a relationship between an individual and a relative, a financially dependent person, a close friend, a de facto partner or any person with whom there is currently, or has been, an intimate relationship.

In large organisations such as Curtin, it is likely that at some point in your career, you may be placed in a situation where you have an actual, perceived or potential conflict of interest with another individual with whom you have a close personal relationship. This may be between yourself and another staff member, or between yourself and a student.

It is imperative that you recognise when this happens and take immediate action to register a conflict of interest.

Moreover, as described above, you need to be aware that it is also contrary to the procedures to take any action which would be seen as having failed to take reasonable steps to avoid a conflict of interest when dealing with people with whom you have a close personal relationship. e.g. personally selecting or influencing the selection of your partner as a casual research assistant on your research project. Taking such action cannot be addressed by simply disclosing the conflict and expecting a responsible officer to recommend an appropriate management strategy.

Please refer to sections 3 and 4 of the Appendix 1 guidelines for more information on conflicts of interest involving close personal relationships.

If your personal views about an individual or group cause an inability (or perception of an inability) to perform your duties objectively and impartially in relation to the individual or group, then you may be conflicted.

Your views may be based on feelings of friendship (amity) or hostility, opposition, rivalry or contention (enmity), or it may be something to do with your personal positive or negative feelings towards that person or group.

It might be something as simple as being responsible for conducting a performance review on another party where you have previously invoked disciplinary action against that individual under the University's staff enterprise agreement. 

Please refer to section 5 of the Appendix 1 guidelines for more information on conflicts of interest arising from personal views.

Gifts, benefits and hospitality (hereafter referred to as "gifts") received by or offered to you in the course of your duties are treated differently under the procedures (and also in the Conflict of Interest System).

In the first instance, you need to personally make an assessment as to whether it would be appropriate for you to accept the gift (regardless of its nature, value or who has provided it to you). The question to ask yourself in performing this assessment is:

Would a reasonable disinterested observer, taking into consideration all relevant facts, conclude that the gift received or offered creates a conflict for you.

  • If the answer is "Yes", then you should politely decline, return or repay the gift if already received (regardless of value). If you are unsure, then simply don't accept it, or return or repay it if already received. Under such circumstances, it is not necessary to proceed any further in relation to disclosure via the system.
  • If the answer is “No”, then proceed as follows. Determine the value of the gift:
    1. If it is valued at less than or equal to $150 and if by accepting the gift, the total value of gifts received by you from the same individual or organisation would not exceed $300 within a 12 month period, then you may keep the gift and it is not mandatory to make a disclosure via the system. Note: under these circumstances, you may still wish to make a disclosure for recordkeeping purposes and to keep track of gifts received over a 12 month period from the same individual or organisation (your line manager / responsible officer will not be notified of these disclosures by the system).
    2. For all other situations (i.e. regardless of the gift’s value), disclosure is mandatory and your disclosure will be directed by the system to either your line manager or Executive Manager for a decision to be made.

Note that the Conflict of Interest System automatically guides you through the above process, based on the responses you provide to questions that arise from the electronic gift processing workflow.


Some sponsorship arrangements between the University and third parties may include the provision of discounted or free goods or services, or contra (exchanged items). Similar benefits may arise from University contracts with preferred suppliers of goods and services e.g. discounted airline tickets or accumulated sales reward points converted to free equipment etc.

In all such cases, these benefits are not to be treated as gifts. They automatically become the property of the University as they are obtained under and as a result of a formal agreement between the University and an external entity. 

As such, if you personally come into possession of such benefits from a third party as per an agreement, you must register a conflict of interest and the nominated responsible officer will make a decision in relation to the items. 

Please refer to section 7 of the Appendix 1 guidelines for more information on conflicts of interest arising from sponsorship benefits.