Department of Health

Conflict of interest and the board

Key messages

  • Transparency is crucial for board accountability in Victoria.
  • It requires constant attention and skill to identify conflicts of interest.
  • Boards need a straightforward procedure to identify and manage conflicts of interest.
  • The Victorian Public Sector Commission provides guidelines for managing conflicts of interest.

Directors of health services board need to be aware of possible conflicts of interest, and boards need a practical procedure for resolving situations where a conflict of interest arises.

Definition of a conflict of interest

A conflict of interest involves a conflict between a person's public duty as a director on the board of a health service and their private interests, which could improperly influence the performance of their duties and responsibilities as a director.

Conflict of interest is primarily a principle of conduct and transparency that a director:

  • acts with honesty and integrity
  • exercises his or her responsibilities impartially in the interest of the health service
  • does not seek to  improperly confer an advantage or disadvantage on any person.

Health service board directors’ responsibility

Directors on the board of a public healthcare service are public officials under s. 4 of the Public Administration Act 2004.

It is the director's responsibility to identify and disclose any conflicts of interest. Concerns about the result of a board decision should not influence a director's decision about whether to disclose a conflict of interest. A director's personal responsibility to disclose a conflict of interest overrides any other obligation they have as a decision-maker on the board.

Board responsibility for dealing with conflict of interests

S. 81(1)(f) of the Public Administration Act 2004 states the board of a public entity (health service) must implement a process to deal with conflicts of interest for financial and non-financial interests.

The Victorian Public Sector Commission has published Managing conflicts of interest to help boards develop their conflict of interest policies.

Reviewed 05 October 2015

Health.vic

Contact details

Health Service Governance Unit Department of Health & Human Services

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