Email and Internet Code of Conduct

​​​Warning: The department may, and does, monitor and record any activities occurring on its IT systems.


The department makes electronic mail (e-mail) and Internet access available to staff, in order to:

  • conduct the business of the department
  • make, develop and maintain professional contacts
  • research and improve professional, scientific and business practices, and
  • provide an effective high-quality service to the department's clients.

Internet and e-mail access is not a right, but is granted at the discretion of the Secretary and must be used in accordance with this Email and Internet Code of Conduct and the department's "Guidelines for the effective and responsible use of e-mail". Officers should be aware that they are legally and personally responsible and accountable when using departmental facilities and may be charged the full cost of any usage that is considered to be excessive or inappropriate.

They may also be held accountable for any business disruption (e.g. through introducing a virus) resulting from non-departmental activity. Departmental telecommunication facilities are only to be used in accordance with the law, the APS Code of Conduct and Values (under the Public Service Act) and the department's values and policies relating to offensive behaviour. The use of e-mail or Internet facilities for illegal, inappropriate, unethical or unacceptable purposes is prohibited and may be cause for disciplinary action, including removal of access, dismissal or prosecution. Note: Illegal activities are any violation of State, Territory, or Commonwealth laws. Inappropriate activities are any violation of Values, Guidelines or the Codes of Conduct.

Code of Conduct

E-mail and Internet services are designed to provide staff with an efficient communication medium as well as maintaining and enhancing the department's professional reputation. Any activity that might bring the department into disrepute is prohibited. The department characterises as inappropriate, unethical or unacceptable, any activity where the officer knowingly allows another, or himself:

  • infringes upon copyright, licence agreements or other contracts;
  • interferes with or impedes the intended use of information resources;
  • uses any computer, network or software to attempt to gain unauthorised access, or devises or executes any scheme to defraud or obtain money, or other things of value by false pretences or misrepresentation;
  • uses any computer, network or software to promote or conduct a private business;
  • transmits or causes to be transmitted, communications which may be construed as harassment or disparagement of others based on anti-discrimination legislation or departmental policy; which violates relevant State or Commonwealth laws, or the laws of other countries, pertaining to the use of computing resources or networks
  • accesses, stores, disseminates or publishes any material which contravenes the law or which may be offensive, obscene or in violation of workplace standards;
  • makes public comment on political or social issues (including Government policy);
  • transmits or causes to be transmitted, confidential or security classified information;
  • transmits any communication, which is insulting, abusive or uses words or images which could reflect adversely on the department; or
  • invades the privacy of another individual.
Staff are responsible for all e-mail and Internet access using their logins, whether on office or home-based machines. Officers must not provide their passwords or logins to others, as any inappropriate use will be deemed as carried out by the officer. Supervisors are responsible for the conduct of their staff when staff use e-mail or the Internet and, if they become aware of any violation of this code of conduct, must, depending upon the severity of the breach:
  • deal with the issue as a supervisory problem at the local level; and
  • notify their relevant Division Head or Executive Director; or
  • advise BESIU of the breach.

Access to any Internet site may be restricted at the Secretary's discretion.

Conduct to be observed when using e-mail

In addition to the above general code of conduct relating to e-mail or Internet facilities, there are specific "Guidelines for the effective and responsible use of e-mail" which officers are obliged to read and observe. These guidelines go beyond the legal and social responsibilities and provide advice on common courtesy and e-mail etiquette expected from officers, to ensure the department's name is not compromised or brought into disrepute.

An electronic header and/or footer may be added to outgoing e-mails containing a disclaimer regarding the views expressed, advising of the communications confidentiality and detailing the recipients' obligations. Staff should note the indiscriminate use of "All DAFF" e-mails, overuse of "cc's" and "reply to all" is a particular area of staff frustration and their use should be avoided if at all possible. As a general rule, use of bulk mail like "All DAFF" and "All DAFF Canberra" is limited to communications from the Secretary and the Executive.

Private Use

The provision of e-mail and Internet access is primarily for the conduct of the department's business, however, as the separation between what is business and private sometimes becomes indivisible (e.g. news groups, Internet mail etc.). Limited personal use is considered to be acceptable as part of your work in the department. This is however, subject to it being:

  • appropriate use
  • in your own time
  • within reasonable usage levels, and
  • at your supervisors discretion.

Under no circumstance should these facilities be used for the conduct of private business.

System Monitoring

Warning: The department may, and does, monitor and record any activities occurring on its IT systems.

Staff should note "transaction logs" of all e-mail (even if deleted), Internet mail and all Internet activity, identifiable by individual workstation, are maintained and form part of the public record for evidentiary or FOI purposes.