Fraud and corruption

What is fraud and corruption?

Fraud is the act of dishonestly obtaining a financial or other benefit (either directly or indirectly) by deception. Fraud includes deliberate and premeditated deception to gain advantage from a position of trust and authority. This includes acts of omission, theft, making false statements, evasion, manipulation of information and numerous other acts of deception.

Corruption (which includes acts of fraud) is defined as a dishonest activity in which an employee (or other University public official) acts contrary to the interests of the University and abuses their position of trust in order to achieve some personal gain or advantage for themselves or for another person or entity. As defined by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), corrupt conduct is deliberate or intentional wrongdoing, not negligence or a mistake. It has to involve or affect a NSW public official or public sector organisation. Under this definition, a University of Newcastle public official includes employees, conjoints, volunteers and service contractors.

When does fraud and corruption occur?

Fraud and corruption can occur at any time; however, it is more likely to occur when the following three motives are aligned:

  • Opportunity: This refers to the circumstances that allow fraud or corruption to occur – for example, poorly designed internal controls.
  • Pressure (or Incentive): This refers to someone’s reason for committing fraud and corruption – for example, an individual could be experiencing financial problems caused by large debt.
  • Rationalisation: This refers to a person’s internal justification or rationalisation which enables them to commit fraud or corruption – for example, the mindset that, “Others are doing it so why can’t I?”

Who can commit fraud and corruption?

Anyone with the right motives - opportunity, pressure and rationalisation - can commit acts of fraud and corruption. Of the three motives, opportunity is the only one that can be controlled and reduced by the University, through the implementation of effective and efficient processes and controls.

Some common examples of opportunities which may make it easier for an individual to commit fraud and corruption include:

  • being in a position of trust or seniority;
  • a lack of effective segregation of duties;
  • the ability to manually override controls; and
  • inadequate or unclear policies and procedures.

How does the University manage the risk of fraud and corruption?

The University of Newcastle’s Fraud and Corruption Framework establishes how the University:

  • plans and resources the identification and control of fraud and corruption; and
  • prevents, detects and responds to fraud and corruption.

All staff are responsible for contributing to the prevention, detection and response to fraud and corruption within their area, and for ensuring compliance with relevant University Rules, Policies and Procedures.

Why report fraud and corruption?

The University requires its employees and public officials to perform their duties with honesty and integrity, in line with its Staff Code of Conduct and other University Rules, Policies and Procedures. Acts of fraud and corruption committed by University employees and public officials are breaches of these requirements. They also represent a breach of public trust, given that they can lead to inequity, and wasted resources and public money. They may also cause reputational damage to the University.

For these reasons, if you suspect, or become aware of, any wrongdoing relating to fraud or corrupt conduct within the University, you have a responsibility to report it.

The University has policies and procedures in place to support reporting and investigation processes – see the Public Interest Disclosure Policy. These include measures to ensure you are not disadvantaged, penalised, defamed or precluded for raising concerns.

What you should do if you suspect fraud or corruption?

If you know of, or suspect fraud and corruption, you should report it immediately to an appropriate Disclosure Officer – refer to the University’s Public Interest Disclosure Policy, or the Public Information Disclosure webpage, for more details.

If you suspect or become aware of any fraud and corruption you can also call the University’s confidential Fraud and Corruption Reporting Hotline for advice and guidance - phone 4913 8037.

What are the relevant regulatory agencies?

The University of Newcastle is a public sector organisation, which means it is accountable to, and regulated by, several different stakeholders including agencies such as the:

  • Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) for any matters relating to fraud & corruption;
  • NSW Ombudsman for any matters relating to maladministration;
  • NSW Audit Office for our use of public resources; and
  • NSW Police for any criminal matters.

What are the relevant University policies and procedures?

The University’s Fraud and Corruption Framework establishes how the University plans and resources the identification and control of fraud and corruption and prevents, detects and responds to fraud and corruption.

Where can I go for more information?

Refer to the University’s Fraud and Corruption Framework for details on how the University plans and resources the control of fraud and corruption including how the University prevents, detects and responds to fraud and corruption.

The Fraud & Corruption Officer is available to provide confidential guidance and advice in relation to the University’s Fraud and Corruption Framework.

You can also call the University’s Fraud and Corruption Reporting Hotline for confidential advice and information on 4913 8037.

The NSW ICAC also offers educational guidelines and resources that you can access about: