In our last instalment we discussed how the University of Wollongong navigated change to create a new DVC (Strategy and Assurance) Portfolio.  While some of the divisions in the new portfolio were reimaginings of existing divisions, we also saw the need to create three new Divisions.  The first of these was the new Integrity Division.

As we reconceptualised UOW’s portfolio structure, the opportunity presented itself to contemplate how we deliver against Vice-Chancellor Trish Davidson’s broader vision to position UOW as a model for upholding the highest standards of ethical behaviour.

Building on a number of earlier internal and independent higher education sector reviews, plus industry benchmarking and trends, a plan to establish an integrity division was conceived.  This model was then shared with the wider university community and refined and tested through the change and consultation process discussed in our previous instalment.

In creating the role of chief integrity officer we welcomed applicants from both academic and professional staff backgrounds.  After a national search we were delighted to offer the role to Uni Wollongong’s then law dean, Trish Mundy.  With her strong professional and research profile across ethics and integrity-related areas both within and beyond the sector, Trish’s task is to support and enhance a culture of excellence in ethics and integrity at UOW.

The new division brought together responsibilities for complaints management, safe and respectful communities (including support and prevention work in relation to sexual harassment and assault, and general misconduct investigations), public interest disclosures, and fraud and corruption investigations.

Upon the Integrity Division’s establishment several structural possibilities emerged.  Some, such as the relocation of aspects of research integrity, Student Advocacy Service and the Office of Student Ombudsman into the new division, had been discussed during the change process but had not at that time attracted sufficient support from stakeholders to warrant the change.

Following the division’s launch and early operation, the power of the alignment was now clearer and the possibility was revisited through a second change process which has seen the Advocacy Service and Student Ombudsman move into the division, with further opportunities identified for alignment moving forward.

Ultimately this new approach and structure enables the consolidation of our conduct and investigation areas into an independent division that can provide support and advice to our university communities, promote accountability, monitoring and continuous improvement.

Beyond the functional work of this new division, however, the Chief Integrity Officer will also lead the development of a whole of institution integrity framework, reflecting the university’s commitment to the highest standards of ethical behaviour right across the university.

Sean Brawley is DVC (Strategy and Assurance), Richard Cook is Chief Strategy Officer, and Trish Mundy is Chief Integrity Officer at the University of Wollongong


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