Throughout October and November, the Adelaide Law School is involved in some important research into corruption at the local government level in South Australia. Dr Gabrielle Appleby is leading a team of researchers from the University of Adelaide’s Law and Psychology Schools. She explains the research and its importance below.
Corruption within government affects the community in a number of different ways. It may affect how taxpayers’ money is spent. If there is misconduct in the conduct of a government tender this can lead to inequality in opportunity for businesses and individuals within the community. Poor governance, acting with a conflict of interest or taking bribes can be extremely damaging to public confidence in the public sector. Disaffection with government and politics is a dangerous path for democracy.
In September this year, the South Australian Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (‘ICAC’) started its work. Already it has received hundreds of complaints.
Against the background of the ICAC’s introduction, a team of researchers at the University of Adelaide were approached by the Local Government Association of SA (which represents local governments across South Australia) to conduct some research about attitudes towards, and the perceptions of, corruption, misconduct and maladministration at the local government level.
We are conducting two surveys. One survey is for people in local government – councillors, staff and CEOs. In this survey we are trying to find out what people working in local government understand corruption to be, and what they would do if they became aware of corruption in their council. The second survey is for members of the general public. Public participants are also asked about their understanding of corruption and their expectations about how corruption will be dealt with by government.
The major premise on which the research is undertaken is that a better understanding of corruption within local government and the community is the most important part of reducing it. A robust culture of no tolerance is pivotal. The introduction of the ICAC provides South Australia with an opportunity to reinforce and strengthen this culture.
The results of these surveys will provide an empirical base from which local governments can implement education and training interventions and public education campaigns.
To be part of this important research, just click on this link to start the survey. It will take only approximately 15-20 minutes of your time, and you will remain anonymous: http://www.adelaide.edu.au/professions/research/projects/corruption/