Public Comment

Public Comment

SUMMARY

The Public Comment Policy establishes the rights and responsibilities of Macquarie University staff when commenting in public forums, including in the media and online social media.

POLICY

1     PURPOSE

This policy outlines the rights and responsibilities of Macquarie University staff when commenting in public forums, including in the media and online social media.

2     BACKGROUND

The dissemination of knowledge to society is a key responsibility of universities. Macquarie University encourages its academic and professional staff to contribute to public commentary and debate on the basis of their professional competence without unreasonable interference and restriction.

The associated rights and responsibilities of academic freedom are outlined in the University’s Academic Senate Statement on Academic Freedom.

3     SCOPE

This policy applies to all academic and professional staff and Higher Degree Research (HDR) students of Macquarie University, including full-time, part-time, casual and fixed-term staff, and holders of Honorary and Adjunct titles.

4     DEFINITIONS

Commonly defined terms are located in the University Glossary.

5     POLICY STATEMENT

COVERAGE
The policy applies to public comment in any medium where it might be reasonably expected that the publication or circulation of the comment will spread to the community at large, whatever the original intention or audience. This includes but is not limited to: public speaking engagements; comments in newspapers or on radio and television; comments in web-based communications such as websites and social network platforms, forums and blogs and; expressions of views in letters to newspapers or in books, journals or notices.

PUBLIC COMMENT IN A CORPORATE CAPACITY
The Vice-Chancellor and members of the Executive Group are the primary spokespeople for Macquarie University on matters of policy or corporate issues. Other senior leaders or subject matter experts, as authorised, may also speak publicly for the University, depending on the issue, or may delegate this role to the Director of Communications or other appropriate professional or academic staff.

All University spokespeople must ensure the integrity of the information provided and that it adheres to professional standards where they are making public comment.

PUBLIC COMMENT IN A PROFESSIONAL CAPACITYMacquarie University encourages its academic and professional staff to participate in public debate, provide submissions to government and be available to the media for comment on the basis of their professional competence.

When making public comment, staff should identify themselves using their University title, position and/or qualifications. Staff may make such comments or submissions using University letterhead and/or a University address/email.

Staff interviewed on matters on the basis of their professional competence do not need prior authorisation from the University, unless the logistics of these activities involves a possible disruption to normal operations.

All University staff and HDR students must ensure the integrity of the information provided and that it adheres to professional standards where they are making public comment in a professional capacity.

PUBLIC COMMENT IN A PRIVATE CAPACITY The University does not wish to limit staff and HDR students making public comment on issues as private citizens, but requires that such commentary must not use the University’s name or their position at the University in association with such public comments.

To avoid confusion, staff and HDR students must not make such comments or submissions using University letterhead, University email and/or a University address, and if necessary must indicate unambiguously that they are expressing their personal opinion and not as a representative of Macquarie University.

CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION All staff and students have a right to expect confidentiality and privacy with respect to personal information obtained by other members of the University community in the course of their employment. All staff members have a duty to maintain confidentiality, integrity and security of official information to which they have access.

MEDIA RELEASES
Official Macquarie University media releases are issued only by Group Marketing.

COMPLIANCE AND BREACHES This policy details the circumstances when public comment is permitted. Any public comment by staff or HDR students outside the express permissions in this Policy are not permitted and will be considered a breach of the Policy.

The University may commence applicable disciplinary procedures if a person to whom this policy applies breaches this policy (or any of its related procedures).

6     RELEVANT LEGISLATION

Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW)
Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cwlth)
Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW)
Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994 No.92 (NSW)
Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988 (NSW)
Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cwlth)
Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cwlth)
Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (NSW)
Transgender (Anti-Discrimination and other Acts Amendment) Act 1996 (NSW)

7     KEY RELATED DOCUMENTS

Academic Senate Statement on Academic Freedom
Macquarie University Enterprise Agreements
Social Media Guidelines
Macquarie University Privacy Statement

8     NOTES

8.1Contact OfficerDirector, Communications
8.2Implementation Officer 
8.3Approval Authority / AuthoritiesVice-Chancellor
8.4Date Approved4 November 2016
8.5Date of Commencement4 November 2016
8.6Date for ReviewNovember 2019
8.7Documents Superseded by this PolicyPublic Comment Policy approved 20 March 2009
8.8Amendment HistoryNil
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