This is the first of a series of updates that the USU will be releasing in consultation with the industry parties including depa, LGEA, and LGNSW.

In 2018 the Office of Local Government circulated an updated version of the Model Code of Conduct and called for feedback.

Every Council, Local Government Industry Union, LGNSW and other stakeholders had the opportunity to provide comment before a final draft was released for adoption by each NSW Council by June 2019 if not earlier.

The USU and the other Local Government Unions support the new Model Code of Conduct (“Model Code”)

The model code covers a very broad range of issues which place obligations on and provide rights to those involved in NSW Local Government for example from Staff, Management and elected Councillors.

This update and following series of updates which will be released approximately each fortnight over the next few months will focus on very important issues regarding appropriate conduct, behaviour and safety in the workplace.

Each successive update will deal with a section within the model code such as:

  1. General Conduct. sections 3.1 a) to g) and 3.2
  2. Fairness and Equity. sections 3.3, 3.4 and 3.5
  3. Harassment and Discrimination. sections 3.6 and 3.7 a) to c)
  4. Bullying. sections 3.8 and 3.9 a) to b) and 3.10 a) to h) as well as 3.11 a) to g) and finally:
  5. Work Health and Safety. section 3.12 a) to f)

Each of these important sections can be inter-related at times, as an alleged breach in one of these sections is likely to also be an alleged breach in another section or sections.

It is extremely important that all of those involved in Local Government, fully understand their rights but equally important their individual responsibilities and obligations to comply with the model code and in particular, the sections of the model code referred to above.

While ultimately it is the responsibility of the General Manager at each Council to ensure that the Model Code is complied with fully, the elected Council has a role to deal with policy and if required to hold their General Manager to account regarding the model code.

The USU conducted an online survey earlier in 2019 where all of its almost 30,000 members employed in NSW Local Government were invited to participate. 3000 members employed in NSW Councils responded to the survey and alarmingly 55% of respondents claimed to have either experienced or witnessed bullying in their workplace.

As a result, the industry parties have held discussions and have agreed that a series of updates should be drafted to inform those involved in NSW Local Government of their rights and obligations under the Model Code.

It should be recognised that whilst such bullying behaviour may often come from above in the workplace it can also occur at peer level and even occur from below.

It is also important to understand that those issues which we will cover in the series of updates which we are going to release are also covered by legislation and regulations at both the Federal and State level also.

The Industry parties are not just going to rely on this series of updates to address our concerns in the industry.

We will be meeting with CouncilSafe and other relevant parties in seeking to better educate the industry and to improve knowledge, understanding and compliance consistently within the industry at every workplace.

Our goal of preventing or reducing any future breaches of the model code relating to these sections should result in a reduced number of complaints, injuries and workers compensation claims as well as improving workplace safety and morale.

We are committed to NSW Local Government being a leader in good work practice and an employer of choice.

Please be observant and look for this series of updates over the next few months.


1. United Services Union
Stephen Hughes (Manager North)
Ph: (02) 4962-1444 or

Daniel Papps (USU Legal and Industrial Officer)
Ph: (02) 9265-8211

2. Local Government Engineers Association
Gordon Brock (Director)
Ph: (02) 9263-6555

3. Development and Environmental Professionals’ Association
Ian Robertson (Secretary)
Ph: (02) 9712-5255

4. Local Government NSW
Industrial Relations Unit
Ph: (02) 9242-4142