Social media policy
The following information describes the standards expected of employees of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources in their use of social media; it should be read in conjunction with the department’s IT Security Policy.
The following table defines terms used in this document.
Includes social networking sites, blogs and other online media that allow user participation and interaction.
Note: Use of social media by Australian Public Service (APS) employees can be split into two categories: official use and unofficial use.
Means use by persons authorised as departmental spokespersons and representatives for official purposes, who are permitted to post content within an approved scope on external social media channels.
Unofficial use of social media falls into one of two (2) categories: professional or private.
Public Service Act 1999, s 13(11).
- The APS Code of Conduct requires APS employees to behave at all times ‘in a way that upholds the APS Values and APS Employment Principles, and the integrity and good reputation of the employee’s Agency and the APS’.
- The APS Values and Code of Conduct apply to using social media both officially and unofficially. The requirements include:
- behaving with respect and courtesy, and without harassment
- dealing appropriately with information, recognising that some information needs to remain confidential
- delivering services fairly, effectively, impartially and courteously to the Australian public
- being sensitive to the diversity of the Australian public
- taking reasonable steps to avoid conflicts of interest
- making proper use of Commonwealth resources
- upholding the APS Values and the integrity and good reputation of the APS and one’s agency
- not acting in a way that would call into question the APS employee’s ability to be apolitical, impartial and professional in the performance of their duties.
Roles and responsibilities
The following table outlines the roles and responsibilities undertaken in this guideline.
Approving the official use of social media by their staff.
Assistant Secretary, Governance Branch
All social media use
The APS Values and APS Code of Conduct apply even if material is posted anonymously or using a pseudonym and employees should be mindful that at some point their identity and employment may be revealed.
Possible sanctions, including termination, may apply if employees are found to have breached the APS Values or APS Code of Conduct through their use of social media.
Official social media use
The following table outlines the process for undertaking official use of social media.
Note: Acceptable official use by APS employees may include representing the department online, monitoring issues relevant to departmental business and engaging in authorised professional development forums or activities.
Written approval to use social media in an official capacity is sought from:
Written approval is provided.
Note: Communication and content standards that apply to official use of social media will be established as part of this approval.
Relevant SES officer; and
Social media is used in accordance with:
Unofficial social media use
When using social media in an unofficial capacity, employees must comply with the requirements in the following table.
- Acceptable unofficial use of social media while at work will include reasonable private use, consistent with this guideline and other relevant policies including the department’s
IT Security Policy.
- Employees in doubt about acceptable use of social media as an APS employee, whether at work or not, should speak to their manager in the first instance.
What to do
Ensure that any comment made is not (or could not be perceived to be):
Unless specifically authorised
Do not develop or provide content for social media channels that: