A matter of ethics
By Prins Ralston
The value placed on ethical behaviour in Australian society is increasing, something for which we probably have our politicians to thank.
In days gone by, the church and the professions, or guilds, were the main promoters of ethics. More recently, politicians have started to promote their views on what should be considered ethical.
The public is, and rightly I think, sceptical about their efforts to promote themselves in an ethical light.
In my view, ethics are not gathered by osmosis through the passage of time or by passively existing within a society.
Ethical behaviour is learned.
As with any learning process, the results are greater and more focused where there is reward or sanction for behaviour that is deemed appropriate or inappropriate.
In the IT profession, the ACS maintains an independent Disciplinary Committee which operates according to a set of regulations as agreed by the membership at large when deciding if someone has transgressed our collective ethical standards.
We within the ACS need to be vigilant and ensure as a collective body that we are ethical and also perceived as being so.
As stated earlier, ethical behaviour is learned, so if an ACS member is breaching the ethical standard laid down then it is up to you as a member to report such a misconduct. As a member of the profession it is your responsibility to ensure that the profession is not bought into disrepute by the actions of another member.
In NSW and WA, Professionals Standards Acts have recently been passed by the respective parliaments (the WA Act is still waiting to be proclaimed).
These Acts attempt to "provide for the limitation of liability of members of occupational associations in certain circumstances and to facilitate improvement in the standards of services provided by those members".
The ACS will seek to be a registered society under both Acts. A major benefit of this is to limit the legal liability of individual ACS members and, in certain circumstances, of organisations where the majority of partners or employees of the business are ACS members.
This will be of great interest to those who are dealing with Year 2000 issues.
The road down which we as a profession are travelling is moving towards the point where we will need to register to practise as professionals, in the same way that doctors and lawyers already do.
While this situation is still some distance away, it is something for which we as a body are preparing. We are putting in place the various planks needed to progress towards this eventuality, such as our ethical standards, disciplinary procedures, Core Body of Knowledge, accreditation processes, Certification programs and so forth.
While on the topic of registration . . . have you registered for SEARCC'98 yet? If not, register now to take advantage of the early bird discount.
I look forward to seeing you in Darwin in July.
Prins Ralston is president of the ACS