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This policy doesn’t cover every possible use of social media. Please read it with the Australian Public Service Commission’s Social Media Guidance.
What is social media?
Social media can include:
- social networks, like Facebook and Twitter
- video and image sharing tools, like YouTube and Instagram
- enterprise tools, like Yammer, Microsoft Teams and SharePoint
- professional networks, like LinkedIn
- messaging tools, like Snapchat and Messenger
- blogs and forums, like news hub and Whirlpool
- wikis, like Wikipedia.
In this policy, post refers to any content created or shared on social media.
About this policy
As members of the Australian Public Service (APS), we have certain responsibilities.
These are included in:
- agency policies
- the Australian Public Service Commission’s Social Media Guidance
- the Public Service Act 1999 (Cth), that includes the APS Values and APS Code of Conduct (the Code)
- the Privacy Act 1988.
We’ve based this policy on these documents. It applies to social media use at all times.
You have a right to engage in public and political debate. Services Australia respects and supports this. However, you need to be aware of the responsibilities that limit your ability to participate fully in public discussions. This includes on social media.
The public relies on us to deliver government services impartially. We must always use common sense and judgement when using social media, along with the advice set out in this policy.
Personal social media use
When staff post in a personal capacity, it must be lawful. A reasonable person should not perceive it to be at any time:
- in breach of state, territory or federal laws
- affecting public confidence in the agency or the APS
- affecting a staff member’s ability to complete duties in an apolitical or impartial manner
- made on behalf of the agency or the Government.
When using social media, it’s not acceptable to:
- protest policies the agency implements
- release sensitive, personal or confidential agency information
- post images or videos of staff members without their consent. This could include images of staff behaving in a way that is inconsistent with the APS Values or the Code
- post content relating to work that is, or perceived as, offensive, threatening, harassing or discriminatory. This includes posts about the APS, stakeholders, the agency or its staff, whether named or not
- engage in commentary that’s so harsh or extreme in its criticism or endorsement of the agency, the Australian Government or a Member of Parliament from any political party or their respective policies, that you can’t work, or gives the perception you can’t work professionally, efficiently or impartially.
Social media at work
You can use social media like Yammer and Microsoft Teams at work. It’s important these tools remain open and welcoming places for all staff.
When using social media at work, you must:
- always be polite and respectful
- not be argumentative or antagonistic
- not infringe on intellectual property rights
- unless authorised, not use agency ICT resources to provide comments to journalists, politicians or lobby groups
- not create or knowingly access content that is inconsistent with the APS Values or the Code. This includes posts that are:
- sexist or of a sexual nature
- false or profane, whether obscured by symbols or not.
Professional social media use
You can use social media for professional purposes. This includes having a LinkedIn account for networking or career development.
You can choose to disclose your employment details on social media. However, you should always consider your privacy and security first. This is very important if you’re in a customer service role.
You can also use social media to raise awareness about the work of our agency. For example, sharing content from official agency social media accounts about emergency assistance.
If you’re in a senior position you should be especially mindful of the impact your online comments can have. You must lead by personal example in promoting the APS Values and the Code.
With the exception of enterprise tools such as Microsoft Teams, we ask you don’t:
- use social media tools for internal business communications
- list work-related telephone, email or physical contact details on social media.
Other factors to consider
When using social media, you should remember:
- not to rely on anonymity or pseudonyms for protection and prevention of potential breaches
- liking, sharing or commenting on a post could be seen to be endorsing the content or author
- a site’s security setting should never be relied on to protect or keep material private
- any online content can eventually be traced back to an individual, and their employment details revealed
- online comments are available immediately to a wide audience. They effectively last forever, and may be copied and shared endlessly and out of context.
Breaching the social media policy
The Communications Division monitors social media to manage the agency’s online reputation.
Where necessary, we’ll contact you or your manager to discuss your online activity.
Should you potentially breach this policy, the People Division may be notified.
We look at a number of things when assessing potential breaches. These include seniority and the context within which the activity occurred.
You should speak to your manager about any concerns you have with other staff, the agency or the APS. This must not be done through social media.
You should contact your manager if you:
- are still unsure about your responsibilities when using social media
- are worried about your privacy or reputation due to social media posts
- find information online you think the agency needs to know about, such as a person needing help to access government services or inappropriate social media activity by other staff.
How the agency uses social media
As part of our Master Plan, we’re committed to serving the public in a simple, helpful, respectful and transparent way. This includes using social media as a valuable way to provide customer service and updates about government payments and services.
It’s important to note:
- social media can help us keep informed about important customer issues. If staff find issues on social media the agency should know about, please email the Media Branch
- only authorised staff should respond to the public on the agency’s official social media accounts
- our official social media accounts go through a strict approval process before creation. If you’re thinking of creating social media accounts for work, email the Media Branch.
For more information about this policy or related topics:
- read our Conduct and Behaviour Policy and Acceptable Use of ICT Facilities Policy on the intranet
- read about our commitment to customers in the Master Plan on the intranet
- read more about Social media in Services Australia
You can also visit the Australian Public Service Commission’s website to:
- read the APS Values and the Code of Conduct
- read about Making public comment and participating online
- contact the Australian Public Service Commission’s Ethics Advisory Service.