A panel comprising two senior criminologists, selected by the Advisory Council from recommendations by the President of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology, considers applications for general grants each year. Panel members are required to assess all applications submitted for research funding independently of each other and must complete an assessment sheet for each application. Their assessments are discussed at a meeting to be held with the academic adviser to the CRG program, who submits final recommendations to the Advisory Council for consideration at its November meeting.
The funding proposals provided by applicants and the assessments provided by the Selection Panel are given and received in confidence. These documents must be handled and treated as confidential material, and are to be used only for assessment purposes for CRG funding programs. To preserve confidentiality, Panel and Advisory Council members must not, without the prior written approval of the Director AIC, allow any non-public material contained within a funding proposal to be made public or disclosed to any person other than the Advisory Council and the staff of the Australian Institute of Criminology who provide advice to the Council. Panel and Advisory Council members should not discuss assessments with any other parties at any stage, nor reveal to people who are not Panel or Council members details about any assessment unless authorised to do so, either before or after the final decisions have been released.
Further, to comply with ethical standards, material contained in proposals must be used or disclosed by Panel and Advisory Council members only for the purposes of providing assessments to the CRG program. It is unethical and possibly unlawful for Panel and Advisory Council members to use any intellectual property contained in a proposal.
Disclosing conflicts of interest
Conflicts of interest may arise from time to time when Panel or Advisory Council members, acting in their official capacities in support of the CRG program, have interests that could improperly influence the performance of their official duties and responsibilities.
Panel and Advisory Council members should not be involved in the assessment process of any proposal for which s/he has, or may reasonably be perceived to have, a conflict of interest and/or potential conflict of interest.
Conflicts of interest must be disclosed and dealt with. Panel and Advisory Council members may experience actual or potential conflicts of interest between their activities on behalf of the CRG program and those arising from personal or professional responsibilities. These guidelines are designed to ensure that all such conflicts are identified and addressed in a rigorous and transparent way. Prior to, or when, assessing proposals, if Panel or Advisory Council members consider they may have a conflict of interest and/or potential conflict of interest, they are to advise the Advisory Council and Director AIC.
Conflict of interest guidelines
A conflict of interest should be declared wherever there is potential for a Panel or Advisory Council member to gain from access to non-public information or the results of non-public discussions or decision-making processes. This may occur if they have business or financial interests, including holding a company directorship or shareholding, a financial investment, or a consultancy or grant that could lead to financial gain to the Panel or Advisory Council member where they have access to information or are able to influence decision-making such that they will benefit directly from being granted access to information or involved in the decision-making.
A conflict of interest may arise from a Panel or Advisory Council members' affiliations with other organisations or people, including employment, professional or personal relationships. A Panel or Advisory Council member employed by a university, for example, should declare an interest in circumstances in which there is consideration by the committee of individual proposals, projects, grants or consultancies associated with that university.
With respect to Panel and Advisory Council members' personal relationships, a conflict of interest may arise, for example, from a proposal for a consultancy or grant from a Panel or Council member's partner or relative, a close personal friend or a close professional colleague.
Actual or potential non-pecuniary conflict of interest may arise from a Panel or Advisory Council member's simultaneous appointment to, or employment, consultancy or other involvement with, another organisation or body that is in some way involved with the advice or policies that are being developed or programs being administered. A situation may arise in which the interests of the CRG program and the other body or organisation are in conflict, or if access to information arising from their duties with the CRG program could be used to unfair advantage if divulged to the other organisation or body. In certain circumstances, the member may need to consider resigning from their position, or severing links with the other organisation or body as appropriate, to avoid a continued conflict of interest. In less extreme cases, the Panel or Advisory Council member may need to refrain from, or constrain participation in, relevant discussions or activities of the other organisation or body to protect the CRG program and AIC interests.
It is recognised that, in certain specialised areas of research or consultancy, there may be a very limited number of individuals, project teams or organisations with the expertise and knowledge required. The requirements for declaring an interest (see below) must be applied if a conflict of interest arises. It may be possible to foresee a potential conflict of interest at some future time and to take steps to prevent it from actually arising.
These guidelines do not attempt to cover all cases where a conflict of interest may occur. Panel or Advisory Council members may find themselves in situations that are not clear-cut or where there is a genuine doubt as to whether
- a conflict of interest should be declared. In such circumstances, they should err on the side of caution and declare
- a conflict of interest or a potential conflict of interest.