Honest and courageous conversations: What integrity means to Victorian Public Sector Commissioner Brigid Monagle

Brigid Monagle, Victorian Public Sector Commissioner

Ahead of the IPAA National Summit, Victorian Public Sector Commissioner Brigid Monagle talks about the essence of integrity, feeling pride in public service, and what to look forward to at the summit panel discussion on 26 September.

What does acting with integrity look like to you?

Integrity is something that we’re all responsible for on an individual level. I use the 7 Victorian public sector values as my guiding light, along with always thinking about the end goal: public value. I ask myself, what are the best outcomes we can get for the community? And how do we best conduct our business to get there? That way, I’m always thinking about how we can follow proper procedures and processes, and document decisions appropriatelyto help maintain integrity.

I also think how we conduct ourselves in interpersonal interactions is paramount in upholding integrity. Working with kindness, empathy and open ears is important to me, along with having honest and courageous conversations when the situation calls for it.

How do you ensure that your people act with integrity?

To uphold integrity in our public organisations, first and foremost, leaders need to commit to acting with integrity themselves, so I do my best to lead by example. I also actively promote the 7 Victorian public sector values within my organisation and beyond in my capacity as Victoria’s public sector commissioner.

I also actively work to create a positive organisational culture, including sharing a clear vision and goals everyone can contribute to, as well as providing support when things don’t go to plan. When things go wrong, transparency is key and having a culture where it is safe to speak up and own up to mistakes helps us get to a solution quickly and learn collectively to avoid future risks.

How do you maintain and celebrate pride in your work?

I have intrinsic pride in being a public servant, as it is a vital role that contributes to our community. An effective and efficient public service is at the heart of democracy and a prosperous and safe society.

It’s essential we promote the role of the public service. Public servants can get an unfair rap in public discourse. Every day, I meet public servants who go above and beyond to contribute a great deal to our communities. I want talented, diverse members of our community to consider a career in public service, knowing that they’ll be able to be proud of their contribution, so that we have the skills we need to deliver for the community in the near and far term.

I take pride in everything I do, no matter how small it may seem, because everything I do is driving toward a bigger goal and positive outcome for Victorians. I also maintain pride by making time acknowledge achievements, no matter how small.

Which topic are you most looking forward to discussing at the IPAA National Summit?

I’m looking forward to exploring the link between pride in public service and how we can use that to drive improved services and better outcomes for Australians.

I’m also eager to connect with colleagues across jurisdictions. We have much to learn from one another, so occasions like the IPAA National Summit are excellent for exploring solutions to our common challenges. 

The IPAA National Summit is entirely free. Make sure to register.