Professional Ethics

More than most professions, town planners are subject to strong and conflicting pressures from different sections of the community. In particular, almost all of the work that planners do involves the public interest as well as the sectional interest of their client or employer. Ultimately, the integrity of planning decisions, and of the planning system as a whole, relies upon the integrity of the planners who serve it, in whatever capacity.

Professional Standards

The following are examples of professional standards that should be upheld by planners at all times.

Planners should:

  • Strive for the highest standards in all their professional activities.
  • Uphold and promote the elimination of discrimination on the grounds of race, creed, gender, age, location, social status or disability.
  • Seek to ensure that all persons who may be affected by planning decisions have the opportunity to participate in a meaningful way in the decision making process.
  • Seek to ensure that the processes of planning are conducted as openly as possible and that all relevant information is disclosed to interested persons.
  • Use their best endeavours to ensure the development:
    -    is sustainable;
    -    provides for the protection of natural and man-made resources;
    -    is aimed at securing a pleasant, efficient and safe working, living and recreation environment; and
    -    is efficient and economic.
  • Disclose the nature of their role when providing planning advice which is intended to be entered into the public realm.
  • Not act in circumstances where there is a potential conflict between their own private interest and the interest of their client or public interest.
  • Disclose to their employees or clients any gifts, commissions or discounts received from or offered by any third parties in connection with their work as planners, and shall not accept any such gifts, commissions or discounts where their receipt may, or may be perceived to, influence their advice.
  • Keep confidential all information provided to them during the course of their work, and shall not disclose or use that information for their own benefit, nor disclose it to any third party unless:
    -    with the express approval of the legal owner of that information;
    -    where required to do so by law; or
    -    it is necessary to prevent a substantial damage to the public interest.
  • Take all reasonable steps to maintain their professional competence while working in the planning profession.

A unit on Professional Ethics is included as part of the CPP Planning Practice Course.

PIA Code of Conduct

All members of PIA are bound by the PIA Code of Professional Conduct . The purpose of the Code is to provide guidance and support to planners to ensure that they practice their profession with the highest ethical and professional standards and earn the confidence and respect of the clients and the community in which they serve.

Dealing with Ethical Dilemmas

If you are faced with a professional or workplace related ethical dilemma there is a toll free hotline available to call for confidential and anonymous assistance.  Ethi-Call is available 9:00am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday (NSW time), except public holidays and the month of January.  Their toll free phone number is 1800 672 303.  See for more information.