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All people who travel to the Antarctic or sub-Antarctic as part of Australia’s Antarctic Program (AAP) are required to accept that their participation is conditional on their continued compliance with the Antarctic Service Code of Personal Behaviour (The Code).

The Code is a vital link in the chain which includes the criteria against which expeditioners are selected and the Expeditioner Performance Report which provides feedback during participation and at the conclusion of an expeditioner’s participation.

Purpose and policy

The Code establishes the standards of personal behaviour which contribute to morale, teamwork and participation and ultimately, successful expeditions.

Stations, voyages and field bases are self-contained communities, largely isolated from mainstream society. In these special circumstances, individual and community behaviours are of legitimate concern to those managing these operations. This is particularly so where such behaviours may be detrimental to the overall interests of the community.

Standards and obligations

AAD policy is that every expeditioner participating in AAP must comply with the general standard of behaviour that is recognised as reasonable by the wider Australian community. Expeditioners are also required to meet the additional and specific standards of behaviour outlined in this Code.

The Code is not intended to be exhaustive on matters of personal behaviour. The Code outlines broad standards of behaviour that serve as a guide to acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.

Expeditioners may be under additional obligations to their employers or other parties in matters such as ethics, professional or technical standards, and behaviour. Expeditioners are reminded that they are subject to relevant Australian and Tasmanian laws with the latter being particularly relevant in the case of Macquarie Island.

Coverage and essential information

The Code applies to all expeditioners irrespective of their employment or affiliation. Its provisions apply particularly from the time of departure from Australia to the time of return to Australia but it also includes that time before embarkation for Antarctica or the Subantarctic.

All expeditioners are provided with a copy of the Code and should understand that participation in an expedition is conditional on their continued compliance with its provisions. It is the responsibility of expeditioners to familiarise themselves with the contents of the Code and relevant sections of the Expeditioner Handbook, Antarctic Field Manual and Expedition First Aid Manual. The Expeditioner Handbook contains important background information on the code and related matters.

The code


I will meet my work responsibilities by applying relevant trade, technical or professional skills and giving consistent effort.

You have been selected as an expeditioner largely because of your skills, experience, knowledge and personal qualities. You are expected to be efficient, effective, diligent, responsive, productive and timely in meeting your individual responsibilities. Your performance should clearly show that you meet these expectations with minimal supervision.

As a supervisor, I will work with others in the most effective manner to meet the objectives of the expedition while also meeting my responsibilities to maintain a safe and harmonious workplace.

As a supervisor, you are expected to show leadership, consult, coordinate, delegate, negotiate and counsel as appropriate with other individuals, especially those under your control.

As a supervisor, you are expected to comply with and ensure your team understands and complies with, workplace diversity, workplace relations and occupational health and safety principles and practices.

Individual contribution to community and team

I will adopt positive measures to cope with the various stresses associated with expeditioner life to maintain my personal effectiveness and personal standards.

Your capacity to deal with the demands of expedition life will be influenced by various factors, including your prior experience and personal situation. The stresses that can arise as a consequence of separation, isolation, personal pressure, community living, climatic factors and changing circumstances, may test your individual resourcefulness.

You are expected to work positively to maintain your motivation, confidence and self-esteem, and to show sensitivity, acceptance and support towards fellow expeditioners.

Your personal standards in appearance, dress and hygiene should not restrict your work performance or give offence to others generally.

I will manage my interpersonal relationships in such a way as to promote and maintain group harmony and well-being.

You are expected to treat others with consideration, courtesy, respect, fairness and tolerance, without patronage or favouritism or regard to sex, race, nationality or other similar factors. The general standard expected is one where your conduct would not cause dissention or discord amongst expeditioners, or disrupt programs or other responsibilities. You are expected to respect others' rights, opinions, duties aspirations and privacy.

Difficulties may occur between you and other expeditioners and it is your responsibility to ensure that such difficulties are resolved quickly and effectively.

You are expected to be flexible in adapting to changed circumstances.

My use of alcohol and drugs will not compromise my wider responsibilities.

Drug and alcohol use, including prescription drugs, have clear implications for occupational health and safety and the maintenance of harmonious relations and you are expected to moderate your alcohol consumption so that you are capable of performing your duties and other responsibilities at all times in a safe and effective manner.

The availability and regulation of alcohol on station, voyages and in other circumstances will be consistent with arrangements determined by the AAD and ships' operators, as appropriate.

You are reminded of your legal obligations as they relate to the possession and use of prohibited or restricted drugs.

I will not behave in a manner that may be classified as “extreme” or encourage others to behave in this manner.

Examples of extreme behaviour include:

  • consuming alcohol in excess
  • causing threat to personal safety
  • disorderly behaviour, including being violent, threatening, insulting or abusive
  • indecent exposure and other gross, obscene or offensive acts
  • wilfully or negligently causing loss or damage to property
  • causing annoyance through use of offensive language, excessive noise or in other ways

Response to authority and compliance with the law, legislative requirements and AAD policies and procedures

I will comply with lawful directions and reasonable instructions.

Lawful directions, instructions and standards of performance are normally issued or determined by the various leaders or persons in charge of any vehicle, vessel or aircraft, station, field party or work group.

I will maintain a practical commitment to Australia's environmental management responsibilities in the Antarctic and Subantarctic.

You are expected to minimise your impact on the natural environment. Areas of particular importance include, environmental impact assessment and permit requirements, the protection of native fauna and flora, waste removal and disposal and and designated Specially Protected or Specially Managed Areas.

You should be aware that collection or removal of biological or geological specimens or human artefacts, without specific authorisation, is not permitted.

I will comply with relevant codes of occupational health and safety and ensure that my actions do not threaten my safety, health and welfare or that of others.

The excitement of living, working and exploring as part of the AAP are real attractions to many individuals. You should be aware of the risks associated with physical and environmental conditions in Antarctica and the subantarctic are great and cannot be ignored.

Maintaining a safe working environment is a shared responsibility. You should familiarise yourself with specific policies on environmental safety and occupational safety and health issues generally. Supervisors have a leadership role to play in ensuring safety and health issues are addressed.

I will be sensitive to harassment issues and will not engage in any harassing behaviour.

Harassment can take many forms and you should be aware that the AAD regards harassment as a serious matter.

Workplace harassment may consist of offensive, abusive, belittling or threatening behaviour directed at another individual or group. It is often based on some real or perceived attribute or difference.

Sexual harassment is any unwanted, unsolicited and unreciprocated behaviour of a sexual nature that is objectionable to another individual. Any behaviour or series of behaviours, despite the intention of the individual performing the behaviours, will be considered as sexually harassing if they are experienced that way by the recipient.

I will not make any public comment that could damage the integrity and professionalism of the AAP. I will use official information for official purposes only.

You are generally free to comment on factual matters relating the AAP, however you should avoid comments or actions that may damage public confidence. Public comment, even if made in a private capacity, may be regarded as official comment by the AAD or affiliated agency.

You may come into possession of documents or official information that you could use for private pecuniary or other advantage. Taking, or seeking to take improper advantage, or use of official information for other than official purposes is prohibited.

AAP specific requirements

I will meet my AAP responsibilities.

This commitment covers a range of responsibilities associated with expeditions which apply equally, regardless of affiliation.

You are required to complete all training requirements and use all reasonably available means to meet your responsibilities.

Your expedition responsibilities include individual programs, "common duties" essential to maintaining a self-reliant community and other activities associated with the AAP. For those expeditioners not directly involved in science activities, these requirements extend to providing support to science activities to assist their successful completion.

Your expedition responsibilities may need to be performed at any time of the day or night.

I will be responsible and efficient in my use of financial and physical resources associated with the AAP.

You are expected to be careful and restrained in using property and equipment, particularly on station and in the field.

Waste, extravagance or inappropriate use may have serious implications for the safety and well-being of isolated communities as well as being an unacceptable use of Commonwealth resources.

You are required to return all relevant personal issue items at the conclusion of your expedition.

Breaches of the code

Management responses to breaches of the Code may include any of the following:

  • counselling, suspension or removal of privileges
  • oral or written reprimands or both
  • referral to the expeditioner’s employer for actions within the employer’s power
  • written reports, including reports made under the Expeditioner Performance Report, where those reports will be considered if the expeditioner seeks further expeditionary participation
  • financial recovery for loss or damage to private or personal property or property of the Commonwealth of Australia
  • early return to Australia, subject to the availability of transport
  • referral to the appropriate authorities of any matter that may appropriately be handled under relevant law