When faced with an ethical issue, it is important to note that there is no one correct way in which to act. This information is only intended as a guide to assist you in making professional and ethically responsible decisions.
Making good ethical decisions requires a method for exploring the ethical aspects of a decision, and weighing up the considerations that could influence your choice of action. Having a method for ethical decision-making is essential.
The following framework provides a method for exploring ethical dilemmas and identifying ethical courses of action. An Ethical Deliberation Worksheet has also been developed for advisers, and is attached as Appendix 1.
Ethical decision-making framework
The flowchart below outlines the steps in the ethical decision-making framework. Each step is then described in further detail below.
Recognising that there is an ethical question
requires you to think about how you should act and what you should do in a given situation
could relate to a situation and/or a decision that you make, which could be potentially damaging to a client or a stakeholder
could involve a choice between a good and bad alternative – e.g. a situation that could mean that Immigration New Zealand would decline the visa application of your client because of certain information that the client has disclosed to you, but which Immigration New Zealand is unaware of.
Understanding the facts of the situation
requires you to be aware of the facts of the situation, including what additional facts you may need to find out, and considering how you can learn more about the situation
requires you to consider whether you have a complete understanding of the options available to you to resolve the situation.
Understanding the options available to you:
requires you to understand all of the individual options available to you, and the consequences of each of these
requires you to take into account any legislative requirements, professional standards, (such as the code of conduct), immigration law and instructions, as these may influence your options.
Understanding the consequences of the options
requires you to work out how different parties will be impacted by each option - these parties can include the client, stakeholders within the New Zealand immigration system, your employer and other advisers
requires you to be aware that your overriding duty is to always act in the lawful and legitimate interests of your client
requires you to ask yourself some searching questions – some examples of these are listed below:
If I am going to act in a way that is adverse to my client’s interests in any way, am I justified in doing so?
Which option will produce the most good for the client even if it will upset another person or cause me discomfort or loss?
Will this require me to act in a way that will harm someone else or go against my conscience?
Is there a way to act that will not damage my client’s interests but will reduce or prevent harm to another person or institution?
Is there a way to act that will not damage my client’s interests and will allow me to act in the way I believe is consistent with the type of adviser that I want to be?
Testing the option you plan to take
requires you to consider all the different options and to decide which option best addresses the situation
requires you to reflect on and thoroughly review the option that you plan to take – in doing so, you should ask yourself the following questions:
Am I feeling uncomfortable with what I am about to do?
If so, why am I feeling uncomfortable about this option?
Why am I making this decision?
Would I be happy if this was done to me?
Would I be happy explaining this to different parties within the New Zealand immigration system and explaining why I did what I am about to do?
Explaining the option you have decided upon to those affected and to other interested parties
requires you to act in a way that your client, or another party, may not like or find difficult to understand
requires you to be able to justify your actions in a logical and straightforward manner - if you cannot explain your actions, then it is more likely that you are acting on the basis of your feelings or prejudices
will often require you to have kept excellent records that note the essentials of what the issue was, what you did to resolve it, what each option was you considered and how you communicated your decision to those affected.
Act and reflect on the outcome
requires you to consider in particular, how you will go about implementing your decision
requires you to assess how your decision turned out and what you learnt from this specific situation - it is important that you objectively evaluate what has happened and whether the option you took worked.