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Ethics Index

The importance of ethics in society has risen to an all-time high, Governance Institute of Australia’s Ethics Index 2023 has revealed. Driven in large part by millennials, the importance placed on ethics has shot up to 84, up from 79 last year.

The overall Ethics Index Score has returned to the 2021 figure of 45, having taken a tumble last year.

The most comprehensive study of its kind, the nationwide survey reveals the most and least ethical occupations, organisations and sectors, plus checks the nation’s perceptions of current ethical dilemmas and difficult questions.

Cost of living, cybersecurity and the increasing use of AI are seen as the top ethical issues for 2023 with 73% of respondents saying there’s an urgent ethical obligation for customers to be informed of all data breaches.

Now in its eighth year, Ethics Index 2023 found that politicians at all levels of government have seen a significant boost in the public’s perception of their ethical behaviour. Despite this, politicians remain at the lower end of the spectrum in the bottom five occupations.

The most ethical occupations were fire services (75) followed by ambulance services (74) and pharmacists (73).



Governance Institute CEO Megan Motto said while the Index score has remained largely steady, the increase in importance placed on ethics shows expectations aren’t being met.

‘The Ethical Expectation Deficit – which is the gap between the value we place on ethical behaviour and the perception – is growing wider,’ Ms Motto said.

‘This indicates that there’s still plenty of work to do by organisations and individuals, both in the public and private spheres to ensure good, ethical conduct and a positive culture remain top of the agenda.’

Media enquiries

Governance Institute CEO Megan Motto is available to discuss the Ethics Index findings. To request an interview, please email

Media mentions

Publication Title Date
Women Leading Tech Organisations Have “Urgent Ethical Obligation” To Notify Customers During Data Breach 14/09/2023
Australian Medical Association AMA recognised as one of Australia’s most trusted ethical associations 14/09/2023
Australian Ageing Agenda Aged care reform a key ethical challenge 14/09/2023
Pharma in Focus Bounce in pharma’s ethics ratings 14/09/2023
Herald Sun Aussie real estate agents respond to claims they are the nation’s least trusted professionals 13/09/2023
Lexology Cost of living, Privacy and AI top the list of ethical challenges facing Australia 13/09/2023
Digital Nation Brands have “urgent ethical obligations” to notify customers over data breaches 13/09/2023
The Daily Mail Ethics Index 2023 ranks Australia’s most and least trusted professionals 12/09/2023
Aus Doc Is it unethical for GPs not to bulk-bill? Patients seem to think so 12/09/2023
The Mandarin Public sector’s ethical rating rebounds after three-year decline 12/09/2023
ABC News Politicians rank just above real estate agents in ethics index 12/09/2023
Australian Associated Press / The Canberra Times Referendum ‘no’ strategy is to ‘flat-out lie’: minister 12/09/2023
Nine News The most, and least, ethical jobs according to Australians 12/09/2023
Australian Associated Press / The New Daily Most, least trusted jobs unveiled in ethics study 12/09/2023
SBS News These are Australia’s most and least trusted professionals 12/09/2023
The Canberra Times Ethics Index: Public service and politicians seen as more ethical 12/09/2023
The Australian Politicians and real estate agents among least ethical occupations, survey finds 12/09/2023
10 Play Real Estate Agents Found To Be The Least Trusted Professionals In Australia 12/09/2023



Build your organisation’s ethics skills

Governance Institute regularly offers a half-day course on ‘Ethics, culture and governance’ in face-to-face, virtual and self-paced formats. Check out the course outline here.


About Ethics Index 2023

  • Annual survey, now in its eighth year, examining perceptions of ethical issues and conduct in Australian society.
  • Survey carried out across a nationally representative sample (n=1,000) in July 2023 and weighted according to age, gender and location.
  • Research conducted by Ipsos.


About Governance Institute of Australia

A national membership association, advocating for a community of more than 43,000 governance and risk management professionals from the listed, unlisted and not-for-profit sectors. Our mission is to drive better governance in all organisations, which will in turn create a stronger, better society.