New Standards for Aid NGOs
1 December 2016 at 2:02 pm
Australia’s peak body for overseas humanitarian and development not-for-profit organisations, the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) has agreed to new standards it says will enhance transparency and improve accountability to the public and stakeholders.
A special AGM in Melbourne saw members back changes to the sector’s Code of Conduct to give greater confidence in overseas humanitarian and development not-for-profit organisations and champion standards of good practice.
ACFID CEO, Marc Purcell said: “ACFID’s members enjoy the support of around 1.6 million Australians each year and depend upon their support in times of greatest need. We don’t take that support for granted.
“The new code agreed today is shorter, clearer and more accessible, making it easier for donors and partners to hold members to account.
“As a peak body, we will continue to strive for higher standards to sustain the trust and confidence of Australian communities.”
The Code of Conduct requires regular reporting by ACFID members on their compliance. It also requires all members to have a publicly available complaints mechanism so that members of the public, a donor, or a stakeholder can make a complaint against them.
The code is administered by an independent Code of Conduct Committee that investigates complaints. Members found to be in violation of code obligations and unwilling or unable to remedy those breaches can be removed from ACFID’s membership.
Purcell said the upgraded Code of Conduct has been developed over 18 months with extensive consultation in the sector and with relevant third parties, including the Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission (ACNC), and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
The new Code of Conduct comes into effect for new members on 1 June 2017 and current members will be verified against the new standard.
Purcell said trust in not-for-profit organisations was particularly important during the holiday season when Australians seek to support people in poor parts of the world.
“When Australians make a donation, they have a right to know their money is being well-spent. We would advise them to visit the ACFID website and check their chosen organisation is signed-up to the ACFID Code of Conduct,” he said.
In November the national charity regulator the ACNC revoked the status of three aid organisations, including a Sydney-based charity that delivers emergency relief in Somalia, Syria and Turkey.
The International Development Organisation received more than $1 million in donations via its Australian and overseas fundraising efforts in 2015, according to documents on the ACNC website.
The charity’s work included operations in Syria, Somalia and Turkey providing accommodation and education to orphans in those countries.
The Islamic Development Organisation is listed as assisting communities in Turkey and according to the ACNC website its Annual Information Statement is overdue by nine months.
Diamond’s House of Faith is listed as a Sydney-based religious social services charity delivering emergency relief, income support and maintenance and mental health and crisis intervention services across Australia.
The latest revocations put the number of charities that have lost their status at 17 for 2016, the highest annual number since the ACNC began in December 2012.