Close Search
 
MEDIA, JOBS & RESOURCES for the COMMON GOOD
News  |  Governance

Sexual Misconduct Review Finds Strong Safeguards in Australian Aid Sector


9 August 2018 at 4:23 pm
Luke Michael
An interim report into the prevention of sexual misconduct in Australia’s aid sector says Australia has a number of safeguarding strengths compared to other countries, but highlights a number of risk factors for organisations to be wary of.


Luke Michael | 9 August 2018 at 4:23 pm


0 Comments


 Print
Sexual Misconduct Review Finds Strong Safeguards in Australian Aid Sector
9 August 2018 at 4:23 pm

An interim report into the prevention of sexual misconduct in Australia’s aid sector says Australia has a number of safeguarding strengths compared to other countries, but highlights a number of risk factors for organisations to be wary of.  

The Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (VIFM) on Thursday released an interim report from its independent review, which identified emerging themes of sexual exploitation and abuse in the global aid sector.

Lead author of the report, VIFM review project manager Dr Maaike Moller, said there were some clear risk factors for sexual misconduct.

“[These] relate to frequent staff rotations, project-based work and proximity to large populations of vulnerable people in desperate situations,” Moller said.

The independent review was commissioned by the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), in wake of recent sexual misconduct revelations in the UK’s international aid sector.

The conduct of the sector came under intense scrutiny after it was revealed in February that Oxfam staff members, who were deployed in Haiti to provide aid, paid earthquake survivors for sex.

But Moller told Pro Bono News there had been no evidence so far to suggest Australia had more problems with sexual misconduct than any other country.  

“Australia actually has specific strengths in relation to other countries practicing in the sector,” she said.

The report highlighted an active focus by key agencies including ACFID, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), to try and ensure Australian aid charities employed “sound safeguarding practices”.

ACFID CEO Marc Purcell praised Australia’s safeguarding strengths.

“Unlike the UK, we have had a code of conduct for our members for over 20 years,” Purcell said.

“Working as part of Australia’s official aid program with DFAT also requires strict accreditation for NGOs and layers of safeguarding, including mandatory reporting of children at risk.”

Despite this, Purcell told Pro Bono News there was “no room for complacency”.

“There are risk factors for any organisation working with vulnerable people, especially children, and so we hope the review will provide good ideas and suggestions of where the risks are heightened and where good practice exists,” he said.

“How can our systems be improved? That’s a bit different from some other places in the world where they seem to only now be trying to get a system up from scratch.”

During the next phase of the review, VIFM will conduct face-to-face interviews and focus groups, and also collect data through surveys from ACFID’s members and through a field trip to Fiji.   

Purcell said this will test if the sector’s safeguarding measures translated into practice and whether they were matched by organisational capability and culture.

“Are these measures effective? Is the leadership and culture in the sector supporting it to be used in a way so that victims always feel comfortable and are able to use it?” he said.

“That’s something we really want to test. It’s not just having a good policy, it’s actually about leadership.”

A final report will be presented to the ACFID National Conference in October 2018.


Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

PB Careers
Get your biweekly dose of news, opinion and analysis to keep you up to date with what’s happening and why it matters for you, sent every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

Got a story to share?

Got a news tip or article idea for Pro Bono News? Or perhaps you would like to write an article and join a growing community of sector leaders sharing their thoughts and analysis with Pro Bono News readers? Get in touch at news@probonoaustralia.com.au or download our contributor guidelines.

Advertisement

2022 Salary Survey

Get more stories like this

FREE SOCIAL
SECTOR NEWS

Your email address will not be published.



YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

New year, new approach to financial information

Ushi Ghoorah

Friday, 1st July 2022 at 2:10 pm

Pro Bono Australia Salary Survey sheds light on whether boards get paid

Wendy Williams

Wednesday, 8th June 2022 at 4:56 pm

Guide Dogs Victoria CEO resigns

Danielle Kutchel

Wednesday, 1st June 2022 at 12:04 pm

Charities shine bright as leaders for good

Danielle Kutchel

Monday, 30th May 2022 at 12:44 pm

pba inverse logo
Subscribe Twitter Facebook
×

News for those with purpose.

Delivered free to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Thank you - you have successfully subscribed.

Get the social sector's most essential news coverage. Delivered free to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

You have Successfully Subscribed!