ActionAid Australia media statement on the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (VIFM)’s independent review to improve practice and response of ACFID members in the prevention of sexual misconduct
Earlier this year the Australian Council for International Development commissioned an independent review into the prevention of sexual misconduct amongst its membership. The final report has now been published.
ActionAid considers this kind of abuse completely unacceptable in any line of work, but it cuts especially deep in the NGO sector because it contradicts the values and the standards expected of agencies working with some of the most vulnerable communities overseas.
As an ACFID member, ActionAid welcomes any measure which contributes to eliminating sexual exploitation and abuse, and the steps the ACFID Board is taking to implement the recommendations in the report. It is critical that as a sector we learn from this independent inquiry and take further steps to ensure the protection of the people we are here to support.
As a global women’s rights organisation, ActionAid Australia is committed to zero tolerance of all forms of sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse, which can only be eradicated alongside broader efforts to promote women’s rights and gender equality worldwide. In working to stamp out sexual misconduct, ActionAid believes it is also critical to listen to the voices of women most affected, including in determining the most appropriate complaints mechanisms and processes for investigating complaints, to avoid doing further harm to survivors.
The protection of women’s rights, particularly in humanitarian contexts, has been at the forefront of ActionAid Australia’s work for almost a decade, recognising that women and girls are disproportionately impacted by crises and face an increased risk of violence, exploitation and abuse. ActionAid ensures that women are at the front and at the centre of all of our humanitarian efforts, and that they are making decisions about the response and defining and driving efforts to protect their rights.
ActionAid is committed to driving internal best practice, and for the past three years has been building a culture of feminist leadership that transforms internal policy, culture and practice in ways that challenge unequal power relations. This includes building an environment in all countries where we work where, if exploitation were to occur, our staff would be confident to report it. We also have whistleblowing policies in place that protect those who report incidents, and have created safe spaces in work environments and programming contexts where reporting is encouraged and supported.
ActionAid will be referring the VIFM Report to its board and management to identify opportunities to continue to improve policies and processes to drive best practice in this area.
More information: Holly Miller, 0432 781 294 – [email protected]