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Complaints

Code Complaints

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The Code of Conduct (the Code) offers an independent mechanism to address concerns relating to the conduct of full ACFID members.

A complaint can be made against any ACFID member when it is believed that they have breached the Code. The independent Code of Conduct Committee (CCC) is responsible for receiving, managing and investigating complaints against ACFID members. Generally, complaints must first be raised with the ACFID member organisation prior to coming to the CCC.

If you have a complaint about ACFID, rather than its membership, please click here [insert link to complaints]. ACFID holds itself to high standards and welcomes your feedback, noting the process managing complaints differs to those outlined on these pages.

Who can make a complaint

Anyone can make a complaint against an ACFID member when it is believed that they have breached the Code.

How to make a complaint

Step 1: Raise the complaint with the member organisation

Complaints should first be raised with the relevant ACFID member. All ACFID members have their own mechanisms to handle complaints and information can be found on their websites. It is helpful to write a complaint letter or email as an initial record of engagement with the member.

Step 2: Submit the complaint to the CCC

If you are not satisfied with the response, you can lodge a complaint with the Committee.

EMAIL:
[email protected] 
addressed to Chair, ACFID Code of Conduct Committee

POST:
Chair, ACFID Code of Conduct Committee
c/- ACFID
Private Bag 3
Deakin ACT 2600

To better manage and potentially investigate any complaint, a written outline of the complaint and subsequent communication is preferred. If this is not possible, please contact the Code Secretariat at (02) 8123 2234.

Complaints against an ACFID member should:

  • include the complainant’s name and contact details
  • set out the basis of the complaint
  • outline which aspects of the Code of Conduct you believe have been breached
  • outline the outcome that you are seeking
  • include all available supporting information.

The complainant will be asked to provide any required information that was not submitted. Any complaints that cannot meet the above criteria may be dismissed. Information about the complaint will be made available to the ACFID member.

Other matters to consider before making a complaint

Anonymity – In general, the Committee will only accept complaints if the complainant agrees to be identified to the member. However, should there be genuine concern about revealing identity to the member organisation, anonymity can be requested. This may limit the action that the Committee can take. The Committee has the option of initiating own motion inquiries should it believe that a member has breached the Code.

Breaches of Australian laws – A preliminary assessment will be conducted to determine if a complaint should be investigated. If the complaint relates to breaches of Australian laws such as those relating to employment, tax, or fundraising, the Committee is likely to determine that the complaint should first be raised with the appropriate authority through their relevant complaints mechanisms (for example, Fair Work Ombudsman, Australian Charities and Not For Profit Commission).

Primary focus of complaint outcomes – If an ACFID member is found to have breached the Code, the Committee’s primary focus is to work with the member to improve standards and reduce the risk of recurrence. If a breach is more serious, or the member does not respond appropriately, disciplinary action will be considered.

Complaints Handling Procedure

ACFID members agree to be bound by the independent, accessible, fair and confidential Code complaints handling process:

  • Members are required to have a public complaints mechanism on their website, supported by an effective complaints handling process.
  • Members must comply with Code of Conduct Committee’s requests for information within set time frames.
  • Where a breach of the ACFID Code of Conduct is confirmed, members will work with the Committee to ensure compliance with the corrective or disciplinary actions that have been determined by the Committee.

The procedure for having a complaint addressed by the Committee is detailed in the CCC Complaints Handling Procedure. This includes a flowchart and an explanation of the steps involved.

Note that these are not court processes, and while principles of natural justice will be followed, no party has the right to make oral submissions, to a hearing, or to legal representation, nor do the rules of evidence apply.

The Code’s complaints-handling mechanism relies firstly on the ACFID member being given the opportunity to receive and manage a complaint in line with their complaints handling processes. The Code’s complaints handling process can be used as an appeal process, should the outcome or process be unsatisfactory.

Key Principles Informing Complaints Handling

Awareness and accessibility for stakeholders

The Code’s credibility requires that stakeholders in Australia and internationally are aware of and able to readily access the complaints process. ACFID will make the points of access to the complaints process prominent on the ACFID website and ensure that ACFID members publicise the availability of this mechanism through their own complaints handling policies.

Independence of process and decision-makers

The Code’s complaints process will be conducted independently of ACFID governance bodies and ACFID member organisations. The Committee is constituted independently of the ACFID Council and Board, and the Committee investigations and deliberations will be conducted separately and confidentially. Members of the Committee will avoid any conflict of interest arising in the course of their consideration of any complaint.

Fairness and responsiveness

The Code’s complaints process will be managed in an efficient way and have regard to the principles of fairness and natural justice. The complaints process will permit all parties reasonable opportunity to provide any information they believe will assist the investigation, and parties will be given an opportunity to respond to information provided by the other party. Parties to the complaint will be advised of the expected timing of each stage of the investigation– noting that the nature and scope of the complaint will determine timing for each individual investigation.

Transparency

Transparent and open complaints processes help to promote confidence in the Code and its self-regulatory effectiveness. Once the complaint process has been completed, complainants and ACFID members are entitled to a written explanation of the reasons for the decision.

Confidentiality for the parties

The complaints process will respect the privacy and confidentiality to which the parties are entitled under the Privacy Act. At all stages of the complaints process, the complaint will be strictly confidential unless and until the complaint has been determined to be a notifiable breach by the Committee. If the Committee believes issues arising from a complaint may have sector-wide significance, the Committee may advise the ACFID CEO and/or President. In some of these cases the Committee might determine that the ACFID member organisation should be named. If so, the member will be advised in advance that they will be identified and the basis upon which the decision to disclose their identity has been made.

Corrective Action

Where an ACFID member has breached the Code, the primary focus for the Committee will be to work with them to improve standards and reduce the risk of recurrence. This will include settling a course of corrective and remedial action with the ACFID member (including through mediation or conciliation) and may include monitoring reports as to progress of implementation.

Where a breach is more serious, or the ACFID member has not responded appropriately, the Committee will consider disciplinary action, which may extend to suspending or revoking the ACFID member’s status as a Code Signatory. Where there is the potential for reputational risk to other ACFID members or serious integrity issues, or for other necessary reasons, the Committee may consider notifying others about the facts of a breach, such as the ACFID Board, the public, and/or the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Definitions

ACFID member: A Full ACFID member as listed on the ACFID website member list. Full ACFID members are signatories to the Code. ACFID affiliate members are not Code signatories and therefore are not covered under this definition with regard to this complaints-handling process.

Appeals Officer: an independent decision-maker appointed by the ACFID Board to consider appeals by an ACFID member against an Own Motion Inquiry determination of the Code of Conduct Committee.

ACFID Chief Executive Officer: the chief executive, a person appointed by and accountable to the ACFID Board.

Chair: current Chair of the Code of Conduct Committee.

Complaint: an expression of dissatisfaction about an ACFID member that includes an implicit or explicit expectation of a response and resolution.

Complainant: the person or organisation making the complaint.

Complaint Manager: the ACFID staff member of the Code Secretariat assigned responsibility for handling the Secretariat’s support and management of the complaint.

Enquiry: an expression of dissatisfaction with an ACFID member without an expectation of a response and resolution.

Investigating Team: the members of the Code of Conduct Committee appointed to conduct an investigation into a complaint.

Own Motion Inquiry: an investigation undertaken by the Committee – either in response to a complaint or enquiry, or in response to other information obtained by the Committee (for example an issue about an ACFID member/s in the media).

For more information on complaints, read:

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Code of Conduct

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2022-23 ACFID Code of Conduct Review

The ACFID Code of Conduct is periodically reviewed to ensure it continues to reflect good practice and the needs of ACFID and its members.

Code of Conduct

The Code is a voluntary, self-regulatory industry code of good practice.

About the Code

Find out more about the Code of Conduct and how it operates.

Good Practice Toolkit

Overview and practical resources, and examples to support the implementation of the Code.

Spotlight on the Code

Provides a thematic ‘deep dive’ into each of the nine Quality Principles in the Code

Compliance

This section outlines the responsibility to be taken by each Member to ensure compliance with the Code.

Complaints Handling

How to make a complaint and information on the Code’s independent mechanism to address concerns relating to an ACFID Members’ conduct.

Other Standards

Mapping the Code with other professional standards and principles in the humanitarian and aid sector in Australia and internationally

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