Current priorities

What is ACFID doing to promote a strong and effective civil society? 

ACFID is actively promoting a strong and effective civil society through work in four main areas: demonstrating the value of NGOs as effective development and humanitarian partners; exploring the changing role of NGOs and promoting innovation; promoting standards; and facilitating learning and development.

Enhancing our work on the Prevention and Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment

In light of an international focus on the need for the global aid and development sector to enhance the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse, ACFID has commissioned an independent review to ensure members of ACFID understand and apply global best practice in the identification, response and prevention of sexual misconduct. ACFID has appointed the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (VIFM) to conduct the independent review.

ACFID’s Code of Conduct Committee (CCC) has undertaken a separate review of relevant aspects of ACFID’s Code of Conduct which will run concurrently alongside the independent review. A key purpose of the review is to:

  • ensure that the ACFID Code of Conduct addresses standards in relation to the protection of partners and communities from sexual exploitation and assault (PSEA) in a clear and appropriate manner;
  • ensure the ACFID Code of Conduct addresses standards in relation to protection and wellbeing of partners, staff and volunteers in a clear and appropriate manner.

The Report on the review of the Code provides recommendations which have been endorsed by the CCC and the ACFID Board and will be considered further following the release of the report from the Independent Review Team.

The purpose of the Code of Conduct Committee Review and the Independent Review is to develop a resourced implementation plan to support practice improvements in regard to the prevention of sexual abuse, exploitation and harassment across ACFID’s membership.

If you have experienced violence as a result of this issue or know someone who has you can contact 1800RESPECT at any time of day to speak to a trained counsellor.

Promoting Innovation 

In October 2018, ACFID released the ACFID Innovation Guide - a set of practical tools for Australian NGOs (and others) seeking to explore new processes to drive innovation. The guide builds on ACFID's Innovation for Impact (2016) research. See ACFID's innovation page for more information and to download the guide.

Demonstrating the value of NGOs 

Aid and development NGOs are important civil society actors. ACFID members currently work with poor and marginalised communities in 125 countries. ACFID is engaging with the Department of Foreign Affairs on the development of an NGO Engagement Framework that sets out how Australia will work more effectively with Australia NGOs to increase the impact of aid for the world’s poorest. Read ACFID’s submission on the framework.

Exploring the changing role of NGOs

ACFID is responding to the changing role of NGOs in light of global megatrends and changes in development practice. ACFID and the La Trobe's Institute for Human Security and Social Change hosted a workshop on Changing the World, Changing Ourselves’ (background paper) in June 2015. ACFID is now working with the Institute to translate some of the ideas that emerged from this workshop into action, including a professional development program called Making Change Happen. Watch this space for more initiatives!

Engaging with the private sector

ACFID has undertaken research on how its members partner with private sector organisations for international development. Partnering for Development demonstrates the high degree of partnerships between Australian NGOs and private sector organisations, and highlights the potential for further engagement, particularly to develop ‘shared value’ projects. 

Developing a Global Standard for Civil Society Organisations

ACFID is participating in the development of a Global Standard for CSO Accountability. This three- year SIDA-funded project aims to strengthen civil society organisations’ effectiveness by developing a practice of globally aligned, strong accountability. A key deliverable of the project will be a Global Reference Standard which can then be used to align existing Codes of Conduct or to develop new Codes. Download the project proposal.

ACFID is also contributing to the development and promotion of the global Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS).  More information on this can be found on the Peace and Security current priorities page.

Ensuring the ACFID Code remains relevant, coherent, useful and credible

On December 1 2016, ACFID members agreed to a revised Code of Conduct. The Revised Code builds on the strengths of the current Code whilst at the same time responding to changes in our operating environment, standards of good practice and aspirations since the Code was last reviewed in 2010.

The revised Code of Conduct was developed through extensive consultation over 2015-16 and took effect on 1 June 2017.   

For more information on the revised Code of Conduct, please contact the Code of Conduct Secretariat – [email protected]


Learning and Development

ACFID provides a range of learning and development opportunities for staff and volunteers involved in Australian aid and development agencies. These opportunities are designed to enable staff and volunteers to improve their practice, strengthen their organisations, meet or exceed their obligations of the ACFID Code of Conduct, and contribute to wider change in the sector.

Current priorities include:

  • Improving compliance with the Code in relation to the six standards outlined in the Code section above.
  • Building capabilities in relation to how social change happens, adaptive program management, organisational design and development, gender equality, measuring and demonstrating effectiveness and impact, advocacy, campaigning, gender equity and working better with others.
  • Promoting discussion and exploring responses to the changing role of NGOs, innovation, resource mobilisation, private sector engagement and the SDGs.