What is an EDMF?

Every day, we make decisions. Whether we admit it or not, these decisions are always influenced by our values – our deeper sense of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.

An ‘ethical decision-making framework’ is a fancy name for a simple tool that helps people make ethical decisions.

When we work in organisations with other people, we keep making decisions every day. However, it can be harder to make shared decisions when different people – with different sets of values – need to agree. Although the Code of Conduct includes certain requirements about which images and messages cannot be used, not all decisions are clear-cut.

An EDMF outlines how your organisation will make decisions about its communications materials, particularly those that fall into ethical ‘grey areas’. It captures the key issues that your organisation will discuss when making decisions and when these discussions should take place. An EDMF will also outline who will be involved in communications decisions and what people should do if they are unable to make a decision.

If this sounds a little abstract, have a look at our example EDMF for Communications to get a clearer idea.

Your EDMF should reflect the size and scope of your organisation and the range of communications it produces. You will need to think about how it will be best implemented in your organisation, who might be involved and how it might be integrated into existing procedures.

Does an EDMF have to be a stand-alone document?

This document includes guidelines for the development of a single EDMF for communications. However, some members may choose to incorporate the components of an EDMF into other existing policies or guidelines. Either approach would be compliant with the ACFID Code of Conduct.

How is an EDMF different to other policies?

An EDMF is an overarching framework designed to help your organisation have a clear process for making decisions about the images, messages and stories used in public communications. ACFID members are expected to have other policies or procedures that will also support ethical communications. These include:

  • Organisational requirements for the collection of information, images and stories (6.2.1)
  • Organisational protocols for the approval of public materials (6.1.2)
  • Privacy policy (7.2.2)
  • Child Safeguarding policy that includes clauses relating to the collection and publication of communications (1.4)
  • Staff Code of Conduct and HR policies that may include requirements for ethical behaviour of staff when collecting and publishing storytelling content. (9.4.1)

These policies and procedures should be referenced and integrated into your EDMF where appropriate.

Do our partners need to have an EDMF?

The Code of Conduct does not require that your partners have an EDMF. However, depending on your organisation, it may be appropriate to provide training on the issues raised in your EDMF or to ensure your partners are consulted in the development of your EDMF. This is particularly important if your partners are directly involved in sourcing or sharing images, stories or information for your organisation.