F.1 Definitions

There is no absolute consensus on the definitions of many general terms used in the aid and development sector, although there is reasonable agreement. The following definitions are used within the Code of Conduct. 

Accountability: ‘The processes through which an organisation makes a commitment to respond to and balance the needs of stakeholders in its decision making processes and activities, and delivers against the commitment’ (Pathways to Accountability, the GAP Framework One World Trust, 2005)

Actors: An organisation, government department or individual with a role or influence. (Safety with Dignity, Action Aid, 2009)

Affiliate: An organisation to which the signatory organisation has some form of membership, formal association or alliance.

Aid and development: Aid and development refers to activities undertaken in order to reduce poverty and address global justice issues. In the non government organisation sector, this may occur through a range of engagements that includes community projects, emergency management, community education, advocacy, volunteer sending, provision of technical and professional services and resources, environmental protection and restoration, and promotion and protection of human rights.

Advocacy: Activities undertaken to change the systemic and structural causes of poverty and disadvantage which may include popular campaigning, lobbying, research, policy positions, alliances and use of the media. It may occur both in Australia and globally. Includes the application of a set of strategies ‘conducted as part of an agency’s overall predominant purpose’ (Australian Tax Office).

Civil society organisation (CSO): Includes non-government organisations (NGOs), not-for-profit organisations (NPOs), charities and community based organisations (CBOs). Can also include religious organisations, trade unions, foundations and any institutions outside of the corporate and government sectors. (Pathways to Accountability, the GAP Framework, One World Trust, 2005).

Collaborate: A process in which two parties contribute core competencies and share the risks and decision making to achieve mutual objectives.

Communities: Locally organised or informal groups or networks. (Safety with Dignity, Action Aid, 2009).

Complaint: An ‘expression of dissatisfaction’. (International Standards Organisation standard on complaints handling).

Development: Seeks to improve the conditions of communities in a sustainable way.  It is based on working with communities, rather than for or on behalf of communities.(Ausaid).  

Dignity: ‘The feeling of having decision making power, freedom and autonomy over life choices, together with the feeling of self worth and self-confidence, and feeling one has the respect of others’. (Safety with dignity, ActionAid 2009 based on Protection: an ALNAP Guide for Humanitarian Agencies, Slim and Bronwick 2005.)

Disability: Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others (United National Convention on the Rights of People with a Disability).

Emergency management: ‘Involves plans, structures and arrangements established to engage the normal endeavours of government, voluntary and private agencies in a comprehensive and coordinated way to respond to the whole spectrum of emergency needs’. (The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN ISDR) 2004). This includes preparedness, mitigation, response, rehabilitation, reconstruction, development and prevention activities.

Effectiveness: Promoting sustainable change that addresses the causes as well as the symptoms of poverty and marginalisation.  (ACFID NGO Effectiveness Framework 2004).

Emergency: A threatening condition that requires urgent action. (The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN ISDR 2004).

Gender: Socially constructed roles and relationships between men and women which affects their ability and incentive to participate in development activities and leads to different project impacts for women and men. (Guide to Gender and development, AusAID, 2007).

Gender analysis: The process of considering the impact that a development program or project may have on women and men, boys and girls and the economic and social relationships between them. (Guide to Gender and development, AusAID, 2007.)

Gender equality: Equal opportunities and outcomes for women and men, girls and boys. (Guide to Gender and development, AusAID, 2007)

Gender equity: ‘Fairness in access to resources and in the distribution of benefits from development, according to the different needs of women, men, girls and boys’. (Australian Government, 2007)

Human Rights: Legal statements by the international community that assert the equality and dignity of all human beings.  Includes civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights. The core international human rights treaties and their optional protocols are located on the ACFID website.

Humanitarian relief: Fulfilling ‘the most basic requirements for sustaining the lives and dignity of those affected by calamity or conflict’. (Sphere Project, 2004)

Local people: The women and men, boys and girls who are participants in, and directly affected by, aid and development activities in the geographical area in which the activity is undertaken. May also be known as beneficiaries or primary stakeholders.

Non-aid and development activity: Includes activity undertaken to promote a particular religious adherence or to support a particular party, candidate or organisation affiliated to a political party.

Non-government organisations: Voluntary, not-for-profit, organisations formally registered with government that are run by a governing board that is accountable to its members.

Non-food items: Includes clothing and bedding, personal hygiene items, cooking and eating utensils, stoves, fuel and lighting, tools and equipment. (Sphere 2004)

Other resources: Includes (but is not limited to) funds raised, gifts in kind, property, assets, staff and volunteers of signatory and partner organisations.

Partner: Partners are individuals, groups of people or organisations that collaborate with signatory organisations to achieve mutually agreed objectives in aid and development activities. This may include affiliates.

Primary stakeholders: (see local people).

Promoting a particular religious adherence: Activities undertaken with the intention of converting individuals or groups from one faith and/or denominational affiliation to another.

Psycho social support: Any type of local or outside support that aims to promote psychological and social wellbeing and/or to prevent or treat mental disorder.

Signatory: An organisation which the Code of Conduct Committee has accepted as a signatory to the ACFID Code of Conduct and which has not resigned or been removed and has paid all its fees.

Stakeholders: Individuals and groups that can affect or are affected by an organisation’s policies and/or actions (Pathways to Accountability, the GAP Framework One World Trust, 2005).

Supporting a particular party, candidate or organisation affiliated to a political party: Agency personnel or their representatives(when using the agency name or resources in paid time) being involved in party political activities; using funds or resources to facilitate or support a specific political party, candidate, or party political organisation in a local, regional or general/national election; using funds or resources to facilitate or support a particular politician or faction to gain power within a government or within a party political structure.

Sustainable development: ‘Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987).

Transparency: ‘An organisation’s openness about its activities, providing information on what it is doing, where and how this takes place and how it is performing’. (Pathways to Accountability, the GAP Framework, One World Trust, 2005).

Third parties: May be a contractor, partner or an affiliate of the non-government organisation.