Overview

Purpose of the Good Practice Toolkit

The Good Practice Toolkit provides practical advice and support for the implementation of the Code of Conduct.  It will provide you with guidance and practical suggestions to support your organisation to meet its compliance requirements, to promote learning and development and to strengthen your organisation’s policies, practices and operations over time. It is a comprehensive guide, proposing a broad range of best practice suggestions relating to all areas of the Code.

As signatories to the Code of Conduct, your compliance obligations rest only with the Compliance Indicators and Verifiers for the Quality Principles and Commitments of the Code of Conduct itself, not with the Good Practice Indicators or the entirety of the practical guidance set out in the Good Practice Toolkit.

Some of the practical guidance suggestions may not be relevant to your organisation, either because of the nature of your work or because of the size and capacity of your organisation. Don’t be overwhelmed by the breadth of the Good Practice Guidance – use it as a ‘toolbox’ and select from its practical suggestions to promote learning and to guide the progressive development and strengthening of your organisation’s good practice over time. 

Structure of the Good Practice Toolkit

The structure of the Good Practice Toolkit mirrors the structure of the Code. The Code sets out 9 Quality Principles and their associated Commitments. The specific compliance requirements of signatory organisations are articulated as Compliance Indicators and Verifiers. The Good Practice Toolkit guidance mirrors the structure of the Code restating the Quality Principles and Commitments and their associated Compliance Indicators and Verifiers. It then provides Guidance for each of the Compliance Indicators, lists the Good Practice Indicators and provides further Guidance and Resources, including learning and Development opportunities, for each Commitment.

Updates to the Good Practice Toolkit

The Good Practice Toolkit will be periodically updated to meet the changing environment and the needs of stakeholders. Updates may be in response to ideas for new good practice suggestions, to provide greater clarity to current text, to reflect new Australian regulations and obligations, international standards or to include worked examples and new resources. 

Providing your feedback

As a supportive tool to the Code, the Good Practice Toolkit should respond to your needs. We’d like to hear your suggestions for its refinement and new good practice and resource suggestions. Please provide these to the ACFID Secretariat via [email protected].  

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Preamble

The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) is the peak body for Australian non-government organisations (NGOs) involved in international development and humanitarian action. ACFID aims to lead and unite its Members in action for a just, equitable and sustainable world.

The ACFID Code of Conduct is a voluntary, self-regulatory sector code of good practice. It was developed in 1997 and comprehensively revised in 2010 and 2016. The Code aims to improve international development and humanitarian action outcomes and increase stakeholder trust by enhancing the transparency, accountability and effectiveness of ACFID Members. In conjunction with other aspects of ACFID’s work, the effective delivery of the Code will contribute to the realisation of human rights and the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Code sets standards for practice rather than standards for results. It goes beyond the minimum standards required by government regulation and focuses on good practice. It articulates ACFID Members’ understanding of good organisational and development practice for NGOs involved in international development and humanitarian action. This articulation is informed by member’s own experiences, the Istanbul Principles for Development Effectiveness, the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS), the Global Standard for Civil Society Organisations (GS), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and ACFID’s vision, purpose and values.

The Code applies equally to organisations working in development responses and humanitarian responses. While it does not replace the need for Members engaged in humanitarian responses to adopt and be assessed against the Core Humanitarian Standard, the Code is aligned with the approaches and style of the CHS and the GS. This enables interoperability and ease of interpretation across these other codes.

The Code provides assurance to all ACFID Members’ stakeholders by enabling high standards of practice. A suite of compliance mechanisms is designed to ensure that all Code signatories are compliant with its requirements. It also contributes to continuous improvement through guidance for good practice and a range of professional development opportunities. 

Values

The Code is underpinned by a set of values which inform the behaviours of all Members all of the time. These values are translated into Quality Principles which are then translated into specific Commitments and associated Compliance Indicators. As such, the Quality Principles translate the Values into observable behaviours against which Members can be held to account. Where necessary, the Values will be used to assist in both the interpretation and application of the Code. These Values are:

Integrity

We act with honesty and are guided by ethical and moral principles in all that we do.

Accountability

We take responsibility for our actions and are accountable to all our stakeholders, and in particular primary stakeholders, for our performance and integrity.

Transparency

We openly share information about our organisations and our work to all our stakeholders and to the public.

Respect

We recognise the value and diversity of every person and are committed to treating others with due regard for their rights, dignity and integrity.

Effectiveness

We strive to deliver outcomes that bring about positive change in the lives of people living in poverty.

Equity

We are committed to overcoming prejudices and disadvantage and promoting fair and just access to resources and opportunities.

Cooperation

We work with and alongside others in a spirit of mutuality, respecting diversity and difference in the pursuit of common goals. 

Purpose and Objectives

Purpose

The Purpose of the Code of Conduct is to improve international development and humanitarian action outcomes and increase stakeholder trust by enhancing the transparency, accountability and effectiveness of ACFID Members.

Objectives

The Objectives of the Code of Conduct are:  

  1. To enable high standards of practice by ACFID Members. 

  2. To provide assurance to the stakeholders of ACFID Members. 

  3. To enable self-regulation and influence external regulation of the sector. 

  4. To champion standards of good practice for a broad range of development organisations. 


Architecture of the Code

The Code is structured within nine high level Quality Principles. They describe high level principles of practice that, taken together, contribute to quality development and humanitarian action outcomes and increased stakeholder trust.

Conceptually, the Quality Principles are grouped into three clusters as shown in the diagram below. The central cluster of Quality Principles represents the approaches we take to achieve effective development and humanitarian outcomes. The middle cluster represents the processes that underpin our approaches outlined in the central cluster. The outer cluster represents the organisational systems, processes and policies which provide the enabling environment to implement the processes and approaches of the other clusters.

Conceptual Representation of Quality Principles

Conceptual Representation of Quality Principles

Each Quality Principle has a set of associated Commitments. The Commitments are the behaviours that apply directly to ACFID Members and to which ACFID Members commit. Each Commitment has associated:

  • Compliance Indicators: These are pitched at a relatively high level of practice while still being achievable by the diversity of ACFID Members. Each of the Compliance Indicators has a Verifier which describes the evidence that is required to substantiate compliance. These Verifiers recognise the diversity of the ACFID Membership and the variety of ways that different Members will demonstrate their compliance. Members must meet the Compliance Indicators in order to be considered compliant with the Code.
  • Good Practice Indicators: These describe a higher standard of practice than that set out in the Compliance Indicators. Members may work towards achieving the Good Practice Indicators over time. Members do not need to meet the Good Practice Indicators to be considered compliant with the Code. 


Members deliver the Commitment by both complying with the relevant Compliance Indicators and working towards achieving the Good Practice Indicators over time. The Compliance Indicators, Good Practice Indicators and associated definitions and templates form part of the Quality Assurance Framework which is separate from but linked to the Code itself. The Code and its implementation by ACFID Members is further supported with the Good Practice Toolkit which provides additional guidance, examples of good practice, tools, templates and resources. 


 

Governance of the Code

The Code is owned by the ACFID Members and the ACFID Council must agree to any changes. 


ACFID’s Code of Conduct is independently governed on behalf of the ACFID Board and ACFID Council by the ACFID Code of Conduct Committee (CCC). The CCC has autonomy in decision- making in regard to determining the Code signatory status of ACFID members, compliance assessments and complaints handling. Only the CCC has authority to grant, suspend and revoke Code signatory status which is a pre-requisite for ACFID Membership. 


The Quality Assurance Framework is owned by the CCC. Any changes to the framework must be approved by the CCC following appropriate consultation with members and with advice and support from the Development Practice Committee and ACFID secretariat. Any changes to the Quality Assurance Framework approved by the CCC are tabled at the ACFID Board with the Board retaining a right of veto. Changes become operative upon approval by the Board. 


The Code Secretariat, located within the ACFID Secretariat, supports the CCC and undertakes administration and management of the Code. 


Quality Principles and Commitments

The Quality Principles and associated Commitments shown in the table below form the core of the ACFID Code of Conduct.

Quality Principles and Commitments