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The Aussie sector responds to foreign aid sexual exploitation inquiry

ACFID have responded to the inquiry into sexual exploitation and abuse in the foreign aid sector, promising a review of its code of conduct

The Australian sector has responded to the report into sexual exploitation of women in the foreign aid sector as it launches an inquiry into Australian standards.

The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) said it commissioned an independent review into the prevention of sexual misconduct in the Australian sector, including a review of the current guidelines of codes of good practice.

CEO, Marc Purcell, said: “We are determined that the reviews we have put in train result in long-lasting change. The independent review will provide recommendations for our members which will form a roadmap for improvement and the Code review will result in permanent changes to ACFID’s Code of Conduct.”

This comes after the International Development Committee (IDC) released a report that called out the aid sector’s “particularly horrifying” evidence of sexual misconduct and abuse, particularly against women and children made to trade sex for aid.

The Committee said the sector as a whole will need to confront the sexual exploitation and abuse problems that is happening across global organisations.

“It is not endemic, and it has been a long time. Outrage is appropriate, but surprise is not. The sector needs a complete change of mindset, whereby those who fund and deliver aid are actively working together to seek out and root out the problem.”

ACFID, its members and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are working together and are dedicating significant resources to review what Australia has in place and set the Australian sector on a course of improvement where necessary.

“The findings from the UK’s IDC inquiry will be carefully considered and will form part of the deliberations of both reviews,” Purcell said.

As the report also analysed sexual abuse and harassment within organisations, ACFID have aimed their approach at the victims and survivors at its heart. Staff, members and partners can confidentially report if they have experienced sexual misconduct.

“Sexual misconduct has no place in our sector,” Purcell added. “ACFID and our members are committed to addressing the concerns that have arisen and will work to further ensure accountability; drive prevention; and change behaviour so that we go above and beyond what we already have in place.”

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