About the Code
What is the ACFID Code of Conduct?
The ACFID Code of Conduct (the Code) is a voluntary, self-regulatory sector code of good practice that aims to improve international development outcomes and increase stakeholder trust by enhancing transparency and accountability of signatory organisations. It was developed in 1997 and comprehensively revised in 2010.
The Code has an accompanying Implementation Guidance, which has been developed to assist organisations understand the Code and meet its requirements. The Implementation Guidance is reviewed every 12 months.
ACFID has also developed a free online resource which introduces staff and volunteers to the ACFID Code of Conduct.
Why do we have an ACFID Code of Conduct?
The Code is shaped by and reflects the diversity of ACFID members and accommodates their own specific approaches to aid and development. At the heart of the Code, however, is the strength of what unites us all – our shared values. Members of ACFID use the Code for self-regulation to ensure effective development outcomes and enhanced public trust.
What is in the ACFID Code?
The Code has been structured so that all stakeholders can understand what its requirements are, and what they can expect to ‘see’ from signatories. It will continue to evolve to meet the changing environment, the needs of stakeholders, and emerging good practice from within the sector. It sets out over 50 principles and 150 Obligations that are linked to our shared values, in three areas of accountability:
- Program Principles, including Obligations for effectiveness in aid and development activities, human rights and working with partner agencies
- Public Engagement, including Obligations on the member organisation to be ethical and transparent in marketing, fundraising and reporting
- Organisation, including Obligations for governance, management, financial controls, treatment of staff and volunteers, complaints handling processes and compliance with legal requirements
How does it operate?
As a self-regulatory initiative, all signatories and members of ACFID are committed to full adherence to the Principles and Obligations of the Code.
Organisations are required to educate staff and their boards about the Code at induction and by attending ongoing training.
- Compliance mechanisms include: Public disclosure of relevant aspects of the Code standards via organisation’s websites and annual reports
- Annual self-assessment by member organisation’s governing body
- Selected verification by the ACFID Code of Conduct Committee, periodically and on application
- An independent complaints handling and discipline process
- Checking of documentation upon membership application (governing instrument, policies)
- Review of annual and financial reports by a qualified accountant against the reporting requirements of the Code
- Random audits of fundraising material during an emergency and an external complaints mechanism
Compliance with the Code is a requirement for accreditation with Australian Aid under the NGO Cooperation Program, which enables accredited organisations to implement their own international development programs.
How is it governed?
An independent, voluntary Code of Conduct Committee monitors adherence to the Code and investigates complaints, which may be brought by any member of the public. Its primary focus, if a breach occurs, is to work with signatory organisations to improve standards and reduce the risk of recurrence. If a breach is more serious, or the signatory does not respond appropriately, disciplinary action may be considered. The Committee may require the signatory to provide information to donors, notify Australian Aid, and ultimately suspend Code membership.
A sub-section of the Growth and Effectiveness Team, located within the ACFID Secretariat, undertakes compliance activities and investigates complaints, which are confidential to the Code of Conduct Committee.
How do I know if an organisation is a signatory to the Code?
All members of ACFID are Code signatories. ACFID members display the ACFID logo on their website and include it in their key publications – for example, their annual report. To see the list of current ACFID Full Members, please click here.
Some ACFID Affiliate Members are also signatories to the Code.
Does the Code link to AusAID accreditation?
The Code has been devised for the international aid and development non-government sector by ACFID members and reflects an agreed standard of good practice.
Adherence to the Code is a requirement of Australian Aid accreditation to the Australian Aid Non-Government Organisation Co-operation Program (ANCP). While compliance with both AusAID accreditation and the Code takes different forms, the two systems reinforce and strengthen each other to ensure a high level of aid effectiveness.
To learn more about the links between the Code and Australian Aid accreditation:
History of the Code
The Code of Conduct is part of the ACFID constitution and a key benefit of ACFID membership.
Click on the link below to download PDF Documents outlining the history and development of the ACFID Code of Conduct