Prevention of Sexual Exploitation Abuse and Harassment Policy

1. Revision History

2. Purpose

Fundamental to the operation of CfA is respect for the dignity and basic human rights of people within Australia and throughout the world. Every person who represents CfA is expected to reflect these values in their professional conduct, regardless of who they are dealing with, or where they are working. 

Sexual exploitation abuse, and sexual harassment (SEAH) is a violation of basic human rights. CfA aims to provide a safe and trusted environment that safeguards everyone from SEAH including beneficiary communities, workers, program participants and partner organisations. 

CfA is committed to safeguarding the people it helps and who it works alongside. We recognise that the nature of CfA’s work places our workers and program participants in positions of authority and trust in relation to the communities we work with, especially vulnerable adults and children. CfA workers and program participants have an obligation to uphold high standards of personal and professional conduct at all times and must not abuse this position in order to exploit or abuse another person. 

CfA will actively prevent and respond to SEAH and maintain an organisational culture that prioritises safeguarding against SEAH so that it is safe for those affected to come forward and report incidents and concerns with the assurance they will be handled sensitively and appropriately

3. Scope / Persons Affected

The following must comply with this Policy in the course of their work and when representing CfA:

  • CfA workers 
  • All program participants 
  • All accompanying adult dependents 
  • All other parties, including Partner Organisations, as specified and required by DFAT 

 

All of the aforementioned must comply with the standards of behaviour set out in this CfA Prevention of Sexual Exploitation, Abuse, and Harassment Policy. 

Appropriate consultation (tick for ‘yes’, otherwise leave blank)

4. Definitions

Worker: employees (Australia and overseas), consultants, contractors, office volunteers, interns, the CfA Board, visitors, or anyone engaged to undertake work for this organisation. 

Program Participant: defined as any person engaged to undertake an assignment, volunteer or otherwise, on an international or domestic program managed by CfA. 

Accompanying adult dependent: defined as any person over the age of 18 supported by CfA to accompany a person undertaking an assignment, volunteer or otherwise, on an international or domestic program managed by CfA. 

Partner Organisations: any organisation either in Australia or overseas that receives a benefit from an CfA program and where volunteers and program participants are placed 

Program beneficiaries: any person who, either directly or by association, derives a benefit from an CfA or CfA affiliated program. Examples include but are not limited to; Partner Organisation employees and community members who directly receive a service or engage with a program participant in the course of the participant’s work with a Partner Organisation. 

Sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment (SEAH) occurs against a child or an adult and can occur between people of the same or different genders. It includes situations such as:

  •  Sexual exploitation and abuse; 
  • Sexual harassment; 
  • Child sexual abuse and exploitation; 
  • Women and men sexually exploited through sex work; 
  • Possessing, controlling, producing, distributing, obtaining or transmitting sexually exploitative images of adults and children; and 
  • Prevention of sexual abuse and exploitation (PSEAH). 

 

Sexual Exploitation – any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust, for sexual purposes, including, but not limited to, profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another.

Sexual Abuse – the actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions. 

Sexual Harassment – any verbal or physical conduct or any conduct of a sexual nature that is unwelcome, uninvited or not reciprocated in circumstances in which a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances would have reasonably anticipated the possibility that the person harassed would be offended, humiliated or intimidated. This can include unwelcome sexual advances or unwelcome requests for sexual favours or displaying or sending sexually explicit images or asking intrusive questions about someone’s personal life, including their sex life. 

Sexual harassment can take various forms. It can be direct and/or indirect, physical and/ or verbal, repeated or one-off instances and perpetrated by any person of any gender towards any person of any gender. Sexual harassment can be perpetrated against beneficiaries of CfA’s programs, community members, citizens, as well as employees and workers. 

Child Sexual Abuse – the use of a child for sexual gratification by an adult or significantly older child or adolescent. Sexually abusive behaviours can include fondling genitals; masturbation; oral sex; vaginal or anal penetration by a penis, finger or any other object; fondling breasts; voyeurism; exhibitionism; and exposing the child to, or involving the child in, pornography (see CfA Child & Vulnerable People Protection Policy). 

Child Exploitation – one or more of the following: 

  • Committing or coercing another person to commit an act or acts of abuse against a child 
  • Possessing, controlling, producing, distributing, obtaining or transmitting child exploitation material 
  • Committing or coercing another person to commit an act or acts of grooming or online grooming 
  • Using a minor for profit, labour, sexual gratification, or some other personal or financial advantage

 

Online Child Sexual Exploitation (or child pornography) – in accordance with the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, ‘child pornography’ means ‘any representation, by whatever means, of a child engaged in real or simulated explicit sexual activities or any representation of the sexual parts of a child for primarily sexual purposes. 

Child – any person under the age of eighteen (18) years as defined by the Convention on the Rights of the Child irrespective of local country definitions of when a child reaches adulthood. 

Vulnerable adults – those aged over 18 years and who identify themselves as unable to take care of themselves/ protect themselves from harm or exploitation; or who, due to their gender, mental or physical health, disability, ethnicity, religious identity, sexual orientation, economic or social status, or as a result of disasters and conflicts, are deemed to be at risk. 

Survivor – A person who has SEAH perpetrated against him/her or an attempt to perpetrate SEA against him/her. 

5. Principles

CfA’s commitment to the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse is informed by the following principles: 

Child rights and women’s rights as core values within CfA: CfA upholds the rights articulated in the International Bill of Human Rights, The UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women and The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and promotes the right of adults and children to be protected from all forms of violence including SEAH. 

Safeguarding vulnerable adults and children: Issues of SEAH are fundamentally about abuses of power. Situations of poverty, vulnerability and discrimination as well as power inequities between genders, between aid workers/volunteers and beneficiary communities, and within organisations, create unequal power dynamics resulting in environments where SEAH can exist. CfA acknowledges the impact of SEAH on an individual’s health and wellbeing, and that negative physical, mental health and social outcomes that are likely to be compounded when perpetrated by a person in authority. 

Strong leadership: CfA expects those in positions of leadership, including people management, to set clear expectations and model respectful behaviour in their interactions at work and in public and to take measures to improve diversity and inclusion in line with CfA Policy. 

Expected behaviours of those representing CfA: Given differing local contexts, CfA workers and program participants may be faced with a range of unfamiliar social, cultural, financial or personal settings when working or volunteering overseas. Communities trust that the people representing CfA will always conduct themselves in a professional manner and not engage in behaviour contrary to the safety or wellbeing of the children and adults they come into contact with. 

Zero tolerance of SEAH: Behaviour by CfA workers or program participants that results in the sexual exploitation or abuse of a child or adult, helps facilitate SEAH or where allegations of SEAH are ignored by CfA or partner organisation personnel, will not be tolerated and CfA will immediately respond and take seriously any concerns raised. 

Take action to prevent SEAH: CfA aims to prevent SEAH through implementation of this Policy, communication, training and working collaboratively with all personnel, country offices and partner organisations to safeguard everyone against SEAH. 

6. Policy

The following list of expected behaviours applies to all of CfA workers, CfA program participants and other program approved adult dependents, in both their personal and professional lives. The aforementioned must, at all times: 

  • Maintain a duty to act at all times in a manner which upholds the values and reputation of CfA 
  • Undertake to create and maintain a safe and trusted environment that promotes the implementation of this Policy and safeguards everyone from SEAH. 
  • Comply with all relevant Australian and local laws of the country to which he or she is placed, or in which he or she is travelling. 
  • Be aware that sexual behaviour is an area of particular sensitivity, where conduct may more easily be seen as offensive or be misinterpreted. 
  • Ensure personal conduct towards a co-worker is not exploitative or such that it reasonably leads to a perception of exploitation. 
  • Read and agree to abide by the expected behaviours outlined in the relevant code of conduct. 
  • Immediately report to CfA any concern, suspicion or allegation of SEAH or breach of the CfA Prevention of Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment Policy. Reporting procedures are outlined in section 6.4 below. 

 

In addition, CfA workers must adhere to the following expected behaviours:

  • CfA workers must not engage in sexual relationships with program participants, approved adult dependents, or CfA program beneficiaries as these relationships are based on inherently unequal power dynamics and there is the potential for abuse of power. Such relationships undermine the credibility and integrity of CfA and its programs. 
  • Workers must immediately inform their direct manager if they become engaged in a personal relationship which may be perceived as inappropriate or exploitative, or where real or perceived unequal power dynamics exist. Workers who are unsure if their relationships falls into this category should discuss the situation with their line manager and/or a member of the People and Culture team. 
  • Program participants and accompanying adult dependents must adhere to the following expected behaviours: 
  • Program participants/adult dependents should exercise caution when engaging in sexual relationships with CfA program beneficiaries or other adult community members as these relationships may be based on inherently unequal power dynamics and there is the potential for abuse of power. As such, program participants should be mindful of the unique challenges and perceptions associated with such relationships and are encouraged to seek counsel from an CfA Manager or Director before entering into a relationship of this nature. 
  • Program participants must immediately inform their Manager or Director if they become engaged in a personal relationship which may be perceived as inappropriate or exploitative, or where real or perceived unequal power dynamics exist. Participants and dependents who are unsure if their relationship falls into this category should discuss the situation with their Manager or Director. 
  • It is strictly prohibited for CfA workers, program participants and AVP approved adult dependents to: 
  • Sexually exploit or abuse or sexually harass a child or adult. 
  • Use their position of trust and authority to request any service or sexual favour from beneficiaries of CfA programs, adults, children or others in the communities in which CfA works, in return for protection or assistance, or coerce a person to engage in sexual intercourse or any sexual activity. 
  • Exchange or withhold from beneficiaries of CfA programs – adults, children or others in the communities in which CfA works – money, food, employment, goods, assistance or services for sex or sexual favours or other forms of humiliating, degrading or exploitative behaviour. 
  • Have sex with sex workers when working or volunteering overseas, even when it is legal in the country. 
  • Use, CfA or partner organisation facilities, personnel or resources for the purpose of arranging or facilitating access to sex workers by any person, including visitors to CfA offices or programs. 
  • Engage in sexual activity with a child under any circumstance. Even in a country where the age of majority or the age of consent is lower than 18 years, CfA workers, program participants and AVP approved adult dependents are forbidden to have sexual activity with anyone under the age of 18 years. A mistaken belief that the child is over 18 is no defence. 
  • Use computers, mobile phones, video cameras, cameras or other technology inappropriately, or to exploit or harass children and/or adults, or access or disseminate child exploitative material and/or sexually exploitative material through any medium, including social media 
  • Procure sex for others, and/or use a third party to do so.

6.1 Breach of Policy

Sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment by CfA workers, program participants and AVP approved adult dependents constitute acts of gross misconduct and are therefore grounds for termination of employment or volunteer assignment. 

Disciplinary actions/possible outcomes for breach of the CfA Prevention of Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment Policy can include: 

  • Referral to local law enforcement authorities (as per national and any mandatory reporting laws), where appropriate 
  • Referral to Australian Federal Police, where appropriate 
  • CfA internal investigation which may include an externally engaged investigator 
  • Standing aside with pay pending investigation 
  • Performance management and disciplinary action including formal warnings 
  • Re-education, training, mentoring and support where appropriate 
  • Where substantiated, termination of employment for workers or termination of assignment for program participants. 

6.2 Responsibilities to prevent and respond to SEAH

All CfA workers are responsible for championing good practice and maintaining an organisational culture that prioritises safeguarding against SEAH. 

Managers and leaders at all levels have responsibilities to support and develop systems that maintain an environment that facilitates implementation of this Policy and which prevents SEAH. They must ensure that CfA workers and program participants understand and comply with this Policy. 

Managers and leaders must create a safe environment at CfA for anyone to come forward and raise allegations or concerns of SEAH and take action to immediately respond to any reports. 

6.3 PSEAH Training

PSEAH training will be provided for CfA staff, Board Directors, and program participants and any other training as required by DFAT. 

6.4 Recruitment and Performance Management

CfA will apply robust recruitment and screening procedures for all CfA workers, program participants and AVP approved adult dependents to reduce the risk of engaging a person with a background of unacceptable risks to children or adults, particularly vulnerable children and adults. 

These procedures include: 

  • Criminal history checks 
  • Referee checks from an applicant’s last place of employment/volunteer/program placement including when working in overseas locations and will include a question regarding any concerns of sexual misconduct. 
  • Personnel records to include performance or conduct issues regarding concerns or allegations of SEAH. 
  • All employment/assignment contracts must contain provisions for potential disciplinary action including termination of employment/assignment following breach of this policy.

6.5 CfA’s risk management processes

CfA will design and implement an effective risk management processes that includes consideration of the risk of SEAH. The process will document the controls in place or to be implemented to reduce or remove the risks of SEAH 

6.6 Reporting and Investigation

6.5.1 How to report

CfA provides a safe, supportive and secure environment to report incidences of SEAH and breaches of this Policy. CfA will take all concerns seriously and respond immediately and in accordance with AVIs and DFAT reporting requirements. All reports of SEAH will be recorded, regardless of whether substantiated or full investigation required. The principles of natural justice will apply to all investigations. 

CfA workers, program participants and accompanying adult dependents must immediately report any concerns, suspicions or allegations of SEAH or breach of the CfA Prevention of Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment Policy. A report should be made to one of the following people as applicable: 

Program participants and Accompanying Adult Dependents (AAD) may report a concern regarding sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment or Policy breach to any of the following people: 

  • The relevant Director or Manager: if comfortable doing so, and if the Director/Manager is not directly or indirectly implicated in the alleged report 
  • CfA Executive Members 
  • CfA Directors 
  • CEO 

CfA Workers may report a concern regarding sexual exploitation abuse and harassment or Policy breach to any of the following people: 

  • Their manager: if the worker feels comfortable doing so, and if their manager is not directly or indirectly implicated in the alleged report 
  • The CEO 
  • A member of the CfA Executive 
  • Member(s) of the CfA Board 

Visitors, Beneficiaries of our programs, and Members of the Public may report a concern regarding sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment through 

  • CfA’s complaints handling procedures 

Children and young people may also report a concern regarding sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment to an CfA Child Protection and Safeguarding staff or any CfA staff member who will in turn report disclosures in line with AVIs reporting procedures. 

  • CfA will provide information about this Policy and the reporting mechanisms in child friendly language and ensure it is easily accessible 

6.5.2 Managing Reports

Anyone wishing to make a report anonymously which would be protected by the Whistleblowers Protection legislation of any jurisdiction needs to refer to the CFA Whistleblower Protection Policy for information on protected disclosures and can make a report as specified in the Policy. 

Any person reporting a case of SEAH, in good faith, or any person who has cooperated with an investigation into a report of SEAH, will be protected by this Policy. Malicious and vexatious reporting of SEAH with the intention and/or result of harming another person’s integrity or reputation amounts to serious misconduct and is subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment. This is distinct from reports made in good faith based on the judgment and information available at the time of the report, which may not be substantiated by an investigation. 

Reporting and investigation progress will include engagement of and reporting to the Organisational Leadership Team and CfA Board members. 

6.5.3 Investigations

Investigations of SEAH will be carried out in a manner that is timely, fair, objective and as far as is practicable, confidential. This includes the use of appropriate interviewing practice with complainants and witnesses. All information and documented evidence will be held securely and in the strictest confidence as far as is appropriate. 

Sensitive information related to reports of SEAH whether involving CfA workers, program participants, accompanying adult dependents or others in the communities in which CfA works shall be shared only with Australian or local law enforcement authorities, when a notification to police or appropriate authorities must be made or on a ‘need to know’ basis. Information of alleged perpetrators that may be provided to law enforcement authorities and/or to DFAT will be handled in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988 and any and all privacy legislation and principles that may apply. 

6.6 Survivor support and assistance

CfA will adopt a survivor-centred approach in preventing and responding to SEAH. CfA will ensure that all responses are developed in a manner that balances respect for due process with a survivorcentred approach in which the survivor’s wishes, safety and wellbeing remain a priority in all matters and procedures. Furthermore, all actions taken should be guided by respect for choices, wishes, rights and dignity of the survivor.

CfA will ensure survivors of SEAH are offered support and assistance such as referral to safe health/medical, psychosocial and legal/justice response where appropriate and where required to specialised children’s or women’s services.

Children have the right to participate in decisions that will affect them. If a decision is taken on behalf of a child, the best interests of the child shall be the overriding guide. Referrals should be done in consultation with child focused agencies specialising in the special needs of child survivors of sexual abuse, and who are familiar with local procedures relating to the protection of children.

Survivors will be provided with information on the progression of an investigation and final outcomes. 

6.7 Partner Organisations

CfA will work with Partner Organisations in the prevention of SEAH and Partner Organisations will be advised of avenues available to report concerns regarding SEAH. 

7. Related Policies

  • Ethics and Professional Conduct Policy 
  • Harassment and Bullying Policy 
  • Child & Vulnerable People Protection Policy 
  • Policy for Volunteers (in Country) 
  • Complaints Handling Policy and Complaints Handling Procedure
  • Whistleblower Policy 
  • Victimisation Policy

8. Relevant Laws and International Conventions

  • International Bill of Human Rights 
  • Privacy Act 1988 
  • The UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women 
  • The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 
  • UNSC Resolution 1325: Women, peace and security (WPS) 
  • SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls 
  • DFAT Child Protection Policy 2017 
  • ACFID Code of Conduct 2017 
  • Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995 – It is a crime for Australian citizens, permanent residents or bodies corporate to engage in, facilitate or benefit from sexual activity with children (under 16 years of age) while overseas. These offences carry penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for individuals and up to $500,000 in fines for companies (extraterritorial legislation).

9. References

CFA-P25.V1 Prevention of Sexual Exploitation Abuse and Harassment Policy – Effective Date: 7 August 2020 Document
Approved By: Board of Management.

Controlled Document — Printed Versions are not controlled. CFA