Oxfam training 119 more safeguarding investigators

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Oxfam is training an additional 119 staff to investigate safeguarding incidents around the world as part of its ongoing improvement of safeguarding.

Since announcing a ten-point action plan in February, Oxfam has more than tripled its funding for safeguarding to more than £1.75m and established an Independent Commission which is reviewing its culture and practices. The action plan followed criticism of the way it handled historic cases, including sexual abuse by some former staff members in Haiti.

Beginning in October 2018, Oxfam will report twice-yearly data on all safeguarding cases completed in the previous six months, across all members of its confederation.

In the UK, all shop managers and their deputies as well as volunteers in supervisory roles have had enhanced DBS background checks. Seven members of HR staff in its trading division have been trained to investigate safeguarding allegations in Oxfam shops, and over 960 shop staff will have completed online safeguarding training by the end of this financial year.

The Independent Commission is currently investigating Oxfam’s approach to safeguarding and will publish its findings and recommendations by May 2019.

Ten other international NGOs and partner organisations have joined Oxfam’s training courses for new investigators in six cities around the world, as part of Oxfam’s commitment to help improve safeguarding across the sector.

Oxfam has set up a central system to deal with all requests for staff references. Cases of gross misconduct, including sexual abuse, will be clearly marked in staff references where this is lawful. Several proposals that could improve practice across the sector are under development and should be ready to be presented at the Department for International Development-led Safeguarding Summit in October.

Oxfam is currently rolling out safeguarding training to all 10,000 staff around the world, and further strengthening pre-employment checks. It has set up an independent whistleblowing hotline in five languages and encouraged all staff to use it in confidence. This builds on the whistleblowing line put in place after 2011.

Mark Goldring, chief executive of Oxfam GB, said: “I am determined that we learn the lessons of our past mistakes and do all we can to protect our staff and the people we exist to help. The action we have taken will further strengthen Oxfam’s ability to prevent, investigate and stamp out unacceptable behaviour wherever it may occur.

“But we know that we have more to do – not least in ensuring that everyone who works, volunteers or receives support from Oxfam feels empowered to challenge unacceptable behaviour. We will be working with the Charity Commission, other authorities, our own Independent Commission and across the sector to continue to make improvements.”

Ends

For more information, please contact the Oxfam media unit on media.unit@oxfam.org.uk / 01865 472498

Notes to editors:

• On 16 February 2018, Oxfam announced a ten-point action plan to improve its safeguarding policies and practices. A summary of the plan is available here: https://www.oxfam.org.uk/what-we-do/about-us/stamping-out-abuse
• On 16 March 2018, Oxfam appointed an Independent Commission to review its culture and safeguarding systems. The Commission is co-chaired by Zainab Bangura, a former Under-Secretary General of the United Nations, and Katherine Sierra, a former Vice-President of the World Bank. They lead an independent group of international experts from the realms of business, government and civil society.