Oxfam training 119 more safeguarding investigators

27 Jul 2018 News

Mark Goldring, chief executive of Oxfam GB

Oxfam has announced that it is training 119 of its existing staff to investigate safeguarding incidents around the world.

Ten other international NGOs and partner organisations have also joined Oxfam's training courses for new investigators in six cities.

The charity is currently rolling out safeguarding training to all its 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.

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

Since announcing a plan of action in February, Oxfam GB has more than tripled its funding for safeguarding to £720,000 a year. The total spend by Oxfam International, which includes the Oxfam GB figure, has increased to £1.75m.

The charity has also established an independent commission which is reviewing the charity’s culture and practices and will publish its findings and recommendations by May 2019.

The action plan followed weeks of scrutiny for the charity as concerns were raised over its safeguarding, including that an aid worker fired from the charity was hired again just a few months later.

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.

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.

In addition, the charity is developing several proposals to improve practice across the sector, which it will present at the Department for International Development’s Safeguarding Summit in October.

Mark Goldring, outgoing 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."

Prior to February 2018, Oxfam GB had three dedicated trained safeguarding investigators - two global safeguarding staff and a safeguarding advisor in the retail division.

Seven HR staff in the retail division had also been trained to assist with investigations.

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