Oxfam Australia responds to Haiti sexual misconduct story

General, Media Releases article written on the 12 Feb 2018

Details have emerged over the past few days of the appalling behaviour of former Oxfam Great Britain staff found guilty of sexual misconduct in Haiti in 2011 during the earthquake response.

We at Oxfam remain horrified and deeply saddened by this incident.

Our work advancing women’s rights, especially in situations of vulnerability, is central to Oxfam’s identity.

As an organisation fighting for women’s rights around the world, we have a special responsibility to protect our staff, partners, volunteers and people with whom we work from sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse.

This was a case of a group of privileged men abusing those they were meant to protect.

They also abused the trust of the people of Haiti, the many people who support Oxfam’s work and the dedicated Oxfam staff working around the world.

Oxfam reviewed and strengthened its policies and practices in regard to safeguarding in the wake of the Haiti case.

Oxfam Australia has systems in place to protect people from this kind of abuse.

In addition to our strong policies and oversight, we have banded together with other Oxfams to strengthen our safeguards, including having a dedicated Safeguarding Team, a confidential whistleblowing line and more comprehensive policies.

These measures help Oxfam better protect people from abuse, sexual harassment and exploitation, and prevent it from happening in the first place.

However, we know we cannot be complacent and know we need to continually improve our processes.  We are absolutely committed to this work.

Many of us feel betrayed by these abusers. The actions of these men do not represent Oxfam; they do not reflect the values of an organisation of passionate individuals, and our supporters, who are committed to making a difference in the world.

Dr Helen Szoke, Chief Executive, Oxfam Australia