At AOA, we believe we are stronger together.
That is why we are a part of the CAN DO (Church Agencies Network Disaster Operations) consortium, made up of eight faith-based organisations working in the Pacific region with local church partners to increase their capacity to respond and build resilience to emergencies in their communities. Here is an update about what we are working on in collaboration with others at the moment.
CAN DO member organisations are: Act for Peace, Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), Anglican Board of Mission (ABM), Anglican Overseas Aid (AOA), Australian Lutheran World Service, Caritas Australia, Transform Aid International (Baptist World Aid Australia), and Uniting World
Ensuring that our legacy is creating happy, healthy and safe relationships.
The essential purpose of aid and development organisations like Anglican Overseas Aid is to improve and protect the lives of those we serve in the communities where we work.
However, revelations of misconduct within the humanitarian sector have led to heavy scrutiny and prompted organisations to lift the bar on purposefully creating a safer environment for everyone. In light of this, we have reaffirmed our commitment to putting in place measures to minimise the risk of harm to the people we are trying to help. This is called safeguarding. Specifically, safeguarding refers to organisations protecting staff from harm and from harming others, and covers exploitative, harmful and abusive behaviours. A part of this is also enabling pathways to give voice to those who experience or observe abuse.
CAN DO has been proactive in looking at ways of promoting a strong safeguarding culture within its member organisations. This has involved seeking a comprehensive external review of all relevant policies and practices, as well as developing an inter-agency complaints mechanism. The end result will ensure the best possible environment for healthy and safe relationships wherever CAN DO works.
Ensuring that local voices are heard and respected in humanitarian response.
The term ‘localisation’ is increasingly common in the humanitarian sector. As defined by DFAT, it relates to “recognising, respecting and strengthening leadership and decision-making by local and national actors in humanitarian action.” This is to say that in responding to disasters we are involving local people in the process, listening to their voices and working in collaboration with them. This not only drives a better response and results, but also upholds their dignity in the process.
As a consortium of faith-based organisations, all of whom are accredited with DFAT, CAN DO has a unique opportunity and place in upholding the local church’s special role in localised humanitarian response. The church has a presence in the communities before, during and after crises, and has networks in and the trust of the local people affected. This is not to be underestimated.
To affirm the significance of the local church, CAN DO produced a short paper entitled ‘Church Networks and Localisation Practice In The Pacific’ which was provided to DFAT, the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) and other humanitarian agencies late last year. This paved the way to a presentation at the Asia Pacific Humanitarian Conference at Deakin University in May, with our partner, the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOM) represented by their Women’s Desk Officer, Ethel George, accompanied by our very own Belinda Lauria, Program Manager – Quality and Compliance.
The presentation reflected on the localised response to the volcanic eruption on the island of Ambae in Vanuatu over the last two years, both highlighting the importance of and paving the way for increased Pacific church collaboration in humanitarian response.