Purpose and scope
Privacy and confidentiality
Responsibilities and expectations
Complaints and investigation procedure
Annex – Viamo Abuse Prevention Hotlines
Viamo has a zero-tolerance approach to all acts of abuse and exploitation involving Viamo team members in their interactions with other team members, partners and end users.
Viamo is committed to the safety and protection of children and vulnerable adults in the discharge of our work.
Viamo commits to take all complaints about incidents of abuse, or incidents where the safety of children or vulnerable adults is put in jeopardy, seriously. Viamo initiates rigorous investigation of complaints that indicate possible violations and takes appropriate disciplinary action, as warranted.
This policy reaffirms Viamo’s commitment to protect our team members, partners and end users from abusive behaviour, including unwanted and inappropriate sexual attention. The policy also aims to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults in the discharge of our work.
This policy applies to complaints of abuse and exploitation involving Viamo team members. Throughout this document, the term abuse includes sexual abuse. The policy is also relevant in the interaction of Viamo team members with children and vulnerable adults in both a direct and/or unsupervised capacity for any Viamo project.
The Safeguarding Policy on expected behaviour is not limited to what occurs within a Viamo workspace or during working hours. Inappropriate behaviour will not be tolerated at work, or anywhere else.
Viamo employs a holistic approach to preventing abuse and ensuring safeguarding. The approach comprises of:
All parties to a safeguarding complaint are expected to respect the privacy and confidentiality of all other parties involved and to limit the discussion of the complaint to those that need to know.
Viamo and all individuals involved in the complaint process, will comply with privacy legislation to protect personal information.
Abuse – Offending or humiliating someone physically or verbally; threatening or intimidating someone; making unwelcome jokes or comments about someone’s race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability or pardoned conviction.
Sexual abuse – is the actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions. This means that the use of actual force is not necessary to constitute sexual abuse. Sexual abuse can also occur in situations of inequality or under coercive conditions.
Sexual exploitation – is any actual or attempted abuse of a person, or 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. This means that any individual acting as an intermediary in the organisation of abuse is equally guilty of exploitation.
Zero-tolerance – zero tolerance requires that every staff member, volunteer/intern, consultant and representative, and partner of Viamo at all levels of the organization take on the responsibility to act on rumors of and possible incidents of sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, and other forms of abuse, such as bullying. It requires that the organization respond to all verified incidents with disciplinary action, including dismissal, when appropriate.
Child – Any person below 18 years of age
Vulnerable adult – A person aged over 18 years may be vulnerable (temporarily or permanently) if they:
Viamo team member – broadly includes all team members of Viamo, board members, volunteers, interns, international and local consultants.
Abuse and exploitation can happen once or many times and may include physical, verbal or non-verbal actions. Individuals exposed to this kind of treatment may feel offended, humiliated or violated.
Definitions are provided within this policy for abuse. However, there are instances of abuse and exploitation which may be subjective and circumstantial. Key here is to consider Viamo’s Team Member Code of Conduct as a minimum and strive to maintain an even higher standard of professional conduct. An exhaustive list of behaviours cannot be provided, but below are some examples of ones which may constitute abuse:
Abuse and exploitation may take the more direct form of aggressive, unwelcome behaviour. However, they may take the form of an exchange or a quid pro quo. An example would be offering some kind of benefit to a colleague, subordinate, partner or beneficiary in exchange for a sexual favour or threatening to withhold benefit if sexual favours are not granted.
Viamo considers all such behaviour unacceptable.
Viamo’s Board of Directors is ultimately responsible for:
Executive Director of Human Resources is responsible for:
Human Resources is responsible for:
Managers are responsible for:
Team members are responsible for:
Team members can expect:
End users, partners and the public can expect:
Individuals wanting to make a complaint should do one of the following:
Viamo’s contact person will:
In some situations it may be appropriate to consider informal resolution of an initial complaint without undertaking an assessment of its merit. This approach may be useful where:
Informal resolution may involve:
In some situations the impartial third person may need to be someone external to the organisation, such as a professional mediator.
If a person wants to proceed with a formal complaint, or if this is considered to be the most appropriate course of action, the following steps are recommended.
The person handling the complaint should:
2. Advise the respondent about the complaint
The person handling the complaint should:
3. Assess the information
If the respondent confirms that s/he did what is alleged to have occurred, and if this behaviour would be considered abuse as defined in the organisation’s policy, the next step is to consider an appropriate outcome (see below). It is recommended that the respondent is provided with the opportunity to comment on any proposed decision and outcome before a final decision is made.
If there is disagreement about what happened, the person handling the complaint will consider whether there is other information that will help to determine what happened.
Given the nature of abuse and harassment, there may often be no direct witnesses or documents to support the complainant’s version of events. This does not mean that the allegation is untrue. In these situations, the complainant should be given the opportunity to comment on the information that has been provided by the respondent and to provide any other information to support his or her allegations before a final decision is made. It is generally understood that the person making the decision should be satisfied that it is ‘more probable than not’ that what is alleged to have happened did happen.
In serious cases, external parties may be required in the decision process and criminal charges may follow Viamo’s internal process.
Outcomes for the respondent may include:
Outcomes for the complainant may include:
It is important that the complainant is provided with general information about the outcome of a complaint, as this may affect their decision to pursue the matter with an external agency. The level of detail provided should be balanced against the need to respect the privacy of the respondent.
b. Where the allegations are not admitted or substantiated
Where allegations have not been admitted or substantiated, it may still be appropriate for the employer to take some action as a result of the complaint. For example, it may be appropriate to:
If such action is taken, it is important that it is not done in a way which could be seen as singling out or punishing the respondent, especially where there has been no finding that he or she has breached the organisation’s policy or Code of Conduct.
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