GUIDELINE NAME: Field Complaints Disclosure Guidelines
SECTION : Refer to Excel Guidelines list
DISTRIBUTION: All Employees
FIRST ISSUED: January 2017
DATE UPDATED: January 2017
People and Culture
AUTHORISED BY: CEO
Lionbridge International is committed to uphold the dignity of the human person and promote common good. This commitment is fundamental to its values and it is what Lionbridge is being held accountable for by its project/program beneficiaries, donor and other stakeholders.
As part of Lionbridge International’s move to improving effectiveness and accountability to all of its stakeholders Lionbridge International is determined to not in any way tolerate or condone any fraudulent, illegal or unethical conduct (including misconduct, exploitation and abuse) that will undermine its capacity to achieving this objective.
Lionbridge International encourages feedback, complaints or whistle blowing within its international partnerships and programs to promote accountability, transparency, fairness and protection of vulnerable people who are the subject of Lionbridge International’s international development and humanitarian program.
Caritas Australia commits to establish a fair, simple and effective complaints handling and/or whistle blowing mechanism that is user-friendly, accessible and safe for different types of stakeholders, and is appropriate for the local context.
This mechanism is intended to encourage a climate of open communication, which enables partner staff, beneficiaries and other stakeholders to voice their concerns at the earliest opportunity to enable Lionbridge International to take necessary corrective action.
This will also facilitate detection and reporting of any misconduct, fraudulent, illegal or unethical conduct, exploitation and abuse within Lionbridge International’s international development work.
Whistle blowing is defined by the Nolan Committee on Standards in Public Life as the act of ‘raising concerns about misconduct within an organisation or within an independent structure associated with it.
‘Whistle blowing occurs when a worker or stakeholder raises a concern about danger or illegality that affects others, for example member of the public’.
Typically, whistle blowing happens when an employee or worker raises a specific concern, usually to their employer or an external regulator, regarding some danger, fraud or other illegal or unethical conduct that affects others, for example other workers or members of the public. The potential organisational risks are normally greater in workplace malpractice complaints and generally do not affect the complainant personally. They are therefore different from a normal grievance or complaint, which the individual is personally affected. (People in Aid Guide and Template, Whistle Blowing, Revised 2008).
Whistle blowing can happen internally within Lionbridge International or externally – when partners employees, project participants, or other stakeholders connected to activities supported by Lionbridge International raise a concern (e.g. fraud, illegal or unethical conduct, etc.) towards staff member(s), partner organisation or others involved in the project.
A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction about the standard/quality, processes, decisions, actions or lack of actions by Lionbridge International, partner organisation and other people involved in the project/program that directly or indirectly cause distress to the affected party.
Purpose and Scope
The purpose of the Field Complaints Disclosure Guidelines is to strengthen Caritas Australia’s accountability to its values, beneficiaries, donors and other stakeholders, and improve its overall effectiveness, while ensuring Lionbridge International’s protection principles are respected.
The specific objectives of the Field Complaints Disclosure Guidelines are:
• Improve Lionbridge International’s accountability to all stakeholders
- Ensure the protection, respect and dignity of those wishing to raise an issue, concern or complaint about Caritas Australia, partners, projects and other stakeholders of the project
- Promote the voice of the beneficiaries and other key stakeholders of Lionbridge International supported projects/program
- Encourage employees and other stakeholders to disclose any suspected irregularities, fraud, illegal or unethical conduct that they become aware of and to provide protection for the whistle blower/complainants who report allegations of fraudulent, illegal or unethical conduct in good faith.
- Allow Lionbridge International to rectify mistakes
- Improve effectiveness of the program
- Ensure children are free from abuse and exploitation as per our Child Protection Policy Statement and Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures.
The Field Complaints Disclosure Guidelines applies to all employees, partners, project beneficiaries and other stakeholders of Lionbridge International.
Who can make complaints or blow the whistle?
Lionbridge International will receive complaints from:
Any individual in-country where a Lionbridge International project is being implemented including:
o Participants of the project/program funded by Lionbridge International
o Any Lionbridge International staff member in Australia, Sri Lanka or deployed overseas as per the Whistleblower Policy.
o Staff members of the partner organisations or their proxies
o Any individual in-country where a Lionsbridge International project is being implemented including individual/s representing the partner organisation
o Other stakeholders affected by the Lionbridge International funded project/program
Complainants may prefer to be identified or remain anonymous. In any case Lionbridge International will respect the decision of the complainant. If however, Lionbridge International deems the safety of the complainant can possibly be at risk if their identity is known even if the complainant has not asked for confidentiality then Lionbridge International will reserve the right to keep the complainant anonymous.
Lionbridge International’s Protection Guidelines
This policy must be read and followed in accordance with the protection and Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures.
Making Complaints or Blowing of Whistle
Lionbridge International will receive complaints or encourage whistle blowing through:
- Anonymous complaint box at community project level if keeping confidentiality is practical and assured
- Creation of beneficiary complaints committee at community/project level with appropriate socialisation in the community
- Phone – +94 112226752. / +94 112226751
- Mail/email – address questions firstname.lastname@example.org
- Confidential face-to-face meetings during monitoring visits. To facilitate whistle blowing and complaints process atcommunity level, Lionbridge International will:
- Create an environment of openness and two way communication at community level
- Engage with community and develop a good relationship to understand the power dynamics within the partnerships and community we work with and to know who to talk to
- Create an environment of sensitivity to protection issues for each country/program context in the event of a complaint
- Talk to different stakeholders including beneficiaries, partners staff, community leaders, other donors, other organisations and other stakeholders during monitoring visit (with and without the presence of partners where possible)
- Make available staff contact details to primary stakeholders and invite beneficiaries and other stakeholders to talk/email/write to Lionbridge International if they have suggestions or complaints
- Talk with partners staff at different levels during monitoring and encourage them to talk to Lionbridge International if they have concerns or suggestions
- Encourage partners to set up an anonymous complaint box or set up mechanisms at community level for complaints reporting and management.At partner level, Lionbridge International will provide partners necessary support to:
• Develop and implement an organisational code of conduct to make enforcement of complaints mechanisms effective. Code of Conduct should be promoted, disseminated and integrated into personnel briefing/induction
- Establish mechanism for reporting complaints, investigation, and disciplinary processes with a clear line of accountability
- Provide necessary training to partners on protection, complaints response, reporting etc.Lionbridge International will work with partners in the setting up of mechanism that are context appropriate and meet the obligations of both partners and Lionbridge International. The following characteristics are expected for complaints and whistle blowing mechanism:
- Clear and simple procedures that outline ‘what to complain about’, ‘how to complain’ and ‘who to complain to’
- Will have a clear parameters in terms of what kinds of complaints are received (e.g. those directly related to the services that the agency provide, suspected abuse/exploitation, suspected corruption/fraud, etc)
- Developed by the community themselves to ensure it is appropriate to their context and culture
- The purpose of the mechanism should be clear to the community with clearly stated implications of false reporting
- Everyone should have knowledge of the procedures and easy physical access to it
- The mechanism should be accessible/friendly to vulnerable populations including children, illiterate and most marginalized members of the community or stakeholders
- In communicating the procedures for making complaints, reinforce the basic principles of anonymity, confidentiality and safety in the establishment of complaints mechanism
- The procedure itself should not be threatening.
- A clear process to investigate complaints and determinefalse positive/true negatives in a specified and reasonable time frame.Areas of complaintThe key areas of possible complaint may include, but not limited to:• Exploitation or abuse of children
• Exploitation or abuse of other individuals including womenand girls, people living with disabilities/HIV AIDS, minority groups
- Program implementation
- Funding or programming decisions
- Behaviour or conduct of individual involved in the project,including staff from partner organisations, LionbridgeInternational, or other stakeholders
- Misuse of funds or fraud.Who to raise concerns to?Lionbridge International will be regularly discussing with partners and other stakeholders, including the target communities the existence or availability of a reporting mechanism or process where partner staff or any stakeholders can raise feedback, concerns or alarm/alert Lionbridge International when there are concerns particularly relating to key areas mentioned above as well as, the steps to take and who to contact to.Depending on the type and nature of the complaints, complainant or whistle blower may raise their feedback or concerns with:
• • •
• • • •
Community complaints handling committee where it exists Implementing organisation
Lionbridge International staff responsible for the project or the region (such as Program Coordinator, Manager)
Lionbridge International National Council.
Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) Sri Lanka Council for International Development
Managing Complaints or concerns received at partnerships and programming level:
- Complaints may be received in various forms including phone, email or mail from anyone. All complaints received will be taken seriously
- Complaints are recorded and transmitted without changes made to the content
- Complainants/whistle blower will be given tangible (written) acknowledgement that the complaints has been received where possible within 48 hours of receipt
- The staff member responsible for the program/partnership will bring the complaints to the relevant Manager. If the complaint is of a serious nature and it is appropriate, the staff member can go directly to a Leadership Team member
- The relevant Leadership Team together with the relevant Manager and Manager Program Effectiveness Accountability and Learning (PEAL) will determine the type and nature of complaints and refer them to the relevant people at Lion International to determine the applicable policy, guidelines and procedures for dealing with those issues
- The identity of the complainant or whistle blower will be kept confidential unless the complainant or whistle blower prefers her/his identity to be known
- Depending on the nature of the complaint, the partner organisation may be informed of the complaint received
- If the subject of the complaint is funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and particularly if the complaints relates to suspected fraud, DFAT will be notified immediately
- If the subject of the complaint is funded by the Sri Lanka Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and particularly if the complaints relates to suspected fraud, DFAT will be notified immediately
- Lionbridge International will investigate all complaints received and may opt to do any of the following as deemed appropriate:
- 1) Seek more information from the complainant/s
- 2) Seek explanation or information from partners or otherstakeholders (e.g. other donors/organisation, Lionbridge International org, etc.) that may be able to provide more information or clarity on the complaints received
- 3) Engage someone internal or external to carry out the investigation, as appropriate.
- 4) Where the complaints relates to suspected fraud, refer to Lionbridge International Fraud Response and Investigation Procedure
5) If the complaint is non-sensitive, the partner organisation may be asked to handle the complaint with the beneficiary for resolution
6) If the complaint is sensitive Lionbridge International will decide on the best way to handle the complaint in line with relevant Lionbridge International policies:
Concerns relating to programming, -funding, implementation, decisions, management, etc – the complaints will be referred to and managed by the Manager of the region and will be discussed with the implementing partner. This type of complaint will be classified as non-sensitive but complainant’s identity will be kept confidential unless disclosure is requested.
Abuse, including sexual abuse and exploitation particularly involving children – will be managed by relevant Manager and People and Culture if it involves a staff member. If the complaint implicates someone from a partner organisation or other stakeholder, a committee consisting of the relevant regional Manager, Manager PEAL and Head of International Programs. The Child Protection Policy and Guidelines and Procedures will inform the investigation and reporting process. This will be classified as sensitive.
Fraud, misuse of funds or unethical behaviour including bribery, etc. – a special committee may be created internally consisting of the Chief Operations and Finance Manager, relevant Team Head, relevant Manager, and the Manager PEAL to examine the validity of complaint and plan the next step. The Fraud Response and Investigation Procedure will guide Lionbridge International’s response. All complaints will be dealt with confidentially. This will be classified as sensitive.
Misconduct (other than of sexual nature) – the relevant Team Head will manage such complaint if it involves staff member(s). If the complaint is towards a partner (management of staff member) relevant Manager will
manage the concern in collaboration with the Manager PEAL and Head of International Programs. Relevant policy, guidelines and procedures that may be used are: partners’ codes of conduct and associated policies (e.g. grievance, disciplinary, etc.). This will be classified as sensitive.
- The complainant will be informed of the decision and action that Lionbridge International
- Australia ans Sri Lanka has taken including reasons for the decision and an explanation of the process undertaken
- Where appropriate the complainant will be requested to acknowledge that he or she has understood the answer
- The complainant will be informed of alternative grievance channels, where necessary
- Outcomes of the investigation will be communicated to DFAT and other stakeholders
- Where evidence of suspected fraud, illegal or unethical conduct, abuse or exploitation are found, Lionbridge International will report to the relevant authorities and may pursue legal action where appropriate
- Lionbridge International will take the necessary duty of care action for its staff, partners’ staff and any other affected stakeholder to ensure that any emotional or psychological impact arising from the trigger event of a complaint and all subsequent actions and stages are identified and addressed in a timely and effective manner.