CARE Australia’s Policy for Protecting Vulnerable Persons
As a charity, we work hard to avoid the exploitation of vulnerable people and this protection applies to supporters in Australia who choose to donate or raise funds for CARE Australia.
Supporting CARE should be a positive experience – nothing beats the feel good factor of giving to a cause and knowing that you are helping someone in need.
It is inevitable that from time to time, we will come into contact with people who are vulnerable and whose ability to make informed decisions may be compromised. This can happen either through our own communications or through the agencies who work on our behalf.
This document outlines how we protect vulnerable supporters, how we can identify such persons and what action we take if we suspect a person is vulnerable.
Codes of Conduct
We are a member of the Fundraising institute of Australia and abide by their codes of conduct including the code of Ethics and Professional conduct. The FIA has clear standards relating to various fundraising activities including telemarketing and face to face fundraising. We are also a member of the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA), which is the self-regulatory body for face to face fundraising in Australia. CARE Australia also has its own staff code of conduct and a child protection policy, which are provided to our third party providers of fundraising services to ensure they operate within these bounds.
Types of Vulnerability
By ‘a vulnerable person’ we mean those whose ability to make a decision is affected, either temporarily or permanently. This can include:
- A particularly frail person
- An individual with a psychosocial disability, including dementia or a mental health issue
- An individual with a significant and impairing physical or sensory disability
- An individual with a learning intellectual disability
- An individual with a severe physical illness
In addition other types of vulnerability can include:
- An individual who is experiencing financial vulnerability
- An individual with a markedly reduced understanding of English
- An individual who is experiencing a time of stress or anxiety, eg bereavement, unemployment, family breakup, etc
- An unpaid carer who is overburdened, under severe stress or isolated
- Where an individual finds the subject matter of the call unduly upsetting
- An individual under the influence of drugs or alcohol
How to identify a vulnerable contact
There are several indicators which can help to identify vulnerable adults by different communication channels. By telephone or face-to-face, these could include:
- Asking irrelevant and unrelated questions
- Responding in an irrational way to simple questions or in a way which shows lack of comprehension of what is being said
- Taking a long time to respond or finding it difficult to respond
- Repeating questions they have asked
- Deviating from the subject
- Signs of influence of alcohol and other drug usage
- Unable to hear or understand what is being said OR
- Unable to read and understand the information provided to them
- Displaying signs of ill health e.g. breathlessness or discomfort
A supporter or their family member or carer may tell us in person or contact us by telephone to indicate the supporter is vulnerable.
We can at times identify vulnerable adults through written communications. For example:
- A supporter who has emailed or written to us to tell us they are permanently vulnerable
- The supporter’s family member or carer has indicated that they are vulnerable
Having Conversations with Vulnerable Contacts
We will ensure that we treat our supporters fairly, enabling them to make informed decisions about their donation.
If one of our fundraisers reasonably believes that a supporter is unable to make a decision or is in a position which does not allow them to make a donation, then a donation will not be sought or accepted.
Where an individual appears to be permanently vulnerable – we will flag their record on our database as ‘Do not call’ and they will never be called again. In the case of street fundraising – the fundraiser will not continue to ask the person to donate to CARE Australia.
In the cases of temporary vulnerability, we will not continue the phone call or face to face conversation. However, temporary vulnerability does not necessarily mean that the person does not want to be contacted again. Therefore, if they are a CARE Australia supporter, they will be asked if they are happy to receive calls in the future. In the case of street fundraising – the fundraiser will not continue to ask the individual to donate.
We may also be alerted to a supporter being vulnerable by a family member or carer. Where we have been given this information we act upon this, asking what kind of communication, if any, is acceptable. Our database is then updated to reflect their wishes.
Training is provided for fundraisers at the beginning of each campaign and mystery shopping takes place regularly to ensure guidelines are being adhered to.
Do We Use Age as an Indicator of Vulnerability?
For adults, we cannot make a judgement based on age. Vulnerability needs to be assessed on the person’s circumstances.
CARE Australia does not seek financial support from children. If an individual is identified as being under the age of 16, then we must remove them from fundraising appeals and calls and they are not to be approached to donate through street fundraising.