By Aby Hutchinson-West

Being a rights-based organisation means that you put people’s human rights at the centre of everything you do, how you are governed, what your policies and processes are, and how you operate. It’s your heartbeat – and it says something about your culture and your commitments when your organisation’s true north is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). We’re not talking about flimsy guidelines here – this is substantial, meaningful stuff. We take it seriously.

At the core of protecting Human Rights are a set of principles, which are absolutely at the heart of our culture at Afford.

  • We believe everyone deserves respect.
  • We believe everyone should have equal opportunities and equal access.
  • We believe that people are free to make their own choices.
  • We will not tolerate or participate in discrimination.
  • We believe that people living with disability have the same rights to be included in society as anybody else – and we respect everyone’s right to inclusion.
  • We believe everyone should grow up and live with a sense of safety.

We are public and proud on Rights

Yes we are.

You can see our Human Rights Policy published on our website. It’s publicly communicated right next to our Diversity and Inclusion Policy, and you can also find our Modern Slavery Policy right next to our Code of Conduct.

That’s just a bunch of documents, you might say. Well, not so much when it comes to Afford. We embed an understanding of this across our organisation through our learning and development programs. Our performance development framework has been designed around values and clear expectations.

It’s not just a matter of read it and understand it when it comes to the protection of human rights – we act on it.

We have a Human Rights Advocate Group

This year we have established a Human Rights Advocate Group. The group’s members are both clients, employees from our head office and our supported employees who work in our Australian Disability Enterprises. The group meets weekly for two hours and their purpose is to create greater understanding, awareness and actions across the organisation and in the community to protect and promote human rights. Those aren’t my words, I might add – the purpose statement was developed collaboratively by the advocate group.

Over the next year, the Human Rights Advocate Group will focus on each of the rights identified in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). They’re starting with safety as a theme in October. We will be measuring the impact of the group, too.

Talk about it. Learn about it. Do it.

All our employees participate in learning about the prevention of violence, abuse, neglect, exploitation and discrimination (VANED). Through this learning and our Policy and procedures employees understand that VANED is the result of human rights not being protected and promoted.

Afford has a zero tolerance stance for VANED, and for bullying and harassment so we are championing human rights.

It’s even a key call out in my job description – and I’m Afford’s Principal Advisor, Safeguarding – so I get to come to work every day and work with teams across the organisation to make sure that safeguarding really is ‘everyone’s business’.

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