dutyof.care Case Study – how blockchain tech can help protect the vulnerable

DoC logoIn the lead up to Blockchain and the future of the for-purpose sector (July 10,Melbourne), Melbourne Development Circle is talking to companies and organisations about what is going on in the blockchain space here in Melbourne.

Lexi Randall-L’Estrange spoke with Peter Baynard-Smith about dutyof.care.

What problem is dutyof.care trying to solve?

Organisations working with vulnerable people are required to undertake verification checks on their staff, volunteers, consultants, and contractors. 1 in 5 workers in Australia are now required to carry some form of accreditation. This applies across multiple sectors: aged care, education, health, disability services, humanitarian aid, sports, and many more. More than 5000 such accreditations have been revoked in the past few years.

In the event of an individual’s accreditation being revoked, the integrity of the verification data relies on regularity of checking. The current systems for organisations to ensure their compliance involves costly manual checking, inadequate frequency of checks, unreliable record keeping, and inability to detect errors/tampering or inconsistencies. Essentially, organisations are simply not checking that cards remain valid.

Public enquiries (eg Royal Commission) and catastrophic disclosures (eg Oxfam) have uncovered systemic failures. Vulnerable people have been the ones to suffer, and organisations have also borne huge cost in reputation, funding, and redress costs.

What’s your solution to the issue?

dutyof.care is a secure online platform for managing and continuously verifying staff certifications for safeguarding and compliance. The solution was designed in response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institution Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Australia as a secure one-stop-shop, allowing organisations to automatically verify individual staff certification requirements such as working with children checks, medical registrations, teachers’ accreditations and other professional licenses and registrations.

Over 10 organisations are already using the platform in the private beta stage, including companies from across disability services, sports clubs, churches and performing arts. A public beta will be announced shortly.

The potential for this technology in the humanitarian aid and development sector lies in its ability to transform the sector’s verification and safeguarding integrity, dramatically improve cost efficiency, provide CEO’s and boards with peace of mind that they are doing all they can to ensure the safety of vulnerable people, provide real-time response and data feedback, and operate across multiple jurisdictions globally.

How does blockchain technology help solve this problem?

dutyof.care uses blockchain technology to create a continuum of ‘verification events’ by storing encrypted data in a permanent, public and auditable ledger. Smart Contracts ensure the integrity of the data, forever. Alerts are sent out immediately when an issue is encountered and organisations can earn free platform credits (“VDOC Tokens”) for taking an active role in the dutyof.care ecosystem.

How would you summarise what’s unique about dutyof.care for the MDC community?

  • a permanent, auditable ledger: organisations will have an auditable record to prove their compliance and that they did everything they could and should have done to ensure the safety of vulnerable people in their care
  • care is distributed on a blockchain: the integrity of the verification data will be tamper-proof. No personal identifiers are made available. The blockchain holds a log of ‘verification events’ and metadata.
  • continuous screening: organisations can re-verify people as often as they need to, and when dutyof.care detects a compliance accreditation has been revoked, lapsed or expired an organisation will be immediately notified through multiple channels

Read more about dutyof.care on their website.

Sign up for the July event here: http://mdc-blockchain.eventbrite.com.au/.

If you have a case study you want to share, send an email to Lexi.

Stealing from the Poor: Corruption in the NFP Sector

On 6 March, the Ethics Centre kindly co-hosted SDC’s first event for 2017.  

Over two hours, SDC Convenor Jeremy Sandbrook shared his wisdom on the topic of corruption within the international development sector. The presentation included unpacking a real-life case study of a complex fraud scheme that took place in an INGO based in Malawi. This case study not only highlighted the complexity of the topic, but raised a number of associated ethical dilemmas, proving that corruption is not as black or white as we like to think.

The presentation started with an overview of what corruption is. Costing around five percent of the world’s economy (around US$2.6 trillion a year), corruption is now the third largest industry in the world. In development terms, the current estimate is that between 20% and 40% of total Overseas Development Assistance is “stolen” each year through high-level corruption from public budgets in developing countries. For every dollar of aid received by developing countries, $7 (or US$2.6 billion per day) is lost in illicit capital outflows.

Jeremy Sandbrook - Ethics CentreCorruption is now so pervasive that it is increasingly interwoven into a growing number of societies, and is a systematic feature of many economies. It is now acknowledged (by the UN and the World Bank) as the greatest obstacle to reducing poverty and the most pressing global and ethical problem currently facing the development sector. Despite this, it is rarely spoken about by NGOs!

Jeremy then discussed corruption within the NGO sector in Australia, highlighting several eye-opening facts:

  • A governance deficit: 61% of concerns raised with the ACNC relate to governance breaches, fraud, and private benefit.
  • “Out of sight, out of mind”: less than half of NGOs report corruption to the authorities.
  • Corruption is not seen as a key issue for most NGOs: Whilst 90% agree corruption is a problem for the sector, 72% say it is not a problem for their organisation!? Where is the disconnect here?
  • Over half of fraud allegations received by the ACNC relate to the conduct and activities of senior managers, including the CEO, board directors, and financial officers/CFO.

The additional complexities in the international NGO sector were then discussed, particularly the role culture plays. Research undertaken in Malawi found the three top drivers for corruption to be ‘greed’, ‘poor management’ and ‘staff dissatisfaction’. We were then taken through a fascinating real-life case study of an actual fraud in an INGO in Malawi. The key lessons to learn from the case study and corruption generally are:

  1. To recognise that corruption is an issue for every organisation operating in the international development sector; and
  2. To be aware of the role culture plays in initiating and perpetuating it.

The key pieces of advice given by Jeremy for reducing and eliminating corruption was:

  • Know your corruption-risk profile;
  • Know the main forms of corruption within the sector; and
  • Know how corruption is detected.

About the Presenter:  Jeremy Sandbrook (founder of Integritas360), is a global anti-corruption expert who has conducted corruption prevention work throughout the world, and lectures on the topic at the University of Sydney’s Centre for Continuing Education. He was previously head of anti-corruption and integrity for SOS Children’s Villages International, and led the INGO’s efforts to tackle fraud and corruption across its 131 operating countries, 35,000 staff, and $1.7  billion annual budget. Jeremy was also the inaugural co-chair of the INGO Accountability Charter’s Peer Advisory Group on Corruption.

Malawi Cricket

malawi cricketThe Cricket Academy is empowering local communities in Malawi through sport and education.

Within 5 – 10 years you will see Malawi competing on the world stage against other associate cricket nations in both Men’s and Women’s competitions.

Malawi has some of the most talented cricketers and some of the most intelligent young thinkers. They just haven’t been given the chance to thrive.

Established in 2011, The Cricket Academy aims to develop talented cricketers as well as educated young men and women. We do this through our grassroots cricket programs in Malawi. These grassroots programs are focused mainly in schools and low-income areas.

Through these grass roots programs we have identified a number of talented cricketers who have gone on to represent Malawi. Many of these young people have also been awarded scholarships to complete their high school diplomas and continue with tertiary studies. They have also been absorbed into our management structure and are now responsible for many of the programs we run.

This campaign is primarily to raise funds for our education scholarships. We are looking to expand our scholarship program to involve more women and girls.

We also need funds to purchase basic cricket equipment for the clinics we run in schools and proper equipment for our high performance programs.

$10 – buys a basic locally made cricket set for a primary school program

$50 – pays school fees for 1 term for one of our talented women’s or men’s cricketers

$800 – funds our primary school development program for 1 term

$1000 – funds new equipment for our high performance program

The secondary aim is publicity. There is so much potential for what we can achieve. We just haven’t made the right connections yet. We want to reach as many cricket clubs, fellow cricket tragics, possible supporters and community development projects as we can.  So please share this among your networks and like us on Facebook to keep up to date with our latest updates.

We need as many people as possible to know about the social changes we are making in Malawi through cricket and the opportunities we are giving young Malawian men and women to realise both their academic and sporting potential. + Read More

Help spread the word!

Free to Shine

Free To Shine was established to empower through education to prevent sex trafficking. We keep girls most at risk in school by helping them achieve their five essential human rights. These are; freedom from slavery; access to education; access to safe drinking water; enough food to not be hungry; and adequate shelter. Equipped with their human rights, our girls have the opportunity to become leaders who create communities and ultimately countries free from sex-trafficking.
Sex trafficking is a 32 billion dollar (US$) industry that relies on the degradation and torture of human beings to generate profit. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for 56% of the global total of trafficked persons. This is 3x higher than Africa (3.7 million persons) and 6x higher than Latin America (1.8 million persons).

With Free To Shine’s presence in Cambodia, Children are prevented from entering the sex trafficking industry. They are freed from the intergenerational cycle of poverty, and remain protected in school. With your help, Free To Shine can enrol more girls onto our sponsorship program. From as little as $35 a month you can ensure a girl remains in school, and not in the sex-trafficking industry.

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Celebrating Gender Equality Every Day

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Event 1 2016 – Melbourne Development Circle: Women in Development

This is a recap of Melbourne Development Circle’s first event for 2016: Women in Development which was held on April 15, 2016.

We had the pleasure of hearing from 3 brilliant panel speakers;

Read on for some take away messages from the evening.

Susanne Newton spoke on a variety of topics from UN Women in Uganda to fighting the good gender fight back on her home turf. There’s much to be learned from Susanne’s time in Uganda, such as challenging the efficiencies of the UN as a tool for development.

  • Uganda has more women politicians than Australia – because of quotas. Are quotas the best way to gender equality?
  • Men and boys have a role to play in championing for gender equality– they must be part of the solution.
  • Realisation – if we as Australians in a Western society don’t have gender equality ourselves, how can we instruct others in it?
  • Key to gender equality – livelihood streams owned & managed by women.
  • “Be the change” … we all can & should contribute to gender equality.

Eleanor Meyer spoke about combatting adversity as a young woman in tech start-up. Following an environmental sustainability passion, Eleanor has looked for market-based solutions to climate change. As a young woman, in start-up, in tech, it’s not been without challenges.

  • Questioning the power of our job titles.
  • Is small business supportive of gender equality? Is it an economic decision?
  • That point of view is outdated & conservative. Disruption & technology is helping to change this.

Kate Halstead shared her stories & personal learnings from women’s education programs in Nepal. A moment that stood out was a drawing that Kate shared with us. The drawing was by Ganga, one of the women from the women’s empowerment classes that Kate was running during her time in Nepal. It was a picture of a women with many arms and each arm was holding a different object. It represented the many hats that women in their society wore and the responsibilities they were expected to carry.

  • Nepal can by synonymous with the caste system – but what about Australia’s caste system? Our upper, middle & lower classes.
  • Don’t fall into the trap of “poor women” – you run the risk of missing the individual triumph of women when discussing “development”
  • These women are not victims and don’t see themselves as victims of their situation. They’re empowered already & just need opportunity.
  • In short – they’re gutsy.

You can champion gender equality through social capital. Support each other. Like & share if you see someone going out of their way to lead or make positive change happen.

Making an Impact Summit

2015 Link FestivalEngineers Without Borders Australia’s upcoming event Making an Impact Summit will held on 14 December 2015 in Melbourne.

The Making an Impact Summit is a showcase of the role that industry, academics and students can play in creating positive social outcomes.  Meet EWB Challenge’s National Finalists, hear about cutting edge EWB university research, and learn more about innovative corporate approaches to social impact. Continue reading

Pollinate Energy Young Professionals Program

Pollinate Energy has opened applications for the next Young Professionals Program in April 2016. The programs will be held in their second and third cities, Hyderabad and Kolkata. Pollinate Energy is a social business lighting up the lives of families living in India’s city slums by helping them access clean energy technology – like solar lanterns. They recently took out the ‘one to watch’ award at the Australian Social Enterprise Awards as they continue to scale their impact across India.

The Young Professionals Program is a chance for you to be part of that growth. You will spend two weeks in India with this dynamic socially driven startup. Together with your team of international and local professionals, you will use your knowledge to help Pollinate Energy overcome their most pressing business challenges, while learning about the problems faced by local entrepreneurs and families who are living in the slums of India’s major cities. You will also attend training sessions equipping you with the skills you need to visualise career progression and to succeed in senior roles.

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Are you the next agent for change? Applications close 31st October, for more information and to apply click here.

“The Pollinate Energy Young Professionals Program is a ‘must do’ for anyone even remotely curious about changing the world for the better. I learnt more about India, poverty, social business and myself during the 2 week program than I have in the last 2 years!”

– Holly Hyder, YPP 2013, Pollinate Energy Ambassador