SOS Children’s Villages Austria launched a national commission, the Independent ChildProtection Commission (ICC), to investigate a number of safeguarding cases of concern to the member association. It has now published its final report.
SOS Children's Villages is deeply saddened that children in some of our programmes have experienced abuse and that in many of these cases the victims/survivors were not sufficiently listened to or believed. We take every allegation seriously, and we offer integral, individualised support to those affected according to their individual needs.
Among the cases investigated was one involving an Austrian donor who sexually abused several children in an SOS Children's Village in Nepal between 2010 and 2014. It was subsequently learned that the same donor also committed abuse in an SOS Children’s Villages programme in Austria.
SOS Children’s Villages welcomes the ICC’s report and any contributions to our global efforts to create a safe environment for children, young people, and everyone we work with. In particular, we appreciate the ICC’s emphasis on prioritizing the best interests of children and its recommendations with regard to fostering an organizational culture to promote safeguarding. As highlighted in the ICC’s report, creating such a culture requires clarity of roles and responsibilities, and value-oriented leadership.
The findings, lessons and recommendations from the Austrian commission will add to the body of information about past cases that we have already been developing, including that of the Independent Special Commission (ISC). In 2021, SOS Children’s Villages International set up the ISC after receiving the final reports of external reviews that we had commissioned to look into past safeguarding and compliance failures. The ISC, led by international high-level experts, is expected to issue its final report in May.
The launch of this independent commission was a prioritized action in our Safeguarding Action Plan, which contains a range of measures to improve our safeguarding and address past failures, including prioritized actions such as providing direct support to those affected by past abuse, strengthening our response to new incidents, and improve the quality of our programmes.
The SOS Children’s Villages worldwide federation is dedicated to supporting children who are growing up alone to develop the bonds they need to become their strongest selves. We do not tolerate abuse or violence against children, young people and adults participating in our programmes or against the people who work for our organization.