Corporate Governance and Business Case Analysis: Oxfam Australia

Business Case Analysis: Oxfam Australia

Oxfam Australia is an independent, non-profit community based aid and development organization based in Australia. It is an affiliate of Oxfam International and its work includes engaging in long term development projects, emergency response and making the lives of disadvantages people across the globe better. They have the intention of providing the disadvantaged with improved access to social services, giving them a voice when it comes to the making of decisions, access to equal rights as well as the possibility of safety from conflicts. Oxfam Australia is able to do all these things from community donations with their development and advocacy programs using about 73% of funds, 16% used for fundraising and promotions while the other 11% used for administrative expenditure. 

Business Structure and Governance Structure

When it comes to the structure and governance of Oxfam Australia, there is an existing constitution that establishes governance where the management and control of the organization is conducted through a Board of Directors. This board is responsible for monitoring the performance of Oxfam Australia, setting the strategic direction of the organization, approving and monitoring the budget and ensuring that there is financial propriety in the organization and the risks are properly managed. The board also ensures that there is proper engagement with the stakeholders and making Oxfam Australia meets all the regulatory and legal requirements. The board appoints a Chief Executive and delegates the organizations operational management, monitoring the performance of the appointee. There is a board charter that details the duties and responsibilities of the board and the directors agree to follow the laid down rules of the charter, and be accountable to the board (Oxfam Australia, n.d.).

Oxfam Australia (n.d.) provides that the organization has the Finance, Risk and Audit Committee which assists the Board in financial matters, budgeting, risk management as well as statutory compliance. There is the Public Engagement Committee which ensures that the Board has engagements that are effective and meaningful with Oxfam affiliated groups, the organizations’ members and supporters. There is the Governance Committee that helps the organization improve performance through training and evaluation of the directors and the entire board as well as overseeing the orientation process. The Remuneration Committee is appointed to help the board meet the policies that guide employee terms of employment as well as the remuneration strategies that Oxfam Australia uses.

There is the Nominations Committee is responsible for ensuring that qualified candidates are sought out, assessed and recommended to serve on the Board and the relevant committees. The Board meets six times in a year in person and they also hold teleconference meetings when needed. The committees have their own meeting calendars, with the finance, risk and audit, governance and public engement committees meeting four times annually, the remunerations committee meets annually while the nominations committee meets when required (Oxfam Australia, n.d.).

Environmental Factors Affecting Decision Making                                                   

When it comes to decision making, there are various environmental factors that affect the decisions Oxfam Australia makes, as well as their overall performance. Oxfam Australia are very concerned with large scale infrastructural projects because of the impacts they can have on the environment and natural resources. These kinds of infrastructure projects tend to be extractive in nature, like mining, damming and deforestation, usually to allow for large scale agricultural projects. These kinds of projects are very likely to cause environmental damage, but these long term environmental impacts tend to be ignored. Oxfam avails itself to strengthen civil society and communities to be involved in decisions and management with regards to water governance for fair and sustainable use (Whitehead, 2016).

An example of this is their efforts in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam where the Mekong River provides agricultural and fishing water for the regions. Concerns about climate change are threatening the region with competing water interests which offers perfect breeding ground for instability and food insecurity. There is continued pressure on the natural resources the people there rely on for their livelihoods, and Oxfam Australia is working to protect the rights and interest of the farming and fishing communities who are continually being threated by climate change and land grabs for infrastructure projects which causes forced resettlements of the farmers and fishing communities (Oxfam Australia, n.d.).

Climate change is also impacting the performance of Oxfam Australia and the decision they make in helping the people most affected by the changing climate. Climate change is one of the globes biggest threats, and the mining industry, which is big in Australia and other countries where Oxfam Australia works in, is not helping the situation. There are changing weather patterns which are getting more extreme and unreliable which is causing detrimental effects to food production. Oxfam Australia is helping farmers and families adapt, working to safeguard food, water and land, Oxfam Australia is supporting the local organizations, communities and governments in this regard in Australia, the Philippines and Vietnam (Oxfam Australia, 2017).

Risks Faced by Oxfam Australia

According to Oxfam Australia (2016), Oxfam Australia is not immune to risks that influence the decisions that the company makes, and even impact the performance of the organization. The risks that arise out of Oxfam Australia’s poverty eradicating as well as humanitarian support can be significant, and even in some cases cripple the work that the organization does. There are strategic risks that the company is exposed to. Actual or perceive inability to deliver on the goals could several cripple the organization’s ability to deliver on its objectives so the organizations keeps itself in the know regarding international issues and strategic risk like geopolitical risks and cyber risks. The organization may find itself engaging with other Oxfam affiliates when providing humanitarian support and it operates as a member of Oxfam International and as such, there is in place, a well-designed framework of dealing with these risks which involves the Board and Senior Management engaging in regular communication and reporting (Oxfam Australia, 2016).

There are financial risks that the organization faces, and when it comes to finances, Oxfam Australia needs a delicate balance to exist between the reserves and liquidity. They understand the impossibility of eliminating all risks and in this regard, the organization manages their associated balance sheet risks to a level that is acceptable through financial controls and policy frameworks giving the organization a low risk appetite for financial risks (Oxfam Australia, 2016).

The poverty eradication and humanitarian programs that Oxfam Australia engages in are usually found in high risk areas and this makes the organization face the risk of the programs not being implemented. The risk of failing to act usually in most cases outweighs the risk of acting and thus decisions regarding Oxfam Australia’s programs are based on analysis and use of risk management strategies. Because if the high risk areas that they operate in, Oxfam Australia has the aim of creating safe working environments for the staff, which means protecting them from physical or even psychological harm. There is a lot of investment from the organization to reduce such risks, with the organization operating under not tolerating practices that may lead to the staff being harmed (Oxfam Australia, 2016).

Business Practices

The way that Oxfam Australia works is through partnerships. The organization has hundreds of partners that range from small to large organizations that work in delivering programs that help others. The organization also engages the help of partners and allies in delivering programs at the national and international level. Oxfam Australia has crafted relationships with organizations and movements with which they share visions and purpose and with these relationships, Oxfam Australia can attempt to tackle poverty and injustice. Because of the partnerships that Oxfam Australia develops, even in the local communities they work with, the people there are able to develop their own suitable and long lasting solutions to their issues (Oxfam Australia, n.d.).

The partnerships that Oxfam engages in include people’s movements, non-governmental organizations, other Oxfam affiliates, academic institutions and even government agencies and the private sector. These partnerships can be local, national or even global which then helps Oxfam Australia carry out their services around the globe if needed. With these partnerships, the organization can work on development projects, holding fundraisers and campaigns that promote the organization’s programs (Oxfam Australia, n.d.).

Most notable partnerships include the Oxfam-Monash Partnership which allowed the combining of the skills and resources of the two organizations so as to improve the effectiveness of their international development projects.  This partnership has been going on since 2008 with Oxfam Australia and Monash University engaging in a dynamic collaboration. This partnership essentially works in three main ways, first being funding action research projects that empower communities and support development change. The partnership also engages in the development of the next generation of leaders through student engagement programs. The Oxfam-Monash partnership also helps in the building of knowledge and skills in development practitioners through learning events. There are also business partnerships where Oxfam Australia engages with corporate partners to find innovative ways for people to dig themselves out of poverty (Oxfam Australia, n.d.).

Functional Departments

Oxfam Australia functional departments include Corporate Services which deals with finance, risks, people, culture and information technology. This department is headed by a director who reports to the chief executive. There is the programs department which deals with the programs that the organization is running, international development as well as humanitarian strategies being employed by Oxfam Australia. The programs department is headed by the programs director who also reports to the chief executive. Another department is the Public Engagement Department, headed by a Director of Public Engagement. This department deals with marketing, communication and campaigns. There is also the Funding and Resource Growth department that deals with matters to do with fundraising (Oxfam Australia, n.d.).

Oxfam Australia, working as an affiliate of Oxfam International believes that poverty is unjustifiable. Their operations are geared towards the alleviation of poverty which they believe is preventable, through challenging the current state of inequality and injustice. The organization has a vision of a just world that has no poverty in it and they work to create a world where people can influence and have a say on decisions that have an impact on their lives. They try and create lasting solutions that deal with poverty and injustice with the help of their partners, trying to bring positive change to those people living in poverty and faced with injustice.

References

Oxfam Australia. (n.d.). About Us, Oxfam Australia

Oxfam Australia. (2016). Oxfam Australia Risk Appetite Statement, Oxfam Australia: Final Green

Oxfam Australia. (2018). Oxfam Australia Ethical Content Guidelines, Oxfam Australia

Whitehead J. (2016). Innovation for Impact: How Australian NGOs nurture and scale up new ideas, Australian Council for International Development,

Oxfam Australia (2017). Submission to the Foreign Policy White Paper Consultation, Oxfam Australia

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