RCC Inc acknowledges the inherent value of an effective complaint resolution process by including complaint analysis as a part of the continuous quality improvement cycle of review to:
- evaluate and improve service responses to issues of concern;
- inform decision making and ensure RCC Inc complies with relevant legislation and minimum standards.
The procedures are intended to provide a clear, transparent, responsive, and accountable process for the resolution of complaints in a conciliatory and effective manner.
This policy will apply to the management of all complaints including those received from clients, members of the community and other stakeholders external to RCC Inc.
The HRO will normally manage the complaints resolution process or may request the matter be referred to the HR Subcommittee where a conflict of interest exists and/or the nature of the complaint is serious or complex e.g. serious misconduct or a breach of the Code of Conduct.
The HR Subcommittee will include at least one Management Group member.
All complainants will be advised they may also make a complaint directly to the relevant funding body e.g. Department of Communities or Department of Social Services etc.
Complaint: The expression of dissatisfaction; a statement that something is unsatisfactory or unacceptable.
National Employment Standards
Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Act 2000, FOI
Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld)
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986 (Cth)
Better Practice Guide to Complaint Handling – Commonwealth Ombudsman (April 2009) http://www.ombudsman.gov.au/docs/better-practice-guides/onlineBetterPracticeGuide.pdf
The following principles will be adhered to in the management of all complaints:
- Fairness: adherence to the principles of natural justice, including, impartial investigation and a full and objective evaluation of evidence; confidentiality and transparency.
- Accessibility: promoting awareness of the process, including information on options for registering a complaint, timelines and alternatives available if there is dissatisfaction with the process or outcome.
- Responsiveness: a flexible, non-adversarial and sensitive system which takes into account the specific needs of culturally and linguistically diverse populations and vulnerable or disadvantaged individuals.
- Efficiency: a commitment to resolution which is appropriate and in proportion to the matter being raised; all matters receive continued attention and are resolved as quickly as possible.
- Integration: the complaint resolution process is embedded within RCC Inc’s continuous quality improvement review cycle.
- Follow Up
Note: Not all complaints will require adherence to the seven steps outlined above. Once assessed, relatively minor or simple issues may be resolved without going through the third and fourth steps.
However, where an individual staff member or volunteer is identified Step 4 will be included.
At all times the complainant will be informed if the issue is taking longer to be resolved than initially advised.
- All complaints will normally be acknowledged in writing as quickly as possible and preferably within 7 days of receipt. Verbal acknowledgement may also be appropriate in some cases.
- The acknowledgement will outline the resolution process (including steps to follow if there is dissatisfaction with the process or outcome), confirm confidentiality, note intended timeframes for investigation and response and provide contact details for the person/s managing the process.
- Complainants will be invited to complete a Complaint Form – Clients or a Client Feedback Form, whichever is deemed most appropriate depending on the nature of the matter requiring resolution.
- The acknowledgement will normally request what outcome the complainant is seekingand preferences for communicating the resolution (e.g. verbal, written, email).
- All complaints received will be noted on the Complaints Register and a copy of the complaint included on the relevant staff member’s personnel file (when an individual is identified).
- The relevant Program Coordinator/HRO or Management Group Member will also complete a RCC Complaints Record Form. A copy will be kept with the relevant staff member’s personnel file (if applicable) and also with the Complaints Register file.
- Determine the scope of the complaint and identify the issue/s raised.
- Refer to any legislation and Organisational polices relevant to the complaint to ascertain the appropriate level of response, for example Management Group involvement and/or seeking industrial advice.
- Seek appropriate advice and involvement.
- Document as relevant on staff member’s personnel file, RCC Complaints Record Form and/or Complaints Register.
- Inform the complainant if the assessment has determined the resolution timeframe may be extended due to the need for proper investigation.
Prepare a short written plan as outlined below.
- Determine what is to be investigated (alleged conduct, policy breach etc)
- List the steps (as above) involved in the investigation e.g. is further information required either from the complainant, another person or organisation.
- Estimate the time it will take to resolve the complaint.
- Note the remedy the complainant is seeking and consider any other possible courses of action.
- Note any special considerations e.g. has the complainant requested their identity be withheld or is there sensitive or confidential information which should be safeguarded.
- Include all information in the relevant personnel file, RCC Complaints Record Form and/or Complaints Register.
Note: The investigation plan should be regularly revisited and adjusted if circumstances change and/or new information becomes available.
Investigating the complaint appropriately adheres to the principles of natural justice.
- An individual staff member or volunteer of RCC Inc identified by the complainant will be provided with an opportunity to respond in writing to the allegations mentioned.
- The HRO or designated members of the HR Subcommittee will inform the staff member or volunteer of the requirement to meet as soon as possible and at a mutually agreeable time to discuss the complaint. They will also be informed they may bring a support person to the meeting.
- All parties in attendance will abide by privacy and confidentiality and conflict of interest provisions.
- When providing information about the complaint to an individual, consideration will be given to balancing privacy and confidentiality requirements with the rights of the individual to respond (according to the principles of natural justice).
- A record of the meeting will be signed by the HRO or designated HR Subcommittee member, the individual responding to the complaint, and placed in the relevant personnel file.
- Formal written responses to complaints will normally be required within 7 days.
- At the conclusion of the investigation (or in the case of minor complaints once an assessment has been made) the outcome will be communicated to the complainant as per their nominated preference,and noted in the relevant personnel file, RCC Complaints Record Form and Complaints Register.
- The explanation will be clear and respond to each concern or complaint raised.
- Where the complaint identified a staff member or volunteer, explanations will balance the need to maintain privacy and confidentiality with transparency and accountability requirements.
For reference: http://www.apsc.gov.au/publications-and-media/circulars-and-advices/2008/circular-20083
6. Follow Up
- Provide an opportunity for the complainant to review how their complaint was resolved – either verbally or in writing.
- Include information on seeking a review of the process and/or investigation, for example addressing a letter to the Chair of RCC Inc or external review channels such as the relevant funding body contacts, advocacy organisations, mediation services etc.
- Ensure that a timeframe for feedback is clearly stated e.g. 7 -10 working days or a designated date.
- This information may be provided along with the response (above) or at a later time.
- Document or include all feedback and place in the relevant personnel file, RCC Complaints Record Form and in the Complaints Register.
- Document any (de-identified) feedback or improvement measures in the relevant RCC Inc subcommittee report under continuous quality improvement.
- The RavCom Collective will note the above within the Continuous Quality Improvement Plan and monitor and evaluate designated improvements within the continuous quality improvement review cycle.
Related Policies and Documentation
Code of Conduct
Staff Disciplinary Process Policy
Staff Disputes and Grievances Policy
Managing Unsatisfactory Performance Policy
Employee Assistance Program Policy
Risk Assessment and Management Planning Policy
Continuous Quality Improvement Policy
Complaint Form – Clients
RCC Complaints Record Form