Complaints and Grievances Procedure


Date April 2015
Version 1.0

In all Policies and Procedures “WEA” should be taken to mean “Workers Educational Association – Hunter” and all its associated trading names unless otherwise specified.

PURPOSE

The procedure was developed to implement a timely, fair and transparent process for students and prospective students to follow should they want to pursue a complaint or grievance for non-academic matters, and in the case that academic matters are not resolved to the student’s satisfaction.

WEA is committed to timely resolution of complaints and grievances in a process that is easily accessible to all students, current and prospective.

SCOPE

This procedure is open to all students, both current and prospective. The scope includes all campuses and facilities where training is conducted by WEA, and applies regardless of the complainants place of residence/location and regardless of the mode of study.

The procedure is enacted by various staff members as highlighted in the procedure below.

PRINCIPLES

WEA is committed to procedural fairness and equity, and providing students with the opportunity to have their concerns heard and acted upon in a timely and efficient manner.
This procedure applies in the case of non-academic matters, and in the case that academic matters are not resolved to the student’s satisfaction.

Definitions

Academic matters include, but are not limited to, a student’s progress through a course, matters regarding assessment, curriculum and course structure, and awards or competency decisions. Appeals of this nature should not follow the process outlined here, but should instead refer to WEA’s academic appeals policy.

Non-academic matters include, but are not limited to, complaints that relate to personal information held regarding students, decisions made by the organisation that are non-academic, issues of harassment, vilification, discrimination, financial matters, fines, payments, application procedures and exclusions from events, programs and facilities.

Third Party Support
Any complainant, or party involved in this complaint or grievance is able to be accompanied and assisted by a Third-Party at any relevant meeting without prejudice.

Costs
No complainant is to incur any charge issued by WEA for participating in any stage of the complaints or grievance process.

Privacy Considerations
WEA will at all times provide reasonable access to records of the complaint or grievance to any complainant directly involved. WEA must provide all information within the guidelines of relevant legislation and its Privacy and Confidentiality Policy.

POLICY/PROCEDURE

Complaints and grievances can be raised with any staff member, permanent or contract, of WEA.

Informal Complaint

If a student or prospective student wishes to pursue a complaint or grievance, there are two methods open to them in the first instance:

1) (Preferable) complaints or grievances should be raised with the staff member that the complaint relates to. For students this may be a trainer, or the Student Liaison Officer, for prospective students it may be the Student Liaison Officer or Customer Service Officer. If the issue can’t be resolved by this staff member, or this staff members supervisor in this informal process within fourteen (14) days of receiving the complaint, the complaint must be documented and progress to a formal complaint (Stage One).

2) It is acceptable to not follow the process above in the case that it is not practical, such as if the complaint relates to a Manager or the student or prospective student justifiably does not feel comfortable discussing the matter with the relevant staff member.

If a resolution is not achieved through the informal process, the formal procedure below is to be followed.

Stage One – Formal Complaint

If a student wishes to make a formal complaint or grievance, they are required to put the matter in writing and address it to the Student Liaison Officer or Customer Service Officer, depending on their program of study.

The written complaint must include:

1. The name of the complainant and date of the document
2. Contact details of the complainant
3. The course of study the complainant is enrolled in (or intending to enrol in)
4. The nature of the complaint or grievance
5. Signature of the complainant

A form is available to ensure these requirements are met and is available on the WEA Engage Online platform, or on request from the office. (Ref: Formal Complaint Form)

Once received, the Student Liaison Officer or Customer Service Officer will deliver the complaint to the relevant supervisor of the staff member involved who will attempt resolution of the complaint. This may include formal meetings, telephone correspondence and written correspondence. The complaint resolution is to be documented by the relevant staff member’s supervisor and the resolution (if achieved) to be offered to the complainant in writing within fourteen (14) days from the date the Customer Service Officer or Student Liaison Officer receives the complaint. The complainant may respond in favour of this resolution, discuss an alternative, or may request progression to the next stage. (Ref: Formal Complaint Response)

In the case of resolution this will be documented on the ‘Formal Complaint Response’ form above and will be filed in the students file, or customer contact file.

If the matter cannot be resolved, the supervisor of the identified staff member will make a request to the Services Manager to conduct an internal review and the complaint will progress to Stage Two.

Stage Two – Internal Review

In the case of an unresolved complaint or grievance from Stage One, the issue is referred by the relevant supervisor from Stage One to the Services Manager to resolve (Ref: Request for Internal Review of Complaint or Grievance). The Services Manager will make contact with the complainant and the identified staff member/s, and will act as a mediator to resolve the issue. The Services Manager may request meetings, phone conversations and written correspondence from all parties to resolve the complaint or grievance. The Services Manager also reserves the right (but is not required) to involve other staff including Managers or Executive personnel in the process if appropriate.

All correspondence during the Internal Review process is to be documented and any decisions or outcomes from the process is to be communicated to the complainant, the identified staff member/s and the affected staff member/s supervisor/s.

At the end of this process a formal resolution is to be offered to the complainant (Ref: Offer of Resolution of Formal Complaint or Grievance – Internal Review) within fourteen (14) days of receiving the Internal Review. The complainant has the right to accept the resolution, offer an alternative, or to progress to the General Manager for resolution.

In the case of a request to the General Manager for resolution, the Services Manager will document all processes to this point and deliver the complaint to the General Manager who will attempt resolution (Ref: Request for General Manager Review of Complaint or Grievance). The General Manager may request meetings, phone conversations and written correspondence to resolve the matter. After this process, the General Manager will make a revised offer of resolution to the complainant (Ref: Offer of Resolution – Internal Review) within fourteen (14) days of receiving the request. The complainant has the right to accept the resolution, offer an alternative, or to progress to the final stage.

Stage Three – External Review

In the event that the complainant is still not satisfied with the resolutions, processes and outcomes, the complainant has a right to an External Review. Due to our nature as a Not-For-Profit, community based organisation, WEA has nominated NSW Community Justice Centres as a mediating body for this purpose:

            NSW Lawlink Police & Justice – Community Justice Centres
            Phone: 1800 990 777
            Website: www.cjc.nsw.gov.au

In the case of a Stage Three complaint, WEA agrees to:

  • Provide referral information about the complaint to the Community Justice Centre in writing on behalf of the complainant (using the appropriate form on the Community Justice Centre website)
  • Provide fact sheets and brochures (as published on the Community Justice Centre website) to the complainant so they can seek resolution through this method
  • Participate in the External Review process with the Community Justice Centre wholly and in good faith and in the spirit of achieving resolution
  • Provide any relevant information and documentation directly to the Community Justice Centre as requested

The complaint or grievance will then progress to resolution according to the Community Justice Centres processes and timelines for resolution.

Any resolution or feedback from an external review will be fed into WEA Hunter’s processes and procedures for Continuous Improvement and policies and procedures adjusted accordingly.

Archiving
WEA will keep on record all documentation relating to formal complaints for a period of five years. All documentation is kept with the Compliance Unit, so that it can be recorded and acted upon for continuous improvement.