Complaints & Disputes

Complaints & Disputes Policy & Procedure

Introduction

Open communication and feedback are regarded as essential elements of a satisfying and productive work environment. Volunteering Gold Coast Inc. encourages all staff and external clients to resolve any issues, concerns or conflicts that they may have at the earliest opportunity.

Purpose

The purpose of this document is to provide an avenue through which complaints or disputes can be resolved as they arise.

Policy

Volunteering Gold Coast Inc. encourages a culture where all complaints are dealt with in confidence, respectfully, in a supportive environment and responded to in a timely manner.

Complaints are of concern to Volunteering Gold Coast Inc. whether internal or from an external client source, the discussion will be undertaken with all parties to reach a solution. There will be no discrimination against or towards any person/s or organisation/s for their part in presenting reliable and accurate information to Volunteering Gold Coast Inc.

Definition

Under this policy a complaint is defined as an event, condition, rule or practice which the person lodging believes violates their civil rights, treats them unfairly, or causes them any degree of unpleasantness or unhappiness in their association with Volunteering Gold Coast Inc.

  • A minor (informal) complaint is an issue or occurrence that is resolved at the first point of contact, with all parties being in agreement and satisfied with the outcome.
  • A major (formal) complaint is an issue or occurrence that is not resolved at the first point of contact and needs further investigation.

Under this policy a dispute is defined as a situation where two or more individuals or parties cannot agree on a particular matter or issue and have been unable to resolve their positions by communication and discussion. Under this policy where the causal factor of a complaint is found to be a staff member’s behaviour or performance the matter will be managed by either the disciplinary or performance management process.

Aim

  • To ensure that all staff and clients have the right to make a complaint where they believe that their rights have not been respected or they have not received appropriate service or service standards.
  • To ensure all staff and clients are informed of their rights including the right to complain without affecting access to services and the right to an advocate of their choice.
  • To ensure that all who make a valid complaint receive a timely and equable response and every endeavour is made to resolve the matter reasonably and fairly.
  • To resolve all complaints in a manner that arrives at a resolution, accepting that it may not be the ‘preferred’ outcome for everyone and, where applicable, to use the experience as an opportunity for the organisation’s continuous improvement.

Policy statements

Volunteering Gold Coast Inc. welcomes and encourages valid verbal and/or written complaints and recognises that it is through this process that improvements in service delivery may be achieved.

Volunteering Gold Coast Inc. is committed to resolving complaints as quickly as possible and undertakes to handle each in confidence. The expectation of Volunteering Gold Coast Inc. is to acknowledge receipt of written complaints to the author, within five (5) working days. FORM024 Complaint Form is available to ensure that any matters are documented, recorded and receive prompt attention.

Volunteering Gold Coast Inc. emphasises the importance of clear and professional communication at all times with staff and clients. This involves listening to all, understanding their requirements, clearly explaining the services offered and keeping them well informed.

Volunteering Gold Coast Inc. will establish mechanisms to promote fast, efficient and transparent resolution of workplace issues. Staff and clients should feel comfortable discussing issues with their supervisor/contact person in accordance with the procedures outlined below.

All formal avenues for handling of complaints and disputes will be fully documented and the staff member’s / client’s wishes will be taken into account in determining the appropriate steps and actions.

No complainant will be intimidated or unfairly treated in any respect if they utilise this Policy to resolve an issue.

Responsibilities

It is the responsibility of supervising staff/ contact persons to ensure that:

  • They identify, prevent and address potential problems before they become formal complaints and/or disputes.
  • They are aware of, and are committed to, the principles of communicating and information sharing with their staff/clients.
  • All decisions relating to employment practices are made with consideration given to the ramifications for the individual, as well as the organisation in general.
  • Any complaints and disputes are handled in the most appropriate manner and at the earliest opportunity.
  • All staff and clients are treated fairly and without fear of intimidation.

It is the responsibility of all staff / clients to ensure that:

  • They attempt to resolve any issues themselves in the first instance, through their immediate supervisor/contact person and/or through internal processes at the earliest opportunity.

It is the responsibility of HR to ensure that:

  • All staff are aware of their obligations and responsibilities in relation to communication and sharing information.
  • Ongoing support and guidance is provided to all staff in relation to communication issues especially in regard to managing complaints and disputes.
  • All staff are aware of their obligations and responsibilities in relation to handling complaints and disputes.
  • Any complaints and disputes that come to the attention of a supervisor/contact person are handled in the most appropriate manner at the earliest opportunity.
  • Where a complaint is made by an external client, that client will be supported and provided guidance regarding the application of this policy and associated procedures.

Procedures

Supervising staff should be aware of the possible ramifications of their actions when dealing with complaints and ensure that all staff members/clients are treated with fairness, equality and respect.

Complaints and Dispute Resolution

A staff member/client who considers that they have a complaint or dispute should raise the matter with their immediate supervisor/contact person as the first step towards resolution. The two parties should discuss the matter openly and work together to achieve a desired outcome.

Supervising staff should check for clarification of the issue to ensure they fully understand the complainant’s concern/s and follow the standard procedure of offering the staff member/client the opportunity to have an independent witness at the discussion, ensuring they follow the steps outlined below:

  • If more than one person is present, establish the role of each person.
  • Outline the process that is to be followed.
  • Inform the parties that any information obtained in the conduct of the review is confidential.
  • Listen to the complainant and diagnose the problem.
  • Take accurate and detailed notes of all conversations (including dates, people involved, location) and attach any supporting documentation.
  • If deemed necessary, provide the complainant with a written summary of the meeting and clarification of the next steps to be taken.

The supervisor/contact person must ensure that the manner in which the meeting is conducted will be conducive to maintaining positive working relationships and will provide a fair, objective and independent analysis of the situation. All parties are to maintain complete confidentiality at all times.

If the matter is not resolved and the staff member/client wishes to pursue it, the issue should be discussed with HR then, if necessary, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Again, the matter is to be discussed openly and objectively with management to ensure it is fully understood.

Complaints Handling Process:

  • In the first instance if a complaint, dispute or conflict can be resolved by discussion with the other party this course of action should be adopted, the matter documented in the Complaint Register and the matter considered as resolved.
  • All the documentation and information relating to the complaint should be given to HR to register with a complaints file number and enter the details into the confidential Complaints Register.
  • Where a discussion is either not appropriate or does not resolve the matter the complainant should fill in a Complaint Form and give it to their supervisor/contact person, in the situation where neither of these persons is the appropriate (i.e. complaint is about them) then the form should be passed to HR or the CEO.
  • On the day the Complaint Form is received by HR the details should be entered into the Complaint Register.
  • The supervisor, contact person, HR or CEO will then open discussions with all parties to resolve the matter.
  • Where the matter is resolved at this stage each party should be informed of the resolution in writing and documentation forwarded to HR to update the Complaint Register updated with the outcome.
  • Where the matter is not resolved through this intervention it should be referred to the President of the Board of Directors who should respond to all parties within five (5) working days in writing. All parties should be notified of this action accordingly and the Complaint Register updated by HR.
  • Where the matter is not resolved through this action and it is in relation to Volunteering Gold Coast Inc.’s staff delivering a project or service or a client in receipt of the service that is funded by an external body the complaint will be referred to that body with a request that they respond within ten (10) working days. The Complaint Register should be updated and all parties should be notified in writing.
  • Once the matter has been resolved the parties will be advised in writing, the Complaints Register updated by HR and the matter closed out.

Organisational Position

  • A Complaint Form must be completed for all major complaints.
  • On receipt of a more serious complaint, the CEO and Board of Directors’ representative are to be made aware of the complaint immediately, the nature of the complaint is to be documented and forwarded to HR and entered in Complaints Register.
  • The complainant is notified within three (3) working days in writing to provide feedback on progress, actions taken and outcomes achieved.
  • Volunteering Gold Coast Inc. will endeavour to fully resolve all complaints within twenty-one (21) working days from receipt.
  • In the event of an unresolved complaint, information on conflict resolution, mediation, counselling and / or advocacy services will be considered.
  • Staff members will be notified of any complaints made against them to give them an opportunity to state their case regarding the allegations and be provided with a right of response.
  • Volunteering Gold Coast Inc. may recommend the use of an advocate and is able to supply a qualified staff member or recommend a suitable mediator in an endeavour to resolve the situation.
  • The Complaints Register should be updated by HR at all stages of the process and all documented evidence or information is to be kept in a locked cabinet.
  • Volunteering Gold Coast Inc. will use relevant information to identify recurring issues, make improvements to systems and processes and all such changes will be entered in the Continuous Improvement Register.
  • Volunteering Gold Coast Inc. values complaints about its services from the public. These provide direct information about how the community views our services. Complaints will be used to improve services and documented in the Continuous Improvement Register.
  • Volunteering Gold Coast Inc. will integrate this information into its daily business, by ensuring that staff throughout the organisation are trained and, where appropriate, involved in the complaint handling process.

Complaints Register

The Complaints Register is a confidential document only accessible by HR and the CEO. It is used to record dates and information about how the complaint is handled, by whom, on what dates and the resolution.

To make a complaint please download and complete our Complaint Form.

 

External Complaints Agencies

You are welcome to raise a complaint about Volunteering Gold Coast Inc. services and/or staff through our complaints management process. If you are not satisfied with the response you may approach the appropriate external agency.