Policy

Complaints Management - Policy

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1.0    Purpose and Scope

The University of Queensland (UQ or the University) is committed to providing a complaints management system that is transparent, responsive, efficient, and effective. UQ recognises that an effective complaints management system will not only improve engagement from our community but will also assist in the identification of systemic and re-occurring issues.

UQ acknowledges that all staff, students, and members of the community have a right to make complaints about University services, or conduct of its staff and students. This policy provides the overarching framework under which complaints about the University (including its staff and students) are received.

This policy and associated procedures have been developed with consideration to the Queensland Ombudsman’s recommendations on developing effective complaints management frameworks and the Australian Standard 10002:2014 Guidelines for complaints management in organisations.

This policy applies to all UQ staff and students and acts as a guide for members of the community.

1.1    Application

Where another UQ policy or procedure provides a complaints or review process that is applicable, this policy will not apply. 

2.0    Principles and Key Requirements

UQ’s complaints management system is comprised of various complaint management processes implemented under relevant policies and procedures.

UQ’s complaints management system is based on the fundamental principles of: visibility and access, confidentiality, responsiveness, assessment and action, feedback and monitoring effectiveness. To give effect to these principles, UQ will:

Visibility and Access

  1. provide simple, flexible and accessible avenues for staff, students and the community to lodge complaints;

  2. communicate to staff, students and the community on how to access the University’s complaints processes;

  3. where possible, help complainants who may need assistance with lodging a complaint;

Confidentiality

  1. treat all complaints confidentially and protect personal information of the complainant in accordance with its Privacy Management Policy and, where applicable, the Public Interest Disclosure Policy (subject to any disclosure requirements in accordance with the principles of natural justice or otherwise at law);

Responsiveness

  1. ensure that complaints management training is provided to staff responsible for receiving, processing and/or responding to complaints;
  2. acknowledge and respond to complaints in a timely manner;
  3. manage and deal with complaints as soon as practicable and, where appropriate, promptly communicate the outcomes to the complainants

Assessment and Action

  1. handle complaints fairly, remain impartial and appropriately adhere to principles of natural justice and good governance;
  2. deal with complaints and complainants respectfully, professionally and in accordance with this policy and its accompanying procedures;

Feedback

  1. communicate with complainants in a timely manner about the management and progress of their complaint;
  2. where possible and appropriate, inform the complainant of the factors considered in arriving at an outcome and the reasons for the outcome;
  3. communicate to the complainant about the complainant’s right to any internal and/or external review of a decision made by UQ about their complaint;

Monitoring Effectiveness

  1. meet its statutory and legislative requirements to report certain complaints to relevant reporting agencies;
  2.  monitor complaint trends and identify and promptly address any systemic issues; and
  3.  continue to review its complaints management processes to ensure complaints are dealt with fairly, confidentially, efficiently and in a timely manner.

3.0    Roles, Responsibilities and Accountabilities

3.1    Vice Chancellor and President

The Vice-Chancellor and President has the overall responsibility for the University’s management of complaints.

3.2    Senior Management

Senior management are responsible within their organisational area to ensure staff are aware of UQ’s policy and procedures on complaints management and encourage the prompt and fair management of complaints in accordance with this policy.

3.3    Complaints Management Committee

The Complaints Management Committee (CMC) is responsible for making decisions about how particular allegations should be dealt with, including whether an allegation should be investigated, by whom, and what resources should be made available to deal with an allegation. 

Members of the committee will refer serious matters, such as fraud, where there is potential for criminal charges to result, or that they otherwise consider best handled by the Integrity Unit (IU) to the CMC for consideration. If so determined by the CMC, the Chief Human Resources Officer or Chief Operating Officer, may refer an allegation to the IU for investigation. Matters that are not referred to the IU will be referred to Human Resources for consideration.

3.4    All staff

Staff will endeavour to provide assistance to a person wishing to make a complaint and guide them to the correct policy or procedures for their particular issue, including how they can make a complaint.

3.5    Director, Integrity Unit

The Director of the Integrity Unit is responsible for the implementation (including providing training and increasing awareness) and management of the Policy.   

4.0    Monitoring, Review and Assurance

The Integrity Unit will periodically review this Policy and its Procedures for effectiveness.

5.0    Recording and Reporting

The management of complaints received by the University will be recorded using the complaint management systems implemented under the relevant policies or procedures.

6.0    Appendix

6.1    Definitions

complaint – A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction with a product or service offered or provided by the University or the conduct of its staff or students (in relation to their role at the University), whether voiced by a member within the community, staff or a student.

complainant – The person who has made a complaint.

Staff – Means all officers and employees of the University, persons acting in an honorary or voluntary capacity for, or at the University, and members of the University Senate.

Student – means a person enrolled as a student at the University or undertaking courses or programs at the University.

Custodians
Director, Integrity Unit Mr David Lavell

Procedures

Complaints Management - Procedures

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1.0    Purpose and Scope

The purpose of these procedures is to outline the mechanisms and processes of The University of Queensland’s (UQ) complaints management system. This includes how complaints can be made to UQ and how those complaints will be managed. 

These procedures apply to all UQ staff and students and act as a guide for members of the community.

UQ has implemented these procedures to inform complainants how a complaint can be made to UQ and inform staff on how complaints are to be handled by UQ.  

2.0    Process and Key Controls

Consistent with best practice for complaints management handling, UQ’s complaints management framework is based on the following:

Figure 1University's Complaints Management Framework

3.0    Key Requirements

3.1    UQ’s Commitment

The Complaints Management Policy and these Procedures outline UQ’s commitment to ensuring all persons have a right to express their concerns about UQ’s services or conduct of its staff and students and for them to be dealt with appropriately.

3.2    Reporting of complaints

  1. Local Level

In the first instance, and where possible and appropriate, complainants are encouraged to raise their complaint at the local level, such as a supervisor for staff or a relevant course coordinator for students.  Wherever possible, the University will manage and resolve complaints at the local level.

  1. Escalation under Relevant Policy

If the complaint cannot be resolved or is not suitable for resolution at the local level, the complaint may be escalated under the relevant policy by either the complainant or the person who received the complaint.

The relevant policy will be as follows:

 

Type of Complaint

Relevant Policy

Student grievance

For student issues relating to academic or administrative matters, including student appeals.

 

3.60.02 Student Grievance Resolution Policy

Staff grievance

For staff in relation to issues affecting their employment with the University.

 

5.70.08 Staff Grievance Resolution Policy

Discrimination and harassment

For all persons: staff, students, and UQ community, in relation to matters of discrimination and non-sexual harassment.

 

1.70.06 Discrimination and Harassment Policy

Privacy

For all persons: staff, students, and UQ community, in relation to matters of personal information and privacy breaches.

 

1.60.02 Privacy Management Policy

Sexual misconduct

For all persons: staff, students, and UQ community, in relation to incidents of sexual misconduct.

 

 

1.50.13 Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Policy

Student integrity and misconduct

For matters relating to student general misconduct or academic misconduct

 

3.60.04 Student Integrity and Misconduct Policy

Research integrity complaints

For complaints regarding the responsible conduct of research at UQ.

 

4.20.02 Managing Complaints about the Conduct of Research Procedures

Workplace Health and Safety

For all persons: staff, students, and UQ community, in relation to matters of work health and safety, including complaints and feedback.

Workplace Health and Safety Policies and Procedures

Fraud and Corruption

For complaints regarding fraud, corruption or corrupt conduct of students, staff or UQ Senators.

 

1.50.10 Fraud and Corruption Management Policy

Public Interest Disclosure

For staff and UQ Senators in relation to matters which may be a ‘Public Interest Disclosure’ (as defined in the Public Interest Disclosure Policy.)

 

Public Interest Disclosure Policy

Details of these Complaint types and relevant policies are available at the university’s centralised Complaints Management website. This website allows for the reporting of complaints via an online complaint form including complaints that do not specifically fall within the above complaint types.

Further guidance can be sought from the relevant Division, Unit or Office, such as: Human Resources Division, Health Safety and Wellness Division, Research Ethics and Integrity, Integrity Unit, Discrimination and Harassment Contact Officers, Student Complaints and Grievance Resolution, Student Centre or Student Services.

  1. External Referral

If UQ receives a complaint that is more appropriate for another agency to manage, the complainant will be advised and provided with the details of the appropriate agency to refer their complaint to. If appropriate UQ may assist the complainant with this referral. These agencies may include:

Specific timeframes and other requirements may apply when lodging a complaint with external agencies. Complainants should refer to the relevant agencies websites for this detail and further advice.

3.2.1    Anonymous complaints

UQ accepts complaints can be made anonymously and will take reasonable measures to address them. However it is important that a complainant understands that this may have an impact on how effectively UQ can deal with the complaint. There are difficulties in investigating anonymous complaints because the University is unable to seek clarification of the complaint or additional information about the complaint.  This includes the ability to gather further information from the complainant, provide natural justice to those subject to the complaint and, where appropriate, update the complainant on how the complaint was dealt with.

3.3    Complaints Management Committee

The Complaints Management Committee (CMC) is responsible for making decisions about how complaints of a serious nature, that are referred to it should be dealt with, including whether the complaint should be investigated, by whom, and what resources should be made available to deal with and/or investigate the complaint.

The CMC will meet fortnightly or as otherwise required.  The composition of the CMC will include:

  1. The Provost who will perform the role of the chair or delegate;

  2. The Chief Human Resources Officer or delegate;

  3. The Director, Integrity Unit (IU) or delegate.

The following members will attend when they have matters to discuss.

  1. The Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) or delegate;

  2. The Academic Registrar or delegate;

  3. The Chief Marketing and Communications Officer or delegate.

The composition and operation of the CMC will be conducted in accordance with the approved Terms of Reference

3.4    Assess and Action complaints

All complaints will be dealt with in accordance with the policy and procedures relevant to the type of complaint.

In accordance with, but subject to the policy and procedures relevant to the type of complaint, the relevant unit assigned to deal with the complaint will:

  1. acknowledge receipt of the complaint as soon as practicable;

  2. undertake an assessment of the complaint, which may include contacting the complainant for further information;

  3. be fair, reasonable and objective during their assessment and resolution of the complaint;

  4. treat complaints confidentially in accordance with the requirements of the policy;

  5. treat anonymous complaints on their merits;

  6. gather and consider any relevant material prior to making a decision;

  7. resolve complaints in a timely manner and where possible at the local level; and

  8. seek advice from relevant senior staff and organisational units as required.

3.5    Support for complainants

Where possible UQ will endeavour to provide appropriate support to the complainant whilst dealing with their complaint. This may also involve providing reasonable assistance after a complaint has been resolved.

Staff are encouraged to access UQ’s Employee Assistance Program for confidential and professional counselling and assistance.

Students are encouraged to contact Student Services for information on professional counselling and assistance.

3.5.1    Victimisation of complainants

UQ does not tolerate any form of victimisation towards persons who have made a complaint or who are associated with a person who has made a complaint. Such behaviours are in breach of UQ’s Staff Code of Conduct and the Student Charter and will be dealt with accordingly.

Additional protections are also afforded to Complainants who have made a Public Interest Disclosure in accordance with the Public Interest Disclosure Policy and Procedures.

3.5.2    Frivolous or Vexatious Complaints and False or Misleading Statements

The making of complaints that are frivolous or vexatious is a serious matter. If a person intentionally makes a false or misleading statement, disciplinary action will be considered in accordance with the misconduct/serious misconduct provisions under the Enterprise Agreement or the Student Integrity and Misconduct Policy. The making of such complaints or statements may be regarded as suspected corrupt conduct and dealt with under the Fraud and Corruption Management Policy.

3.6    Feedback

The University will inform the complainant of the outcome of the complaint.   The level of information provided to the complainant will be subject to the University’s legal obligations and obligations under other University policies and procedures.

3.7    Review

Internal Review

The process for lodging a review of the outcome of a complaint is set out in the relevant policy and procedure listed in section 3.2. If no process is set out in the relevant policy or procedure, a complainant may seek a review by contacting the relevant decision-maker or the Integrity Unit, who will refer the matter to the appropriate party for review.

Complaints Management Committee

The CMC does not make decisions about the outcomes of complaints.

The CMC may assess how a review may be undertaken including what resources are to be utilised in dealing with complaints.

External Review

Depending on the nature of the complaint, there are a number of external review bodies that a complainant can approach should they feel their complaint has not been satisfactorily dealt with internally. These bodies include:

In some circumstances, external bodies will not investigate a complaint if the complainant has not attempted to resolve the problem under the University’s complaints management framework.

4.0    Roles, Responsibilities and Accountabilities

Refer to the Complaints Management Policy.

5.0    Monitoring, Review and Assurance

The Integrity Unit is responsible for periodically reviewing these Procedures and related Policy and will:

  1. review complaint data, trends and statistics to assess UQ’s compliance and effectiveness of the policy and procedures;

  2. identify, assess and promptly address any deficiencies such as timeliness and support; and

  3. review relevant Australian Standards and other relevant recommendations to ensure the ongoing relevance of the policy.

The Integrity Unit will report on the effectiveness of the policy and these procedures to the Chief Operating Officer and the CMC.

6.0    Recording and Reporting

Refer to the Complaints Management Policy.

7.0    Appendix

7.1    Definitions

complaint - A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction with a product or service offered or provided by the University or the conduct of its staff or students (in so far as their role at the university), whether voiced by a member of the community, staff or a student.

complainant – The person who has made a complaint.

Enterprise Agreement - The University of Queensland Enterprise Agreement in effect at the time.

Public Interest Disclosure – as defined in the Public Interest Disclosure Policy

 

Custodians
Director, Integrity Unit Mr David Lavell
Custodians
Director, Integrity Unit Mr David Lavell