SECTION 1 - PURPOSE
(1) To promote a culture where complaints are welcomed as an important component of our commitment to an inclusive, professional and productive work, research and learning environment.
(2) To establish the principles and governance framework that inform the RMIT Group’s approach to complaint handling.
(3) To ensure complainants are treated with procedural fairness and respect.
SECTION 2 - OVERVIEW
(4) A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction with the RMIT Group’s policies, procedures, decisions, omissions, systems, quality of service or staff behaviour, where a response or resolution is explicitly or implicitly expected or legally required.
(5) RMIT is committed to providing a safe, supportive and productive work, research and study environment and understands the importance of being accessible, prepared and willing to listen and committed to taking appropriate action where complaints arise.
(6) RMIT University is a public institution established under Victorian law and stands on the unceded Aboriginal Country of the Kulin Nation. RMIT recognises and acknowledges the Bundjil Statement that helps all RMIT staff to respectfully work, conduct research, live and study on Aboriginal Country.
(7) This policy aims to integrate the Bundjil Statement into our way of receiving, managing and resolving complaints respectfully with good intent, fairness, transparency and accountability.
SECTION 3 - SCOPE
(8) The principles contained in this policy will inform complaint policies, procedures and activities across the RMIT Group and take precedence except where to do so may interfere with legislated requirements (see Schedule 1 for details on RMIT’s complaint mechanisms).
(9) Controlled entities and subsidiaries are responsible for ensuring compliance with group policies as required.
SECTION 4 - POLICY
(10) RMIT is committed to protecting and promoting the welfare and wellbeing of all parties to a complaint throughout the complaints process including access to support services as appropriate.
(11) RMIT will appropriately educate staff involved in complaints receipt and specifically in which certain complaints and complaint topics should be managed.
(12) Complaints can be a valuable source of information about RMIT’s performance, service, culture, policies and processes. They may also assist RMIT to identify and address issues that could impact the safety and wellbeing of staff, students, and members of the community. RMIT will welcome complaints, with a focus on achieving a suitable outcome.
(13) RMIT recognises that an effective complaints management process and a receptive and responsive complaint culture is critical to maintaining the University’s brand, reputation and trust, improving the student experience, research integrity and attracting and retaining quality staff.
(14) RMIT will ensure that complaints are handled and resolved in a fair, consistent and timely manner for all parties involved.
(15) RMIT will decide upon the most appropriate way to manage a complaint and will have a range of suitable processes available, and clearly documented for all parties to a complaint process.
(16) RMIT will take all reasonable steps in line with legislative requirements and policy to ensure the commitments documented in this policy are demonstrated during the complaints process.
(17) RMIT will publish and publicise details about how to make a complaint for any member of the RMIT community or third-party.
Conduct of Parties
(18) All parties to a complaint are expected to act respectfully and with good intent.
(19) Complainants are personally responsible and liable for the content of their complaints. Complainants must not provide information that they know to be inaccurate or misleading. Doing so may result in disciplinary action or, in extreme circumstances, be reported to the appropriate external regulatory body or the police.
(20) The University may restrict access to its complaints service for complainants who act unreasonably.
(21) Each individual complaint will be treated on its merits, fairly and without bias or conflict of interest.
(22) Subjects of a formal complaint investigation will be informed of the substance of any allegations made against them, to the extent it is possible to do so without compromising the health and safety of any known party.
(23) All parties will have the opportunity to be heard and respond to the substance of the complaint.
(24) Complaint handlers and case managers will make all reasonable inquiries before making a decision or recommendation. Evidence and investigative actions, commensurate with the type of complaint, will be documented and stored in a secure manner in accordance with the Information Governance Policy.
(25) Complaint outcomes will be clearly communicated to the relevant parties in an appropriate manner taking into consideration relevant legislated requirements and policies.
(26) Complaints will be addressed without undue delay and where appropriate parties will be regularly updated on progress.
(27) Complaint outcomes will provide details on any appropriate avenues for review.
Providing Protections and Support
(28) RMIT will address all complaints in a sensitive manner. Where possible and in accordance with any relevant legislation, RMIT will protect the identity of the complainant and use all available measures to ensure documentation, oral representations and all other evidence is confined to appropriate persons on a ‘need to know’ basis.
(29) Where issues of requested anonymity or limits to confidentiality may impact or impede the investigation process, or where a complainant’s identity may be revealed by the nature of the complaint, this will be discussed with the complainant.
(30) Support may include, but is not limited to, a support person to attend meetings for reassurance and emotional support, representatives from the staff or student union, Ngarara Willim for Australian Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander staff or students, staff or student counselling services, privately sourced counselling services, Safer Community Unit where appropriate, University Chaplaincy, or Student Legal service or other support mechanisms as allowed by legislation.
(32) Complainants are expected to maintain confidentiality as a matter of fairness and may seek appropriate support from persons outside of RMIT or via professional services offered by RMIT or externally as appropriate. RMIT will take reasonable steps to protect all parties to a complaint from victimisation, unwarranted detrimental action or reprisals. Any RMIT employee or student found to have participated in unwarranted detrimental action may be the subject of disciplinary action.
(33) Complaints will be investigated without undue delay.
(34) Where a formal investigation or complex enquiry is required, the parties will be kept up to date on the progress of the matter and reasons for any delay where it is appropriate to do so.
Safeguarding and Wellbeing
(35) Where there are concerns about risk or safety of any person related to the complaint, RMIT may take immediate action to remove or isolate individuals from the campus or immediate workspace while an investigation is carried out.
(36) RMIT may take precautionary action to protect physical or non-physical assets, animals, RMIT’s reputation and the environment, or where required to preserve evidence, or comply with obligations lawfully placed upon RMIT by third parties.
(37) RMIT staff and students who have raised a complaint and feel that the way it has been handled has not been fair, or has breached University policy or procedure, and who have exhausted all other relevant internal avenues, may raise their concerns with the RMIT Ombuds and request an independent, impartial and confidential review of the previous decision, outcome or finding.
(38) The Chief Audit and Risk Officer or delegate will provide a quarterly report on staff, student, and third-party complaints activity, actions and outcomes to Audit and Risk Management Committee. The report will contain:
a. the number of complaints received in the period across staff, student, third-party and whistleblower categories; and
b. an analysis of complaint data by type including trends, themes and root causes.
(39) Where systemic failures are identified, recommendations for action will be made by the Chief Audit and Risk officer (or their delegate) and executive owners will be identified, notified and assigned. Outcomes and actions will be tracked via this reporting mechanism.
(40) An annual report on complaint activity will be submitted to Council.
(41) The RMIT Ombuds will report directly to University Council, through the Chancellor, by submitting an annual report based on requests for independent review received during the reporting period in accordance with clause 37.
(42) If a party’s request for a review requires urgent resolution or has significant implications for the University, its staff or students, the Ombuds will prepare a report for the Vice-Chancellor or, in cases involving the Vice-Chancellor, the Chancellor.
(43) RMIT’s people leaders and managers will promote a welcoming complaint culture and take action to address systemic issues arising from complaints data analysis.
(44) The Chief People Officer or delegate will be responsible for ensuring that policies, procedures and resources for staff complaint management align with the principles of this policy.
(45) The Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education or delegate will be responsible for ensuring that policies, procedures and resources for student and student related complaint management align with the principles of this policy.
(46) The Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research or delegate will be responsible for ensuring that research related policies, procedures and resources align with the principles of this policy.
(47) The Central Complaints and Investigations Manager will be responsible for complaints data gathering, analysis, reporting and training on matters related to compliance with this policy.
(48) The Chief Audit and Risk Officer or delegate will be responsible for ensuring that procedures and resources for third party complaint management align with the principles of this policy.
(49) The General Counsel and University Secretary will be responsible for approval of the RMIT Ombuds Procedure to preserve the independence of the RMIT Ombuds.
SECTION 7 - DEFINITIONS
(Note: Commonly defined terms are in the RMIT Policy Glossary. Any defined terms below are specific to this policy).
A claim or assertion that someone has done something worthy of a complaint. Allegations are formulated as part of the formal complaints investigations process and are considered assertions until proven on the balance of probabilities.
Where the identity of a complainant is not revealed to the respondent:
In some cases a complainant’s identity may not be revealed to the Complaint Manager or to RMIT and this may limit the investigative actions that can be taken.
For matters under independent review by the RMIT Ombuds and for the preservation of the independence of that function, decisions and actions associated with considerations of anonymity shall rest with the Ombuds office.
Relative to complaints handling, confidentiality is where only those people who need to be made aware of the complaint for investigative or response purposes are involved. Parties to a complaint are should not discuss the matter with any other person other than appropriate support persons.
Includes but is not limited to:
STATUS & DETAILS
|Effective Date||20 August 2020|
|Review Date||6 August 2023|
|Approval Authority||Audit and Risk Management Committee|
|Approval Date||6 August 2020|
|Expiry Date||Not Applicable|
|Policy Owner||Chief Financial Officer|
|Policy Author||Chief Audit and Risk Officer|
- Code of Conduct
- Information Governance Policy
- Managing Conduct Procedure [in development]
- Managing Performance Procedure [in development]
- RMIT Ombuds Procedure
- Student and Student-Related Complaints Procedure
- Third-Party Complaints Procedure
- Whistleblower Procedure