Promotes fair and reasonable complaint resolution across RMIT.
|Effective date||31 July 2017|
|Review date||3 April 2020|
|Owner||Chief Operating Officer / Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education|
This policy aims to ensure a consistent, coordinated and supportive approach that prioritises fair and reasonable complaint resolution across RMIT.
Complaints related to processes or decisions of an RMIT Group institution, or actions by staff or students of an RMIT Group Institution.
- RMIT Training
- RMIT partner institutions
- Complaints about:
- any decision under a policy or process for which the policy or process provides an appeal or review mechanism;
- decisions by RMIT Council, Academic Board or external organisations;
- complaints that are dealt with via the health and safety issue resolution process
- Complaints of improper or corrupt conduct by an RMIT staff member
- Complaints related to:
- the conduct of research
- human research ethics
- animal ethics in teaching or research
- genetically modified organisms in research
See Related links for guidance on complaints processes for these matters.
1.1. RMIT supports students and staff who raise concerns and complaints, and acknowledges the value of feedback for continuous improvement of the student and staff experience.
1.2. All parties to a complaint:
1.2.1. are expected to act in good faith, maintain a fundamental respect for each other and focus on resolution.
1.2.2. will not be unfairly disadvantaged or face discrimination as a result of engaging with the complaints process.
1.3. Complaints are responded to promptly and sensitively.
1.4. RMIT is committed to resolving complaints quickly, effectively and equitably within the resources available.
1.5. RMIT’s preferred approach to the resolution of complaints is, wherever possible, informal and non-adversarial and seeks outcomes that are fair and reasonable to all parties involved.
1.5.1. Those with a concern or complaint are encouraged to engage directly with those responsible for the matter they are concerned about or complaining about, who in turn are encouraged to work with the complainant to find a rapid resolution that is satisfactory to both parties.
1.5.2. RMIT recognises, however, that it is not always possible to resolve complaints informally.
1.5.3. Parties involved in complaint resolution will disclose any actual or potential conflict of interest at the start of the complaint resolution process.
1.5.4. Complaints are managed in accordance with principles of procedural fairness.
1.5.5. All complaints are considered on their merits, on the basis of evidence relevant to the complaint and any mitigating circumstances.
2.1. The University accepts complaints from individuals and groups.
2.2. Students, former students and third parties such as members of the public or visitors to RMIT campuses follow the Student or third party complaints policy process.
2.3. Staff of an Australian campus making complaints follow the Staff issue assessment and intervention policy process.
2.4. Staff of RMIT Vietnam making complaints follow the Staff complaints – RMIT Vietnam process [under development].
2.5. Staff of RMIT Europe making complaints follow the staff complaints – RMIT Europe process [under development].
2.6. Staff of RMIT Online making complaints follow the staff complaints – RMIT Online process [under development].
3.1. RMIT supports the welfare of staff and students who are parties to a complaint: assistance is available through the Student Counselling Services or Employee Assistance Programs.
3.2. During engagement with complaint processes, a student may choose to disclose details of concerning, threatening or inappropriate behaviour. Disclosures may include, but are not limited to, sexual harassment as described in the Sexual Harassment Policy, sexual assault, stalking, self-harm, bullying, harassment, unlawful discrimination and/or victimisation.
Safer Community provides support and advice to students and staff concerned about concerning, threatening or inappropriate behaviour. Staff should contact Safer Community for initial advice while maintaining student privacy. Such action will enable staff to respond to the student, providing timely referral to relevant services such as Safer Community, Student Counselling, Students Complaints and Student Support. Mandatory reporting and other requirements, including Reportable Conduct Scheme apply to students under the age of 18.
Where there is an immediate risk of harm, seek urgent assistance via:
- emergency services 000;
- RMIT Urgent Security; or
- if unsure and needing advice, contact the RMIT Staff line for urgent student support on +61 3 9925 1111.
3.3. Before submitting a complaint, a student may choose to discuss their concern with the student complaints contact for the relevant area.
3.4. Parties to a complaint are permitted an advocate and/or support person at all meetings, and will be made aware of this right. The process will not however be unduly delayed if a person is unable to organise a support person. It may sometimes be necessary to convene meetings at short notice to mitigate risk.
4.1. All parties to a complaint must respect the confidentiality of the complaint and must not discuss the complaint with anyone other than their support person or advocate while the complaint is being investigated and/or resolved.
Note: limitations apply to confidentiality where risks to health and safety are present, or in matters involving persons under 18 years of age.
4.2. Advocates and support persons are bound by the same confidentiality as parties to the complaint.
4.3. RMIT balances the right to confidentiality against the principles of procedural fairness and will not unnecessarily disclose the identity of the complainant or witnesses to the respondent where this may constitute a risk to safety.
4.4. The complainant and respondent are advised in writing of the findings of any investigation.
4.4.1. Actions imposed/introduced as a result of the complaint can be shared with the complainant and respondent, but this must be balanced against preserving the privacy of other staff members or students.
4.4.2. The RMIT group institution may instruct the complainant or respondent that information arising from investigation of the complaint must remain confidential to them and their advocate and/or support persons and cannot be discussed with or distributed to others without permission from the University.
5.1. Complaints submitted are assessed to determine the most appropriate resolution process and the staff member who will manage resolution.
5.2. Complaints are managed at no cost to the complainant.
5.3. A complainant may withdraw their complaint at any time, but RMIT may decide to initiate/continue the investigation.
5.4. Where there are concerns about risk or safety, RMIT may take immediate action to remove or isolate students or staff from the campus or immediate workspace while an investigation is carried out.
5.5. The University has a three-tier process for handling student complaints detailed in Section 6.
5.5.1. Depending on the nature of the concern or complaint, a fair and reasonable outcome at tier one is preferred.
5.6. Staff complaints are resolved by the most appropriate method as determined by the RMIT Group institution.
5.6.1. Where possible and appropriate the parties to staff complaints are encouraged to resolve complaints themselves or with the help of a supervisor or manager. A range of resources and assistance such as facilitation, conciliation and mediation are available for this.
5.6.2. Where necessary the RMIT Group institution will investigate staff complaints, and depending on the findings may impose outcomes on the parties.
5.7. Student complainants and student respondents may also request a review of complaint outcomes: see Section 9.
5.8. RMIT University staff and student complainants and respondents may seek review of complaint outcomes by the RMIT Ombuds: see Section 10.
5.9. The following types of complaints may be investigated at the discretion of the relevant executive staff member.
5.9.1. anonymous complaints, and
5.9.2. complaints that have been addressed previously.
6.1. Student concerns tier one: informal resolution
6.1.1. Students and former students may choose to resolve their concern directly with the person(s) involved in the matter or with authority to resolve the concern, using the University’s existing resources and processes.
6.2. Student complaints tier two: local resolution
6.2.1. A complaint submitted by a student or former student is assessed and referred to the relevant staff member or portfolio with responsibility for the matter and resolution at the local level, in accordance with the Student or third-party complaints policy process.
6.2.2. Details of staff trained to assist with the mediation of a complaint or concern are available on the RMIT student website.
6.2.3. Where a complainant has not attempted direct resolution (tier one), and the complaint is assessed as appropriate for direct resolution, the complainant may be advised to attempt this before tier 2 resolution is applied.
6.3. Student complaints tier three: university-level resolution
6.3.1. A student complaint may be referred to the appropriate complaints resolution area if it:
a) is unable to be resolved at the local level, or
b) is assessed as being more appropriately addressed through the Student or third-party complaints policy process at university level.
6.3.2. A student making a complaint may choose to take the matter no further at this stage – but see Section 7.
7.1. Where a student complaint relates to learning and teaching or program quality, the matter is referred for investigation to the responsible manager.
7.2. Where a student complaint alleges breach of the RMIT Code of Conduct by a staff member, RMIT will identify a resolution process in consultation with the complainant. Depending on the seriousness of the alleged behaviour, a responsible officer at the local level may investigate the matter, or it may be investigated jointly by the relevant central complaint handling area and Human Resources, or primarily by Human Resources.
7.3. Complaints that allege staff misconduct will be assessed and may be used by RMIT to initiate staff disciplinary proceedings.
7.4. Complaints that allege student misconduct will be assessed and may be used by RMIT to initiate student conduct proceedings.
7.5. Some complaints may allege misconduct by a staff member or student of a type that RMIT is required to report to external authorities such as the police or other government agency; staff or students may also notify external agencies of conduct of which they have complained to RMIT.
7.5.1. Under these circumstances, RMIT will maintain its commitment to resolve allegations of misconduct and, where appropriate, initiate the relevant conduct process.
7.5.2. RMIT will, however, avoid by its own investigations compromising or undermining investigations by government agencies such as the police.
7.5.3. See the relevant conduct policy and processes for more detail.
8.1. A staff member or student may be subject to disciplinary action if, as a party in relation to a complaint, there is evidence or information that they have:
8.1.1. deliberately issued false statements, or
8.1.2. refused to cooperate with a complaint process, or
8.1.3. dealt with a person in such a way as would discourage the person from submitting a complaint of sexual harassment or sexual abuse.
8.2. RMIT may close a complaint, where:
8.2.1. There is evidence complaints are malicious, vexatious, mischievous or frivolous. In such instances complaints may be dismissed and referred for consideration under RMIT’s policies for managing student conduct or staff conduct.
8.2.2. The complainant’s conduct is found to be unreasonable complainant conduct.
9.1. A student complainant or student respondent may request a review of the outcome of a complaint where they:
9.1.1. present evidence of an error in the investigation and decision on a complaint,
9.1.2. present evidence that was not previously available and which would have been a significant factor in deciding the outcome of the complaint, or
9.1.3. provide a compelling argument that the original outcome of the complaint was unreasonable.
9.2. A manager at the same level as the original decision-maker, or higher, will be nominated to review the matter. The reviewing manager must not previously have been involved in the complaint.
9.2.1. Where a student complaint relates to learning and teaching or program quality, the review will be allocated to a manager in the relevant college or campus office.
10.1. A student or staff complainant or respondent may seek an internal review of a decision regarding their complaint from the RMIT Ombuds where they are:
10.1.1. dissatisfied with the complaint outcome and review; and
10.1.2. have evidence of an alleged breach of policy or process, or
10.1.3. have evidence of an alleged breach of procedural fairness.
10.2. The Ombuds follows the RMIT Ombuds process.
10.3. The Ombuds cannot consider reviews from staff of RMIT partners or controlled entities.
10.4. The Ombuds cannot consider reviews from students of RMIT Training.
10.5. The Ombuds cannot review:
10.5.1. findings of RMIT Council
10.5.2. findings of Academic Board
10.5.3. outcomes of appeals against assessment decisions (except where a breach or failure of process is alleged)
10.5.4. findings of external agencies
10.5.5. findings of a research misconduct inquiry under the Research misconduct process
10.5.6. decisions made or findings of reviewers, unsatisfactory performance review committees, misconduct investigation committees, relevant senior officers or the Vice-Chancellor in accordance with the processes in clause 29 (Disciplinary Procedures) of the RMIT University Academic and Professional Staff Enterprise Bargaining Agreement 2014)
10.5.7. findings of the Student Conduct Board, Student Conduct Appeals Committee or a senior officer in accordance with the Student conduct policy or regulation.
10.6. The Ombuds has the power to investigate and seek evidence for reviews concerning alleged breaches or policy, process or procedural fairness.
10.7. The Ombuds cannot review the merits of a complaint outcome or decision, but only whether the resolution has been consistent with policy and process, and has been procedurally fair.
10.8. Parties to a review must act in good faith. The Ombuds will not investigate frivolous, vexatious, mischievous or malicious complaints, and the submission of such may lead to disciplinary action.
10.9. If the complainant takes the complaint to an external forum (such as a court or tribunal), the Ombuds may discontinue the review.
10.10. The rules of procedural fairness are followed in the conduct and reporting of Ombuds reviews.
10.11. The Ombuds only discloses details of requests for review with the approval of the person seeking the review. In the absence of such approval, the Ombuds may decline to investigate.
10.12. The Ombuds cannot overturn a decision or outcome, but can make recommendations that RMIT review the decision.
10.13. On the basis of their review, the Ombuds will provide an assessment or report to the relevant senior manager, copied to the relevant member of the Senior Executive and other executives as appropriate. The assessment or report may make recommendations regarding policy compliance, procedural fairness and any process improvements required to achieve these.
10.14. The Ombuds reports to University Council, through the Chancellor.
10.15. 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.
11.1. The Academic Registrar approves student or third party complaint processes and guidance materials.
11.2. The Director, Policy and Workplace Relations approves RMIT University staff complaint processes and guidance materials
11.3. The Director, Human Resources, RMIT Vietnam approves RMIT Vietnam staff complaint processes and guidance materials.
11.4. The Executive Director, RMIT Europe approves RMIT Europe staff complaint processes and guidance materials.
11.5. The Chief Executive Officer, RMIT Online approves RMIT Online staff complaint processes and guidance materials.
11.6. The University Secretary approves the RMIT Ombuds process.
11.7. The Chief Executive Officer, RMIT Training approves complaint processes and guidance materials for staff and students of RMIT Training.
A person chosen by the complainant to provide information and advice regarding the complaints process and, where appropriate, to speak on their behalf. The relevant complaints process describes the role and rights of the advocate.
An expression of dissatisfaction with a decision, action or lack of these by RMIT, or the behaviour of a student or staff member, where a formal response or resolution is explicitly or implicitly expected.
The party lodging a complaint.
An expression of dissatisfaction with a decision, action or lack of these by RMIT, or the behaviour of a student or staff member, where no formal response or resolution is requested or implicitly expected.
An assurance that complaint information will only be shared with those persons critical to the investigation and resolution of an issue.
Conflict of interest
In the context of this policy, where a person responsible for handling or resolving a complaint may be perceived as not impartial, for example because of their previous direct involvement in the matter complained of.
An entity that the University owns or has an interest in; specifically, RMIT Online, RMIT Vietnam, RMIT Europe, and RMIT Training.
Is present when processes ensure all parties have a reasonable opportunity to have their viewpoint heard fairly, by impartial decision-makers; are well informed about the processes; and have a reasonable time-frame in which to follow them; and parties in a decision-making process have a chance to review and respond to all evidence and submissions that are considered by the decision-makers.
A report made by a person to an entity authorised by the Protected Disclosure Act 2012 to accept disclosures about improper or corrupt conduct of a serious nature against public bodies or public officers that, if proven, would constitute a criminal offence or reasonable grounds for dismissal. See the protected disclosure management process.
A party about whom a complaint is made.
A person chosen by the complainant or respondent to be present at complaint resolution meetings; or a partner, immediate family member, health professional or Student Rights Officer who provides support and advises the complainant or respondent outside of meetings. The relevant complaints process describes the role and rights of the support person.
Unreasonable complainant conduct
Behaviour by a current or former complainant which, because of its nature or frequency, raises substantial health, safety or resource issues for the parties to a complaint.
|Version||Approval date||Effective date||Summary of changes||Approval authority|
|1.0||3 April 2017||31 July 2017||New policy||Academic Board/Vice-Chancellor's Executive|
|1.1||13 November 2018||15 November 2018||Amendment||Academic Board|
|1.2||2 March 2019||6 March 2019||Minor amendment||DVCE|
Research complaints processes
- Complaints related to the conduct of research, including allegations of a breach or research misconduct, follow the Research misconduct policy process.
- Complaints related to human research ethics, including decision of an RMIT human research ethics committee or network, follow the Human research ethics policy process.
- Complaints related to animal ethics in teaching or research, including complaints about decisions of the RMIT Animal Ethics Committee, follow the Animal ethics policy process.
- Complaints related to genetically modified organisms in research, including complaints about decisions of the Institutional Biosafety Committee, follow the Research involving GMOs policy process.
RMIT Training complaints processes
- Students of RMIT Training making complaints follow the RMIT Training student complaints and appeals process [under development].
- RMIT English Worldwide complaints and appeals process [to be developed]