Aims to ensure a consistent, coordinated and supportive approach to complaint resolution.
|Effective date||31 July 2017|
|Review date||17 July 2020|
|Author||Associate Director, Integrity|
This process supports the Complaints Resolution Policy. Its purpose is to ensure a consistent, coordinated and supportive approach to achieve timely and fair resolution of concerns and complaints. The Complaints Resolution Policy sets out principles for the conduct of all parties to a complaint resolution process.
This process applies to students (including higher degree by research candidates) and third parties who wish to raise a concern or make a formal complaint about a service or action of the University or the behaviour of members of its community.
1.1. Each university area will identify to the Academic Registrar at least one role that will receive and resolve complaints. These roles are referred to as ‘complaint handlers’. The area will also identify the complaint handler’s manager.
1.2. During engagement with complaint processes, a student may choose to disclose details of concerning, threatening or inappropriate behaviour. Disclosure may include, but is 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.
2.1. As soon as practicable, the person who has the concern raises it directly with the person/office responsible for provision of the service or action, or through the RMIT Connect portal.
2.2. Tier One concerns are addressed at the local area. The local area determines who will manage the matter and communicate with the person who raised the concern.
2.3. The responsible staff member evaluates the nature of the concern and the appropriate approach:
a) If the concern can be managed at the local level, the responsible staff member evaluates it to determine a resolution.
b) If the matter is related to unlawful, concerning, threatening or inappropriate behaviour such as sexual harassment, sexual assault, bullying, discrimination or vilification, it must immediately be referred to the Safer Community who will advise how the matter will be managed, and will contact the complainant to offer advice and support.
c) If the matter is determined to be too complex for local resolution, it’s escalated as a formal complaint.
Within two working days after the complainant raised the concern, the responsible staff member advises them how to submit a formal complaint via the RMIT Connect portal. They can either do this themselves or a third party can do it on their behalf with their consent.
2.4. The responsible staff member determines a resolution of the concern within two working days of the concern being raised, or as soon as practically possible if the concern requires Safer Community involvement.
a) If no corrective action will be taken, the responsible staff member explains this to the complainant.
b) If corrective action will be taken, the responsible staff member advises the complainant what action will be taken, by whom and by when.
2.5. Responses to complainants:
a) should offer relevant assistance to the complainant, such as referring them to university support services
b) must include information on how to submit a formal complaint if they’re dissatisfied with the outcome of the informal process
c) should be retained in case they’re needed – for example, if the matter is escalated as a complaint.
3.1. Tier Two complaints are complaints that:
a) have gone through Tier One but the complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome; or
b) have been evaluated at Tier One to be more appropriate for Tier Two management; or
c) the complainant believes constitutes a formal complaint.
3.2. Complaints are submitted via the RMIT Connect portal:
a) by the complainant; or
b) by a staff member on behalf of a complainant if they have the capacity to do so, and the complainant consents to this.
3.3. The RUSU student rights team are available to help student complainants prepare and submit a complaint.
3.4. Where complaints are submitted in hard copy or by email, the complaint handler enters them into the RMIT Connect portal and attaches the document(s) and/or email.
3.5. Complaints must provide the following details:
a) a comprehensive description of the complaint;
b) the outcome being sought; and
c) any evidence supporting the complainant’s claims.
3.6. Triage staff assess the complaint to determine the appropriate resolution level (i.e., Tier One, Two or Three), and refer it to the appropriate complaint handler.
a) If triage staff need more information to make an accurate referral, they will contact the complainant to request this normally within two working days of the submission.
b) In this case, triage staff place the complaint on hold until the complainant responds.
3.7. If the complaint alleges unlawful, concerning, threatening or inappropriate behaviour (including but not limited to harassment, sexual harassment, bullying, discrimination or vilification), triage staff will also refer the complaint to Safer Community, who will contact the complainant to offer advice and support.
a) In these cases, the Complaints team in the Integrity unit, in consultation with the complainant and Safer Community, will determine how the complaint will be managed.
3.8. The complaint handler provides an outcome normally within 15 working days (or 20 working days in the case of complex or high-risk matters) of the day when the complainant provided all information necessary to handle the complaint.
a) Where the complaint requires urgent actions to avoid disadvantaging the complainant, the complaint handler may expedite these actions before issuing the full outcome of the complaint.
3.9. Where the complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome of the Tier Two process, they may seek a review of their complaint outcome (see Section 6).
4.1. Tier Three complaints are complaints that:
a) have been evaluated at Tier Two to be more appropriate for Tier Three management; or
b) allege unlawful, concerning, threatening or inappropriate behaviour; or
c) suggest institutional risk or risk to a number of people.
4.2. Tier Three complaints are managed by the Complaints Team (ARG) or, in the case of learning and teaching or program quality issues that were unable to be resolved via Tiers One and Two, and the College has not previously been involved in the complaint, the College.
4.3. The Complaints team (ARG) (or College) provides an outcome:
a) normally within 20 working days of the day when the complainant provided all information necessary to handle the complaint; or
b) if the complaint is unusually complex, a longer period.
4.4. Where the complaint requires urgent actions to avoid disadvantaging the complainant, the complaints team may expedite these actions before issuing the full outcome of the complaint.
4.5. Any disclosures of unlawful, concerning, threatening or inappropriate behaviour will be considered in accordance with section 1.2 of this process.
4.6. Where the complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome of the Tier Three process, they may seek a review of their complaint outcome (see Section 6).
5.1. The complaint handler to whom the complaint is referred is responsible for:
a) acknowledging receipt of the complaint and confirming they will be the main contact person for the management of the complaint
b) facilitating investigation and resolution (this may include obtaining further evidence from the complainant or others and gaining advice from other staff and areas of the University as required)
c) liaison with the complainant to determine the appropriate method of resolution (which may include mediation or conciliation)
d) redirecting the complainant to attempt local resolution (Tier One or Tier Two) where this hasn’t been attempted and the complaint is assessed as appropriate for this type of resolution
e) communicating outcomes to the complainant
f) maintaining accurate records of the entire process on the RMIT Connect portal.
5.2. Meeting with a complainant/respondent
a) Where it is necessary to meet the complainant and/or respondent, the complaint handler will keep a record of the meeting and enter this in the appropriate notes field of the RMIT Connect complaints service record.
b) Complainants and respondents are entitled to bring a support person and/or advocate to the meeting.
c) If a complainant or respondent is under the age of 18 they must be accompanied at the meeting by an adult who is responsible for their interaction with the University.
5.3. Complaint outcomes are communicated in writing and include:
a) each of the relevant points raised by the complainant and the evidence they provided;
b) the decision and reasons for the outcome; and
c) advice that the complainant can seek a review of the decision within 20 working days of the notification of the outcome, including the grounds for review (see Section 9: Complaints Resolution Policy) and the information about how to submit the review.
5.4. Complaint outcomes are recorded in the RMIT Connect complaints service record.
5.5. Where a complaint outcome can’t be provided within the timeframes identified in the process the complaint handler provides the complainant with updates at least weekly on the progress of the investigation and when an outcome is expected.
6.1. Where a person has lodged a formal complaint and they are dissatisfied with the outcome of that complaint they may seek a review of the outcome. The review request is expected to provide evidence or a compelling argument that meet the grounds for a review of the outcome or decision.
6.2. Reviews are conducted by a manager at the same level as the original complaint handler or higher, who hasn’t previously been involved in the complaint.
6.3. If the complaint relates to learning and teaching or program quality, the review request may be referred to the College.
6.4. Reviewers are responsible for:
a) assessing whether the application meets grounds for review
b) conducting the review
c) liaising with the complainant
d) communicating outcomes to the complainant
e) maintaining accurate records of the entire process on the RMIT Connect complaints service record.
6.5. If the application for review doesn’t meet the grounds for review, the reviewer:
a) communicates this to the complainant in writing within five working days from the day the review request was received, stating the reasons the application is unsuccessful and providing details of the RMIT Ombuds should the complainant wish to request a further review of this outcome
b) forwards a copy of this notice to the original complaint handler for retention
c) updates the RMIT Connect complaints service record.
6.6. If the application for review does meet the grounds for review, the reviewer:
a) conducts the review, checking whether the policy and process were followed and whether the outcome was reasonable.
Reasonableness questions include:
• Did the complaint handler consider and respond to all relevant evidence provided by the complainant?
• Is there evidence that the complaint handler considered information that wasn’t relevant to the matter or that the outcome was influenced by bias or ill-will?
• Did the complaint handler give the complainant reasons for the outcome?
• Was the complaint handled in a timely manner, and if there were delays caused by the University, did the delay have a negative impact on the complainant?
• Is the outcome consistent with the relevant policies, principles and professional standards of the University?
• Are other possible outcomes more reasonable given the complainant’s individual circumstances?
b) communicates the outcome to the complainant in writing within 20 working days of the day the review request was received.
6.7. Review outcomes are communicated in writing and include:
a) each of the relevant points raised by the complainant and the evidence they provided
b) the decision and reasons for the outcome.
6.8. Complainants who are dissatisfied with their review are informed of the option of applying to the RMIT Ombuds for a further review, where they meet the grounds for such review as stated in Section 10 of the Complaints Resolution Policy. Complainants must have exhausted previous internal review options their review before applying to the RMIT Ombuds.
6.9. After all internal (RMIT) review outcomes have been exhausted the University considers the matter closed and complainants are advised that they can seek an external review by the Victorian Ombudsman.
6.10. Where all internal (RMIT) review processes have been exhausted as outlined in the Reviews section, the University will normally only reconsider a complaint if the complainant produces significant new information that wasn’t available at the time of the original complaint or subsequent internal reviews.
7.1. Unreasonable complainant conduct is behaviour by a complainant which, because of its nature or frequency, raises substantial health, safety or resource issues for the parties to a complaint. The parties to a complaint include the complainant(s), the subject(s) of the complaint, the complaint handler(s) and the University.
7.2. Unreasonable complainant conduct can occur in face-to-face interactions, telephone or digital communications (including on social networking websites), in a public location or in written correspondence, or a combination of these.
7.3. Where a complaint handler believes there’s evidence that establishes unreasonable complaint conduct it should be referred to the Academic Registrar.
a) Where the Academic Registrar is satisfied that it constitutes unreasonable complainant conduct they may dismiss the complaint and/or take other action as deemed appropriate, which may include referring the matter to the Student Conduct Board.
8.1. There are two kinds of anonymous complaints:
a) where a person doesn’t disclose their identity when submitting a complaint (by phone or in writing to the University).
b) where a student or third party identifies themselves when submitting a complaint but asks to have their identity withheld in the resolution of the complaint.
8.2. Entirely anonymous complaints will normally only be investigated where they raise a serious matter and there is sufficient information in the complaint to enable an investigation to occur.
a) Serious matters can include serious misconduct or corruption by a member of the University community, or possible risk to safety, property or the University’s reputation.
b) Where a complaint alleges an incident that government legislation requires the University to report, the matter will be reported, even if the complaint doesn’t provide enough information for the University to conduct an investigation.
8.3. Where a complainant identifies themselves but asks to have their identity withheld, the complaint handler will determine whether it is possible to resolve the complaint in accordance with the principles of fairness and natural justice without revealing the identity of the complainant.
|Version||Approval date||Effective date||Summary of changes||Approval authority|
|1.0||17 July 2018||31 July 2017||New policy process||Academic Registrar|
|1.1||12 November 2018||20 November 2018||Amendment||Academic Board|