Melbourne Edge Consultants (The Edge) acknowledges, whilst working with children, young people, young adults, adults, contractors and consultants, there may be situations where a difference of opinion, or misunderstanding occurs. To achieve a successful resolution depends on the communication skills of those involved. Most disputes or misunderstandings can usually be resolved informally and often between the two parties. There are, however situations which require support from others and sometimes even more formal support, in order to achieve a positive outcome.
1. Defining Complaints
A complaint generally arises where something is unsatisfactory or unacceptable. Complaints can also include allegations of bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, discrimination and unfair treatment.
Everyone has the right to make a complaint. All complaints are taken seriously and will be assessed and investigated by the Complaints Officer or delegate or an appointed independent external investigator.
2. Informal Complaints
In most situations, emphasis is on a resolution, rather than factual proof or substantiation of a complaint.
Informal procedures include:
– Individual resolution;
– Assisted resolution; and
It is envisaged that when The Edge is contacted with an informal complaint, that the Complaints Officer will be able to resolve the complaint or concern by giving advice and appropriate assurances regarding the matter.
2.1 Individual Resolution
Where possible, complainants are encouraged to speak directly with the respondent in order to resolve the matter. Quite often people are not aware their behaviour has had a direct impact on another person.
2.2 Assisted Resolution
In situations where it may be difficult for a complainant to speak directly to a respondent, a trusted third party may be able to assist in speaking with the respondent. This process may occur with or without the complainant present. Where possible, it is best to use a person the respondent respects and responds to positively.
If a complainant wishes to remain anonymous, this is possible, provided no disciplinary action is envisaged as a result of the complaint.
Mediation offers intervention with a dispute in order to reach a resolution. It requires both parties to be voluntary and willing participants, in order to try and reach an agreement, outcome or action plan.
3. Formal Complaints
Formal complaints focus on whether a complaint can be substantiated. For this reason, complainants are required to contact Complaints Officer to lodge a complaint.
Formal complaints may be made when:
– A complainant is not comfortable speaking with individual or assisted resolution.
– A complainant has attempted informal approaches, and the behaviour persists.
– The alleged behaviour is deemed serious.
– The alleged behaviour is such that it may also require disciplinary action.
4. Investigation Process for Formal Complaints
All investigations, including those under the Reportable Conduct Scheme, shall apply the ‘balance of probabilities’ as its standard of proof. All reasonable steps should be taken to mitigate risks of re-traumatising the alleged victim by the investigation process.
5. Procedural Fairness & Confidentiality
Procedural fairness is concerned with the process of investigation and decision making. This includes allowing the respondent:
– to be notified of any adverse information that is credible, relevant and significant (eg allegations about bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, discrimination or unfair treatment); and
– an opportunity to respond to the information.
Consideration should be given as to whether the respondent should be told about the allegation, so that the investigation is not compromised in any way but remains procedurally fair. It is also important to note that
details of any investigation shall be kept confidential and only be shared with those individuals deemed relevant and considered necessary for the investigation or the action taken to address the allegation(s). This includes notifying the Commission for Children and Young People within 3 business days of becoming aware of a reportable allegation.
6. Support for Complainant & Respondent
Throughout the investigation, complainants and respondents are encouraged to bring along a support person, which may be a friend, family member, colleague or lawyer. A support person may be of benefit to provide emotional support, provide procedural support and document conversations or assist with conveying relevant information clearly.