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Complaints Management Policy

Last updated: 12/04/2016 4:27 PM
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This policy applies to all staff, regardless of classification and status of employment, including volunteers, in relation to complaints and feedback about programs and services provided to our clients.

Introduction

The Department of Local Government and Communities (the department) Complaints Management Policy establishes procedures that deliver a mechanism by which all clients and members of the public, including children, young people and people who do not communicate effectively in English, are able to express their views.

We are open and responsive to receiving feedback whether as a complaint, question, comment or compliment.

Scope

This policy applies to all staff, regardless of classification and status of employment, including volunteers, in relation to complaints and feedback about programs and services provided to our clients.

This policy does not apply to:

  • complaints made by departmental employees that are employment related
  • complaints made to this agency about Local Governments and Early Childhood Education and Care.

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to:

  • document the position of the department in relation to complaints management
  • provide a friendly and flexible avenue for client communication, feedback and complaint handling
  • ensure that complaints are dealt with in a fair, unbiased, timely and confidential manner
  • enable the department to use the data and information received to understand the needs of our clients and improve service and programs satisfaction and performance.

Definitions

A complaint for the purposes of this policy and procedures is defined as the:

‘expression of dissatisfaction to an organisation, related to its products, or the complaints management process itself, where a response or resolution is explicitly or implicitly expected’.

(Standards Australia - AS ISO 10002-2006 Customer satisfaction - Guidelines for complaints handling in organizations)

A complaint does not include expressions of dissatisfaction, concerns or complaints received from external clients in respect to:

  • government policies and/or legislation outside the control of, and not the responsibility of, the department
  • matters that are the subject of current legal action in a court or tribunal
  • decisions made by any Court of Law
  • approaches made directly to the Minister or the State Ombudsman
  • allegations of misconduct by public officers involving corrupt or criminal activities (must be reported to the Corruption and Crime Commission)
  • any review process available under the Freedom of Information Act 1992 WA
  • disclosures and wrongdoing within the state public sector involving improper conduct or irregular use of public resources (can be pursued through the Public Interest Disclosure process)
  • any grievance under the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 or other Public Sector Human Resource Management Standards
  • the amount of any Redress WA and Country High School Hostels ex gratia payments
  • Local Governments and Early Childhood Education and Care services.

Complainant means the person or organisation making the complaint.

Client/customer/member of the public means a person or organisation receiving advice, a service, using the facilities, or engaging in a business relationship or any other person or organisation having an interest in the functions or activities of the department.

Dispute means a client’s formal disagreement which leads to some type of internal or external review or determination.

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Commitment

The department is committed to:

  • recognising a client’s right to make complaints, comments or suggestions about the standard and quality of services and programs provided
  • providing an efficient, fair and accessible mechanism for resolving complaints
  • ensuring that all complaints are heard and equitably resolved as soon as possible
  • monitoring complaints to improve the quality of services
  • providing clients with information about the complaint management process
  • promoting a positive attitude towards resolving complaints
  • providing assistance to complainants who may be disadvantaged in any way and require additional assistance i.e. regional or remote location, language or other impairment, children and young persons.

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Principles

The department demonstrates its commitment to providing an effective complaint management system by adopting the following principles for good practice:

Customer focus – the department is committed to effective complaint management and values feedback through complaints.

Visibility – information about how and where to complain is well publicised to clients, members of the public, staff and other interested parties.  We do this by providing a direct link to ‘complaints’ on the home page of our website.

Accessibility – the process for making a complaint is easy to access and use and interpreters are provided when needed.

Responsiveness – receipt of complaints are acknowledged to the complainant within three working days and the complainant is kept informed throughout the process.

Objectivity and fairness – complaints are dealt with in an equitable, objective and unbiased manner applying the principles of natural justice.

Confidentiality –personal information collected in relation to a complaint is confidential and only used for the purposes of addressing the complaint and any follow up actions.

Remedy – if a complaint is upheld, the organisation provides a remedy.

Review - there are opportunities for internal and external review and/or appeal about the department’s response to the complaint, and complainants are informed about these avenues.

Accountability – complaint management processes are clearly established and complaints and responses to them are recorded, monitored and reported to management.

Continuous Improvement – complaint data will be analysed to identify and address recurring or systemic issues and used to improve service and program satisfaction and performance.

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Resources

The department will ensure:

  • all staff comply with the department’s Code of Conduct
  • all staff are instructed in the department’s Customer Service Charter and Complaint Management Policy and Procedures through the induction process and information sessions
  • staff handling complaints will be supported by management and should receive effective supervision, guidance and feedback on their work
  • continuous training and development of skills in the areas of customer service, telephone skills, writing skills, recordkeeping practices, dealing with difficult customers and working with interpreters will be made available to staff dealing with complaints.

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Responding to Complaints

A compliant can be made in person, by phone, fax, on-line or in writing .

When a complaint is received we will:

  • attempt to resolve the complaint by talking to the relevant officer or business area, or if this is not satisfactory refer the complaint to the relevant manager
  • acknowledge receipt of the complaint within five working days
  • where a complaint is not fully understood, telephone the complainant to ensure we understand the issue correctly
  • aim to resolve the complaint and respond to the complainant within:
  • 15 working days for minor complaints
  • up to 60 days for more complex complaints
  • where timeframes cannot be met the complainant will be contacted to negotiate a revised response date and provide reasons for the delay

The department is committed to achieving the best possible outcomes for all complainants while we endeavour to resolve all complaints in an unbiased, fair and timely manner.  In the event you are not satisfied with the outcome of your complaint you may seek an internal review or alternatively refer to the Ombudsman WA.

Anonymous complaints will be accepted and assessed, but it should be noted these may be difficult to investigate due to lack of information.

  • Vexatious, trivial or previously finalised issues will not be pursued.

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Costs associated with the lodgement of a complaint

There is no charge or fee applied for the lodgement of a complaint.

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Recording complaint information

  • Complaint data will be recorded on the centralised Complaints Management Register. 
  • Complaints will be categorised to enable the department to identify policies, practices, facilities and areas that may be in need of review and that will enable improved customer focus and outcomes.
  • All correspondence relating to feedback and complaints will be managed in accordance with the department’s Recordkeeping Plan, policies and procedures.

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Accountability and continuous improvement

  • Information from the Complaints Management Register will be regularly reviewed and analysed to assess its efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Any actual or proposed improvements to services and programs will be followed up and acted on.
  • Reports on complaint handling and resolution will be presented to Corporate Executive on a quarterly basis.

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Policy review

This policy (and associated internal procedures) will be reviewed annually to ensure it meets the needs of the department and its clients.

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Accountability Framework

Departmental policy and procedures

  • Code of Conduct
  • Customer Service Charter

Legislation

  • Corruption and Crime Commission Act 2003
  • Disability Services Act 1993
  • Equal Opportunity Act 1984
  • Freedom of Information Act 1992
  • Public Interest Disclosure Act 2003
  • Public Sector Management Act 1994

Across government requirements

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