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Student Complaints Resolution procedure

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Section 1 - Preamble

(1) This Procedure is effective from 20 February 2024.

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Section 2 - Purpose

(2) This Procedure documents the University's student complaints resolution process, which contributes to a supportive, educative and fair learning environment.

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Section 3 - Scope

(3) This Procedure applies to concerns and complaints by current, former or prospective students as set out in the Student Complaints Resolution policy.

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Section 4 - Policy

(4) This Procedure is pursuant to the Student Complaints Resolution policy.

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Section 5 - Procedures

(5) The University supports a tiered process for student complaints resolution:

  1. local resolution (clauses 10-13)
  2. central resolution (clauses 14-22)
  3. review of a complaint outcome (clauses 23-26).

(6) In resolving a complaint, staff must consider:

  1. procedural fairness
  2. compliance with relevant policies, procedures or legislation
  3. whether the person taking an action or making a decision was authorised to do so.

(7) Complainants submit their complaint as soon as practicable. Complaints submitted later than six months after the incident occurred are only considered where the University is satisfied that it is still practicable for the University to address and resolve the complaint and either:

  1. it relates to a serious matter, or
  2. the complainant demonstrates that circumstances outside their control prevented them from submitting the complaint earlier.

(8) At any stage of the complaints resolution process, the complainant has the right to a support person. This may include  Harassment and Discrimination Contact Officers, a DUSA Advocate, family member or friend. 

(9) A student may withdraw a complaint or request for a review of a complaint outcome at any time by notifying the University in writing.

Local resolution

(10) Where possible, complainants attempt to resolve their complaint as soon as practicable and directly with the local area to which the complaint relates.

(11) The local area gathers information from the complainant and any other relevant parties (including referring to any relevant University policy or procedure) to respond to the complaint.

(12) The local area provides the complainant with a complaint outcome which includes information about the process used to resolve the complaint.

(13) If the complaint cannot be resolved locally, or if the complainant feels uncomfortable attempting to do so, complainants may submit their complaint for central resolution (clauses 14-22).

Central resolution

(14) The Dean of Student’s nominee (Student Complaints) considers complaints submitted for central resolution. To submit a complaint for central resolution, complainants complete the Student Complaint Form and attach any supporting documentation.

(15) Within ten working days of complaint submission, Student Complaints advises the complainant, in writing, whether an investigation will occur or provides an outcome.

(16) Where justified, student complaints investigates the complaint to facilitate its resolution. During the investigation, Student Complaints may request information from University staff in relation to the complaint or provide information about the complaint to relevant decision-makers.

(17)  All staff involved in complaints investigations:

  1. act fairly and impartially
  2. exercise independent judgement
  3. conduct themselves in a professional and courteous manner
  4. treat the process as confidential , in accordance with the University’s Privacy policy
  5. disclose actual, perceived or potential conflicts of interest as soon as they become apparent.

(18) At the conclusion of the investigation, a written outcome will be sent to the complainant. The outcome will include a summary of the complaint, refer to relevant policy and procedures, detail findings and any actions that have been or will be taken by the University that are not subject to considerations of privacy or confidentiality, and provide review options (internal and/or external).

(19) Student Complaints will provide all parties involved in the process with a written statement detailing the outcome (where appropriate).

(20) Where a complaint involves alleged staff misconduct, following the conclusion of the complaints process, Student Complaints may refer the matter to People and Culture for further action under the Staff Discipline procedure.

(21) Where appropriate (such as in cases of alleged serious staff misconduct), Student Complaints may arrange for external investigation of a complaint and the provision of an investigation report.

(22) Following the conclusion of an external investigation, the Dean of Students or nominee will provide a copy of the external investigation report to People and Culture  for action under the Staff Discipline procedure.

Complaint Reviews

(23) Complainants may request an internal review of a centrally managed complaint via the Student Complaint Form within 20 working days of Student Complaints issuing the complaint outcome notice.

(24) The Dean of Students or nominee determines whether a student has grounds for an internal review of their complaint outcome on one or more of the following grounds:

  1. the University’s failure to act fairly and impartially
  2. the University’s failure to comply with applicable University policies and procedures
  3. availability of substantial new evidence relating to the original complaint that was not reasonably available to the investigator.

(25) Complainants receive an outcome to their review application within 15 working days.

(26) Students can seek an external review of final University decisions from the Victorian Ombudsman. Students may also access other external organisations such as the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission and the Australian Human Rights Commission.

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Section 6 -  Definitions 

(27) For the purpose of this Procedure:

  1. complainant: a person who submits a complaint.
  2. complaint: an expression of dissatisfaction with the quality of an action taken, decision made or service provided by the University and/or a delay or failure to provide a service, take action or make a decision by the University.
  3. Harassment and Discrimination Contact Officer: as defined in the Complaints: Discrimination, Harassment, Victimisation and Vilification (Staff) procedure.