Complaints-handling policy

This policy establishes a general complaint handling process. It provides guidelines for complainants and complaint recipients.

 The aim of the policy is to: 

  • Support the provision of the highest possible quality service to our customers.
  • Increase the level of customer satisfaction with the delivery of the Department's service.
  • Enhance our relationship with our customers.

Intent

The Department is committed to: 

  • recognising a customer's right to make complaints, comments or suggestions about the level and quality of services provided
  • encouraging the submission of any complaints customers or staff may have with any of the services 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 in an endeavour to improve the quality of services
  • providing customers with information about the complaint handling process
  • promoting a positive attitude towards customers and the commitment to resolving complaints. 

To support the complaint process the Department will also actively seek feedback from customers through regular surveys to ascertain general levels of satisfaction with the level and quality of services provided.

The policy and related resolution processes/guidelines are equally applicable when dealing with complaints from either external or internal customers, public sector agencies, other organisations or the public.

Principles

The Department, in respect to the following matters, will: 

  • Fairness - recognise the need to be fair and equitable both to the complainant and the officer and/or part of the Department against whom the complaint is made
  • Resources - provide adequate resources with sufficient levels of delegated authority to ensure complaints received are addressed and concluded in a timely manner
  • Visibility - promote the Department's Complaints Handling Policy and Guidelines to all external and internal customers
  • Access - ensure the complaint process is available to all customers and employees of the Department
  • Responsiveness - deal with complaints quickly, treat complainants with courtesy and wherever possible resolve complaints at the first point of contact
  • Assistance - provide assistance for complainants in the formulation and lodgement of complaints if requested
  • Data Collection - collect and record data on complaints lodged and outcomes achieved, to assist in the identification of systemic and recurring problems and/or potential improvements to service delivery and customer relations
  • Reviews - regularly review the complaints handling process to ensure it is efficiently delivering effective outcomes.

Rights of complainants

Fairness – complainants have rights to:

  • be heard
  • know whether the Department's relevant service guidelines have been followed
  • provide and request all relevant material to support the complaint
  • be informed of the criteria and processes, including the avenues for further review, applied by the Department in dealing with complaints
  • be informed of the response of the officer or part of the Department complained of
  • be informed of the Department's decision and the reasons for that decision
  • know that the complaint is being reviewed independently, if considered necessary
  • confidentiality, if requested.

Responsiveness – complainants shall be:

  • advised how long it will take to deal with the complaint (by agreement where possible)
  • be kept informed of progress by telephone advice, correspondence or interview.

Rights of Departmental officers

Dealing directly with the complainant - oral or written

A departmental officer has the right to:

  • obtain sufficient detail about the complaint to enable a proper investigation and response to the complaint
  • agree with the complainant the time required to provide information to resolve the complaint
  • agree with the complainant the form the response will take (oral or written)
  • record complaint details, timing and the form of response for reporting purposes (to Manager/Director/Director General).

Written complaints against a Departmental Officer

(Dealt with by Manager/Director or independent reviewer).

Departmental Officer against whom complaint has been made has the right to:

  • Assemble sufficient detail about the complaint to enable the officer to properly respond to the complaint
  • Place all relevant material before the Manager/Director/reviewer investigating the complaint
  • provide oral and/or written submissions regarding the complaint
  • Be informed of the decision and the reason for the decision.

Responsibilities of Managers and Directors

Managers/Directors shall: 

  • Appoint and empower officers in their Branch with the authority to resolve complaints quickly and effectively
  • Provide sufficient resources within their area of control to ensure the efficient and effective management of customer complaints
  • Ensure all complaints are dealt with in an acceptable and timely manner
  • Monitor progress of the complaints handling process
  • Develop and maintain an appropriate recording mechanism for oral and written complaints
  • Identify repetitive complaints
  • Evaluate the data and determine the causes of complaints and whether remedial action is required.

Outcomes

  1. All complaints handled promptly
  2. All complaints resolved at first point of contact
  3. Complaints report compiled annually.

Complaints Handling Procedures

Guidelines for lodging and handling complaints

Definition of customer complaints

Any expression of dissatisfaction received by the Department with a service or product offered or provided.

(This does not include customers contacting the Department to discuss an issue or to seek clarification of the methods of operation and policies and procedures used in dealing with their requests or enquiries).

Lodgement of complaints

Oral Complaints (in-person or by telephone) may be made by any customer (complainant) direct to an officer over a public counter, at any personal or official meeting or by telephone about the quality of any service or product provided by the Department.

  • Wherever possible, all oral complaints should be dealt with and resolved at the first point of contact;
  • Where the complaint is unable to be resolved at the first point of contact, the complaint must be referred immediately to a relevant officer with authority to resolve the complaint or the Manager/Director;
  • If the Manager/Director is unable to resolve the complaint orally, the complainant shall be advised that they may put the complaint in writing. (see General Written Complaints)

General Written Complaints (including facsimile or email) may be made by any customer (complainant) about the quality of any service or product provided by the Department.

  • A written complaint may be addressed to the Departmental officer responsible for the specific service(s) subject to complaint, providing the officer has the authority to resolve the matter;
  • All other complaints shall be addressed to the relevant Manager/Director (or to the Director General where a Director is implicated and/or part of the complaint).
  • Where a complaint involves issues across more than one division written complaints should be addressed to the Director General.  

Where to make a complaint

Make a complaint, comment or provide feedback by telephone, facsimile, email or in person.

Specific Written Complaints (Personal)

Specific Written Complaints (Personal) may be made by a customer (complainant) about the unsatisfactory performance of an individual Departmental officer or group of officers.

All complaints directed against the performance of a specific officer or group of officers shall be addressed to the officers' Manager/Director (or to the Director General where the Director is implicated and/or part of the complaint);

Complaints to the Ombudsman

Where a complainant does not accept a resolution offered by the Department, (and wishes to pursue the matter) that person shall be advised that they have a right, and may lodge a complaint with the Ombudsman (in accordance with the Ombudsman's specific requirements).