Complaints & Appeals

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Complaints & Appeals Form

Please complete the following form in as much detail as possible.

The Complaints Handling Policy and Procedure, including the Third Party review procedure are detailed below. You can also download a copy of the process for your own reference at the bottom of this page.

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Complaint Handling Policy

VET Lab for Schools is committed to providing a fair and transparent complaint handling process.

What is a complaint?

A complaint is generally negative feedback about services or people which has not been resolved locally.

Who does this policy apply apply to?

This policy applies to and may involve issues concerning the conduct of:

  • VET Lab for Schools as an organisation, it’s trainers, assessors or other staff
  • Third party services provided on behalf of VET Lab for Schools, its trainers, assessors or other staff; or
  • A Student of VET Lab for Schools

This is an important point to note in understanding that this policy has a broad application and is not simply relevant to complaints that may be made by Student s. A complaint may be made by an employer about VET Lab for Schools  or by the trainer about the conduct of the Student . Throughout this policy we refer to the person making a complaint as simply the complainant.

Early Resolution of Complaints 

In all cases, issues that arise during training and assessment that are the source of frustration or are in dispute should be resolved at the time they occur between the persons involved. It is often the case that complaints can be avoided by proper communication and respect between persons involved.

Relationship to Continuous Improvement

Frequently, the complaints
handling process will explore weakness in the training and assessment or administrative system that can flow into the continuous improvement system as opportunities for improvement. This outcome of complaints handling is very positive and should be actively applied by all persons involved. It is for this reason that
complaints received from stakeholders should be seen in a positive light and as opportunities for improvement.

Making a complaint 

A complaint may be received by VET Lab for Schools in any form and does not need to be formally documented by the complainant in order to be acted on. Complaints may be made by any person. The complaints policy must be publicly available. This means that the complaints policy and procedure must be published on the VET Lab for Schools website.

To make a complaint, the person is recommended to complete the VET Lab for Schools – Complaint Form. This form is available via our website or can be requested through casey@vetlabforschools.com.au or by calling 1300 216 214

The completed complaint from is to be submitted to the CEO either in hard copy or electronically via the following contact details:

  • Attention CEO: VET Lab for Schools, PO Box 242, Box Hill, VIC 3129
  • Email: Directly to the CEO casey@vetlabforschools.com.au 

If a complainant has any difficulty assessing the required form or submitting the complaint to VET Lab for Schools, they are advised to contact VET Lab for Schools immediately at the
following phone number: 1300 216 214

A written record of all complaints is to be kept by VET Lab for Schools including all details of lodgement, response and resolution. The complaints register within the student management system is to be used to record the details of the complaint and to maintain a chronological journal of events during the complaint handling process. Records relating to complaints handling must be stored securely to prevent access to unauthorised personnel.

The complaint is referred to the CEO; whereby the CEO reviews the complaint and determines if investigation or consultation is required; or if the matter can be solved internally. 

Complaints are to be handled in the strictest confidence. NO VET Lab for Schools representative is to disclose information to any person without the permission of VET Lab for Schools CEO.  A decision to release information to third parties can only be made after the complainant has given permission for this to occur. This permission should be given using the Information Release Form.

Communicating the Complaint Handling Policy and Procedure 

The complaints handling policy
must be:

  • Publicly available on the VET Lab for Schools Website
  • Integrated into the VET Lab for Schools Student Handbook
  • Included in the VET Lab for Schools Policy and Procedure

 Complaint Handling Timeframe 

  • Written acknowledgement by VET Lab for Schools no later than 24 hours from the time the complaint is received. This acknowledgement is intended to provide the complainant assurance that VET Lab for Schools has received the complaint and will review the relevant issues and provide a response as soon as practical.
    The acknowledgement must inform the person that they will receive a written response.
  • The handling of a complaint is to commence within seven (7) working days of the lodgement of the complaint and all reasonable measures are taken to finalise the process as soon as practicable.
  •  A written response must be provided to the complainant within fourteen (14) working days of the lodgement of the complaint.
  • As a benchmark, VET Lab for Schools should attempt to resolve complaints as soon as possible. A timeframe to resolve a complaint within thirty (30) calendar days is considered acceptable and in the best interest of VET Lab for Schools and the complainant.   
  • A complainant should also be provided with regular updates to inform them of the process of the complaint handling.
  • Updates should be provided to the complainant at a minimum of two (2) weekly intervals.
  • Complaints must be resolved to a final outcome within sixty (60) calendar days of the complaint being initially received. Where VET Lab for Schools Chief Executive Officer considers that more than 60 calendar days are required to process and finalise the complaint, the CEO must inform the complainant in writing, including reasons why more than 60 calendar days are required. 

 Principles of Natural Justice and Procedural Fairness

A complainant is to be provided an opportunity to formally present his or her case at no cost. The principles of Natural Justice and Procedural Fairness must be incorporated into the complaint handling process to ensure that decision-making is fair and reasonable. Natural justice must be observed when it affects the rights, interests or legitimate expectations of individuals. The following principles are to be applied:

  • CEO bias. Where the Chief Executive Officer of VET Lab for Schools  feels that they may have bias or there is a perception of bias process or where the person making the complaint is not satisfied with how the matter has been handled, the complainant is to be referred directly to an independent third-party for consideration and response.
  • Responding to Allegations. Where a complaint involves one person making allegations about another person, it is a requirement for VET Lab for Schools to hear both sides of the matter before making any judgements about the complaint should be settled. A person who will be affected by a decision made by VET Lab for Schools as a result of a complaint has the right to be fully informed of any allegations and to be provided adequate opportunity to be heard and respond. The person has the right to:
  • Put forward arguments in their favour,
  • Show cause why a proposed action should not be taken,
  • Deny allegations
  • Call for evidence to disprove allegations and claims,
  • Explain allegations or present an innocent explanation, and
  • Provide mitigating circumstances (information aimed at reducing the severity, seriousness of something).
  • VET Lab for Schools also has an obligation to fully consider the substance of allegations and the response provided by parties before making a decision. Decisions must be communicated to the complainant and relevant person’s subject of allegations in writing. This is to include advising these persons of their right to seek a third-party review of decisions made by VET Lab for Schools. 
  • Referring matters to authorities. Where an allegation is made that involves alleged criminal or illegal activity and it is considered outside the scope and expertise of VET Lab for Schools to investigate the matter, then in these circumstances VET Lab for Schools  reserve the right to report these allegations to law enforcement authorities. Persons related to the matter involving alleged criminal or illegal activity will be advised in writing if this course of action is being taken.
  • Third Party Review. Where the person making a complaint is not satisfied with the handling of the matter by VET Lab for Schools , they have the opportunity for a body or person that is independent of VET Lab for Schools to review his or her complaint following the internal completion of complaint handling process. Before a person seeks a review by an independent third party, they are requested to first allow VET Lab for Schools to fully consider the nature of the complaint and to respond to the person in writing. If after this has occurred, the person is not satisfied with the outcome, they have the right then seek a review by an independent third party. To request a review by an independent third party, the complainant should inform the Office Manager of their request who will initiate the process with the Chief Executive Officer.
  • In these circumstances, the VET Lab for Schools Chief Executive Officer will advise of an appropriate party independent of VET Lab for Schools  to review the complaint outcome (and its subsequent handling) and provide advice to VET Lab for Schools  in regards to the recommended outcomes. The independent third-party is required to respond with their recommendations within fourteen (14) working days of their review being requested. This advice is to be accepted by VET Lab for Schools as final, advised to the person making a complaint in writing and implemented without prejudice.
  • Where the VET Lab for Schools appoints or engages an appropriate independent person to review a complaint, the VET Lab for Schools will meet the full cost to facilitate the independent review.
Unresolved Complaints 

Once the complaint handling process has concluded; where the person making a complaint remains not satisfied with the outcome of the complaint handling procedure, the person is to be advised that they have the right to refer the matter to any external authority/agency that may be relevant to their complaint.

The following external agencies are nominated in the first instance as relevant points of referral the person may consider

  • In relation to consumer related issues, the person may refer their complaint to the Office of Fair Trading.
  • In relation to the delivery of training and assessment services, the person may refer their complaint to the National Training Complaints Service via the following phone number: 13 38 73 or visit the website at  https://www.education.gov.au/NTCH

In relation to matters relating to privacy, the person may refer their complaint to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner via the following details: https://www.oaic.gov.au/individuals/how-do-i-make-a-privacy-complaint or call on 1300 363 992

This guidance is also communicated to Student s within the Student Handbook and also within the publicly available policies and procedures on VET Lab for Schools website. It is expected that the above agencies will investigate the persons concerns and contact the VET Lab for Schools for information. External agencies will typically request a copy of any record of how the complaint was handled from the person. VET Lab for Schools is to ensure that the person is provided with a written response that they may use for this purpose.

The VET Lab for Schools is to cooperate fully with agencies such as the National Training Complaints Service, the Office of Fair Trading or ASQA that may investigate the handling of a complaint. VET Lab for Schools considers that it would be extremely unlikely that a complaint is not able to be resolved quickly within VET Lab for Schools internal arrangements.

Records Management of Complaints Records 

Records relating to complaints will present in two formats. There will be electronic records in the form of email correspondence and other documents which are communicated electronically and hard copy records which are submitted by the complainant or generated by VET Lab for Schools. There is also a record of the complaint maintained within the VET Lab for Schools student management system. This includes the details about the complaint and a diary log which records the progress of the complaint handling and closure. This record also records identified opportunities for improvement that result from complaints handling.

All records regardless of their format will be saved in a digital format into a secure folder located on the VET Lab for Schools file storage. Each file is to be clearly labelled with the document title or subject and the date of which the document was received or generated. This folder must only be accessible to persons authorised by the Chief Executive Officer. Records stored on the student management system are to be accessible only to administrators and managers.To ensure records are maintained in a safe and suitable condition, the following is to apply:

  • Records must be kept securely to prevent them being accessed by any non-authorised personnel.
  • Records must be kept confidential to safeguard information and to protect the privacy of complainants.
  • Records must be kept avoiding damage by fire, flood, termites or any other pests.
  • Electronic data storage must be safe from destruction by fire or flood and should take account of the risk of component failure of a single storage device. Electronic data is also to be backed-up off site.

A correspondence record must be made for each complainant making a complaint. All email and letter communication should be retained with the complainant correspondence record within the complaint handling file.

Period of Retention of Complaints Records

VET Lab for Schools is to retain records relating to complaints handling for a minimum of five (5) years.

Destruction of Complaints Records 

VET Lab for Schools CEO is the only person who can authorise (in writing) the destruction of complaint handling records. Records are only to be authorised for destruction after the retention period has lapsed. Documents identified for destruction are to be shredded before being recycled

 

 

Complaint Handling Procedure

VET Lab for Schools will apply the following procedure to its complaint handling:

  1. A complaint may be received in any form (written or verbal) although persons seeking to make a complaint are recommended to complete the complaint form which is available to them on the website. There is no time limitation on a person who is seeking to make a complaint.
  2. The complainant must be provided a written acknowledgement as soon as possible and no later than 24 hours from the time the complaint is received using the written acknowledgement email template. The acknowledgement must inform the complainant that they will receive a written response within 14 days and explain the complaints handling process and the person’s rights and obligations.
  3. The complaint must be entered into the complaints and appeals register. The complaints and appeals register identifies the complainant, relation with VET Lab for Schools , nature of complaint, findings/outcomes, any links with the Continuous Improvement report and the dates received & closed. Prior to entering the complaint form into the register, check if the person has not already submitted a complaint, if it is accurately recorded or if it has been recorded as a subsequent contact.
  4. The complaint is forwarded to the Chief Executive Office for review. The CEO will determine if the complaint requires further investigation or consultation.
  5. Where a complaint is made about or involves allegations about another person, VET Lab for Schools is obliged to inform this person about this complaint or allegation and provide them the opportunity to respond and present information in response to the issues raised.
  6. Where a complaint is received by VET Lab for Schools which involve allegations about alleged criminal conduct, VET Lab for Schools  are to recommend the person making the complaint refer the matter to the relevant State or Territory Police Service.
  7. The CEO reviews the outcomes of the investigation/consultation and determines the complaint response within an acceptable timeframe. The complaints response letter template can be used to identify the findings and outcomes to the complainant.
  8. VET Lab for Schools shall maintain the enrolment of the complainant during the complaint handling process.
  9. Decisions or outcomes of the complaint handling process that find in favour of the Student shall be implemented immediately
  10. The complainant is entitled to be heard with access to all relevant information and with the right of reply ensuring natural justice and procedural fairness is applied at every stage of the complaint process.
  11. VET Lab for Schools must request written acknowledgement from the complainant once the complaint has been resolved.
  12. Complaint handling procedures should conclude with an analysis of the circumstances to identify any opportunities for improvement.
  13. The complaint must be accurately updated and recorded in the Complaints Register.

Complaints Handling Process
Third Party Review Process