Complaints Procedure

Mission and Values

The mission of St Matthews is to create a safe and caring community within a dynamic educational environment where Christ is the centre of everything we say and do.

We are therefore committed to:

  • a safe, inclusive and professional learning environment
  • just and right relationships that recognise and respect the dignity of each individual.

 

Purposes

  • to ensure complaints are dealt with speedily and effectively
  • to allay concerns or fears and help prevent issues developing into major problems
  • to provide guidance in dealing with complaints to ensure a successful outcome for all parties.

These guidelines apply to complaints received about personnel employed by St Matthews Catholic School as well as volunteers, religious and contractors.

  

Expectations

It is expected that all personnel to whom these guidelines apply will:

  • respect the rights of others and refrain from actions that will bring forward a legitimate complaint 
  • actively promote a fair and just working environment
  • work in cooperation with each other
  • follow these guidelines if they receive a complaint.

  

Definitions

A complaint is any concern about personnel employed by St Matthews Catholic School, as well as volunteers, religious and contractors. It also includes concerns about organisational, curriculum or cultural matters that are expressed to the school or the CEO. A complaint may be received from a parent, student, staff member at St Matthews Catholic School or  the Catholic Education Office, a priest or a member of the public. It may be delivered in person, by letter, email or phone call.

  

Guidelines

The following inform these guidelines:

  1. Anyone raising a complaint is responsible for participating in the process in good faith. Malicious or vexatious complaints do not meet the good faith criterion.
  2. A formal complaint should normally be lodged as soon as possible after the incident occurring.
  3. Anyone who raises a complaint in good faith will be protected from detrimental action, including victimisation or unfair treatment.
  4. All parties are encouraged to resolve complaints at their source or at the lowest level of management necessary for their proper resolution. All parties are welcome to take a support person to any meeting about the complaint.
  5. Complaints should be investigated in an open and unbiased manner with all parties seeking a fair hearing and clarification of the issues.
  6. No decisions or resolutions should be made until all the facts are clear.
  7. Whenever possible, the wishes of the person making the complaint, in relation to the resolution process, will be taken into account and confidentiality will be respected at all times within the constraints of the need to fully investigate the complaint. However, this may not be possible in some circumstances. Where the complaint is of a very serious nature, formal action may be required beyond the wishes of the staff member, for example when a staff member raising a grievance alleges behaviour that is potentially unlawful.
  8. These guidelines do not limit the right of any person to use other available agencies and processes, such as trade unions, the Anti-Discrimination Board or the Ombudsman, or legal process. Anyone raising a complaint should advise the principal or CEO if the matter is being pursued through alternative or external avenues.
  9. The Complaints procedures shall be consistent with the Church’s teaching on human dignity.
  10. At all times the principles of procedural fairness will be applied.
  11. Any complaint that constitutes a child protection issue is managed in accordance with the Diocesan Child Protection Policy.
  12. Generally, a complaint about a student should be raised first with the class teacher and/or the principal of the school.

 

Procedures

- Approach the other party

Where appropriate, the complainant is encouraged to try to resolve any complaint directly with the person/s concerned. This may be the easiest way of resolving the issue if the complainant feels comfortable speaking to the other person involved. The complainant needs to explain to the person concerned why their behaviour, decision or actions caused concern. Through discussion, the issues may become clear and the parties have a chance to address the problem. Many complaints can be resolved at this level.

 

- Approach a member of staff to act as an intermediary

If the complainant is not comfortable approaching the person/s directly concerned, they may approach another member of staff eg the principal or a coordinator to act as an intermediary. A meeting can be arranged by the principal or a coordinator to address the concerns and work towards a resolution of the problem.

 

- Make a formal complaint

If the complaint is not able to be resolved directly or in the above meeting, the complainant may lodge a formal written complaint with the school. It is important that this is dealt with speedily by the Principal or coordinator and a written response is made.

 

- Raise the complaint directly with the Catholic Education Office

If the above steps are not successful, the issue may be raised directly with the Catholic Education Office.

 

What will the principal or supervisor who handles the complaint do?

As soon as possible after you report your complaint, the following will happen:

  • The principal or a coordinator receiving the complaint will obtain information from the complainant about the issue and document this information.
  • That person will explain how the rest of the complaints procedure works (including what will be done to protect the complainant).
  • As soon as possible after the initial interview, the principal or coordinator will address the complaint(s) with the other party/parties. All parties are welcome to have a support person present at any meeting.
  • If more information is required the principal or supervisor may need to speak to witnesses.
  • If he/she decides to speak to witnesses, this should be done very carefully to safeguard confidentiality. In the interests of confidentiality, only relevant witnesses will be interviewed.
  • The principal or coordinator will decide how the complaint should be resolved and will let all parties know.
  • The principal or coordinator will inform the complainant in writing of the resolution and of any changes that will be made to procedures to help prevent this situation reoccurring. An apology should be offered for any action that caused the concern.
  • The principal or supervisor involved will monitor the situation for an appropriate period of time.

Who else can help?

At any time during a complaints procedure all parties can get legal advice from the union representative or any other legal representative.

 

In addition, at any time during the grievance the person has the right to contact an external agency such as the Anti-Discrimination Board (www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au) or the Australian Human Rights Commission (www.hreoc.gov.au) for advice or help.

 

Legislative Framework

  1. Anti-Discrimination Act 1977
  2. Racial Discrimination Act 1975
  3. Disability Discrimination Act 1992
  4. Sex Discrimination Act 1984
  5. Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000
  6. Ombudsman Act 1974 (NSW)

 

 Related Policies and Guidelines

  1. Workplace Grievance Policy Catholic Education Office Bathurst 2009
  2. Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying Policy Catholic Education Office Bathurst 2009
  3. Occupational Health and Safety Policy Catholic Education Office Bathurst 2009
  4. Child Protection Policy  Catholic Education Office Bathurst 2009
  5. Section 5.6.2 ‘Registration Systems and Member Non-government Schools (NSW) Manual
  6. NSW Board of Studies February 2008
  7. Code of Conduct for Employees Catholic Education Office Bathurst 2009
  8. Staff Discipline Policy Catholic Education Office Bathurst 2009