COMPLAINT HANDLING W S C P

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					                                                       WOLLONDILLY SHIRE COUNCIL POLICY
  COMPLAINT HANDLING




               Wollondilly Shire Council
              PO Box 21 Picton NSW 2571                                                   o
          62-64 Menangle St Picton NSW 2571
Tel: 02 4677 1100 Fax: 02 4677 2339 DX: 26052 Picton
   Email: council@wollondilly.nsw.gov.au
        Rural Living www.wollondilly.nsw.gov.au
WOLLONDILLY SHIRE COUNCIL                                                     POLICY NO GOV0054




                        COMPLAINT HANDLING POLICY

1. POLICY OBJECTIVES
     1.1   To provide a framework for members of the public to give Council positive and
           negative feedback. Council will treat all matters equally and aim to provide a fair and
           reasonable outcome to both the customer and Council.              Any complaints or
           compliments about our service or staff are welcomed and provide valuable feedback
           about Council’s quality of service.

     1.2   To ensure that complaints are dealt with fairly, impartially and confidentially and that
           disputes between Council and complainants are resolved in the first instance. A
           resident may choose to make representations directly to external agencies such as the
           NSW Ombudsman, the Minister for Local Government or the Independent
           Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

     1.3   To demonstrate Council’s commitment to actively seek and use positive and negative
           feedback to improve Council’s services.


2.   BACKGROUND
     2.1   A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction with Council’s decisions, policies,
           procedures, systems, charges, employees, agents or quality of the service provided by
           Council staff or contractors.

     2.2   A complaint for the purpose of this policy includes matters related to actions of
           Council, its staff and/or Councillors or services provided by Council.

     2.3   A complaint about Council includes:

                Any allegation of impropriety or misconduct by a Councillor, staff member or
                Council delegate.
                Any grievance about the handling of a matter, our policies, procedures or
                service.

     2.4   Examples of possible complaints about our office include (but are not limited to):

                Delays in service.
                Improper or unethical staff behaviour.
                Inaccurate information being included in a publication.
                Conflict of interest or bias.
                Failure to act in agreed timeframe or manner.




                Date first Adopted by Council: 19 November 2007
                Most recent adoption by Council: 15 February 2010
                Due for next review: Feb ‘11                                           Page 2 of 12
WOLLONDILLY SHIRE COUNCIL                                                    POLICY NO GOV0054


     2.5   Examples of matters that are not considered as complaints include (but are not limited
           to):

                A request for services.
                A request for information or explanation of policies or procedures or decisions of
                Council.
                Reports of damaged or faulty infrastructure.
                Reports of hazards eg: fallen tree branch.
                Reports concerning noise or unauthorised building works.
                The lodging of an appeal in accordance with legislative provisions or policy.

     2.6   Requests for services or information, reports concerning Council’s assets and
           activities, and the lodging of appeals against Council’s decisions do not constitute a
           complaint and should not be recorded as one. These types of customer requests
           should be dealt with in accordance with Councils Customer Request Management
           (CRM) service standards. As per the standards every customer receives an
           acknowledgement letter or the equivalent depending on the category of the Customer
           Request and are advised within 14 days of what action has been taken or proposed.

     2.7   A complaint that relates to corrupt conduct, maladministration, and/or a serious and
           substantial waste of Council resources constitutes a protected disclosure under the
           Protected Disclosures Act 1994. See Internal Reporting Policy GOV0004.

3.   ELIGIBILITY
     3.1   This policy applies to all Councillors, staff, Council committee members and Council
           delegates of Wollondilly Shire Council.

4.   GUIDELINES
     Part 1 – Lodging Complaints

     4.1   Complaints may be lodged with Council:

                In person.
                By telephone.
                By email/ fax.
                By letter.

     4.2   Straightforward complaints received in person or by telephone will be acknowledged at
           the time of contact. All other complaints should be requested in writing and
           acknowledged in writing within 5 working days.

     4.3   Complaints of a more serious nature involving personal injury, a breach of the law or
           staff misconduct should be put in writing.

           4.3.1 Complaints about the conduct of Councillors, members of staff of Council,
                 members of Council committees and delegates of Council should be addressed
                 to the General Manager.

           4.3.2 Complaints about the conduct of the General Manager should be addressed to
                 the Mayor.


                Date first Adopted by Council: 19 November 2007
                Most recent adoption by Council: 15 February 2010
                Due for next review: Feb ‘11                                          Page 3 of 12
WOLLONDILLY SHIRE COUNCIL                                                   POLICY NO GOV0054


    4.4   Any Councillor in receipt of a serious complaint shall be responsible for referring the
          matter in writing directly to the General Manager within 3 days of receiving the
          complaint. Complaints of a less serious nature should be lodged in Council’s
          Customer Request Management System (CRMS) within 3 days of receiving the
          complaint.

    4.5   Complaints shall detail the name, address and contact phone number of the
          complainant together with the following (where relevant):

               Relevant dates, places and times.
               A description of the incident or problem.
               Details of any phone conversations and/or meetings.
               Any explanations the resident deems important.
               Copies of relevant documents.
               What outcome the resident expects to achieve.

    4.6   Council will accept anonymous complaints and such complaints will be managed in
          accordance with the policy. Council will endeavour to review issues raised in
          anonymous complaints, however without adequate information this may be difficult. In
          circumstances where the identity of the complainant is not known, Council will be
          unable to maintain contact, provide feedback or deliver the desired outcome to the
          complainant.

    4.7   Council is committed to ensuring that no complainants are disadvantaged and
          recognises that some groups within the community have special needs. To
          demonstrate this commitment Council will provide additional assistance to any person
          with a special need wanting to access this policy or make a complaint.


    Part 2 – Handling Complaints

    4.8   Council will ensure every complaint is received courteously, recorded accurately,
          investigated and acted on quickly and appropriately.

    4.9   Council will acknowledge receipt of a complaint within 5 working days.

    4.10 Council will give proper consideration to all complaints, and allegations will be looked
         at objectively and any investigation will be conducted impartially with all available
         relevant facts.

    4.11 Council will inform complainants on the progress of their complaint and will advise the
         outcome and any rights of further review.

    4.12 Any complaint that contains intimidatory, abusive or inflammatory statements will be
         returned to the sender and not otherwise acted upon.

    4.13 Complaints alleging breach of the Code of Conduct regarding members of staff of
         Council, delegates of Council, members of Council committees, Councillors and/or the
         General Manager are to be dealt with in accordance with the procedures as set out in
         the Code of Conduct.




               Date first Adopted by Council: 19 November 2007
               Most recent adoption by Council: 15 February 2010
               Due for next review: Feb ‘11                                          Page 4 of 12
WOLLONDILLY SHIRE COUNCIL                                                   POLICY NO GOV0054


    Part 3 – Complaints Process

    4.14 Council has a three tier approach for the processing of complaints. These tiers provide
         three levels of review and respond to different types of complaints.

    4.15 Any staff member dealing with a complaint shall follow the three tier complaint
         handling system defined below:

               Tier 1:/ Frontline Complaint Handling or referral

               Complaint registered and resolved or attempted resolution at the time of contact
               when the issue is first raised or complaint resolved following investigation and
               appropriate action being undertaken to the satisfaction of the resident; or

               Referral to an appropriate person or agency to be dealt with such as the Public
               Officer, General Manager or the Independent Commission Against Corruption
               (ICAC) for code of conduct issues, protected disclosures and/or allegations of
               corrupt conduct.

               Tier 2:/ Internal Review

               Unresolved complaints i.e. where a complainant is still dissatisfied and their
               complaint is reviewed or investigated via internal review, and the results of the
               review are reported back to the complainant.

               Further consideration should be given to options such as conciliation, mediation
               or further negotiations to remedy grievances where the complainant remains
               dissatisfied.

               Tier 3: / External Review

               If a complaint cannot be resolved within Council, the complainant is referred to
               an external agency such as:

                    the NSW Ombudsman.
                    the Director-General of the NSW Department of Local Government.

               or any alternative dispute resolution procedure, as a last resort, any legal
               remedy. NB: Where on assessment the complaint concerns or may concern
               corrupt conduct, it should be reported to ICAC at the first-tier as outlined above.

    4.16 Managing Unreasonable Conduct by Complainants

         Unreasonable complainant conduct can be any one or a combination of a number of
         the following:

               Aggressive or abusive behaviour
               Unreasonable demands
               Unreasonable persistence
               Criminal behaviour




               Date first Adopted by Council: 19 November 2007
               Most recent adoption by Council: 15 February 2010
               Due for next review: Feb ‘11                                           Page 5 of 12
WOLLONDILLY SHIRE COUNCIL                                                    POLICY NO GOV0054


         Council has a number of strategies for dealing with unreasonable complainant conduct
         which involve setting limits, setting conditions, declining or discontinuing involvement
         and protocols for dealing with aggression, anger and threats of harm. These
         strategies are outlined in detail in Councils Managing Unacceptable Customer
         Behaviour Procedure Advice Manual.

  4.17   Privacy and Confidentiality:

              Any personal information requested, gathered or provided to Council during the
              complaint handling process is subject to the Privacy and Personal Information
              Protection Act 1998.
              Any Council employee involved in the handling of a complaint must be discreet
              and ensure confidentiality by only discussing complaints with persons relevant to
              the matter.
              Except where required by law, Council employees will not disclose the identity of
              a complainant to any person not entitled to be provided with that information.
              Wollondilly Shire Council will ensure that people who make complaints are not
              subjected to victimisation, harassment, discrimination or other prejudicial
              treatment.
              Council will take disciplinary action against any employee who is found to be in
              breach of Section 4.16 of this policy.


  4.18   The handling of complaints concerning Council Staff will incorporate the following
         principles.

         Procedural Fairness:

              The person who is the subject of concern will be informed of the allegations
              made against them.
              The person who is the subject of concern will be given the opportunity to put
              their case.
              All parties to the complaint have the right to be heard.
              All relevant submissions and evidence must be considered.
              The decision maker must be fair and impartial.

         Confidentiality:

              Confidentiality for all parties, where appropriate and practicable.

         Recordkeeping:

              This includes recording of reasons for all significant decisions.

         Speed:

              Any investigation should be undertaken without undue delay.




              Date first Adopted by Council: 19 November 2007
              Most recent adoption by Council: 15 February 2010
              Due for next review: Feb ‘11                                           Page 6 of 12
WOLLONDILLY SHIRE COUNCIL                                                    POLICY NO GOV0054


5.   RESPONSIBILITY/ACCOUNTABILITY
RESPONSIBILITIES

     5.1   General Manager

     The General Manager will be responsible for ensuring:

                the establishment of a complaints handling system within Council.
                the complaints handling system is maintained, monitored and where necessary
                improved.
                adequate resources are available to operate an effective and efficient complaints
                handling system.
                the promotion of the complaints handling system throughout Council and the
                community.
                the role of Complaints Coordinator is undertaken within Council.
                there is a process for rapid and effective notification to senior management of
                any significant complaints.


     5.2   Managers

     All Managers will be responsible for ensuring:

                they demonstrate their commitment to Council’s complaint handling system.
                employees within their area of responsibility comply with Council’s complaint
                handling system.
                promotion within their area of Council’s complaint handling system and the need
                to focus on customer service.
                staff within their area actively involved in complaint management, comply with all
                requirements of Council policy.
                effective and efficient action is taken to rectify any problems identified and
                implement appropriate processes to reduce the likelihood of reoccurrence.


     5.3   Public Officer

           Council’s Public Officer is charged under Section 343 of the Local Government Act
           with the responsibility of dealing with requests from the public concerning Council’s
           affairs and takes on the role of Complaints Coordinator to ensure:

                the effective and efficient operation of Council’s complaint handling system.
                Council employee’s are adequately trained with respect to the role they are
                expected to fulfill within Council’s complaint handling system.
                the reporting requirements of Council’s complaint handling system are met.
                all complaints received are acknowledged within the specified timeframes.
                all complaints received are managed in accordance with Council’s policies and
                procedures.




                Date first Adopted by Council: 19 November 2007
                Most recent adoption by Council: 15 February 2010
                Due for next review: Feb ‘11                                          Page 7 of 12
WOLLONDILLY SHIRE COUNCIL                                                    POLICY NO GOV0054


    5.4   Frontline Staff

          Frontline staff will:

                liaise with all parties involved in a complaint.
                manage complaints in accordance with Council’s complaint handling process.
                take necessary action to resolve the complaint.
                review work practice to prevent reoccurrence of similar instances.


    5.5   Wollondilly Shire Council Employees

          All employees of Wollondilly Shire Council have a responsibility to:

                be aware of their role and authority in respect to complaints.
                be aware of the procedures to follow and the information to give to
                complainants.
                report complaints which have a significant impact on Council.


    5.6   Councillors

          All Councillors have a responsibility to:

                be aware of their role and authority in respect to complaints.
                be aware of the procedures to follow and the information to give to
                complainants.
                report complaints which have a significant impact on Council.
                refer all complaints received in accordance with this policy.


    5.7   Complainants

                provide accurate and relevant information at the outset.
                ensure they do not provide any information that is intentionally misleading or
                knowingly wrong.
                identify the result or outcome they want.
                co-operate with Council’s complaint handling process.
                treat Council staff with the same level of courtesy and respect they expect to be
                treated with.




                Date first Adopted by Council: 19 November 2007
                Most recent adoption by Council: 15 February 2010
                Due for next review: Feb ‘11                                         Page 8 of 12
WOLLONDILLY SHIRE COUNCIL                                                        POLICY NO GOV0054


    5.8   The following table demonstrates the officer responsible for different types of
          complaints received.

                   Type of Complaint                              Officer Responsible

           Resident makes a                          Frontline Staff take immediate action to
           straightforward/informal complaint        speedily resolve the complaint to the
           that can be dealt with quickly with       satisfaction of the resident.
           no need for further investigation

           Complaint received from resident Frontline staff to refer the complaint to their
           that requires further investigation supervisor    or    appropriate      departmental
           or research                         manager for investigation to resolve the
                                               complaint to the satisfaction of the resident.

           A complaint of a more serious             Refer the complaint to the Public Officer or
           nature e.g. corruption, serious or        General Manager. The General Manager or
           substantial        waste,     pecuniary   Mayor, in the case of a complaint about the
           interests, staff misconduct or an         General Manager determines if the matter
           unresolved complaint i.e.: resident       should be referred to the Conduct Review
           is still dissatisfied with the outcome    Committee/Reviewer as per the Code of
           of a complaint                            Conduct. The General Manager has reporting
                                                     responsibilities to external agencies such as
                                                     Department of Local Government and
                                                     Independent Commission Against Corruption
                                                     (ICAC)

           Wollondilly Shire Council supports        Council will receive and consider any complaint
           the principles of competitive             alleging that Council has not abided by the spirit
           neutrality by ensuring that Council       of competitive neutrality in the conduct of a
           business operates without any net         business activity
           competitive advantages over other         Any Complaint of this nature received by
           businesses as a result of its public      Council will be managed in accordance with this
           ownership                                 policy and associated procedures

           Complaint is still not resolved to Refer resident to an external agency e.g. NSW
           the satisfaction of the resident   Ombudsman




                Date first Adopted by Council: 19 November 2007
                Most recent adoption by Council: 15 February 2010
                Due for next review: Feb ‘11                                               Page 9 of 12
WOLLONDILLY SHIRE COUNCIL                                                     POLICY NO GOV0054


6.   RELATED POLICIES
     6.1   Code of Conduct

     6.2   Verbal Advice Policy (TRIM 2440#106)

     6.3   Internal Reporting Policy (TRIM 2440#174 currently under review)

7.   RELATED PROCEDURES
     7.1   Complaints Handling Procedure – (to be formulated)

     7.2   Client Service Charter (TRIM 839#13)

     7.3   Internal Reporting Procedure (TRIM 837#41)

     7.4   Managing Unacceptable Customer Behaviour Procedure Advice Manual. (TRIM
           839#43)

8.   RELATED LEGISLATION
     8.1   Section 8 of the Local Government Act 1993

9.   ATTACHMENTS

     9.1   Contacts

10. RESOURCES
     10.1 Practice Note No.9 – Department of Local Government

     10.2 Good Conduct and Administrative Practice - NSW Ombudsman

     10.3 Effective Complaint Handling – NSW Ombudsman

     10.4 Handling Complaints – NSW Ombudsman

11. IMPLEMENTATION STATEMENT
     11.1 To ensure this policy is implemented effectively, Council will employ a variety of
          strategies involving awareness, education and training. These strategies will be aimed
          at Councillors, Wollondilly Shire Council employees and the community and will
          involve:

             Development of a procedure document to compliment this policy and assist
             Wollondilly Shire Council employees
             Presentations and information sessions for Councillors and staff
             Hard copies of presentations sent to all outdoor staff
             Use of Councils website to promote policy and procedures
             Hard copies of the policy contained within the policy folders located in the
             Customer Services area


                Date first Adopted by Council: 19 November 2007
                Most recent adoption by Council: 15 February 2010
                Due for next review: Feb ‘11                                        Page 10 of 12
WOLLONDILLY SHIRE COUNCIL                                                     POLICY NO GOV0054


Attachment 9.1 Contacts

     External Agency                                 Nature of Complaint

     NSW Ombudsman                                Matters concerning maladministration          by
                                                  Councils, councillors and council staff
     Postal/Street Address:

     Level 24
     580 George Street
     Sydney NSW 2000

     Tel: 9286 1000 or 1800 451 524 (toll free)   Matters concerning corrupt conduct by councils,
     Email: nswombo@ombo.gov.au                   councillors and council staff. Under Section 11
     Web: www.ombo.nsw.gov.au                     of The ICAC Act 1988, the General Manager
                                                  has a duty to report suspected cases of corrupt
                                                  conduct.
     Independent    Commission          Against
     Corruption (ICAC)

     Address:
                                                  Matters concerning a serious breakdown in
     Level 21, 133 Castlereagh Street             Council’s operations or serious flaws in Council
     Sydney NSW 2000                              processes. Also pecuniary interest matters,
                                                  councillor    misbehaviour      and    protected
     Postal Address:                              disclosures relating to serious and substantial
                                                  waste. The General Manager has an obligation
     GPO Box 500                                  to refer complaints alleging breaches of
     Sydney NSW 2001                              pecuniary interest provisions to the Department.

     Tel: 8281 5999 or 1800 463 909 (toll free)
     Email: icac@icac.nsw.gov.au
     Web: www.icac.nsw.gov.au                     Matters in relation to discrimination, disability
                                                  and harassment.

     Department of Local Government

     Head Office:

     5 O'Keefe Avenue
     NOWRA NSW 2541                               Competitive Neutrality complaints

     Postal Address:

     Locked Bag 3015
     NOWRA NSW 2541

     Tel: 4428 4100
     Email: dlg@dlg.nsw.gov.au
     Web: www.dlg.nsw.gov.au




                Date first Adopted by Council: 19 November 2007
                Most recent adoption by Council: 15 February 2010
                Due for next review: Feb ‘11                                          Page 11 of 12
WOLLONDILLY SHIRE COUNCIL                                           POLICY NO GOV0054


    Anti-Discrimination Board

    Address:

    Lvl 4, 175 Castlereagh Street
    Sydney NSW 2000

    Postal Address:

    PO Box A2122
    Sydney South 1235

    Tel: 9268 5544 or 1800 670 812(toll free)
    Web: www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/adb


 Australian Competition       and   Consumer
Commission (ACCC)

    Street address:

    Lvl 7, Angel Place
    123 Pitt Street
    Sydney NSW 2000

    Postal address:

    GPO Box 3648
    Sydney NSW 2001


    Tel: 9230 9133 or 1300 302 502
    Web: www.accc,gov.au




                Date first Adopted by Council: 19 November 2007
                Most recent adoption by Council: 15 February 2010
                Due for next review: Feb ‘11                              Page 12 of 12