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Complaints Handling

Introduction

Smart Academy) recognizes that for effective complaints handling, there needs to be commitment at all levels.  This involves a commitment to responding positively to complaints covering both internal and external issues.  It is the belief of Smart Academy) that this allows members, affiliates and clients to contribute to the improvement of services and/or products.  This approach is seen as an essential prerequisite for the development of an organisational culture, which acknowledges the client’s right to complain and which actively solicits client feedback.

An important part of Compliance Officer’s role is to continually develop and review complaints handling policies and to ensure that this is given sufficient organisational priority and is adequately and appropriately researched. 

Smart Academy complaints handling policies seek to implement the following elements:

Fairness

Smart Academy complaints process recognises the need to be fair to the complainant and the staff members and/or representatives of Smart Academy.  It therefore takes into account the complainant’s rights as well as the rights of its members and affiliates.

Complainant’s Rights

Smart Academy recognises the complainant’s right to—

  1. Be heard;
  2. Know whether Smart Academy relevant guidelines have been followed;
  3. Provide and request all relevant material to support the complaint;
  4. Be informed of and negotiate the criteria and processes, including the avenues for further review, applied by Smart Academy dealing with complaints;
  5. Be informed of the Smart Academy response to their complaint;
  6. Be informed of Smart Academy’s decision and the reasons for that decision;
  7. Know that the complaint is being reviewed independently where possible; and
  8. Confidentiality, if requested.

Smart Academy’s rights

Smart Academy reserves the right to:
    1. Amass sufficient detail about the complaint to enable that person or the organization to properly investigate and respond to the complaint;
    2. Place all relevant material before the person investigating the complaint; and
    3. Be informed of the decision and the reason for the decision.

Visibility

Smart Academy recognises that the education and training is an area in which complaints are not infrequent. It therefore ensures that clients are proactively made aware of their complaint rights at the earliest opportunity. The existence of the complaints handling system, its purpose and the method of accessing it, is therefore embedded in the Smart Academy students guides. Students and others are to be encouraged to make their complaints known.

Access

Smart Academy is committed to operating an accessible complaints handling process. In implementing this aspect of our policies all clients are given:
    1. Information on how, when, where and to whom to make complaints.
    2. Student’s must be affirmed and know that their complaints are being treated seriously and when necessary in strictest confidence

Assistance

All staff members and representatives must give every possible assistance to those making a complaint by way of telephone advice, direct communication, interview or correspondence. The assistance should allow a complaint to be made in a way which ensures it can be dealt with by Smart Academy. Such assistance could include could include help with filling in forms for those with limited literacy skills, and interpreter assistance for people with limited English.

Responsiveness

Smart Academy has established a ten-day time limit for the resolution of complaints. Once a client makes a complaint to a representative of the College, the representative must notify the Compliance Officer, in writing, immediately.
Each complainant shall be told how long it will take to deal with a complaint in accordance with these target time limits for action. Complainants shall be kept informed of progress by telephone advice, correspondence or interview.

Charges

The Smart Academy complaints handling process is be provided free of charge to the client.

Data Collection

The Compliance Officer must be notified of all complaints. These will be recorded and patterns analysed to identify repetitive complaints. Such complaints may indicate a fault in the Smart Academy service system, which can be rectified.

Complaint Handling Procedures

Smart Academy complaints handling procedures involve relate to:
    • The processing of verbal complaints.
    • The processing of written complaints.
    • The minimising of disputes.

Processing Verbal Complaints

The steps are:


    1. Identify yourself, listen, record details and determine what the complainant wants
    2. Confirm the details received.
    3. Empathize with the complainant in a courteous manner.
    4. Explain the courses of action available.
    5. Do not attempt to lay blame or be defensive.
    6. Resolve the complaint if possible or commit to doing something immediately, irrespective of who will ultimately handle the complaint.
    7. Ensure that the complainant is informed the complaint is receiving attention, without creating false expectations.
    8. Check whether the consumer is satisfied with the proposed action and, if not, advise alternative courses of action.
    9. Provide acknowledgment; e.g. a thank-you letter, a telephone call.
    10. Follow up as appropriate and monitor to ensure the consumer remains satisfied as well as receives feedback

Processing Written Complaints

In principle, this is the same as processing oral complaints, however, in this situation, a response should be given promptly, in writing.

Minimising Disputes

Handling a client’s complaint efficiently and skilfully needs patience and skill to avoid an initial ‘negative’ situation becoming even more negative and degenerating into a dispute. The two main elements in a complaint situation that need to be effectively handled to minimize the likelihood of dispute are:
1) Dealing with the complainant’s feelings:
a) Listen—this is the first step in reducing the tension.
b) Acknowledge the complainant’s feelings—denying that the complainant is, or has the right to be upset may antagonize the complainant.
c) Empathize—relieves tension and so opens channels of communication.
d) Do not offer excuses, or argue with the complainant.
2) Dealing with the specifics of the complaint:
a) Ask the necessary questions in a polite and even-handed manner—to obtain the most detailed response.
b) Agree on a solution—without appearing to dictate terms in order to avoid the likelihood of re-raising tension.
c) Set a timetable.
d) Take action on the agreed solution.

Procedures in relation to Alleged Academic Dishonesty

A student who loses marks because of academic dishonesty or who is notified by the Principal that he/she is being investigated for a reported instance of academic dishonesty shall have the right to submit an appeal in writing and to present his/her case in person.

External Complaints Provisions


In all instances, every effort will be made by Smart Academy to deal with student or staff complaints/grievances. Should complainants be dissatisfied and desire to appeal against the outcome of a grievance procedure, an appeal, in writing, for reconsideration should be made through the channels indicated above. If, after the matter has been reconsidered the complainant is still dissatisfied, he/she may appeal in writing to the Board of Smart Academy.

Where a complainant has not been satisfied through the College’s internal mechanisms for handling a complaint/grievance, the complaint/ grievance may be taken to ASQA via their online complaint form.