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SMART Recovery Australia Complaints Policy

SMART Recovery Australia welcomes feedback from facilitators, participants, and the wider community. We take complaints and grievances seriously. The process is as outlined below. Please contact us on 02 9373 5100 or email smartrecovery@srau.org.au to provide any feedback or complaints.

Process

Where an employee, facilitator, or participant comes forward with a complaint (“complainant”), they will not be treated unfairly or victimised as a result.

Where an employee, facilitator, or participant has been complained about (“respondent”) they will not be prejudged and will have an opportunity to tell their side of the story.

Appropriate records will be maintained throughout the investigation process.

 

Procedure for informal resolution

  1. A complainant should try to resolve the grievance as close to the source as possible. This can be informal and verbal. This involves speaking to the person who is the reason for the grievance (“respondent”). If the complainant is uncomfortable speaking to the respondent directly, they can talk to the Executive Director (ED) who can outline an appropriate action plan. If the complainant agrees, the ED may approach the respondent and talk to them informally about the grievance.
  2. If the grievance involves the ED and the complainant is not comfortable speaking to him/her directly, they can speak with a member of the Board (FARR Committee).
  3. At this stage, every possible effort should be made to settle a grievance before the formal grievance process starts. If the matter still can’t be resolved, the process continues and becomes formal.

 

Making a formal complaint

The Complainant can make a formal complaint by putting the complaint in writing and giving it to the appropriate person. A formal complaint about an employee is made to the ED. A formal complaint about the ED is made to the Board (FARR Committee).

For participants, formal complaints against fellow participants is made to the facilitator of that meeting, who can then decide whether or not to escalate the complaint to SRAU National Program Managers. Complaints against facilitators are made to SRAU National Program Managers.

For facilitators, complaints against any of the National Program Managers are made to the Executive Director. All other complaints from facilitators are made to the National Program Managers.

The written complaint should contain:

  • the name of the respondent
  • a description of the incident(s), decision or behaviour in question
  • the time and date of the incident(s) etc
  • the names of any witnesses
  • any actions taken by the complainant at the time of writing the complaint
  • the date of the complaint, and
  • the complainant’s signature.

The person(s) against whom the grievance/complaint is made should be given the full details of the allegation(s) against them. They should have the opportunity and a reasonable time to respond before the process continues.

 

Information gathering

Information gathering must:

  • be undertaken fairly and impartially
  • maintain confidentiality
  • ensure the parties are given the opportunity to have their say. Parties include: the complainant; any witnesses and/or those identified by either party as having information relevant to the issue as considered necessary to form a view; and the respondent
  • include appropriate documentation and records, and
  • ensure appropriate security of any related documentation.

Parties may ask for a support person to be present when an interview is being conducted.

 

Issue resolution

The focus of resolution should be to repair any negative impact caused by the issue or behaviour through communication, openness to others’ views, cooperation and reasonableness. The aim is to repair the professional working relationship.

The ED/Board (FARR Committee member) should attempt to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. The ED/Board (FARR Committee member) must confirm with the employee (and other party(s) to the issue) the decision in relation to resolution of the grievance.

The parties directly involved in a grievance will be informed in writing as to what actions are being taken, or not taken, and when the matter is regarded as being resolved.

If the investigation reveals that the complaint is a valid one, a number of actions may be taken, depending on the nature of the complaint.

The respondent may be:

  • required to give a written apology;
  • given a written warning, counselling, training, transferred, demoted; or
  • dismissed.

In more serious cases, appropriate and fair disciplinary action may require appropriate authorities to be contacted, such as the police.

Unsubstantiated complaints

If the complaint is not substantiated, the ED/ Board (FARR Committee member) will explain why that finding was made.

If the complaint is found to have been completely fabricated, appropriate disciplinary action may be taken. This is to ensure employees, facilitators, and participants do not make false or unfair complaints about each other.

If the investigation is inconclusive, i.e. the complaint cannot be satisfactorily proven due to lack of evidence, other actions may be taken. These may include training of all staff, and monitoring behaviour in certain circumstances.

Internal or external mediation may be organised.

Request for review

A review of an outcome can only be requested where there are grounds to do so. For example, where new information has become available that may change the outcome, or where there is an explicit deficiency in the process followed. Dissatisfaction with an outcome is not on its own a ground for a review.

Where a review is appropriate, it will be undertaken by the Board or an external party who was not involved in the original decision. If the respondent is not satisfied with the outcome, they are able to raise their own grievance in accordance with this policy.

If the complainant is not satisfied with the way in which the grievance was handled, they may have a legal right to take it to an outside agency, such as the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission or the Anti-Discrimination Board.

 

Withdrawal of Grievances and Appeals

The Complainant or Respondent may withdraw a grievance and/or appeal at any time during the resolution process and in this case the matter will be concluded and deemed to be resolved. If the original grievance was made in writing then the withdrawal must also be in writing and handed to the investigating manager.

This policy needs to read in conjunction with the Code of Conduct which sets out the standards and values that apply in the workplace including respect at work.

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