Citizen Complaints Resolution Policy

Policy Goals

The purpose of the Citizen Complaints Resolution Policy is to ensure that all complaints made by citizens are handled in a systematic, responsive and fair manner. The Citizen Complaints Resolution Policy has been designed to ensure the effective management of the complaints process from inception to satisfaction, or final determination. The principle aim of this Policy is to provide a mechanism that can make a positive contribution to the ongoing development of the services provided, whilst having the capacity to turn dissatisfied citizens into satisfied citizens. The right of a citizen to lodge a complaint about our service is fundamental to Latrobe City Council’s overall strategy to promote the rights of citizens who use the services we provide. Citizens are entitled to have complaints investigated objectively and without fear of retribution. Specifically, the Policy will enable the Council to:-

  • enhance the relationship between Latrobe City Council and its customers and citizens;
  • increase the level of citizen satisfaction with the delivery of services;
  • recognise the rights of citizens in all aspects of the service delivery including the right to comment and complain;
  • provide a fair and equitable mechanism for the resolution of citizen complaints; and
  • provide a systematic framework to monitor complaints in an endeavour to improve the quality and responsiveness of all services provided by the Council.

The Citizen Complaints Resolution Policy does not interfere with the rights of citizens in respect of, nor override the operation of, registration boards or disciplinary bodies in Victoria. The Policy will not affect the rights that a citizen may have under common law or statute law.

Definitions

Complaint

A complaint is defined as an expression of dissatisfaction with Council’s level and quality of service, policies or procedures. Dissatisfaction may arise from the service provided by Council staff, councillors, contractors and systems or from the impact of a particular policy or procedure.

A complaint is deemed:

  • A request for service which is not responded to in a proper and timely manner by council.
  • A request for information, documentation or explanation of policies or procedures or decisions of council not responded to in a proper and timely manner by council.
  • A report of damage or faulty infrastructure not responded to in a proper and timely manner by council.
  • A report of a hazard not responded to in a proper and timely manner by council.
  • A report concerning neighbours or neighbouring property not responded in a proper and timely manner by council.
  • The lodgement of an appeal in accordance with a procedure or policy not responded to in a proper and timely manner by council. 

Policy Implementation

In general Citizens have the right to:-

  • be heard with respect, in privacy and in a dignified manner;
  • necessary information in respect of the complaint (for example any guidelines or documented procedures);
  • request and receive any relevant material to support their complaint;
  • be informed of any criteria and processes in respect of their complaints;
  • expect a timely response to their complaint;
  • be informed of the decision and the reasons for that decision;
  • maintain confidentiality, if requested; and
  • information on how to take their complaint further.

Citizens have a responsibility to:-

  • provide any information requested which is relevant to their complaint;
  • listen to the response of the Council;
  • allow the Council sufficient time to resolve their complaint;
  • identify if their complaint has been adequately resolved.

The Council has the right to:-

  • collect sufficient information and detail about the complaint to enable the Unit to properly investigate and respond to the complaint;
  • sufficient time to investigate and determine the outcome of a complaint; and
    refer the complaint to an independent body for resolution.

The Council has a responsibility to:-

  • provide any information requested by the complainant which is relevant to their complaint;
  • provide information about the complaints process, including any timelines for a substantive response;
  • document all complaints and identify what steps have been taken to redress the complaint and to minimise any chance of reoccurrence;
  • provide any assistance to the complainant necessary to enable the complaint to be dealt with in an effective manner;
  • ensure that all staff understand the complaints process;
  • adequately address all aspects of the complaint; and
  • respond to all complaints in writing.

Access

In meeting the needs of citizens who wish to make a complaint about any aspect of any service provided by the Council, a brochure titled Responding to your Concerns has been developed with information regarding:-

  • how, when, where and to whom to make complaints;
  • information about the complaints process;
  • the process of written complaints;
  • assurance that their complaint will be treated in a professional manner and when necessary in strictest confidence;
  • availability of assistance in lodging a complaint.

The Responding to your Concerns brochure will be made available to residents via Council’s website and Service Centres and can be provided at any time when a complaint is being raised.

It is essential that all complaints are dealt with as quickly as possible and in a comprehensive way. If the recipient of the complaint is unable to deal with the issue in a competent and satisfactory manner, arrangements are to be put in place immediately to involve the appropriate General Manager, Manager or other designated officer. This may require an appointment being made, at a convenient time to the citizen, so that the complainant can discuss the complaint directly with the appropriate officer. The following timelines will be complied with in respect to all complaints:-

  • complaints must be referred to the General Manager, Manager or other designated officer and are to be responded to in a timely manner from time of receipt.
  • complaints of a complex nature will be acknowledged in writing within three working days of receipt, identifying a set time by which the organisation will provide a substantive response.

At all times complainants shall be kept informed of progress in resolving their complaint by correspondence or interview. All contacts with complainants shall be noted on the Council’s customer request system in accordance with the Citizen Complaints Resolution Procedure 13 PRO-3.

Remedies

It is essential that citizens making complaints know that their issues have been taken seriously and are informed of the remedies that have been put into place to address the complaint. Remedies should reflect what is fair and reasonable in the circumstances, and to eliminate any similar issues arising in the future, for example:-

  • this may require changes to documented procedures within the organisation;
  • the provision of additional information to citizens;
    referral to another agency or to a specific staff member within the organisation.

Accountability

Each staff member at all levels within Latrobe City Council has a responsibility for effective complaints handling in their particular area of responsibility. If staff do not have the necessary expertise or experience they are to refer the complaint on to the next level of management within their team or to the General Manager.

Monitoring and Reporting

Complaints will be monitored regularly to identify and understand any trends to ensure the root cause of repetitive complaints is established and processes put in place, or new services developed, to avoid unnecessary customer complaints and ensure future customer satisfaction.

A monthly report will be provided to Councillors with details of complaints that have been received via the information management system, their current status and details of how the complaint was resolved..

This policy has been reviewed after giving proper consideration to all the rights contained within the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006; and any reasonable limitation to human rights can be demonstrably justified.