Complaints management guidelines
1. The University’s approach to complaints
1.1 At Swinburne, we welcome your feedback. It is acceptable for you to raise complaints. You will not be disadvantaged, provided your complaint is not knowingly false or vexatious. Complaints help us to improve our services.
1.2 The Governance and Assurance Unit oversees the complaints management framework. We refer complaints to responsible areas for investigation. Feedback advisers must provide you with a complaint outcome within 21 working days. Complex cases may require more time.
1.3 We investigate complaints impartially and take corrective actions for all substantiated complaints.
2. Stages for resolution of student matters
Matters are considered and resolved in a series of stages:
- Local resolution
- Formal complaint resolution
- Internal appeal
- External appeal
Not all matters will pass through all stages.
3. Local resolution
3.1 You should attempt to resolve issues with the relevant unit. Timeframes apply for some processes.
Example: You have up to ten (10) working days after the publication of results or your assessment item being made available, to request a recheck of your mark. In exceptional circumstances the University may allow a longer period.
3.2 You may be requested to seek local resolution before your complaint is considered.
3.3 Local resolution may be by-passed for serious or sensitive matters such as sexual harassment.
If you have sought local resolution and are still dissatisfied with a university decision or service you may submit a complaint.
Note: For reviewable decisions, you must submit a review. Refer to the university’s Review and Appeals Regulations.
5. Timeframes for complaints
5.1 You must submit complaints related to results, assessment and special consideration within 21 working days of local resolution. In exceptional circumstances more time may be allowed.
5.2 You must submit all other complaints within a reasonable timeframe of the event occurring.
5.3 The university will decide if your complaint is too late for consideration.
Example: A complaint about the unit structure of a unit that was delivered two years ago would be considered too late to be investigated and acted on.
6. Meetings, mediation, counselling and intervention
6.1 You may be requested to attend a meeting to discuss a complaint.
6.2 We can refer complaints to mediation, counselling or other interventions if you agree to this.
6.3 You can invite a support person who is not a legal practitioner to assist you with your complaint and to attend relevant meetings with you.
7. Sensitive issues: discrimination, bullying, violence, sexual harassment and assault
7.1 The University is committed to providing an environment for work and study that is free from discrimination, bullying, violence and harassment, as described in the People Culture and Integrity Policy
7.2 All students and staff have the right to feel safe at the University.
7.3 If you are a student and have experienced discrimination, bullying, violence or harassment, you are encouraged to submit a complaint so that the matter can be fully investigated.
7.4 If you need support, you may wish to contact Swinburne counselling and psychological services.
7.5 If you would like further advice relating to these issues, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to contact the Safer Community Program.
8. Reasonableness requirements
8.1 When making complaints students are expected to:
- Identify themselves
- Clearly identify and define the matter
- Provide all relevant information available at the time
- Articulate the desired outcome
- Promptly respond to any requests for further information.
If you do not fulfil these expectations, the university may not investigate or respond to your complaint.
8.2 The university may dismiss or not to respond to your complaint if it is frivolous, vexatious, lacking in substance or is based on an unreasonable rationale. If your complaint includes serious unfounded allegations or allegations which do not have a reasonable basis, the university may institute misconduct processes. Refer to Student General Misconduct Regulations.
8.3 If a matter has already been dealt with, the university will not process or investigate the complaint unless the university considers there is a further unresolved issue.
8.4 You must not pursue multiple avenues for a complaint, review or appeal, nor pursue avenues independent of the resolution framework established in these guidelines and the university’s Review and Appeals Regulations.
8.5 If you are involved in multiple proceedings and the university decides that the matters are connected, or may otherwise result in duplication or undue delay, the university may determine to stay or join the relevant proceedings or investigation/s. A complaint lodged for the purpose of delaying another proceeding may be dismissed.
8.6 Once you have exhausted your rights within the complaints, review and appeals process, the matter is closed.
8.7 The university may determine that you are being vexatious and may refuse to deal with your complaints or applications for review and appeal. If you use the complaints framework to harass others or disrupt university activities, this may be grounds under section 24 of the Academic and Student Affairs Statute to not admit or allow you to continue studying.
8.8 The university may institute misconduct processes if a student continues to pursue a matter which is deemed unreasonable. Refer to Student General Misconduct Regulations.
Students who are dissatisfied with their complaint outcome decision may apply for a review of the decision. The decision will be reviewed in accordance with the university’s Review and Appeals Regulations.
Complaints about university administrative actions and decisions can be made to the Victorian Ombudsman at no cost. If students have not followed the steps in these guidelines, the Ombudsman may ask that they do so before accepting their complaints.
11. Staff and external complainants
11.1 Complaints from staff (that do not fall within University staff grievance processes) and people external to the University will be considered in accordance with these guidelines. Appropriate adjustments will be determined by the University.
11.2 Staff and external complainants are not entitled to a review or appeal under the university’s Review and Appeals Regulations. If they are dissatisfied with their complaint outcome, they can request to have their outcome reconsidered by a designated senior staff member.
12. Anonymous or unidentified complainants
12.1 Anonymous or unidentified complaints will be investigated at the university’s discretion. This is dependent upon the nature of the complaint and there being sufficient information for investigation.
12.2 The university is not required to send a response to an anonymous or unidentified complainant.