Student Handbook

13. COMPLAINTS

If you have a problem or concern about which you wish to make a complaint, you can seek advice from the Head of Student Services, who can help you assess your issue and refer you to the correct person to handle it. The intent of the AFTRS Student Complaint Policy and Procedure is to deal effectively, equitably and efficiently with student complaints.

13.1 GENERAL PRINCIPLES
  • Every effort will be made to deal with complaints at the local level and in the least formal way that is appropriate, involving as few people as possible.
  • Confidentiality will be preserved as far as is possible whilst ensuring thorough investigation of the issue and the development of an action plan, as appropriate.
  • Delays in raising a concern may make resolving the problem difficult or impossible.
  • Complaints will be dealt with as quickly as possible whilst ensuring thoroughness of process.
  • Complaints lodged in writing will be acknowledged within seven days and an anticipated timeframe for resolution will be outlined.
  • Any harassment or discrimination against you as a result of lodging a complaint may result in a charge of misconduct against the perpetrator.
  • Complaints may be informal or formal and may be lodged internally or with an appropriate external body.
  • Both you (the complainant) and the respondent may be accompanied by a third party or involve a representative in any part of the internal process. Permission must be sought from the CEO or their delegate to involve a legal representative.
  • You may access the internal procedures set out in this policy free of charge.
  • AFTRS will not accept responsibility for costs incurred as a result of the involvement of any third party requested by the complainant but will consider any reasonable request for assistance.
  • The reasons and a full explanation in writing for any internal decision made and actions taken in response to a complaint will be provided to both the complainant and the respondent if requested.
13.2 EXCLUSIONS TO THIS POLICY
  • Complaints of misconduct including discrimination or harassment will be handled through the Misconduct Policy.
  • Issues of academic judgment including: outcome of assessments; decisions made about student’s progress on a course; decisions about awards; admissions decisions; and disciplinary procedures will be made according to the Academic Appeals Policy.
13.3 PROCEDURES FOR LODGING A COMPLAINT

Initially complaints can be lodged with your teacher, Director of Award Courses, a student representative or the Head of Student Services. The Student Centre can advise you if your complaint is an academic or non-academic matter. The Head of Student Services will make an initial assessment to determine whether the complaint falls within the scope of this policy and determine who in the School is best placed to deal with the complaint and refer you appropriately.

13.4 STAGE 1: INFORMAL PROCEDURE FOR RESOLUTION OF A COMPLAINT

Initially attempts to resolve the complaint will be made at the local level. A decision about the complaint will be made within 14 days of the complaint being received by AFTRS.

The following procedures apply (in order until the matter is resolved).

  • Informally discuss the issue/s to define the problem with the persons concerned, with a view to a resolution. At this stage, the complainant should not forward any written material.
  • Informally discuss the problem with the Head of Student Services who will refer you to the appropriate person, with a view to a resolution.
  • Submit a written request for internal mediation to the Head of Student Services who will facilitate the request and advise the Director of Award Courses. A written record of the internal mediation need not be kept.

If you are dissatisfied with the process or outcome you may refer the matter to the CEO or their delegate in writing, explaining the action and stating why you feel aggrieved. This action will conclude the informal procedure for the resolution of a grievance.

13.5 STAGE 2: FORMAL PROCEDURE FOR RESOLUTION OF A COMPLAINT

If your preference is for formal resolution the matter is referred to the CEO or their delegate to investigate. Investigation by the CEO or their delegate will proceed as follows.

The CEO or their delegate will take a written record of the complaint from you. The written record will contain:

  • Your name;
  • The name of the person(s) against whom the complaint is made;
  • The date the complaint is made;
  • The date(s) the matter resulting in the complaint took place;
  • A brief description of the nature of the complaint; and
  • A summary of follow up actions taken since stage 1, where relevant.

This written record will be the basis for further action. Further processing of the matter based on the written record may involve disciplinary or misconduct actions as appropriate.

As soon as possible after receiving your complaint, the CEO or their delegate will consider the matter. The CEO or their delegate may investigate in any manner they think fit. Any person may be requested to provide information or documents in relation to the complaint.

  • The CEO or their delegate may decide not to investigate the matter if:
  • They reasonably believe the complaint is frivolous, vexatious or not made in good faith;
  • There is a more appropriate person or authority to lodge the complaint with; or,
  • They reasonably believe investigation is not warranted having regard to all the circumstances of the case, or you have referred the matter to a court or tribunal.

The CEO or their delegate will inform you in writing of the outcome of the investigation, related decisions and reasons for making the decisions.

The CEO or their delegate will deal with the complaint within a reasonable time, normally within 30 days of receipt of the complaint.

13.6 STAGE 3: EXTERNAL PROCEDURES FOR RESOLUTION OF A COMPLAINT

If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of the complaint procedure you may pursue the matter by referring it to the Chair of the AFTRS Council or their delegate. The complaint will be addressed within a reasonable time, usually 30 days. Externally, the options for resolution of a complaint may include the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

The complaint will be dealt with according to the procedure of the external organisation selected. If the appropriate organisation makes recommendations in relation to your complaint that relate to, and are received by, AFTRS, the AFTRS’ CEO will take reasonable steps to implement them.

13.7 DOCUMENTS

AFTRS will give copies of the relevant documents that it holds to the parties on a need-to-know basis, unless AFTRS is legally prevented from doing so.

The CEO or their delegate may also not give you copies of documents if it is believed to be harmful to your physical or mental wellbeing or that it might be prejudicial to another person. They will inform you of the reason.

You will be given copies of the decision and reasons by the CEO or their delegate.

13.8 RECORD KEEPING

All documents relating to complaints will be kept strictly confidential and will not be accessible to anyone who is not directly involved in the complaint or the handling of the complaint.

Material relating to the outcome of the complaint will be placed in a separate file (not kept on the student or staff file) and stored in the Student Centre in accordance with AFTRS’ policies.

Separate complaint files will only be accessible to authorised AFTRS’ staff and, where appropriate, the person about whom the complaint has been made. Permission for others to access the files must be obtained from the CEO or their delegate.

Records in relation to a complaint may only be destroyed according to the Archives Act 1983 and any applicable AFTRS’ Disposal Authority issued under that Act.

13.9 COMMUNICATION REGARDING THESE PROCEDURES

You are entitled to use the complaint procedures set out in this policy, regardless of your place of residence or your mode of study. Applicable policies and procedures are available for students on the AFTRS website.

Acknowledgement

The Australian Film Television Radio and School would like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners, the Bidjigal people and Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, on whose land we meet, work, study and teach. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and extend our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from all nations of this land.