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Clauses 6.1 – 6.6

Manage complaints and appeals

Clause 6.1

The RTO has a complaints policy to manage and respond to allegations involving the conduct of:

  • the RTO, its trainers, assessors or other staff
  • a third party providing services on the RTO’s behalf, its trainers, assessors or other staff  or
  • a learner of the RTO.

Clause 6.2

The RTO has an appeals policy to manage requests for a review of decisions, including assessment decisions, made by the RTO or a third party providing services on the RTO’s behalf.

Clause 6.3

The RTO’s complaints policy and appeals policy:

  • ensure the principles of natural justice and procedural fairness are adopted at every stage of the complaint and appeal process
  • are publicly available  
  • set out the procedure for making a complaint or requesting an appeal 
  • ensure complaints and requests for an appeal are acknowledged in writing and finalised as soon as practicable, and
  • provide for review by an appropriate party independent of the RTO and the complainant or appellant, at the request of the individual making the complaint or appeal, if the processes fail to resolve the complaint or appeal.

Clause 6.4

Where the RTO considers more than 60 calendar days are required to process and finalise the complaint or appeal, the RTO:

  • informs the complainant or appellant in writing, including reasons why more than 60 calendar days are required, and
  • regularly updates the complainant or appellant on the progress of the matter.

Clause 6.5

The RTO:

  • securely maintains records of all complaints and appeals and their outcomes, and
  • identifies potential causes of complaints and appeals and takes appropriate corrective action to eliminate or mitigate the likelihood of reoccurrence.

Clause 6.6

Where the RTO is an employer or a volunteer organisation whose learners solely consist of its employees or members, does not charge fees for the training or assessment, and does not have in place a specific complaints and appeals policy in accordance with Clauses 6.1 & 6.2, the organisation has a complaints and appeals policy which is sufficiently broad to cover the services provided by the RTO.

What this Standard means for your RTO

Your RTO must have a policy for dealing with complaints about your organisation, third parties, staff or other learners. You must also have an appeals policy, in case your RTO is requested to review or reconsider a decision it has made (e.g. an assessment decision).

You must make these policies publicly available, for example, by including them on your RTO’s website or displaying them in common areas for staff and learners.

Make the process for lodging a complaint or appeal clear and explain what will happen as a result. Ensure people are not disadvantaged. Specifically, do not:

  • require them to complete overly complex forms, which can be a barrier to learners expressing their concerns, or
  • require learners to provide extensive written information as part of the complaints process.

Allowing learners to easily engage with the staff of your RTO about any concerns they have can stop minor issues becoming larger.

Your RTO’s process must follow the principles of natural justice and procedural fairness by allowing anyone subject to a decision by your RTO, or anyone who has allegations made against them, to tell their side of the story before a decision is made. 

Ensure that the decision maker is independent of the decision being reviewed (e.g. an assessor should not consider or decide an appeal against an assessment decision they made).

If the person making the complaint or appeal is not happy with the outcome, make arrangements for an independent third party to review the complaint or appeal. Disclose any costs associated with a third party review in your policy, so all parties are aware of any costs they may need to pay. Note that ASQA is not able to act as the independent third party for reviewing complaints.

Deal with complaints and appeals promptly. Identify the timeframes that will apply to resolution of complaints and appeals, so that complainants know how long it should take to get a response from your RTO at all stages of the process. This will minimise the chance of complainants referring their complaint to ASQA, which can incur additional costs to your RTO. If a complaint or appeal (including any review process) will take more than 60 days to finalise, write to the people involved explaining the delay.

Record all complaints and appeals received, and document outcomes. Use this information to review your RTO’s processes and practices to ensure the issue doesn’t happen again.

A guide to compliance

RTOs must retain evidence that they have a publicly available policy or policies to deal with complaints and appeals. If the RTO uses third parties to deliver services, the policy or policies must be made available to prospective learners of the third parties.

Where complaints or appeals have been received, RTOs must keep evidence of how the matter was dealt with and the outcome (including the timeframes). The RTO will need to show that it has identified the cause of the complaint or appeal and what steps it has taken to prevent the situation happening again.

If your organisation is seeking registration as an RTO, you must provide documented policies for dealing with complaints and appeals (or a combined policy) and demonstrate how these will be published. The policies must address all the requirements of Standard Six.

Case study: Using complaint outcomes for business improvement

HIJ Training publishes a combined complaints and appeals policy on its website. On enrolment, all learners are directed to the policy and must confirm that they understand their rights in this area. While complaints can be submitted online, the policy sets out that people are able to speak with a staff member about their concerns and the staff member will complete the form on their behalf if required.

Any complaints are directed immediately to the RTO’s Training Manager, who either investigates them or refers them to the General Manager if there is any conflict of interest (e.g. if the complaint is about the conduct of the Training Manager). The RTO conducts separate interviews with both the person making the complaint and the person the complaint is about.

In the case of appeals against assessment decisions, the Training Manager initially reviews the decision and the evidence used to make the decision. The assessor and the learner are interviewed separately to find out whether there is any relevant information not contained in the learner’s file.

Regardless of the outcome, all parties are to be notified of the outcome within 30 days.

A mediator can be provided by the Australian Mediation Association. HIJ Training agrees to pay the cost of one mediation session of up to two hours and advises that, should the matter require further mediation, it will be at the cost of the complainant or appellant.

Once complaints and appeals are finalised, they are presented to the management team at their monthly meeting, where they are reviewed to see if there is a need to change any procedures or practices.

All complaints and appeals are recorded on a register that includes relevant details to allow analysis of matters over time and identify any common factors that may need action.