Members are required to extend this compliance indicator and verifiers to partners through MOUs or similar.
A documented, complaints handling policy that:
- is readily accessible on the organisation’s website
- provides a safe and discrete point of contact for stakeholders in Australia and countries where work is conducted, to raise concerns or complaints about the organisation
- is responsive and fair
- provides information to all stakeholders, including to Members of the communities where activities are implemented, about the reporting and complaints procedure.
- provides information in a clear and easily understandable manner in appropriate forms and through appropriate media.
- ensures that requirements for filing a complaint take into consideration the needs of the most vulnerable and considers minority and disadvantaged stakeholders.
- advises a complainant of the ability to make a complaint regarding an alleged breach of the Code to the ACFID Code of Conduct Committee.
- provides information on how staff and volunteers are equipped to understand and implement the policy.
- includes a process for reviewing and analysing complaint information within the organisation.
- outlines a triage system for escalating serious incidents
- outlines a referral process for complaints that do not fall within the scope of the policy. (e.g. Complaints that do not fall within the scope of the policy would include, for example, complaints against an employee of another organisation or government department.)
- commits to providing appropriate assistance and referrals to survivors (e.g. providing assistance to complainants might include medical, social, legal and financial assistance, or referrals to such services.)
A documented investigation procedure, which stipulates that an organisational record must be kept of all misconduct complaints, noting the ability to de-identify complaints at the request of the complainant or survivor.
Having a complaints policy that is clear and readily accessible by all stakeholders is critical to fostering and ensuring accountability. It is a vital part of an organisation’s safeguarding mechanisms.
A complaints policy provides internal guidance to staff on how a complaint must be handled. A triage or prioritisation system for escalating serious complaints ensures that complaints are classified and prioritised according to their seriousness and appropriately handled within the organisation. Providing a clear reporting classification and reporting system ensures complaints are handled by the right people in the organisation, and follow appropriate response protocols. For example, a complaint from a regular supporter about the volume of marketing material they receive would be classified and handled differently to a complaint about the behaviour of staff, such as an act of fraud or sexual exploitation or abuse. The complaints policy should outline what processes should be followed for different types and degrees of complaints – for example, sexual misconduct, financial misconduct, child safeguarding incidents, HR misconduct incidents, and supporter concerns. The policy should also provide guidance to staff on how to manage complaints that do not fall within the scope of the member’s policy – usually by referral to the entity that is the subject of the complaint.
A policy also provides an important statement of the organisation’s commitment to welcoming and responding to complaints and being accountable to stakeholders. It is used to communicate this commitment to both internal and external stakeholders. This includes a commitment to providing appropriate assistance and referrals to survivors of sexual exploitation or abuse such as by mapping out key stakeholders and service providers for referrals, and by seeking to provide financial support to the extent practicable.
ACFID’s Guidance for the development of a Complaints Handling Policy is available for members to support their understanding of complaints handling, linked in the Resources section below. Members can also find links to complaints policies of other members by looking at their websites.