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Complaints Handling Policy and Procedures

1. About the VCAA

The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) is a statutory authority continued under the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (Vic).

The mission of the VCAA is to provide high quality curriculum, assessment and reporting to enable learning for life. The VCAA is primarily responsible to the Minister for Education. There are three Divisions in the VCAA: Assessment and Reporting, Curriculum, and Infrastructure and Business Services. Further information about the VCAA is available at its website.

The VCAA upholds, and expects anyone engaged in its work to uphold, the Victorian Public Sector values: responsiveness, integrity, impartiality, accountability, respect, leadership and human rights.

For more information about the Public Sector Values, refer to http://vpsc.vic.gov.au/ethics-behaviours-culture/public-sector-values/

2. Policy

The VCAA takes complaints seriously. We are committed to dealing with any complaints about how we deliver services and deal with our clients and members of the public, in a timely, consistent, thorough, sensitive and fair manner. We attend to complaints promptly, whether made by letter, email or telephone call, directly or through the responsible Minister or an external complaints body.

The VCAA welcomes your comments, suggestions and complaints, as they help us improve our services and how we provide them.
You can complain about any aspect of the service provided, or not provided, by the VCAA, the behaviour or decisions of staff, or practices, policies or procedures.

The policy and procedures in this document apply to all clients of the VCAA and members of the public.

3. Procedures

3.1. How to make a complaint

Summary:

In the first instance, local, informal resolution of complaints is preferred (see section 3.1.1 below). However if you are unable to resolve a complaint in this way, complaints should be made formally to the nominated Executive Director (see section 3.1.2 below).

3.1.1. Informal complaints

Any complaints about the way you have been treated by the VCAA should first be directed to the person you have dealt with. Your complaint may be in writing (email or letter) or verbal. Where possible, that person will discuss the complaint informally with you and try to resolve it. If you are reluctant to talk to that person or they are unable to resolve the complaint, you will be given the opportunity to speak with their supervisor. Alternatively, serious matters may be raised directly as formal complaints (see section 3.1.2 below).

At this level, the VCAA staff member (or their supervisor) may take a number of actions, apart from discussing the complaint with you, including reviewing any correspondence and file records, and discussing the matter with other members of staff, to determine whether the VCAA has acted fairly, appropriately and in accordance with its policies and procedures.

A response to your complaint can be expected within 10 working days of the complaint being made.

3.1.2. Formal complaints

If you are not satisfied with the response you received after raising your complaint with the staff member concerned (or their supervisor), or you wish to complain about a serious matter, you may lodge a formal complaint in writing, as set out below:

Complaints about:

  • VCE Examination content
  • Senior secondary curriculum
  • F–10 Curriculum
  • Early Learning

    should be directed to:

    Dr Mary Oski,
    Executive Director, Curriculum Division
    Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority
    Level 7, 2 Lonsdale Street
    MELBOURNE VIC 3000

Complaints about:

  • the conduct or marking of VCE examinations (including the General Achievement Test)
  • National Assessment Program (NAPLAN)

    should be directed to:

    Mr Joe Pellegrino
    Executive Director, Assessment and Reporting Division
    Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority
    Level 7, 2 Lonsdale Street
    MELBOURNE VIC 3000

For all other matters, direct your complaint to:

Ms Lea Saddington
Executive Director, Planning, Strategy and Corporate Support
Infrastructure and Business Services Division
Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority
Level 7, 2 Lonsdale Street
MELBOURNE VIC 3000

Please provide as much relevant information as possible, including

  • if you are complaining on behalf of someone else, your relationship to that person, and proof of their authorization to complain on their behalf
  • relevant dates, places and times
  • a description of the incident or problem
  • details of any phone conversation or meetings
  • details of who you have contacted previously and their response/s
  • any explanations that you think are important
  • copies of correspondence and any other relevant documents (if appropriate) – keep the originals
  • the outcome you seek
  • any other information you wish to be considered.

3.2. What you can expect

When handling complaints, we will:

  • Provide information that is helpful, accurate, and easy to understand
  • Be courteous and considerate in our communication
  • Promptly refer requests to the appropriate person
  • Keep you informed of progress or delays
  • Aim to resolve the complaint to your satisfaction, or explain why this is not possible
  • Take remedial action where necessary.

3.2.1. Informal complaints

Upon receipt of your written complaint, it will be investigated by the supervisor of the staff member/s named in the complaint – this may be a unit manager, director, executive director or the Chief Executive Officer, according to the seniority of the staff member/s concerned. Investigation of a complaint may involve consultation within or beyond the VCAA. Responses may be escalated to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) where appropriate, for example on a matter of seriousness or complexity requiring the CEO’s approval where the complaint has not otherwise come through his office.

The person investigating your complaint will review what happened and respond to you in writing within 20 working days. Depending on the subject matter and complexity of your complaint, more time may be needed to investigate and respond. If this is the case, you will be advised within the 20 day initial response period, and kept informed of progress.

3.2.2. Formal complaints

The process we follow for handling formal complaints is set out in Appendix A.

3.3. Privacy and confidentiality

All parties to a complaint are expected to treat the matter confidentially. This requires everyone, including the complainant, to ensure that information is restricted to those who genuinely need to know, and those people are told only as much as they need to know in order for a complaint to be investigated and resolved. Natural justice and procedural fairness may require that your complaint is discussed with the person you have complained about. The collection, use and disclosure of your information for these purposes is done in accordance with the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic) and the Health Records Act 2001.

Note that different provisions apply to Protected Disclosures, and these are dealt with according to laws, rules and procedures outside this policy (see section 4 below).

3.4. Anonymous complaints

Anonymous complaints will be accepted. However, it may not be possible to investigate the matters thoroughly or at all, without sufficient information. It will not be possible to provide a response to an anonymous complainant.

3.5. Unreasonable complaints

The VCAA may decline to consider an unreasonable complaint. An unreasonable complaint is one that is vexatious, trivial or frivolous in nature, such as a complaint that is:

  • an abuse of the complaint process
  • not made in good faith
  • an attempt to reopen an issue that has already been resolved by raising the same, or similar, issues again
  • the result of unreasonable complainant behaviour.

You will be informed if we consider your complaint is unreasonable.

3.6. Outside VCAA jurisdiction/not related to VCAA

The VCAA will assess your complaint to determine whether it relates to our organisation and if not, whether it is more appropriately dealt with by another body. The VCAA will let you know if your complaint is outside its jurisdiction, and suggest another body or bodies that may be able to assist you. The VCAA reserves the right to refer your complaint on, for example in the case of alleged criminal conduct.

3.7. Appeals about specific matters

Appeals and requests for review forming part of specific VCAA processes are dealt with separately, in accordance with applicable processes and requirements, and are outside the scope of this document.

For more information, refer to the sources listed below.
Teacher error: see VCE and VCAL Administrative Handbook, Administrative information: Schools and providers, available online at www.vcaa.vic.edu.au

Student appeals against school decisions for School-based Assessment: see VCE and VCAL Administrative Handbook, Student appeals against school decisions about breaches of VCAA rules, available online at www.vcaa.vic.edu.au.

Student application to Appeals Committee, to appeal decision of Review Committee in relation to breach of examination rules: see VCE and VCAL Administrative Handbook, Review by an Appeal Committee, available online at www.vcaa.vic.edu.au.

Special provision: search ‘Special Provision’ on the VCAA website www.vcaa.vic.edu.au, and see the VCAA and VCAL Administrative Handbook, Special provision available online at www.vcaa.vic.edu.au.

VCE examination score review (formerly known as Student Examination Reassessment Applications): see the VCAA and VCAL Administrative Handbook, Final results, available online at www.vcaa.vic.edu.au.

Privacy: complaints relating to the collection or handling of personal or health information are dealt with pursuant to procedures set out in the VCAA’s Privacy Policy, available online at www.vcaa.vic.edu.au

4. Protected Disclosures

The VCAA is not a body that may receive protected disclosures, pursuant to the Protected Disclosures Act 2012 (Vic).

A disclosure about the VCAA, or one of its employees, officers, staff or Board members should be made to the Independent Broad-based Corruption Commission.

Level 1, North Tower
459 Collins Street
MELBOURNE VIC 3000

1300 735 135
Fax: (03) 8635 6444

5. Taking your complaint further

If you are not satisfied with the VCAA’s response to your complaint, you may wish to seek advice from other bodies, including:

Ombudsman Victoria
Level 2, 570 Bourke Street
MELBOURNE VIC 3000

(03) 9613 6222
International: +61 3 9613 6222
Toll Free (regional only): 1800 806 314

Interpreter services:
Via telephone - 131 450

TTY (teletypewriter)
Call 133 677 then 03 9613 622
Speak and Listen users: Call 1300 555 727 then 03 9613 6222

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission
Level 3, 204 Lygon Street
CARLTON VIC 3053

1300 891 848
Hearing impaired (TTY): 1300 289 621
Interpreters: 1300 152 494

Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner
PO Box 24274
MELBOURNE VIC 3001

Local call within Australia: 1300 666 444 (Privacy)
Local call within Australia: 1300 842 364 (Freedom of Information)

 

Appendix A

Complaints Handling Process – Formal Complaints

Purpose:

This document covers the receipt, evaluation, investigation and reporting of complaints received by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA), to provide guidance to VCAA employees responsible for handling complaints.

This process does not apply to applications or appeals about specific matters for which there are existing legislative processes or VCAA procedures. For example, (i) Freedom of Information applications are handled in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic) and should be referred to VCAA Legal Services; and (ii) applications and appeals referred to in section 5 of the Complaints Handling Policy and Procedures.

Note: informal complaints are handled in the manner set out in the Complaints Handling Policy and Procedures.

If the VCAA is not the correct organisation to respond to an informal complaint, VCAA staff will refer the complainant to an organisation that may be able to assist.

1. Record receipt of formal complaint

Recipient of complaint, whether in writing (letter, email, fax) or verbal (telephone or in person) whether formal or informal, is to note date/time of receipt/making of complaint and create an electronic file for the complaint.

If a complaint is taken by telephone, the VCAA staff member is to obtain contact details from the complainant. The complainant may not wish to provide contact details, or may provide, for example, only a telephone number. Explain to the complainant that if no contact details are provided, this will impact on the VCAA’s ability to notify them of the outcome of the complaint.

If necessary, a VCAA staff member may help a complainant record their complaint in writing, for example by taking notes of a telephone call, and/or where a complainant has difficulty putting the complaint in writing.

2. Acknowledge receipt of formal complaint

No later than 5 business days from the date of receipt, acknowledge receipt of the complaint. The form of acknowledgement will be dictated by available contact details for the complainant, for example if the VCAA only has a telephone number, a verbal or text message acknowledgement will be necessary.

Advise the complainant that their complaint will be assessed within a further 5 business days from the date of the acknowledgement and they will be contacted again. Provide a VCAA contact in the meantime (this could be the relevant Executive Director’s Executive Assistant).

3. Notify VCAA executive of any formal complaint

The recipient of the complaint is to notify the relevant Division Executive Director of the receipt of a formal complaint.

Within 5 business days of the date of the acknowledgement of the complaint, the Executive Director or their delegate is responsible for:

  1. determining whether the complaint is properly directed to the VCAA and concerns matters within the VCAA’s jurisdiction. If the complaint is an appeal under one of the VCAA’s defined appeal pathways (for example in relation to a decision of a school about a breach of assessment rules by a student in relation to for school-assessed coursework, refer the matter to the appropriate VCAA staff member, and notify the complainant of the referral. If the complaint relates to another person or body (other than the VCAA), or the VCAA does not have jurisdiction to receive the complaint, for example because it is a Department of Education and Training or school matter then the complaint should be referred to that person or body.
  2. if the complaint is properly directed to the VCAA and within the VCAA’s jurisdiction, assigning responsibility within the VCAA for assessing and investigating the complaint. This may mean referral to another Division Executive Director; and
  3. informing the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the complaint.

4. Assess the formal complaint, identify the issues

The VCAA staff member assigned responsibility for assessing and investigating the complaint is to:

  1. Write to the complainant, confirming that the complaint will be assessed and investigated, and that a response will be provided within 20 days. Note that in the case of complex complaints, this initial 20 day period may need to be extended to allow for the necessary investigations to take place. The complainant should be kept informed of progress;
  2. review the terms of the complaint, identify the issues, seek clarification, additional information or documents from the complainant if necessary (this could be included in the communication referred to above). It may be necessary to interview the complainant in person or by telephone, to obtain detailed further information;
  3. keep a record of the investigation
  4. identify relevant VCAA staff members, and gather from them relevant information and documents (if applicable);
  5. make an objective and fair assessment on the weight of the evidence available;
  6. document the recommended decision and outcome, including action to be taken to resolve the complaint, and provide a report to the responsible Executive Director (and if necessary, the CEO);

5. Decide on formal complaint

The relevant Executive Director is to consider the report of the investigating staff member, and make a decision about whether the complaint is substantiated, and what further action, if any, should be taken.

6. Respond to the formal complaint

The relevant Executive Director or their delegate is to communicate the decision and outcome of the complaint to the complainant. If the investigation identified that the complaint is substantiated, for example because an error was made by the VCAA, an explanation should be provided to the complainant, the error remedied and an explanation of the steps taken to prevent the error happening again.
The communication to the complainant should include information about their internal (in the case of informal complaints) or external review or appeal rights if they are still aggrieved about the subject of their complaint.

7. Take action

Whether or not a complaint is substantiated, the investigation may identify action required to be taken. The Executive Director is responsible for ensuring that necessary action is taken as soon as practicable, including where appropriate:

  1. Reversal of a decision made in relation to the complainant;
  2. Review and changes to VCAA policy and procedures;
  3. Further action under policies including in relation to VCAA staff, eg. for misconduct and/or unsatisfactory performance; and/or
  4. Referral of the subject-matter of the complaint, or another matter, to an external body or person.

8. Close the complaint

Close the complaint file, store and archive in accordance with the Public Records Act 1973 (Vic).

Back to 3.2.2. Formal complaints