The purpose of this policy is to outline indigo foundation’s approach to handling complaints and to ensure that we handle complaints in a manner that is fair, efficient and effective. We strive to ensure that the process is respectful of all parties and in line with our guiding principles of transparency and equity.
This policy provides guidance to our staff and volunteers and to people who wish to make a complaint on the key principles and concepts of our complaint management system.
The policy applies to all staff, volunteers and board members of indigo foundation receiving or managing feedback and complaints made to or about us.
Feedback and complaints may originate from the public, our supporters, our funders, our community partner organisations or people in the communities in which our partners operate.
Complaints may include, but are not limited to, concerns about our development program and the activities and processes of our partner organisations, concerns about the way our organisation is managed and our interaction with the public in Australia and concerns about the behaviour of any of our representatives in Australia and abroad.
We pursue the highest degree of care and protection within our organisation and our overseas programs and we take complaints about criminal matters and sexual harassment, misconduct, exploitation and abuse very seriously.
Through this process, we aim to encourage feedback, as well as complaints, and we recognise that what starts as feedback may transition to a complaint.
Note that this policy does not apply to workplace grievances (involving a written statement by a staff member about another staff member or a work-related problem) or to internal disputes between members (which is dealt with under clause 13 of the indigo foundation Rules).
Principles for complaint handling process
We are committed to promoting a culture that values feedback, complaints and their effective resolution.
We are committed to maintaining complaints procedures that:
- are managed in accordance with the principles of respect, fairness, responsiveness, transparency and efficiency
- are documented in a clear and accessible manner
- provide accessible, safe and confidential points of contact for internal and external stakeholders in each country in which we operate
- one of those points of contact must be the Chair
- one of those points of contact must be an external independent body
- requirements for making complaints must take into consideration the needs of the most vulnerable and consider minority and disadvantaged stakeholders
- provide time-bound processes for investigation, escalation (including the possibility of escalation to the Board) and response
- ensures the person handling the complaint is different from any person engaged by indigo foundation whose conduct or service is being complained about,
- ensures that due process and natural justice is provided for the complainant and the subject of the complaint, and
- provides for prompt, firm, and fair corrective action where wrongdoing is identified.
Guidelines for complaint handling process
We are committed to seeking and receiving feedback and complaints about our programs, systems, practices, procedures, products and complaint handling.
Any concerns raised in feedback or complaints will be dealt with within a reasonable time frame. We will promptly acknowledge receipt of complaints.
Each complaint will be responded to with integrity and in an equitable, objective and unbiased manner.
People making complaints will be:
- provided with information about our complaint handling process and how to access it
- listened to, treated with respect and actively involved in the complaint process where possible and appropriate
- provided with reasons for any decisions, and
- provided with options for redress or review.
We will take all reasonable steps to ensure that people making complaints are not adversely affected because a complaint has been made by them or on their behalf.
We will ensure that information about how and where complaints may be made to or about us is publicised on our website.
If a person prefers or needs another person or organisation to assist or represent them in the making and/ or resolution of their complaint, we will communicate with them through their representative if this is their wish.
Where possible, complaints will be resolved at first contact with us.
When appropriate we may offer an explanation or apology to the person making the complaint.
We will assess and prioritise complaints in accordance with the urgency and seriousness of the issues raised. If a matter concerns an immediate risk to safety or security, the response will be immediate and will be escalated appropriately.
We are committed to managing people’s expectations, and will inform them as soon as possible, of the following:
- the complaints process
- the expected time frames for our actions
- the progress of the complaint and reasons for any delay
- their likely involvement in the process, and
- the possible or likely outcome of their complaint.
We will advise people as soon as possible when we are unable to deal with any part of their complaint and, if possible and appropriate, provide advice about where such issues or complaints may be directed.
We will ensure that the person handling a complaint is different from any staff member whose conduct or service is being complained about.
Conflicts of interest, whether actual or perceived, will be managed responsibly. In particular, internal reviews of how a complaint was managed will be conducted by a person other than the original decision-maker.
We will assess each complaint on its merits and involve people making complaints and/or their representative in the process as far as possible.
We will protect the identity of people making complaints where this is practical and appropriate. Personal information that identifies individuals will only be disclosed or used by us as permitted under the relevant privacy laws and confidentiality obligations.
We will inform people who make complaints to or about us about any internal or external review options available to them, including notifying the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission.
Three levels of complaint handling
- We aim to resolve complaints at the first point of contact.
- Where this is not possible or where the complaint is serious, we may escalate the complaint to the Board. This second level of complaint handling will provide for the following internal mechanisms:
- assessment and possible investigation of the complaint and decision/s already made, and/or
- facilitated resolution (where a person not connected with the complaint reviews the matter and attempts to find an outcome acceptable to the relevant parties).
- Where a person making a complaint is dissatisfied with the outcome of our review of their complaint, they may seek an external review of our decision.
Accountability and learning
All complaints will be recorded in a register of complaints which will be tabled at the next board meeting after a complaint is received. The register will be accessible to the Board so that information can be easily retrieved for reporting and analysis.
We are committed to improving the way our organisation operates, including our management of the effectiveness and efficiency of our complaint management system. To this end, we will:
- support the making and appropriate resolution of complaints
- implement best practices in complaint handling
- regularly review the complaint management system and complaint data, and
- implement appropriate system changes arising out of our analysis of complaints data and continual monitoring of the system.
This Complaints Policy has drawn from the model policy and procedures released in 2018 by a coalition of 11 peak NGO bodies in Australia.