The University of Western Australia
This policy provides for students to make a complaint to the University and to appeal a complaint outcome. It sets out the possible stages of a complaint process and explains a student's right to appeal a complaint outcome.
This policy applies where a student makes a complaint about any matter in relation to their student experience, unless another process for resolution is prescribed in a specific Statute, regulation, rule or policy pertaining to the matter in question.
the University means the University of Western Australia
complainant means a person, group or body who makes a complaint under this policy
complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction where a response is explicitly or implicitly expected
conflict of interest means a situation that has the potential to undermine the impartiality of a person due to a possible clash between their personal, professional or public interests
dismiss means to deny any further consideration of a complaint within the University, including the right to appeal
frivolous complaint means one that is trivial, superficial or senseless
good faith means a sincere intention to deal fairly with others and participate appropriately with the process
respondent means a person, group or body who is the subject of a complaint made under this policy
Responsible Officer is a role undertaken by an officer of the University, either by virtue of their position or by appointment by the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Registrar or their delegate, that involves considering and responding to a complaint
Senior Management Representative means the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Registrar, Chair of Academic Board, Deputy Vice-Chancellors, Pro Vice-Chancellors, Deans or members of the senior management group as determined by the Vice-Chancellor
serious matter is one which impacts, or has the potential to impact, on the health and safety of any person, the University's reputation or University operations.
student means a person who is enrolled at the University in a higher education course or an enabling course, or undertaking units through University Extension, other than on an audit-only basis
student representative means a person, group or body that is nominated by a student(s) or former student(s) to act as their representative or that makes a complaint under this policy in their capacity as a representative body
support person means a person who provides practical or emotional assistance to an person involved in a complaint process
vexatious complaint means one that is made or pursued without reasonable grounds or made to harass or annoy, to cause delay or detriment, or for any other wrongful purpose
1.1 This policy operates in conjunction with other governing instruments including, but not limited to, legislation, by-laws; and University Statutes, regulations, rules and policies. As such, the University may be required to:
(i) alter its management of a complaint;
(ii) constrain the outcomes provided for a complaint; or
(iii) refer a complaint to another process for resolution.
1.2 The University accepts complaints under this policy:
(i) from a:
a) student(s) or former student(s); or
b) student representative; and
(ii) in relation to the student experience which may extend to incidents, situations or activities that are not conducted on University premises or sites.
1.3 The Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Registrar or their delegate may accept a complaint more than twelve (12) months following the incident, situation or activity that led to the complaint, if:
(i) the complaint can, despite the delay, be reasonably considered; and
(ii) one of the following applies:
a) the complainant can provide reasonable grounds for the delay; or
b) the complaint raises a serious matter.
A complaint made more than twelve (12) months following the incident, situation or activity that led to the complaint must be submitted to the Complaint Resolution Unit.
1.4 The Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Registrar or their delegate may consider an anonymous complaint if:
(i) it raises a serious matter; and
(ii) it can be reasonably considered.
An anonymous complaint must be submitted to the Complaint Resolution Unit. However, prior to submitting a complaint, potential complainants should refer to the information at www.complaints.uwa.edu.au/anonymous as various processes are available for reporting concerns anonymously, including the public interest disclosure process.
2.1 The University is committed to conducting complaint resolution that is:
(i) visible - information about the process is easy to access;
(ii) simple - the process is easy to understand and use;
(iii) timely - complaints are managed efficiently with consideration of urgency;
(iv) objective -complaints are considered and managed without bias;
(v) fair - procedural fairness is afforded to all;
(vi) confidential - information is kept confidential, as appropriate;
(vii) effective - appropriate complaint outcomes are reached; and
(viii) informative - complaint information is used for the continuous improvement of University operations.
2.2 The University encourages the informal and early resolution of complaints.
2.3 The University determines the complaint process.
2.4 Parties to a complaint process must:
(i) cooperate in good faith;
(ii) act in accordance with the UWA Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct;
(iii) respect the confidentiality of the complaint process; and
(iv) immediately disclose any actual, perceived or potential conflict of interest.
2.5 Parties to a complaint process must not be subjected to reprisals, discrimination or victimisation due to their involvement in the process.
Any concerns regarding process or the conduct of a person(s) involved in a complaint process, should be directed to the Responsible Officer for the complaint or to the Complaint Resolution Unit as soon as possible.
In addition to the above, staff must comply with their responsibilities under the University Policy on: Conflicts of Interest.
2.6 Parties to a complaint process are advised of the support and representation options available to them.
Students may seek free support and representation from the UWA Student Guild at any stage of a complaint process. They may also seek advice and/or support from the following units and services, as appropriate:
- STUDYSmarter (study skills)
Staff that are subject of a complaint or involved in the handling of a complaint may also seek advice and/or support at any stage of a complaint process from the following units and services, as appropriate:
- staff representative bodies, e.g. NTEU;
Further information regarding support and representation is available from the Complaint Resolution Unit.
3.1 A person(s) should attempt, where possible and appropriate, to resolve their concerns directly with the respondent prior to making a complaint to a Responsible Officer under this policy.
3.2 A complaint process may comprise the following two stages, which must be conducted in accordance with the requirements in Appendix A.
(i) Stage 1 - Informal Resolution; and
(ii) Stage 2 - Formal Resolution.
3.3 Stage 1 must precede Stage 2 unless the Stage 2 Responsible Officer is satisfied that:
(i) the complaint raises a serious matter; or
(ii) there are valid reasons for not attempting Stage 1.
3.4 A Responsible Officer at Stage 1 and/or 2 may make or initiate inquiries, collect relevant information and exercise their own judgement, as appropriate, in an attempt to resolve a complaint.
All parties involved in a complaint process must comply with the procedural requirements in Appendix A, as applicable.
Forms required for Stage 2 - Formal Resolution are available by accessing the links contained in Appendix A or at:
- https://www.student.uwa.edu.au/life/complaints/submit (complainant use)
- https://uwa.edu.au/university/complaints/staff/resources (staff use)
Supporting information, including a guide to Stage 1 Responsible Officers is also available at: https://www.web.uwa.edu.au/university/complaints/students/policies/complaint-policy-and-procedures
4.1 Formal complaint resolution under Stage 2 precedes a complainant's right to appeal.
4.2 An appeal must be conducted in accordance with the requirements specified in Appendix B.
4.3 An appeal may be summarily dismissed by the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Registrar or their delegate if the:
(i) appeal is made on grounds other than those specified in
(ii) the complaint resolution process specified in this policy has not taken place; or
(iii) the appeal is considered to be frivolous or vexatious.
4.4 Subject to 4.3, the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Registrar or their delegate appoints a Responsible Officer, who is typically a Senior Management Representative, to an appeal.
4.5 A Responsible Officer appointed to an appeal may make or initiate inquiries, collect relevant information and exercise their own judgement, as appropriate, to determine an appeal outcome.
4.6 The decision of the Responsible Officer under 4.5 is final within the University.
All parties involved in a complaint process must comply with the procedural requirements in Appendix B, as applicable.
Forms required for an appeal are available by accessing the links contained in Appendix B or at:
- https://uwa.edu.au/university/complaints/staff/resources (staff use)
5.1 A complainant may withdraw their complaint or appeal at any time; however the University may continue to consider any of the matters raised.
A complainant must notify the Responsible Officer of their decision to withdraw their complaint or appeal in writing under 5.1 above. The Responsible Officer must confirm receipt of the decision and advise the complainant if the University will take any further action.
6.1 The Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Registrar or their delegate may dismiss a complaint that they determine to be:
(iii) lacking in substance; or
(iv) unable to be reasonably considered by the University.
6.2 The University does not normally dismiss a complaint solely because of minor procedural deficiencies.
A request to dismiss a complaint under 6.1 must be submitted to the Complaint Resolution Unit.
7.1 Where a complaint brings to light an error which may affect other students, the University will action all necessary changes to ensure that these students are not unduly advantaged or disadvantaged.
8.1 Nothing in this policy precludes a person or the University from reporting an alleged criminal action to the police or other relevant authority.
8.2 A complainant may seek resolution of their complaint through an external body at any time.
8.3 The University reserves the right to suspend any internal complaint or appeal process where the matter has been referred to an external, relevant authority.
9.1 University staff must ensure that records in relation to a complaint are administered in accordance with the University Policy on: Records Management. Responsible Officers must also meet any applicable record keeping requirements specified in Appendices Aand B.
TRIM File No:
Manager, Complaint Resolution Unit
Related Policies or legislation: