Complaints Policy

1. Goals of Diplomacy Training Program (DTP)

Through this policy the DTP aims to:

  • Affirm DTP as an organisation that is transparent and accountable and views complaints and feedback as essential to its commitment to continuous improvement;
  • Establish appropriate mechanisms to encourage feedback about its work from all its stakeholders;
  • Confirm that consistent with DTP’s policies of Protection from Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment (PSEAH) and Child Protection, DTP will not tolerate any misconduct or abuses of power;
  • Enable complaints to be registered and responded to appropriately, consistent with DTP’s commitments to human rights values and standards and ACFID’s Code of Conduct;
  • Affirm its commitment to respond to complaints about DTP’s conduct in a fair, timely and appropriate manner;
  • Ensure that all stakeholders are familiar with and supportive of DTP’s complaints, policies and processes; and,
  • Provide, based on their wishes and needs, appropriate assistance and referral to survivors.

2. Scope

This policy applies to all stakeholders including Board of Directors, partners, staff, volunteers, trainers and any person representing DTP.

This policy is linked to DTP’s Protection from Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment (PSEAH) Policy, Gender Policy and Child Protection Policy.

When a complaint falls outside the scope of this policy, DTP will endeavour to ensure that complainants/survivors are assisted to access appropriate support and referral. The Executive Director and/or program partner should be contacted for advice.

See Appendix 1: Definition of a Complaint

3. Guiding Principles

  • DTP is committed to good educational and development practice and to ensuring that its programs and activities, including the actions of its staff and trainers, are consistent with the human rights standards and values it is committed to promoting. DTP acknowledges that it has responsibilities to a wide range of stakeholders – including, but not limited to, its program partners, trainers and participants.
  • DTP works with and brings together people from diverse backgrounds and the content of the training can elicit strong responses. DTP is committed to continuous learning. In this context receiving feedback from and responding to complaints from stakeholders and participants is an important part of improving DTP’s work and effectiveness.
  • DTP recognises that accountability to stakeholders is an important principle and this requires that there be open, transparent and accessible avenues for DTP’s stakeholders to:
    • provide input into DTP’s complaints process to ensure that it is appropriate for the diverse cultural settings and groups, including women and children, who engage with DTP
    • make a complaint about the conduct of DTP and/or its representatives.
  • DTP consults with partners to incorporate their views and expectations on appropriate complaints processes.
  • Partners agree, through partner MoU, to support DTP in responding to complaints which prioritise the needs and wishes of survivors.
  • All serious incidents are to be referred to DTP’s Board.
  • DTP is committed to responding to, and where possible resolving, concerns and complaints in relation to its programs, the impacts of programs and the conduct of staff and volunteers and other representatives of DTP.
  • DTP will establish a formal complaints mechanism to handle complaints and concerns that cannot be resolved informally. This mechanism will enable a formal response either from the Executive Director, or in particular circumstances, from DTP’s Board.

4. Implementation

DTP will:

  • confirm through partner MoU the shared responsibility of partners for the implementation of DTP’s complaints process.
  • actively distribute information in a clear and easily understandable manner about this Complaints Policy via its website, and annual report and through distribution to participants in its programs.
  • ensure through induction training and materials and pre-program briefings that staff, volunteers and any individuals who represent DTP are familiar with this policy and the complaints processes.
  • ensure reasonable flexibility in accepting complaints. Complaints can be communicated in person, via email or telephone or in writing — either directly from the individual or organisation making the complaint or via someone acting on their behalf. Where complaints are made by telephone a written record of the complaint will be agreed.
  • when providing information on filing a complaint and on contact points DTP will be mindful of the needs and wishes of SEAH complainants/survivors and other vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.
  • ensure consistency of response and effective management, by having the Executive Director hold primary responsibility for management of complaints:
    • The Executive Director
      Diplomacy Training Program
      Faculty of Law and Justice,
      University of New South
      Wales NSW 2052 Australia
      tel: + (61 2) 9385 3549
      fax: + (61 2) 9385 1778
      email: [email protected]
  • DTP will also, on a program basis, provide in-country contact information including name, phone number and email address of the partner contact.

5. The Process of Complaints

DTP will:

  • require complaints received by other staff, volunteers or trainers to be communicated as quickly and as accurately as possible to the Executive Director;
  • keep an electronic and centralised record of all complaints with procedures in place for the management and resolution of complaints in a timely fashion;
  • ensure that it has the administrative systems in place to log all complaints received and to record action taken so that these may be reported in an accurate and timely way to the DTP Board;
  • where requested by the complainant/survivor complaints will be de-identified;
  • summarise and table complaints/remedial action at quarterly board meetings where relevant;
  • ensure that the confidentiality of both the complainants and the complaint is appropriately respected, consistent with DTP’s Privacy Policy and legal obligations;
  • ensure that complaints are handled on a confidential basis wherever possible. In some cases, it may be necessary to disclose information to third parties. This will be decided on a case-by-case basis and only with the agreement of the complainant;
  • treat everyone who makes a complaint to DTP with courtesy and respect;
  • refer complaints relating to the Executive Director to the DTP Board. In such circumstances, complaints should be addressed to:
    • Professor David Dixon
      Chair of the Board Diplomacy Training Program
      Faculty of Law and Justice
      University of New South Wales
      NSW 2052 Australia
      tel: + (61 2) 9385 3549
      fax: + (61 2) 9385 1778
      email: [email protected]
  • reserve the right not to consider further, or correspond about, the complaint or any specific points raised in a complaint in circumstances where the complainant is seen to be harassing staff or behaving abusively or unreasonably.

The Executive Director will:

  • acknowledge the complaint either by telephone or writing in a timely way;
  • aim to respond to and resolve complaints within ten working days of receipt. In the event that a complaint cannot be resolved within this timeframe the complainant will be informed, in writing (subject to other, relevant organisational or legal requirements);
  • advise the complainant that if they are not satisfied with the outcome of DTP’s complaints process they are able to direct complaints to the ACFID Code of Conduct Committee,;
  • make an initial assessment of the complaint, including criteria related to severity, health and safety implications, financial implications, impact on the individual, organisation and/or public, potential to escalate, systemic implications, need for immediate action and, if deemed a minor matter or without merit, respond with a return call, email or letter. If the complaint is of a more serious nature the Executive Director may need to conduct further investigation/action and implement remedial action. The complainant will be advised, and where appropriate, consulted on the actions taken;
  • serious incidents (including any allegations of SEAH of vulnerable persons, including children) and those relating to criminal offences will be referred to relevant authorities, safeguarding local contact points, the DTP Board and to DFAT;
  • provide the complainant with contact details for the DTP Board of Directors, in the event of a complainant being dissatisfied with the response from DTP to their complaint. The Board will consider the complaint at the next scheduled Board meeting and inform the complainant about what further action may or may not be taken;
  • request where necessary that complainants not harass staff or behave abusively or unreasonably and advise the complainant of the possible consequences of such behaviour. If this negotiation is not successful, the complaint will be referred on to ACFID’s Code of Conduct Committee;
  • work with partners and through its extensive alumni network to determine appropriate assistance and referrals for allegations brought to its attention of sexual abuse, exploitation or harassment. The needs and wishes of the survivor will be central to any action taken.

5. Reviewing this Policy

The DTP Board of Directors adopted and reviewed this policy on the following dates:

Date of Adoption: 13 August 2012.
Date of 1st Review and Renewal: 2015.
Date of 2nd Review and Renewal: 2018.
Date of 3rd Review and Renewal: 7th February 2019.
Date of 4th Review and Renewal: November 2021.

Appendix 1

Definition of a complaint

A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction about the standards of service, actions or lack of action, by DTP or its staff, representatives and volunteers. It is a criticism or concern or grievance that expects a reply and would like things to be changed. Complaints could include the following (which is not an exhaustive list):

  • Concern from someone we work with about the quality of program delivery
  • Concern about the behaviour of staff, volunteers, trainers.

A complaint is not:

  • A general inquiry about DTP’s work
  • A request for information
  • A contractual dispute
  • A request to amend records, e.g. to correct an address, cancel a donation
  • A request to unsubscribe from a DTP service, e.g. The DTP e-newsletter

The complaints procedures do not apply to complaints that are subject to current investigation by any regulatory body or other legal or official authorities in Australia or other countries in which we operate. Such issues will be dealt with under the relevant regulatory regime.