Complaints Management Unit

Complaints Management Unit

Charles Darwin University aims to provide a high-quality teaching research and learning environment that promotes respect, safety and embraces diversity. We recognise that from time to time there will be occasions when problems, misunderstandings, or complaints may arise that need to be managed in a fair, transparent, and timely manner.

The Complaints Management Unit can provide advice to staff, students and the general public in relation to the University’s complaints processes and information on the various avenues available for resolving a complaint. If they cannot help you, they will refer you to someone who can.

Select from the options below to find out more about how the University manages different types of complaints.

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Role of the Complaints Management Unit

The role of the Complaints Management Unit is to listen to your concern or complaint and explain your options for resolving the matter in accordance with the relevant University procedures. We don't have any decision-making capacity.

All communications with us are confidential. However, if any potential criminal conduct is disclosed, we may be obliged to refer the matter to the police. Further, if we are concerned for a person’s health, safety or wellbeing, we may be obliged to refer the matter to the relevant University contact person or an external authority.

When the Complaints Management Unit receives a formal complaint, we will:

  • record the complaint in our complaints handling interface, and acknowledge receipt of your complaint via email
  • assess and triage the complaint based upon the information / evidence provided
  • follow up with you and request further details if needed
  • decide who in the University is best suited to investigate the complaint and provide them with the details of your complaint
  • provide you with any further advice if required
  • ensure the decision maker communicates any resolution / decision with you.

Lodging a complaint with the Complaints Management Unit does not automatically escalate or elevate a matter. We are not another avenue of review if you do not like a decision that has been made.

The Complaints Management Unit does not:

  • make decisions about academic matters. These decisions are only able to be made by relevant academic staff or under academic processes. The awarding of marks and grades, applications for advanced standing and eligibility for progression are not able to be reviewed by the Complaints Management Unit unless you believe that you have been unfairly treated and that there is evidence of bias or wrongdoing
  • provide advocacy or mediation, however, we can refer you to these services if they are needed
  • find evidence to support your complaint, it is up to you to provide information that supports your complaint
  • accept complaints that are more than six months old, unless there are exceptional circumstances
  • provide personal support, although we will refer you to counsellors or other support staff if needed.

Staff Complaints

Our aim is to ensure that relationships in the workplace are effectively managed and your workplace concerns and conflicts are resolved as early as possible in order to achieve a positive workplace culture.

You should make all reasonable attempts to resolve your workplace conflict or concerns informally, either directly with the person concerned or with the assistance of your supervisor. However, where this does not result in satisfactory resolution or your concern is of a serious nature, you may pursue the matter through a more formal complaint process. 

Please note: if you feel you have been subjected to harassment, sexual or racial discrimination, bullying, or unfair treatment, please contact the Complaints Management Unit or the Office of People and Capability (Casuarina or Alice Springs) immediately for guidance. The University has a responsibility under Territory and Federal legislation to ensure that staff members are not subjected to behaviour that may constitute unlawful discrimination, harassment or victimisation.

What is a staff complaint?

A complaint is any type of problem, concern or grievance about your work or your work environment. Your complaint must relate to University matters, which includes work-related activities and functions. Common complaints include:

  • the conduct of another staff member or student (including interpersonal conflict)
  • discrimination, harassment or bullying
  • workplace safety or environment issues
  • the application of University policies and procedures.

You can make a complaint against another staff member, including peers, subordinates or manager, students or another person you are dealing with in the course of your work. If the person you want to complain about is not a staff member, the University may refer the matter to that person’s employer or another relevant body / agency.

Self-resolution

If you have a workplace conflict or concern, you are encouraged to speak with your immediate supervisor in the first instance, and if you feel comfortable doing so, you should speak directly with the other person / people involved as soon as possible. This can be an effective way to resolve your concern. Often others are unaware of the impact of their conduct.

A constructive conversation between you and your colleague should:

  • describe the specific behaviour or circumstances that are causing concern
  • describe the effect the behaviour or circumstance is having on you or your work
  • give your colleague the opportunity to ask questions and respond
  • state your desired outcome.

You may want to ask your supervisor, manager, or a member of your Client Services Unit from the Office of People and Capability to be present at the conversation. If you do not wish to speak with your supervisor about your issue or if your concern is about your supervisor, you are encouraged to speak with your Client Services Unit for advice on the conflict resolution process.

Informal concern

If you do not feel comfortable having a conversation directly with your colleague or if the conversation has been unsuccessful, you can consult with your supervisor or Client Services Unit for advice and a possible strategy to help resolve your issue or concern.

Your supervisor together with your Client Services Unit will be able to help you resolve your issue or concern locally or will assist with identifying other pathways which may be available to help resolve your matter.

Formal complaint

A formal complaint may be made if you are not able to resolve your issue by any other means, are concerned about how a process or procedure of the University has been applied or the concern is of a serious nature.

In order to make a formal complaint, please refer to your consultant within the Client Services Unit.

Please note: the University may still take action without a written complaint if it considers a staff member’s health, safety or wellbeing is in jeopardy or if the University considers that misconduct or serious misconduct may have occurred.

Office of People and Capability, Client Services Unit

The role of the Office of People and Capability, Client Services Unit is to listen to your complaint, provide advice and explain options for resolving your complaint. The Client Services Unit can't take action to address your complaint, however, with your permission they can refer the matter to the relevant person for action.

All communications with the Client Services Unit are confidential, however, if any potential criminal conduct is disclosed, they may be obliged to refer the matter to the police. Further, if they are concerned for a person’s health, safety or wellbeing, they may be obliged to refer the matter to the relevant University contact person or an external authority. The Client Services Unit may seek advice from internal experts prior to taking these steps.

Your responsibility

You are expected to participate in all processes honestly, openly and in good faith, and follow any reasonable recommendations for self-supported early resolution or local assisted resolution for any issue, concern or grievance. This includes providing requested documentation and all relevant information otherwise available, remaining open to suggested options for resolution and engaging respectfully with those concerned.

The complaint process is not to be used for revenge, retribution or mischief. If you make a complaint which is frivolous, vexatious or in bad faith, disciplinary action may be taken against you in accordance with the Charles Darwin University and Union Enterprise Agreement (PDF 795KB).

Examples of frivolous, vexatious and bad faith complaints include fabricating a complaint, making trivial or petty complaints, or seeking to re-agitate issues that have already been addressed or determined.

Student Complaints

Our aim is to ensure that student complaints are addressed quickly and resolved fairly. You are expected to make all reasonable attempts to resolve your concerns locally, preferably with the person/s directly concerned. However, where this does not result in satisfactory resolution, or your concern is of a serious nature, you may pursue the matter through a more formal complaint process.

Please note: if you feel you have been subjected to harassment, sexual or racial discrimination, bullying or unfair treatment, please contact the Complaints Management Unit immediately for guidance. The University has a responsibility under Territory and Federal legislation to ensure that students are not subjected to behaviour that may constitute unlawful discrimination, harassment or victimisation.

The information you provide to us will be treated confidentially and will not be disclosed to a third party other than for the purpose of managing your complaint or to comply with law. For information about how the University protects your information, please refer to the University’s Information Privacy Policy (PDF 69KB).

What is a student complaint?

A student complaint is any type of problem, concern or grievance about your studies, student life, the University or the University environment. Basically, anything which negatively affects your studies or experience at University can be raised as a complaint.

Academic matters

If you have a concern or complaint about academic misconduct issues including plagiarism, collusion, group work and assessment issues, you should speak directly to the relevant academic staff member such as your Lecturer or Course Coordinator, or the Complaints Management Unit. If you have been advised of an allegation against you in accordance with the Students – Breach of Academic Integrity Procedures (PDF 99KB), you can contact the Complaints Management Unit for further information and advice.
 
If you want to apply to reschedule an examination, apply for an extension of time, special consideration, or appeal against a final result in a course, you should contact Student Administration and Equity Services.
 
If you are experiencing difficulty with your studies due to the effects of your disability or medical condition you should contact the Disability Liaison Officer.
 
If you are unable to satisfactorily resolve your concern locally, or you are still unsure, you can seek advice from the Complaints Management Unit.

Non-academic matters

If you are unhappy with a decision that has been made, or the way someone has behaved, you should discuss your concerns directly with the person involved and attempt to resolve the matter informally. At any stage you can seek advice and assistance from the Complaints Management Unit, including guidance on the most appropriate person to contact in the first instance.
 
Please note: if you feel you have been subjected to harassment, sexual or racial discrimination, bullying, or unfair treatment, please contact the Complaints Management Unit immediately for guidance. The University has a responsibility under Territory and Federal legislation to ensure that staff members are not subjected to behaviour that may constitute unlawful discrimination, harassment or victimisation.

Complaints from the public

The University welcomes all forms of feedback, including complaints on its services and products. If you have a grievance or are concerned with the way someone has behaved, you are encouraged to contact the Complaints Management Unit for guidance.

Casuarina campus
Building Blue 1.1.36
T: 08 8946 6509
E: complaints@cdu.edu.au   

Concerning and threatening behaviours

A safe working, learning, teaching and research environment is a right of all members of the University community.

In an emergency you should call 000 immediately (medical, police or fire), the University Security as soon as practicable on 1800 646 501.

For non-emergency situations or for information on personal safety, safety on campus, or to raise a security concern, contact University Security or the Complaints Management Unit.

Campus Security

T: 1800 646 501 (freecall Australia-wide 24/7)
E: security@cdu.edu.au

UNI-SAFE

CDU adopts the UNI-SAFE program, which aims to alert students, staff and visitors of personal safety issues. Security officers are available to escort students and staff after hours between buildings, campus car parks and local public transport points.

Alice Springs campus

For security escort service between 0800 and 2200 and other security matters, please call:
M: 0428 816 741.

Casuarina campus

T: 1800 646 501 (freecall Australia-wide 24/7)

Discrimination, harassment (including sexual harassment) or bullying

The University is committed to providing a working, learning, teaching and research environment free from all forms of discrimination and harassment.

All members of the University community share the responsibility for appropriate conduct and have an obligation to conduct themselves in a manner that complies with the prevailing legislation and the University’s Code of Conduct (PDF 74KB) and other relevant Governance documents.

Behaviour that involves discrimination and sexual harassment in employment is unlawful under anti-discrimination, equal employment opportunity, workplace relations and human rights laws. It is possible for a person to be bullied, sexually harassed and discriminated against at the same time.

If you feel you have been subjected to harassment, sexual or racial discrimination, bullying or unfair treatment, please contact the Complaints Management Unit immediately for guidance. The University has a responsibility under Territory and Federal legislation to ensure that students, staff members and others are not subjected to behaviour that may constitute unlawful discrimination, harassment or victimisation.

Discrimination

Everyone has the right to equal opportunity. Discrimination is about being treated unfairly because of your race, sex, age or another attribute. Under the Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Act,  unlawful discrimination and unfair treatment is based on the following attributes:

  • race
  • sex
  • sexuality
  • age
  • pregnancy
  • parenthood
  • impairment
  • religious belief or activity
  • irrelevant medical record
  • marital status
  • breast feeding
  • trade union or employer association activity
  • political opinion, affiliation or activity
  • irrelevant criminal record
  • association with a person who has, or is believed to have one of these attributes.
Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is unwanted or unwelcome sexual behaviour, which makes a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated and it is against the law.
Sexual harassment is a type of sex discrimination and can take many different forms, it can be obvious or indirect, physical or verbal, repeated or one-off and perpetrated by males and females against people of the same or opposite sex, such as:

  • unwelcome touching, grabbing or other physical contact
  • comments that have sexual meanings
  • asking for sex or sexual favours
  • leering and staring
  • displaying rude and offensive material
  • sexual gestures or body movement
  • sexual jokes and comments
  • questions about your sex life
  • sex based insults
  • criminal offences such as obscene phone calls, indecent exposure or sexual assault.

Sexual harassment is NOT interaction, flirtation or friendship which is mutual or consensual. If sexual harassment includes behaviour that causes humiliation, pain, fear or intimidation, it can amount to sexual assault. If you have been sexually assaulted please contact the Police or the Complaints Management Unit immediately for guidance.

Read the Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy (PDF 56KB).

Support

1800RESPECT

National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service.

For information, referral and counselling delivered by qualified, experienced professionals 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

T: 1800 737 732
W: 1800respect.org.au

Bullying

Bullying is repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards an individual or a group of staff, students, contractors, service providers, clients, customers, or visitors that may create a risk to health and safety.

Examples of behaviour, whether intentional or unintentional, that may be considered to be bullying if they are repeated, unreasonable and create a risk to health and safety include, but are not limited to:

  • yelling, screaming, abusive or offensive language, insults, inappropriate comments to, and/or about another person’s appearance, personal life or lifestyle, defamation of individuals or their family or associates
  • behaviour or language that intends to, or has the impact of frightening, intimidating, belittling or degrading another person
  • deliberately marginalising a person e.g. persistently ignoring colleagues
  • negative or unnecessary criticism, or spreading rumours about others
  • impeding a person’s capacity to fulfil their duties or study commitments
  • excluding individuals from normal work/study interaction without justification
  • unrealistic or unreasonable demands within the framework of existing work unit standards, which includes normal work and study peaks and troughs
  • threatening a staff member’s job security
  • withholding work/study related information or resources, or supplying incorrect information to an individual
  • teasing or playing pranks/practical jokes, particularly after an objection has been made known
  • displaying written or pictorial material which degrades or offends another person
  • harmful and punitive “administrative sanctions” e.g. delay in processing/marking an individual's work, applications for training, leave or payment of wages
  • creating unexplained job changes
  • setting meaningless tasks, or tasks well beyond a persons’ normal range of duties
  • sending abusive or offensive messages via any media
  • using digital and online social networks to make inappropriate comments that humiliate, defame, slander, intimidate or degrade a person.

If you are experiencing bullying behaviour that involves violence, for example, physical assault or the threat of physical assault, it should be reported to the police.

Mobbing is a particular form of bullying carried out by a group rather than by an individual and includes the bullying or social isolation of a person through collective accusations, humiliation, organised refusal to cooperate, general harassment or emotional abuse.

Bullying does not include:

  • situations where colleagues or students raise concerns about professional differences or difficulties they have with other members of the campus community, provided that it is done in an appropriate manner
  • occasional differences of opinion, conflicts and problems in work/study relationships - these are part of working life and not every conflict constitutes bullying
  • controlled release of study information for an appropriate purpose
  • setting reasonable performance goals, standards and deadlines in accordance with the CDU and Union Enterprise Agreement
  • reasonable staff performance management or disciplinary action
  • a situation where a supervisor or academic (within the performance of student related duties), institutes proceedings for unsatisfactory performance, misconduct, dismissal or to deal with complaints about a person from others within the framework of University policies and procedures.

Understand more about bullying by reading Safe Work Australia’s Dealing with Workplace Bullying – A Worker’s Guide and the Charles Darwin University (Student Conduct) By-laws (PDF 47KB).

Report wrongdoing

The University is committed to ensuring its operations are conducted according to high standards of ethical conduct, and will not tolerate any form of wrongdoing. If a complaint involves alleged criminal conduct or an alleged breach of any Australian law, please contact the Complaints Management Unit for advice.

Reporting of suspected wrongdoing is vital to the ongoing integrity, accountability and good management of the University. Anyone can make a confidential report about suspected wrongdoing. Although anonymous reports will be considered, you are encouraged to disclose your identity. This enables the University to take reasonable steps to provide you with support and protection from reprisals, as well as report back to you what action the University has taken or proposes to take.

You are encouraged to report known or suspected wrongdoings which you believe constitutes or may constitute any of the following:

  • corrupt conduct
  • maladministration
  • serious and substantial waste of public money
  • government information contravention
  • some other kind of wrongdoing.

The Complaints Management Unit may also be able to provide advice on concerns in regards to:

  • authorship / intellectual property
  • copyright
  • privacy.

Research integrity or misconduct

The University is committed to providing a research environment that will promote a high standard of professional conduct by its researchers, and a culture of research practice that is ethical, competent, safe and accountable.

The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research outlines the culture of good research practice we want to enshrine at Charles Darwin University.

If you have a concern or suspect that the research activities conducted under the auspices of the University involves research misconduct or a breach the Code or, you should contact the Complaints Management Unit for advice.

Student conduct

The University is committed to providing a rewarding learning and research experience that helps students achieve their full academic potential.

Students have an obligation to conduct themselves in a manner that complies with directions from staff, University security and law enforcement officers and the University’s Code of Conduct (PDF 74KB), Charles Darwin University (Student Conduct) By-laws (PDF 47KB) and the Charles Darwin University (Student Residence) By-laws (PDF 19KB). They must also comply with all directions, laws and governing documents relevant to an off-campus location.

If you have a concern about a student’s conduct please contact the Complaints Management Unit for advice.

Misconduct

Misconduct means conduct which impairs the reasonable freedom of other persons to pursue their studies, research, duties or lawful activities in the University or upon University premises, or to participate in the life of the University, or which is otherwise detrimental to the proper order or good conduct of the University or is adverse to its academic standing. This may include but is not limited to:

  • wilfully disrupting or obstructing any teaching activity, examination, official meeting or other proceeding of the University
  • wilfully obstructing, or attempting to obstruct, any member of the staff of the University in performing their duties
  • entering any part of the University premises which is prohibited or without authority
  • unlawfully assaulting, or attempting to assault, any person on University premises
  • wilfully damaging or wrongly dealing with any property of the University, or the property of any person while on University premises
  • cheating, acting dishonestly or assisting another student to cheat or act dishonestly, or attempting to these things, at or in connection with any examination, test, assignment or other means of academic assessment conducted by or on behalf of the University
  • attempting to gain academic credit for the work of another - plagiarism
  • obtaining access to or altering, or attempting to gain access to or alter, any document or record kept by the University without lawful authority
  • knowingly making a false representation with respect to a matter which relates to the student as a student
  • disclosing to any person any information relating to the University or its affairs which is of a confidential nature without lawful authority
  • disobeying a reasonable direction given by a senior officer
  • failing to disclose your name and address, or to produce evidence of identity, where required to do so by an officer of the University.
Student Breach of Academic Integrity

Breaches of academic integrity may include, but are not limited to:

  • plagiarism
  • committing an act of collusion
  • falsifying or fabricating data, results, references, sources, or other information
  • cheating or attempting to cheat in examinations or other forms of assessment including but not limited to:
    • dishonest or attempted dishonest conduct such as speaking to other candidates or communicating with them by any means whatsoever
    • taking into, or using in connection with, any assessment session any unauthorised textbook, notebook, memorandum, or other written material or mechanical or electronic device
    • consulting any personal materials without permission to do so
    • leaving answers exposed to view, or persistent attempts to read other student examination answers
    • behaving in a manner that compromises the integrity of the assessment process
    • acquiring, attempting to acquire, possessing, or distributing examination materials and information without the authorisation of the appropriate officer
  • impersonating or allowing himself or herself to be impersonated by any person in, or for the purposes of, any assessment item
  • reusing an assessment already submitted in the same or another unit
  • behaving in any manner that may provide a misleading basis for assessment
  • tampering or attempting to tamper with examination scripts, class work, grades or class records or official testamurs
  • acquiring/receiving and/or using copies of confidential worked solutions
  • voluntarily and consciously assisting another student in the commission of one or more of these breaches.

Academic staff who suspect that a student may have committed a breach of academic integrity should refer to the Students - Breach of Academic Integrity Procedures (PDF 99KB) for more information. If you believe a breach has occurred, please login to report a breach of academic integrity. The Complaints Management Unit can provide advice and assistance throughout the process.

Reporting a hazard or incident

The University is committed to ensuring the safety, health and wellbeing of its staff members, students, and others by providing a healthy and safe working and learning environment for the University community.

In order to eliminate and/or minimise hazards and associated risks, and comply with Work, Health and Safety legislations, relevant industry standards and codes of practice, you are encouraged to identify and report hazards, incidents, concerns and complaints to the Office of People and Capability - Safety, Emergency, and Wellbeing team.

T: 08 89467294
E: sew@cdu.edu.au