Complaints to Council
Wyndham City recognises the importance of good complaints management as part of a quality customer service system. The reality is all organisations attract complaints about products, services or staff. Wyndham City is no different. As proud as we are of the service we provide, sometimes unfortunately, things go wrong.
It is important to understand how Council defines a complaint. In our eyes a complaint is:
“an expression of dissatisfaction with Council’s level and quality of service, policies or procedures.”
Dissatisfaction may arise from the service provided by Council staff, Councillors, contractors and systems or from the impact of a particular policy or procedure.
So what is not considered a complaint?
A complaint does not include
- A request for service &/or action by Council
- Reports of a hazard (e.g. fallen tree)
- Reports concerning neighbours or neighbouring properties (e.g. dog barking or noise issues)
- A request for information or an explanation of a policy or procedure
- A complaint regarding Competitive Neutrality Issues
- Reporting potential fraud or corrupt conduct committed by Council or its officers, refer to Public Interest Disclosure.
- Decisions made under legislation which provides for separate avenues of appeal (e.g. prosecutions under Local Laws and decisions under the Building Act)
- An alleged breach under the Councillors Code of Conduct.
- A dispute between neighbours
Occasionally Council will receive a complaint involving neighbours. In many instances the issues in question cannot be resolved by Council. As we know people have different ways of doing things: different ideas, opinions and interests which can lead to a clash at times.
Neighbourhood disputes need to be managed particularly as the parties will often continue to live in close proximity. It is usually in everyone’s interest to collaborate and resolve their differences or agree to accept each other’s ways.
On these occasions Council will direct residents to a number of resources including the Law Handbook and Reaching Agreement.
Whilst anonymous complaints will not be rejected, they may limit Council’s ability to fully investigate the problem depending on the amount of information supplied.
If the complaint/request appears to relate to public safety then an investigation will be undertaken and rectification undertaken if found necessary.
Due to the anonymity, Council will be unable to provide reasons for any decisions or actions taken. If insufficient information is deemed to have been supplied, no further action will be taken.
The Council has a responsibility to:
- Deal with complaints professionally, efficiently and impartially
- Provide any information requested by the complainant which is relevant to their complaint
- Provide information about the complaint process including any timelines for a final response
- Document all complaints and identify what steps have been taken to redress the complaint and to minimise any chance of reoccurrence
- Provide any assistance to the complainant necessary to enable the complaint to be dealt with in an effective manner
- Ensure all staff understand the complaints process
- Respond to all complaints, including verbal complaints where appropriate, in writing
- Provide information to affected people as to their rights of appeal or review if they are not satisfied with the outcome of the general complaints process.
If the Council does not meet its responsibilities, the complainant can make a complaint to the Chief Executive Officer.
Complainants have a responsibility to:
- To provide sufficient information / detail about the complaint to ensure the complaint can be investigated in full and in a timely fashion
- Treat the Council staff with courtesy and respect
- Not make trivial, frivolous or vexatious complaints
- Listen to the response of the Council
- Allow the Council sufficient time to resolve the complaint
- Identify if their complaint has not been adequately resolved
If a complainant does not meet their responsibilities, the Council may set limits or conditions on the handling of their complaint. Any abuse, harassment or threats to the safety or welfare of Council staff will result in the immediate cessation of the complaint investigation and contact with the complainant will cease.
Reporting a Complaint to Council
So if you are not fully satisfied with a service Council has provided then we at Wyndham City welcome the opportunity to try and resolve the situation. So don’t just tell your friends, tell us. This will ensure we can rectify the situation and improve our services for everyone.
To record a complaint with Council, you can:
- Contact Council directly. Our staff will be happy to discuss your concerns with you. If the matter cannot be resolved on the spot you will be advised of the next steps we will take.
- Submit a Customer Service Request form
If the complaint is very complex or serious, affected persons should be encouraged to put it in writing. This will assist Council in understanding the details of the complaint.
A customer service officer or staff member will assist the customer to complete the complaint either in person or over the telephone if it is found necessary.
Interpreter services are available for non-English speaking customers by phoning the Translating & Interpreting Service on 13 14 50
When we receive a complaint it will be investigated by the service area that provided you the service. If it is a complaint about a staff member that person’s Coordinator will resolve it with you. If you are not satisfied with the response or the way in which your complaint was handled and believe there is sufficient grounds you can ask for your complaint to be referred to a Stage 2 review.
Investigation - If frontline staff are unable to resolve the complaint, or you are not satisfied with the outcome, you can ask for it to be referred to the next level manager or relevant officer with specific expertise for investigation. The Council officer will conduct the investigation in a fair, objective and timely manner, keeping you informed throughout the process of the investigation.
Internal Review - if your complaint reaches this stage it will be investigated by a senior manager or relevant subject matter expert. You must clearly state on what grounds you believe the original decision is worthy of a review. It is important to understand that all complaints will start at Stage 1 and requests directed straight to senior managers or the CEO will be passed back to the relevant department. If you believe there are still grounds for appeal you can contact the following agencies for assistance.
Review by External Agencies
If the complaint still remains unresolved after those prior levels of internal review, the CEO or appropriate Director can recommend to the complainant to seek assistance from other agencies such as:
Examples of remedial action
Once a complaint is investigated and it has been determined that the organisation has made an error, it will undertake appropriate action to redress the situation.
All remedies need to be fair to the affected person and to Council. There will be occasions when an error is irreversible and the only practical remedy available is an apology and action taken to prevent similar errors in the future.
Responses deemed appropriate and reasonable to remedy errors and/or deficiencies in policies may include but not limited to:
- An apology
- An explanation (via department or media enquiry)
- A change in decision
- Repair or rework
- A change to a policy or local law
- Waiving of a fine
- Correction of incorrect or misleading records