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Feedback and Complaints Policy

What is the Purpose?

To set out our customers’ rights to provide feedback and make a complaint.

Who needs to know about this Policy?

  • All Northcott staff
  • All Northcott customers

What is Northcott’s Policy?

  • Northcott’s Feedback and Complaints Policy is developed in accordance with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (Complaints Management and Resolution) Rules 2018 and the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (the Commission) Effective Complaint Handling Guidelines for NDIS Providers.
  • Complaints and other feedback are welcomed through a transparent and easily accessible process.
  • The right support and assistance is available to support people accessing the complaints system.
  • People affected by the complaint are involved and kept informed at all stages of the process. This includes progress, resolution, any actions taken, reasons for decisions made and options for decisions to be reviewed.
  • Feedback including complaints, suggestions and compliments are welcomed and important to make sure the services we deliver are good and of the highest quality.
  • We recognise, respect and encourage the rights of people to raise complaints and give feedback without fear of retribution or discrimination. People are treated with respect and dignity throughout the feedback and complaints process.
  • Feedback and complaints can be given in writing or by telephone, email, fax, speaking to someone or any other method of communication.
  • There is no ‘wrong door.’ Feedback or complaints can be given to anyone in the organisation.
  • We regularly ask for feedback about our services through surveys, service reviews, formal customer consultation meetings and encouraging informal feedback from customers.
  • How feedback or complaints are given will not affect how quickly we respond to you or the result of the response.
  • We train staff so they are aware of the complaints process. They receive instructions on the use of and how to comply with the system.
  • We train staff who work with children to consider their vulnerability and to listen carefully to any complaints they make as they may not use adult ‘complaint’ language.
  • Complaints about services received are handled in line with relevant legislation. This could include referring to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
  • We offer appropriate support and assistance to any person who wants to make a complaint to our service or to the Commission.
  • All complaints are recorded so we can identify trends and risks and make recommendations for improvements at an individual, service or organisational level.
  • A standard approach to complaints management.
  • Feedback and complaints are managed in a fair and transparent way. We always try to reach a positive result.
  • We encourage good listening and communication to make decisions based on evidence not speculation or suspicion.
  • Decision makers must be fair, unbiased and impartial and abide by the guidelines of procedural fairness.
  • Complaints will be handled in a timely and effective manner and all records will be kept for a minimum of seven years.
  • Northcott will not share customer personal information without the person’s written permission unless we are required to by the law. For example, mandatory reporting of child wellbeing concerns.
  • People are updated about the progress of their complaint and involved in the resolution process.
  • We promote our feedback and complaints process and use it to identify problems with service delivery and how they can be fixed.

This Policy does not cover an employee grievance. These should be lodged and managed by following our Grievance Policy and Procedure.

Equity and Access Considerations

  • All actions and decisions are made in consideration of the age, culture, disability, language, religion, gender and sexuality of complainants.
  • Information is communicated and feedback is asked for in user friendly formats to suit the needs of customers, families, carers and target groups in the community.
  • Our staff will tell the complainant that they have the right to involve an advocate and make all efforts to help them find an appropriate advocate if requested. A list of advocacy services is available in the Feedback and Complaints brochure.
  • When a child or young person makes a complaint, Northcott staff will offer to find a support person to help them during the complaint process. It may not be appropriate for the complainant or child to be directly involved in the resolution of a complaint.
  • Northcott staff will seek the complainant’s permission before referring them to an interpreter or advocate.
  • The Complaints and Feedback Notification Form and Feedback and Complaints brochure are available to everyone on our website under “Feedback”.

Cultural Diversity

  • Northcott staff must provide services with sensitivity and consider the beliefs and practices of customers from different cultural and language backgrounds. This includes the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, their families and communities.
  • Communication about this policy should be done in a way that suits each individual with respect to their cultural background, for example, people may need an interpreter.

What other Northcott documents are related?

You may need to refer to these documents for more information:

  • Feedback and Complaints Procedure
  • We Need Your Feedback (Brochure and Poster)

Who is Responsible? What are they Responsible for?

  • Chief Executive
    • Final review and approval of this policy.
  • Level 2 Manager
    • Maintain this policy, its related procedures and documents.
  • Level 3 and 4 Manager
    • Ensure the policy is effectively implemented in their services.
    • Ensure staff follow the policy.
  • Supervisor
    • Ensure staff have read and understand the policy and have sufficient skills, knowledge and ability to meet the requirements.
  • All Employees
    • Follow the requirements of the policy.

Definitions, Legislation and Standards Compliance

Complaint – feedback you give us if you are unhappy with our service and you would like us to try to find a solution to the problem.

The technical definition is ‘an implied or express statement of dissatisfaction where a response is sought, reasonable to expect or legally required.’

Suggestion or Compliment – an opportunity for you to share a comment, opinion or idea about how we can improve something.

Procedural Fairness – acting fairly when making administrative decisions. For example, before adverse action is taken the person affected will be given notice, have an opportunity to express their views, oppose any adverse information and have any final decisions explained.

For other definitions, refer to the Northcott Policy Dictionary.

Legislation, Rules and Standards Commonwealth

  • National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013
  • National Disability Insurance Scheme (Complaints Management and Resolution) Rules 2018
  • National Disability Insurance Scheme (Provider Registration and Practice Standards) Rules 2018
  • Privacy Act 1988

New South Wales

  • Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998
  • Community Services (Complaints, Review and Monitoring) Act 1993
  • Disability Inclusion Act 2014
  • Ombudsman Act 1974
  • Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998

Australian Capital Territory

  • Children and Young People Act 2008
  • Disability Services Act 1991
  • Health Records (Privacy and Access Act) 1997
  • Ombudsman Act 1989
  • Human Rights Act 2004

Standards and Guidelines

  • NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission, Effective Complaint Handling Guidelines for NDIS Providers
  • National Standards for Disability Services 2013

Related References

  • ACT Government Community Services Directorate, Complaints Handling and Management Policy
  • NSW Ombudsman, Effective complaint handling guidelines, Third edition, February 2017
  • Disability Services Commissioner (Victoria), Good practice guide and self-audit tool: Developing an effective person centred complaints resolution culture and process

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If you have any questions, please speak to your Service Manager, Service Coordinator or call us on 1800 818 286.