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Complaint Investigation

Complaint and Investigation Review & Reform

We work together with public and private organisations to review, design and implement policies and processes for handling complaints and conducting investigations.

We have developed policies and/or guidelines in relation to the following:

  • Managing complaints
  • Conducting investigations (including workplace Investigations)
  • Resolving disputes and Reviewing investigations

We are aware of the emotional and psychological impact that complaints and investigations can have on organisations, employees and other stakeholders. We aim to minimise that impact and ensure that complaints and investigations are conducted in a manner that is fair, transparent and easily understood by all parties involved.

Case study 1 – Designing a complaint handling framework

In 1994 the NSW Office of the Legal Services Commissioner (OLSC) was established to receive and investigation complaints against lawyers. In order to undertake these tasks a framework had to be designed and created for dealing with complaints and conducting investigations. Steve Mark, the first Legal Services Commissioner in Australia drew on his experience as president of the Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW and designed a framework for handling complaints and conducting investigations against lawyers.

The framework Steve designed was unique. The system was designed to encourage all potential complainants to phone the OLSC before lodging a complaint. Steve established an enquiry line, staffed mainly by law students with experienced staff oversight. OLSC staff were trained to engage in protracted conversations with complainants and advise then as to whether a formal complaint should be lodged in writing or the OLSC could resolve the dispute informally over the phone.

In many instances, OLSC staff would contact the lawyer being complained about and resolve the dispute over the phone. If the dispute was unable to be resolved informally OLSC staff would assist complainants to lodge their complaint in a way most likely to achieve a resolution, or be elevated into an investigation into misconduct.

The results of this framework, which still exists today, sees a greater number of disputes being resolved informally and fewer written complaints.

Case study 2 – Reviewing investigations

We have been working with several Orders of the Church to review workplace investigations conducted by them into allegations of abuse of children. The workplace investigations are initiated after the Police have decided not to investigate the allegations and the complainant has commenced civil proceedings in the courts.

We assess the workplace investigation and ask the following questions:

a. Has a proper investigation occurred?
b. Might/Has a criminal investigation occur(ed)?
c. Has the complainant been heard?
d. Has the brother been heard?
e. Is the complaint resolvable on the facts?
f. If not what is to occur?

After reviewing the investigation, we may make recommendations to the Trustees of the Church on a range of issues.

We have reviewed a large number of investigations and in doing so have assisted the Orders to refine their complaints and investigations framework to ensure that all complaints and investigations are conducted in a manner that is fair, transparent and easily understood by all parties involved.