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Complaints and conflict resolution process...

CAHMA has a formal procedure for resolving complaints and conflict. This process is outlined below. A formal feedback and complaints form can be downloaded here as a pdf (or here as a word doc) or you can drop in to the office to pick one up.
You can also use this form to give feedback of a positive nature, or for making suggestions.

This procedure paper is written to cover the following scenarios:

* Where a client of the service is unhappy either with their treatment by CAHMA, or by a CAHMA staff member or representative.

* Where a client is dissatisfied with a decision made by CAHMA concerning themselves.

* Where an incident has occurred which the client wishes to complain about.

In one of these situations, the complainant may follow one or more of the following steps. It is suggested that these steps are followed in sequential order, so as to find a resolution to the issue which does not escalate beyond a point which is necessary. Following these steps is not, however, necessary. If a complainant wishes to skip one or more of the following steps, they have a right to do so.

Throughout this process, the right to confidentiality of all individuals concerned will be respected at all times and natural justice and procedural fairness principles will be adhered to.

In making a complaint, it is often useful to think about how you would like to see the complaint resolved: Would you simply like an apology, or do you feel that more serious measures should be taken? Do you simply want a decision to be looked at by someone else? Do you feel that there were issues not considered in making a decision?

Anonymous Complaints: When making a complaint, complainants can elect to remain anonymous; however this can make it difficult to conduct inquiries into a complaint and consequently to resolve the issues. Where a complainant requests to remain anonymous, staff members must explain this difficulty, and ask how the complainant wishes to be advised of the outcome of their complaint and any action taken as a result.

Advocates and Representatives: Complainants have the right to use an advocate of their choice, such as a friend, family member, interpreter or a consumer advocacy service. Where an advocate is present, and where personal information is involved, workers must verify the advocate’s authority to act on the complainant’s behalf.

Step 1: Sometimes, a decision or incident which you wish to complain about can be raised with the person immediately involved (the person you are unhappy with). If this has been tried already, or you are not comfortable doing this, you can discuss the matter with another staff member or with CAHMA’s manager (as described in step 2).

Step 2: If the matter cannot be resolved by discussing it with the person involved or with another staff member, the complainant should fill out a complaint form or should write out their complaint and take it to a staff member or the CAHMA Manager. Complaint forms are available at the CAHMA office and website, or another staff member may be able to assist in writing up your complaint.

If you submit a complaint, you should receive a reply to your complaint within five working days. (This does not mean that your complaint will be resolved within this time). If you feel that your complaint is not being taken seriously, or is taking too long to address, you should consider escalating the complaint to step three or four.

Serious complaints will be immediately brought to the attention of the Manager, and managed in accordance with the relevant Policy and Procedure and relevant legislation. Where a serious complaint is made, workers must still complete the Feedback Form correctly and submit it as per this policy

In resolving a complaint, the complainant may be asked to attend a meeting/s so that CAHMA can gather more information about the matter.

• Where this occurs, it is the complainant’s choice whether or not to participate in the meeting;

• If deemed necessary, this might include involvement in mediation involving third parties such as conflict resolution services;

• A written record of all meetings will be kept in accordance with the record keeping requirements set out in this policy (see below).

Responding to the complaint may involve:

• Investigating the complaint and providing the worker with an opportunity to respond to issues raised

• Attempting to mediate the dispute (if appropriate) and/or attempt to resolve the matter

• Taking further action necessary to resolve the issue (e.g. external mediation and dispute resolution services).

Step 3: Where you are not satisfied with the results of the Complaints Resolution Process so far, or do not feel comfortable raising your complaint with the Manager of CAHMA, you should submit a written copy of your complaint to Chair of the CAHMA Board of Directors (who are responsible for overseeing CAHMA’s management) at PO Box 46, Belconnen ACT, 2616.

Step 4: If you are not satisfied by the complaints procedure within CAHMA and its Board of Directors, you may wish to consider which of a number of external bodies is most appropriate to complain to. Complainants may refer a matter at any time to an external review body, such as the Public Advocate or the ACT Human Rights Commissioner.

These external bodies include:

Community and Health Complaints Commissioner
ACT Health
GPO Box 825
Canberra ACT 2601
Ph. 6205 2222

ACT Public Advocate: P: 6207 0707; http://www.publicadvocate.act.gov.au/

ACT Human Rights Commission P: 6205 2222; http://www.hrc.act.gov.au/

The complaints form for the Human Rights Commissioner can be downloaded here
or you can drop in to the office to pick one up.

CAHMA may suspend or cease an internal review of a complaint if an external review is conducted.