Complaints and Appeals Policy

VIA Education provides appropriate mechanisms and services for students to have their complaints and appeals addressed fairly, professionally, efficiently and effectively and in a manner that ensures privacy, transparency, and where necessary confidentiality, of all parties involved.

What is a complaint?

A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction a student has about the services, actions and conduct of VIA Education, its trainers and assessors; its staff; its students; its authorised education agents; or any related party VIA Education engages to provide services. A complaint could be about academic matters, non-academic matters or the way someone has been treated.

What is an appeal?

An appeal is a request for review of a decision made by VIA Education, its trainers and assessors, and its staff members. An appeal could be about the decisions made in relation to enrolments, applications, services, formal complaints, assessment outcomes, course progress and non-payments.

Policy

VIA Education ensures that:
• Complaints and appeals policy is publicly available on its website and is addressed in student agreement and during orientation program.
• Complaints and appeals are recorded, acknowledged and dealt promptly with assessment of the complaint or appeal commencing within 10 working days of it being made and the outcome finalised as soon as practicable.
• If the complaints handling or appeals process takes more than 60 calendar days, student is informed of the reasons and provided with regular updates on the progress of the matter.
• The principles of natural justice and procedural fairness are applied at every stage of the complaints handling and appeals processes – this means that:
o decisions are not predetermined and all parties have the opportunity to tell their story before a decision is made;
o the decision maker is independent of the issues being dealt with or decision being reviewed; and
o opportunities are provided to seek independent external review of the decisions made.
• The student is given an opportunity to formally present his or her case at minimal or no cost and be accompanied and assisted by a support person at any relevant meetings.
• Students are provided with written record of the outcome of the complaint or appeal.
• The complaints and appeals records are maintained securely.
• If the process fails to resolve the complaint or appeal internally, a review by an independent party via the external complaint and appeal process is available.
• Corrective actions and/or improvements resulting from the complaints and appeals processes are implemented as soon as possible and relevant parties are informed of the corrective and improvement actions.

Complaints and Appeals Resolution Process

In all cases, issues that are the source of frustration or are in dispute should be resolved at the time, as they occur between the persons involved, where possible – this is called ‘Informal Resolution’.
Sometimes, it will not be possible to resolve issues informally and in these cases students should follow formal process by putting their complaint or appeal in writing – this is called ‘Formal Resolution’.

If the internal process fails to resolve the complaint or appeal then students can seek to have the decision reviewed externally by an independent party – this is called ‘Independent External Review’.

Complaints and Appeals Resolution Procedures

Informal Resolution
1. Wherever possible we encourage students to resolve their issues informally by working through any matters of concern that they have with the individual closest to the situation.
2. If student is satisfied with the outcome, no further action is needed.
3. If student is not satisfied with the outcome, then he or she can attempt to resolve the issue formally.

Formal Resolution
1. Students may use the formal resolution if they are:
a. dissatisfied with the outcome at the informal resolution stage;
b. not comfortable to resolve the issue informally; or
c. dissatisfied with the decision made by VIA Education, its staff or trainers and assessors.
2. To commence the formal resolution, students must complete the Complaints and Appeals form that can be obtained from reception or by contacting the Student Services Manager.
3. Completed forms along with all supporting evidence must be submitted to the Student Services Manager who will acknowledge the complaint or appeal within 10 working days of the lodgement and registers details in the Complaints and Appeals Register.
4. The Student Services Manager reviews the information provided on the form and supporting evidence and refer the matter to the most appropriate management staff member for investigation (or review).
5. The investigating management staff member will gather all evidence and conduct interviews as required.
6. If the resolution of the complaint or appeal takes more than 60 calendar days then the Student Services Manager informs the student the reasons for the delay and provides regular updates.
7. Upon concluding the investigation or review, the investigating management staff member will prepare a written resolution report which includes the outcome, the evidence and other factors taken into account and their reasoning behind the outcome.
8. Upon receipt of the resolution report, the Student Services Manager will:
a. inform students, within 10 working days, about the outcome and their right of external appeal;
b. keep all relevant records in Complaints and Appeals folder;
c. record outcome in the Complaints and Appeals Register; and
d. communicate the outcome to relevant staff members where applicable.

Independent External Review

If student decides to seek independent external review of the outcome, he or she must do so within 10 working days of receiving the outcome and notify VIA Education.

Domestic students are advised to contact National Training Complaints Hotline who can assist students and refer their issue to appropriate agency. Contact No: 13 38 73 website: https://www.education.gov.au/NTCH or NSW Fair Trading on 13 32 20.

Overseas students are advised to contact Overseas Students Ombudsman on 1300 362 072
Postal Address: GPO Box 442, Canberra ACT 2601 Email: ombudsman@ombudsman.gov.au
Website http://www.ombudsman.gov.au/