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ELLA program feedback and complaint management guidelines

Introduction

The Early Learning Languages Australia (ELLA) program is managed by Education Services Australia Limited (ESA) for the Australian Government Department of Education and Training.

ESA is committed to providing excellent support to those involved in the ELLA program. These guidelines are for the program participants and other interested parties. We value feedback and complaints as it helps us to understand your experiences and how we can continue to meet your needs.

We acknowledge your right to raise a complaint and to receive a timely and appropriate response to concerns and feedback. Every item of feedback and complaint we receive is read by one of our dedicated helpdesk staff. We view all the feedback and complaints we receive as an opportunity to develop and improve the quality of our services.

These guidelines apply to all feedback and complaints received by the ELLA team and managed through our feedback and complaints management process. A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction about our products, services, staff or the handling of a complaint. In addition to submitting feedback or complaints about the ELLA program to ESA, you can also make submissions directly to the Australian Government Department of Education and Training.

Purpose

The purpose of these guidelines are to outline the process followed by us during the handling and management of feedback and complaints about the ELLA program.

Feedback and complaint management guiding principles

The ELLA feedback and complaint management process is based on guiding principles that aim to:

  • enable and welcome feedback and complaints
  • manage feedback and complaints effectively, efficiently and fairly
  • promote a culture of learning from feedback and complaints, and making improvements.

Source: Public Transport Victoria, Complaint Management Policy (2017)

Detailed description of diagram

This diagram shows a complaint management policy. It is an arrow pointing right with three boxes of information across the arrow. Left box text says: Enabling feedback and complaints: Encouraging feedback and making it easy to complain. Middle box says: Managing feedback and complaints: Engaging with clients and taking action to resolve complaints. Right box says: Learning and improving: Analysing complaint data to improve services and complaint handling.

Enabling feedback and complaints

We recognise your right to complain and we are committed to addressing concerns fairly and efficiently. For this reason, we only recruit and employ staff for the ELLA helpdesk who have the right skills and attributes to handle complaints and actively assist you through the complaints process. The ELLA team requires all helpdesk staff to be warm, empathetic, non-defensive, analytical and decisive in handling complaints.

ELLA helpdesk staff will be flexible when dealing with complaints and will communicate with complainants in the most convenient and efficient way. We will use complaint-handling methods outlined in section 3 to help resolve complaints as quickly as possible.

Options for providing feedback or lodging a complaint

We recognise that some people have particular needs or require extra assistance when providing feedback or making a complaint. We provide a range of accessible options to make the process as easy as possible.

Education Services Australia – ELLA program

  1. Email: ella@esa.edu.au
  2. Phone: 1800 468 303 (9 am – 4 pm EST. Mon–Fri)
  3. Mail: ELLA program, Education Services Australia, PO Box 177, Carlton South, VIC 3053

Australian Government Department of Education and Training

  1. Email: EllaEnquiries@education.gov.au

We will publish on the ELLA program website (www.ella.edu.au) details of options for providing feedback or lodging a complaint about the ELLA program.

Managing feedback and complaints

We aim to acknowledge and respond to complaints promptly and recognise that some issues require urgent action. We assess each new complaint to determine the most appropriate initial action and give priority in accordance with the urgency and/or severity of the issues raised.

Those complaints assessed as requiring urgent attention will be responded to within two business days. All other complaints will be responded to within five business days. If this is not possible, we will keep you updated about the expected timelines and the reason for any delays.

Our feedback and complaint management process is fair to all parties and ensures issues are handled in an objective and unbiased way. You have avenues for review if you are not satisfied with an outcome, including internal managerial review by the ELLA Project Manager and ELLA Program Director.

We will protect your privacy and manage personal information in accordance with Australian privacy laws and our internal privacy policies.

Learning and improving

Feedback and complaint data is an important source of information to measure how we are performing. ELLA helpdesk staff regularly analyses feedback and complaint data to find ways to improve how we operate and how our services are delivered. We also work hard to continually improve our feedback and complaints management process. We have effective processes in place to regularly review the quality of complaint handling and to provide feedback to all of the ELLA team.

Feedback and complaints management process

The ELLA program has a seven-step feedback and complaints management process, based on that outlined in the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Better Practice Guide to Complaint Handling (2009). This process enables complaints to be resolved quickly by ELLA helpdesk staff, where appropriate, but also provides opportunities for your concerns to be considered further if you are not satisfied with our initial response.

Source: Commonwealth Ombudsman, Better Practice Guide to Complaint Handling (2009)

Detailed description of diagram

This diagram shows a guide to complaint handling. 1 Acknowledge all complaints quickly. 2 Asses the complaint and give it priority. 3 Plan the investigation. 4 Investigate the complaint. 5 Respond to the complainant with a clear decision. 6 Follow up any customer service concerns. 7 Consider if there are any systemic issues.

Step 1 – Acknowledge

When you lodge feedback/a complaint via telephone or email, we will acknowledge it quickly, within two days for urgent issues and five days for non-urgent ones, and reassure you that it is receiving our full attention. We will explain the feedback and complaints process to you. If we cannot resolve a complaint straight away, we will give you a reasonable estimate as to how long the complaint should take to be resolved.

Step 2 – Assess and assign priority

We will assess all complaints/feedback and consider how high a priority the nature of the complaint is. We will endeavor to resolve all complaints; however, we may need to refer you to the Australian Government Department of Education and Training depending on the assessment level of the particular complaint. We will ask you how you would like to see your complaint resolved and what outcome you are seeking.

Step 3 – Plan

ELLA helpdesk staff will strive to resolve straightforward complaints on first contact, so many of the seven steps may not be applicable. However, if the complaint is more complex, an investigation may be required. If the complaint requires an investigation, then we will need time to develop a plan and resolve the complaint in the most sensitive, effective and efficient way possible.

The plan will:

  • define what is to be investigated
  • list the steps involved in investigating the complaint and state whether further information is required, either from you or from another person or organisation
  • provide an estimate of the time it will take to resolve the complaint
  • identify the remedy you are seeking, whether your expectations are realistic, and other possible remedies
  • note any special considerations that apply to the complaint; for example, if you have asked for your identity to be withheld from others or if there is sensitive or confidential information that needs to be safeguarded.

Step 4 – Investigate

Certain complaints may require an investigation. The purpose of an investigation is twofold:

  • to resolve the complaint by reaching a fair and independent view on the issues raised by you
  • to provide an appropriate remedy.

The investigation will follow the three principles of fair investigation (as outlined in the Better Practice Guide to Complaint Handling):

  • impartiality – complaints will be approached with an open mind and all matters relating to the claim will be weighed objectively
  • confidentiality – complaints will be investigated in private, and care will be taken when disclosing any identifying details of a complaint to others
  • transparency – you will be told about the steps in the complaint process and the Commonwealth Department of Education will be kept updated of any complaints and outcomes.

In the event of an investigation, you will be required to provide all relevant evidence and explain thoroughly any unclear information or inconclusive evidence in order for us to provide an appropriate remedy.

Step 5 – Respond

When the investigation of a complaint is completed you will be told its particulars, including any findings or decisions reached. We can also keep you informed as to the progress of the investigation while it is ongoing. We will provide you with an explanation of our findings in writing or over the phone, depending on your preferred method of communication. The explanation will be presented in a style that you can understand and will deal with each concern or grievance raised in the complaint.

We will endeavour to provide a remedy to you as soon as possible. Potential remedies include:

  • a better or fuller explanation of what occurred
  • an apology
  • changing or reconsidering a decision
  • expediting action.

If some action is to be taken to redress a fault or a wrong suffered by you, this should be described clearly. However, if a claim made by you has not been accepted by the investigating officer, this will be noted and explained. An explanation will similarly be given if it has been decided not to investigate or to cease investigation of an issue raised by you. The options available to you, to seek internal review of any adverse finding or to pursue the complaint in another place, will be outlined. Normally the internal review will be escalated to the ELLA Program Director.

Step 6 – Follow up

We will always offer you the opportunity to review how the complaint was handled and resolved. If you require the complaint actions or findings to be better explained, then the ELLA Project Manager can usually do this. If you are dissatisfied with the findings or decision regarding your complaint, then a review should be carried out by someone who has not been involved in the matter. Usually this will be the ELLA Program Director.

In order to close the investigation, we will set a limit on the period in which you can seek internal review and to require that the review be sought in writing. The limit will be set at ten business days after delivery of the investigation results to you. You will also be asked to specify what exactly you would like reviewed and why you disagree with the resolution offered.

If you are not satisfied with our response to your feedback or complaint, you may write to the ELLA Program Director via ella@esa.edu.au or at ELLA program, Education Services Australia, PO Box 177, Carlton South, VIC 3053.

The ELLA Program Director will respond within 25 business days of receiving your written request.

Step 7 – Considerations

Resolving your grievance is not the last step in effective complaint handling for us. A particular complaint might point to a systemic administrative problem; that is, an administrative defect that either has occurred in other cases or could be repeated. We take responsibility for considering how we can improve our processes to ensure there are no trends in the issues being reported.

Feedback and complaints register

The ELLA team manages an up-to-date feedback and complaints register to record all instances of feedback and complaints from stakeholders. These are confidential guidelines that include details about:

  • all feedback and complaints received by ESA about the ELLA program
  • all feedback and complaints referred by ESA to the Australian Government Department of Education and Training about the ELLA program
  • the clients, personnel and subcontractors (if any) involved in the feedback or complaint
  • the circumstances giving rise to the feedback or complaint
  • the investigation undertaken (where relevant)
  • any follow-up actions.

It should be noted that, upon request, ESA must provide the Australian Government Department of Education and Training with details of the feedback and complaints process established for the ELLA program.

ESA must also report, upon request, to the Australian Government Department of Education and Training on the implementation of and outcomes from the feedback and complaints management process.

Confidentiality

You have the right to expect that your privacy will be respected and your complaint will be investigated in private. Complaint information will be stored on ESA’s internal servers, which are Information Security Registered Assessors Program (IRAP) certified. This guarantees the highest level of security for any sensitive information.

As well as complaints data being stored on secure servers, access to the complaints database will be restricted solely to ESA’s ELLA team and senior ESA staff. Your identity or personal details will not be disclosed to other staff, unless it is absolutely necessary to do so. For example, it may be necessary to identify you to the staff member whose actions have been complained about so that the complaint can be investigated, but the same details do not need to be disclosed in a management report on complaint incidents and trends.

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