Handling Complaints

Introduction

The UNSW Medical Society (MedSoc) caters for the some 1600 medical students studying at the University of New South Wales. UNSW MedSoc aims to engage, enrich and advocate for students​. As part of our commitment to serve our constituency Medsoc is committed to addressing complaints and issues raised by its members in an efficient, transparent and fair manner. As such this policy establishes guidelines for how the MedSoc executive is to deal with complaints. All minor complaints should be dealt with promptly and without using formal procedure. Whenever possible, informal resolution should be attempted first in all matters assessed as less serious. This document provides guidelines as to how to assess complaints in terms of their seriousness and thus how to manage them.  

Types of Complaints

There are two types of complaints:

  • Internal ​– complaints made to MedSoc by any MedSoc member or group either against another MedSoc member or against an external body or person. ​Should these complaints be about claims of bullying and harassment, the Bullying and Harassment Policy should be used preferentially.
  • External ​– complaints made to MedSoc against a MedSoc member, group or MedSoc itself by an external body or person.

Timeline of Complaint

Making and Receiving Complaints

  1. All complaints to MedSoc are to be filed and received by the Public Relations Director complaints may be emailed directly to ​prd@medsoc.org.au​ or may be filled out on the MedSoc website via the contact form http://medsoc.org.au/.
  2. Public Relations Director (PRD) upon receipt of the complaint must reply within 2 working days including the following:
    1. Explain the complaints handling process to the complainant referring them to this document for more information.
    2. Explain that the complainant has the right to seek an audience with the exec at an exec meeting to further elaborate on the issue.
    3. If the matter is to be referred, why and to whom.
    4. Confirm that you have fully understood the complaint and ask them the outcome they are seeking.
    5. Assure them that they will remain anonymous unless they specifically opt to be waive their right to be anonymous. Only the person who has made first contact with the complainant will be aware of their identity and no MedSoc member must attempt to discover the complainant’s identity.
    6. Provide realistic timeframes for dealing with the matter.
    7. Ensure that any promises made are followed through.
    8. Explain that the complainant is welcome to appeal this decision with the MedSoc Council
  3. Completely anonymous complaints will be accepted by MedSoc:
    1. Anonymous complaints may be made via the MedSoc Website portal, MedSoc App, electronically or written via another person e.g. a Med Year Representative.
    2. While MedSoc takes due consideration of such complaints, it cannot make commitments that to their final and adequate resolution will be entirely to the complainants satisfaction. Appropriate and rational reasons for not totally satisfying the complainant must be provided to the complainant.

Assessing and Managing Complaints

  1. Complaints are to be categorized into level 1, 2, 3 or 4 based on their seriousness.

  2. If the PRD is unsure about the categorization of the complaint they may approach the Vice President and then the President.

  3. Complaints between members or about members that occur outside of MedSoc activities, Medical training or the scope of the society may be dismissed or redirected to other relevant bodies.

  4. Complaint that are overly trivial or manifestly vexatious may be dismissed by the PRD after consultation with the President and Vice President. If the complaint is to be dismissed, reasons for dismissal must be explained and the complainant must be informed of their right to appeal this with MedSoc Council.

Informal Procedures

  1. Informal resolution should be used to resolve any matter which is assessed as “less serious”, such as minor complaints and disputes. There may be exceptions to this such as when one party is fearful or intimidated by the other party.
  2. For informal resolution to succeed both parties need to be prepared to recognise that there is a problem and be willing to compromise.
  3. The mediation process for complaints about interpersonal conflict may follow the outline below:
    1. State the cause of their concern
    2. Exchange facts and beliefs
    3. Recognize and discuss the discrepancies in each other’s accounts of the fact and their beliefs.
    4. Clarify events
    5. Listen
    6. Apologies for any behaviour or happenings that may have distressed the other party
    7. Explain their point of view
    8. Consider the other person’s point of view
    9. Recognise that there is an opportunity to change behavior or structures
  4. The informal processes for structural or logistical complaints
    1. State the cause of the concern
    2. Exchange facts and beliefs
    3. Express identified underlying structural or logistical problem
    4. Propose suggestion of alteration to structures or practices
    5. Discuss the reasonableness of suggestion
    6. Suggestion to be taken for consideration by relevant bodies
  5. In such instances a written record of the issues and action should be noted down.
  6. If this does not work then the formal process may be used

Formal Procedures

  1. A formal procedure should only be undertaken when there is certainty that all informal procedures have been exhausted or are deemed inappropriate.
  2. Complaints of this nature are to be discussed appropriately at the next available MedSoc Executive meeting.
  3. The formal procedure process may follow the outline below:
    1. Presentation of the issue – The complainant may officially present their complaint to the MedSoc Executive in writing or in person. The person or group in question will be given the opportunity to explain their conduct or practices in writing or in person also.
    2. Discussion – The MedSoc executive may call in the complainant, complainee or other relevant body/person for questioning before, during or after internal discussion. The MedSoc executive will then proceed with internal discussion to come to a consensus of how the complaint ought to be treated.
    3. Decision – A decision should be made by consensus of the MedSoc executive. If the executive is unable to come to consensus then they will be moved to a vote.
    4. Outcome – the outcomes of such complaints may include but are not limited to:
      1. Dismissal of the complaint – if the complaint is deemed false or vexatious.
      2. Formal repudiation of the person or group in question.
      3. Formal apology to the complainant.
      4. Denial of member or groups from MedSoc position/affiliation and/or attendance of MedSoc Events.
      5. Denial of ongoing funding and/or support for group or member in question.
      6. Refunding to complainant if they had paid to come to the event in question.
  4. All proceedings and actions taken in regards to a formal complaint must be taken careful written record of.

External Complaints

  1. External complaints are taken very seriously.

  2. All external complaints should be discussed with either the Vice President or President.

  3. Otherwise the handling procedure should be the same as that which we use for internal complaints.

Review Process

  1. If the complainant or the complainee are dissatisfied with the resolution of a complaint they may apply for the decision to be reviewed.

  2. If the complaint was first dealt with informally then the complaint is then to be considered by the MedSoc Executive in a formal procedure.

  3. If the complaint first went through the formal procedure then it is to be reconsidered under the formal procedures.

  4. After the second consideration of the complaint the outcome may not be reconsidered unless deemed appropriate by the MedSoc Executive.

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