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The ADR Pathway to Resolve Tertiary Complaints

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tertiary complaints pathway

A ‘complaint’ is any comment made to a diocesan worker or otherwise received by the Diocese, verbally or in writing, that is adverse of the conduct of any diocesan worker or critical of a diocesan parish, agency, programme or process.

A tertiary complaint is a complaint that is unable to be resolved via the local resolution processes.   

The ADR service may consult with the person raising the concern, the local agency and appropriately senior operational management before deciding which of the following pathways to resolution will apply.

an invitation to participate in a facilitated conversation

With any matters not settled by agreement resolved by paper review or recommendations.

A facilitated conversation will be a joint conference in which the participants (with the assistance of the facilitator) identify the matters for resolution, develop options and consider alternatives with the view of resolving the concerns in the best interests of the children or vulnerable adults involved.

There is no obligation to participate in a facilitated conversation.  In the interest of timeliness, a participant will be asked to offer their consent to participate within 2 working days of an invitation being made.  The consent of each participant must be received for a facilitated conversation to be held.  In the event one or more participants decline their invitation, the matter will be resolved by an administrative process known as a ‘paper review’.

A facilitated conversation is held in good faith between the participants.  A person that chooses to participate in a facilitated conversation must be genuinely willing to consider options to resolve the concerns that are mutually acceptable to both them and the other participant.

A facilitated conversation is confidential in so far as legislation and diocesan policy allows.  Each participant and any support people will be required to sign a confidentiality agreement before a facilitated conversation is held. 

However, a report to the Child Protection Helpline must be made where there are reasonable grounds to suspect a child or young person is at risk of significant harm (ROSH) and the concerns are current.  ROSH may occur from a single act or omissions or a series of acts or omissions.

Before a facilitated conversation is held, the ADR facilitator will consult with each participant separately at the preliminary conference.  The preliminary conference is an opportunity for the ADR practitioner to meet each participant to hear their experience of the matter and consider workable outcomes.  At the preliminary conference, additional information about the joint conference may be provided.

The ADR facilitator is responsible for convening a conversation that responds to the needs and enhances the contribution of each participant.  The facilitator may stop the joint conference if a participant is unable to candidly outline their needs and interests; or finds it difficult to listen and participate calmly.

A facilitated conversation works best when participants are prepared to adopt a co-operative and outcomes-focused approach to problem solving.   When participating in a facilitated conversation a participant will be asked to:

  • put forward suggestions to resolve the concerns
  • be willing to listen to the experiences of the other participants
  • remain calm and co-operative.

Any matters unable to be resolved by agreement between the participants at the facilitated conversation will be resolved by paper review or recommendations.

 

CLOSURE OF THE COMPLAINT BY PAPER REVIEW

A paper review is an administrative process that will close the complaint with no further avenues within the Diocese for the grievance to be pursued.

A paper review will:

  • ask each person to provide the documents available to them that relate to the complaint made, the local response to it and the reasons why the local response was unsatisfactory
  • consider these documents against the expectations of applicable regulation, legislation, diocesan policy or industry standards
  • advise each person when the paper review is concluded and provide findings or outcomes relevant to them which may include issues of systemic processes
  • only conduct interviews in exceptional circumstances
  • be captured in a written report made available to appropriately senior management
  • include follow-up with appropriately senior management of action taken to address operational or systemic recommendations made.

 

A PROCESS TO REACH A FINDING OF FACT IS REQUIRED

The ADR service may consult with the person raising the concern, the local agency and appropriately senior operational management before deciding which service will be responsible for conducting the fact-finding process and the process to determine outcomes when the finding of fact is resolved.

A fact-finding process will apply the principles and standards of procedural fairness.

At the conclusion of the fact-finding process:

  • the complainant (the person who raised the concerns) will be advised of the findings and outcomes relevant to them when the process is concluded
  • systemic and operational issues that arise from the fact-finding process will be addressed with the local agency and appropriate operational management.

After the fact-finding process an invitation to participate in a facilitated conversation may be made to allow the individuals involved an opportunity to reach agreement on outcomes. 

If a facilitated conference is not considered appropriate, or the participants are unable to reach agreement, the ADR service will close the allegation by paper review or the making of recommendations.

THE ADR PATHWAY TO RESOLVE ALLEGATIONS THAT DO NOT REQUIRE STATUTORY OVERSIGHT OF THE DIOCESAN RESPONSE

An allegation that is eligible for response by the ADR service is one that does not require statutory oversight and includes allegations that are not reportable conduct or a breach of diocesan policy.

Eligible allegations will receive a two-phase response from the ADR service.

An investigation to determine on the balance of probabilities whether the allegation is sustained or not.  The person who is the subject of allegation and the person whom their conduct is alleged to have impacted will be advised of the findings and any outcomes that are relevant to them, which may include issues of systemic process. 

If appropriate, a facilitated conference between the impacted individuals to enable meaningful (restorative) and child/vulnerable adult focused outcomes to be reached by agreement, or

If a facilitated conference is not considered appropriate, or the participants are unable to reach agreement, the ADR service will close the allegation by paper review or the making of recommendations (for example, workplace training, review of policies or systems, or an apology).