COVID-19 Advice for the JCU Community - Last updated: 18 October 2021, 7am (AEST)

Complaints

Resolving your concerns informally

JCU encourages you to resolve any concern with the most relevant person, directly, through respectful, informal discussion or email.

There are many benefits in trying to resolve your complaint informally:

  • Informal complaint resolution is usually quicker and simpler.
  • You have an opportunity to gain further understanding of the situation, and this in itself may resolve your concerns.
  • This informal method of resolution allows you to explore options about how to resolve a disagreement or complaint without involving extra people or using a more formal process.
  • If the issues raised in your complaint affects many students, resolving your concerns quickly and informally may benefit others in the JCU community.

If you have exhausted all informal avenues to address your concern and you remain dissatisfied you can consider submitting a formal complaint. If you believe a decision made by the University was procedurally unfair you should consider submitting a Review or Appeal.

You should consider seeking help from people and services who may be able to assist

Reporting illegal or harmful behaviour or unsafe situations

Sometimes the type of complaint you have is not one that can, or should be, addressed informally. For example, when you want to report inappropriate conduct or actions that may or may not be illegal—regardless of whether you are personally affected or not. In this case you may make a formal complaint but you must outline why an informal approach is not appropriate.

Giving written feedback to the University

If you would like to alert the University to something you believe needs to be addressed for the good of the JCU community and you are not seeking any personal resolution or communication, please consider submitting a Feedback Form. The Feedback Form asks for your name and contact details in case we need to clarify any details. The University will, however, accept an anonymous submission. To complete an anonymous submission, use this form instead.

You have tried to resolve your concerns informally but you are not satisfied

You can now make a formal complaint submission, but you will need to provide details of the steps you have already taken so that the person who deals with your formal complaint has this background.

Is your complaint with a person, event or situation which is within the control or responsibility of JCU?

Not all complaints can be managed under the Student Complaints Management Policy and Procedure. To ensure you are directing your complaint to the correct unit of the University please check our list of Policies relating to specific complaints. Contact details can be found on each Policy.

If you need help to determine the relevant policy contact a JCU Student Association Student Advocate. You can also contact the Student Complaints and Misconduct Advisor on (07) 4232 1397 for advice regarding the process.

Where JCU cannot help you with your complaint

Some organisations and services associated with JCU are independent of the university and have their own complaint processes. These include the Student Association and student-run clubs, accommodation, catering services and a range of other organisations. If your complaint directly relates to the actions or operations of these organisations, you must lodge your complaint with them.

If you remain uncertain about whom to approach regarding your complaint, seek help from people and services who may be able to assist.

The Student Complaints Policy and Procedure outlines JCU’s approach to managing student complaints where there is no other existing policy dealing with your complaint. This policy provides a mechanism for students to submit a formal complaint that will be considered by an appropriate decision-maker.

If you are considering submitting a formal student complaint under the Student Complaints Policy and Procedure it will be for the following reasons:

  • You feel you have been adversely or unjustifiably impacted by a situation that is within the control of, or which is the responsibility of, JCU, AND
  • The nature of your complaint is not dealt with under another JCU policy, AND
  • You have tried to resolve your concerns through informal discussion but you are not satisfied with the outcome, or it would be unsafe or inappropriate to approach the person who is the subject of your complaint.

Any person you approach about your complaint, whether you wish to deal with it informally, or through a more formal process, will need to be able to understand your concern. Before you approach someone about your complaint, you should take the following steps.

Reflection

Think through the issues and how they arose: Might there have been a misunderstanding? Has there been an error? Is there something that I should have done, which I forgot?

Make a list of relevant dates and collect relevant documents: Check your diary, emails, phone call / text records, find invoices/receipts, letters, notices, and develop a timeline.

Think about what outcome you are seeking: What would solve the problem? What is reasonable?

Gather information

Read through the Student Complaints Policy and Procedure, scan through other student policies to see if JCU has a mechanism for dealing with your concern, or seek help from people and services who may be able to assist.

Draft your complaint submission

  1. Seek advice from a JCU Student Association Student Advocate, or relevant staff member.
  2. Organise your written complaint submission so that it includes:
    1. A clear explanation of who and/or what you are complaining about, and how you have been adversely and/or unjustifiably impacted through this situation.
    2. Key dates and events in chronological order.
    3. An explanation of the steps you have taken to resolve your concerns informally. If you have not attempted informal resolution, please explain why.
    4. The names and contact details of any persons who:
      1. may have witnessed part or all of the events you have described, or
      2. may be able to support your claims.
    5. Reference to any documentation you have attached which supports your claim(s).
    6. Specify the outcome/s you would like to achieve to resolve your complaint.
    7. The name of any JCU Student Association Student Advocate or support person who is helping you.
  3. Complete an online Student Complaint Form (if you are unable to complete the online version.
  4. Complete the PDF form, ensuring you save the form prior to submitting)

If you need assistance to submit a formal complaint, please contact the Student Complaints and Misconduct Advisor by email to studentcomplaints@jcu.edu.au or by phone: (07) 4232 1397.

  1. Submit your formal complaint, including all supporting documentation to: studentcomplaints@jcu.edu.au or send by mail to: Director, Student Services, c/o Student Complaint and Misconduct Advisor, James Cook University, PO Box 6811, Cairns QLD 4870..

Please note

The University will not accept a formal complaint more than 12 months after the last relevant action, unless exceptional circumstances are explained, with evidence, and accepted by the Director, Student Services.

Your submission will be promptly acknowledged (unless made anonymously).   You might be asked for clarification.

Within 5 University working days of receipt of your submission, it will be referred (unless dismissed as frivolous, trivial or vexatious by the Director, Student Services) by the Student Complaint and Misconduct Advisor:

  • Back to you, if for some reason it can’t be dealt with yet;
  • Under a different JCU policy and procedure with their considerations to apply; or
  • Referred to a Responsible Officer for complaint resolution.

If complaint resolution starts, the Student Complaints and Misconduct Advisor will advise who the Responsible Officer is and the period during which complaint resolution is expected to be achieved (typically a further 15 University working days).

The Responsible Officer will consider your complaint and keep you informed of progress. You might be contacted if further clarification is required or to submit further material, or you may be invited to attend an interview, hearing or meeting.

The Responsible Officer will provide a written report on the complaint resolution process and the determination of the complaint within the expected resolution period, unless an extension is approved and you are so advised.

All records about your complaint and its resolution will be kept by the University.

The JCU Student Charter outlines the reasonable expectations that you can have of the University while studying. It also documents what the University expects of you. Beyond this you also have other rights which is too large a subject to cover here, and the JCU Student Association may be able to advise you further.

The Student Complaints Policy defines a student complaint as follows:

A complaint is a student’s expression of dissatisfaction that their rights (including human rights), existing interests and/or reasonable expectations have been adversely and unjustifiably impacted because of an action, decision or omission within the control or responsibility of the University. Any circumstance related to University operations and services, or the conduct of its staff, its students, or people associated with the University or using University facilities may be the subject of a complaint.

The Policy also outlines principles at the heart of managing a student complaint:

  • JCU promotes a culture ready to hear student complaints and continuously improve the student experience. Students have the right to make a complaint to the University, free from reprisal or harassment.
  • JCU provides an effective student complaint management system, with informal and formal procedural mechanisms which resolve student complaints.
  • Complaint resolution will be procedurally fair.
  • Students are encouraged to seek assistance and support from the JCU Student Association Advocates at all stages of the complaints process.  

You are encouraged to read the whole Policy before you take steps to submit a formal student complaint.

Timeliness

JCU is committed to resolving all complaints in a timely manner. A formal student complaint cannot usually be resolved as quickly as with an informal process, for a number of reasons:

  • The complaint is often more complex or serious.
  • Often other staff in the University need to be consulted before a decision can be reached.
  • Information may need to be gathered and seriously considered.

A formal student complaint must normally be made within 12 months of the last relevant action.  A late submission may be accepted by the Director, Student Services where there are demonstrated exceptional circumstances regarding the complaint submission or the significance of the complaint for the University community.

Expectation of reasonableness

JCU must consider the rights and expectations of the complainant as well as any person who is the subject of any complaint that you make. In making a complaint, you should not be treated less favourably, victimised, or otherwise discriminated against. Likewise, JCU expects that you will conduct yourself appropriately, and refrain from engaging in frivolous or vexatious complaints.

Confidentiality

Confidentiality by all parties must be maintained to the greatest possible extent at all stages of the complaint management process. Communication must be limited to persons to whom disclosure is consistent with their official position and responsibility, or with specific responsibility to assist in the resolution of the complaint or appeal.

Anonymous complaints

If you are considering submitting an anonymous complaint, please consider the following:

  • If the complaint is about the actions or decisions of a person, that person (known as a ‘Respondent’) will be told about the complaint and given an opportunity to respond to it.
  • The respondent may be able to work out the identity of the complainant by other means. While the University will maintain confidentiality, we cannot guarantee anonymity.
  • JCU will accept anonymous formal complaints, however, unless we can find corroborating evidence, our ability to understand, consider and respond to your anonymous complaint may be limited.