Handling Complaints - full policy found here


When responding to complaints, volunteers and committee members act in accordance with complaint handling procedures as well as any other internal documents providing guidance on the management of complaints.

The committee should also consider any relevant legislation and/or regulations when responding to complaints and feedback.

Step One - to handle any complaints first on an informal basis, a "frontline" approach.

If there is not a satisfactory outcome, then Step Two is to follow a more formal approach in handling the complaint. This will use Five Key Stages for the HEA to assess and determine an outcome.

Step Two's 'Five Key Stages' in our complaint management system are set out below:

 1. Receive

If the complaint has not been resolved at the outset, it will be escalated to the Office Bearers for the Management Committee to receive and hear the complaint. The Secretary will record the complaint and its supporting information, assigning a number to the complaint file, and identify the person making the complaint as either a HEA member or a member of the public.

The record of the complaint will document:

  • Contact information of the person making a complaint and the date received

  • Issues raised by the person making a complaint and the outcome/s they want

  • Any other relevant information,. and

  • Any additional support the person making a complaint requires.

2. Acknowledge

We will acknowledge receipt of each complaint promptly, and preferably within 5 working days. When appropriate we may offer an explanation or apology.

Consideration will be given to the most appropriate medium (e.g. email, phone call) for communicating with the person making a complaint.

3. Assess and investigate

Initial assessment

After acknowledging receipt of the complaint, we will confirm whether the issue/s raised in the complaint is/are within our control. We will also consider the outcome/s sought by the person making a complaint and, where there is more than one issue raised, determine whether each issue needs to be separately addressed. When determining how a complaint will be managed, we will consider:

  • How serious, complicated or urgent the complaint is

  • Whether the complaint raises concerns about people’s health and safety

  • How the person making the complaint is being affected

  • The risks involved if resolution of the complaint is delayed, 

  • whether or not the complaint is vexatious or frivolous,  and

  • whether to recognise the complaint as actually a “dispute”, requiring a resolution involving another  organisation, such as the Community Justice Centre.

Investigating the complaint 

After assessing the complaint, we will consider how to manage it. We may:

  • Give the person making a complaint information or an explanation

  • Gather or ask for more information about the issue, person or area that the complaint is about, or

  • Investigate the claims made in the complaint.

We will keep the person making the complaint up-to-date on our progress, particularly if there are any delays. We will also communicate the outcome of the complaint using the most appropriate medium. Which actions we decide to take will be tailored to each case and take into account any statutory requirements.

4. Determine outcome and provide reasons for decision

Following consideration of the complaint and any investigation into the issues raised, we will contact the person making the complaint and advise them:

  • Their complaint register ID number for reference

  • The outcome of the complaint and any action we took

  • The reason/s for our decision

The remedy or resolution/s that we have proposed or put in place. 

5. Close the complaint: document and analyse data


We will keep a register about:

  • How we managed the complaint

  • The outcome/s of the complaint (including whether it or any aspect of it was substantiated, any recommendations made to address problems identified and any decisions made on those recommendations), and

  • Any outstanding actions to be followed up, including analysing any underlying or root causes.

Analyze Data

We will ensure that outcomes are properly implemented, monitored and reported to the full HEA Management Committee.

This policy will be made available on the HEA Website. V2020-02