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The Student Complaints Policy provides a framework for fair and equitable processes which enable student and prospective student concerns to be addressed as quickly as possible and at a level as close to the source of complaint as possible.

2.1 This policy will apply to the management of complaints arising between parties including:

  1. student: student
  2. student: member of University staff
  3. student: external agency provided that the student has exhausted avenues of resolution under any applicable complaint handling procedure of the external agency.
  4. prospective student: member of University staff
  5. prospective student: external agency, provided that the prospective student has exhausted avenues of resolution with that agency.

2.2 Any matter that, in the opinion of the complaint handler is considered to be the same as or shares substantially similar characteristics to, a matter dealt with under the:

  1. Student Conduct and Discipline Policy; or
  2. Student Appeals Policy; or
  3. Code of Conduct for all Staff

cannot be the subject of a complaint under this policy.

3.1 All actions under this policy are to be based on values that are consistent with the University Mission and are to be underpinned by principles of mutual respect and procedural fairness for and by all students, staff and others who may be involved.

3.2 All parties to a complaint have the right to be:

  1. heard;
  2. treated fairly without bias or pre-judgement;
  3. informed of any complaint made which relates to them;
  4. provided with an opportunity to respond to any complaint which relates to them;
  5. informed about the status of any complaint which has been formally raised and to which they are a party, or in which they are named.

3.3 A person handling a complaint will deal with the matter as expeditiously as possible following receipt of all relevant material from the complainant.

3.4 A person handling a complaint will maintain appropriate confidentiality.

3.5 The University will take all reasonable steps to prevent complainants suffering any disadvantage (including through victimisation) as a result of lodging a complaint.

3.6 The University will monitor complaints and take action required to address any underlying causes.

Terms used in this policy and associated Procedures are consistent with ACU's Glossary of Terms. In the context of this policy the following terms also apply:

  • Appropriate confidentiality refers to situations when a senior officer of the University may disclose to another person as much information as is necessary for the explicit purposes of clarification or assistance to enable the complaints process to be facilitated.
  • Complainant means the student or prospective student who has initiated the complaint.
  • Complaint means a statement or expression that something is unsatisfactory or unacceptable.
  • Complaint handler means the University staff member with responsibility for handling the complaint.
  • Respondent means a person or organisational unit against whom a complaint has been raised under this policy.
  • Unreasonable Complainant Conduct is any behaviour by a complainant which, because of its nature or frequency raises substantial health, safety, resource or equity issues for the University, staff, other student, or the complainant themselves.

The timelines and associated provisions relating to formal communications contained in the Academic Regulations will apply to communications under this policy.

6.1 A student may seek confidential, independent professional advice from the Student Advocacy Service at any stage of a complaint.

6.2 In any discussions or interviews in which a complainant participates during any complaint process under this policy, whether as a complainant or respondent, the complainant may, at their discretion, be accompanied by one other person, other than a person with a qualification in law, whom the complainant designates as their support person.

6.3 A support person may not be a person who was involved in, associated with, or alleged to have been involved in or associated with the subject matter of the complaint.

6.4 A support person may only make submissions on behalf of a complainant if invited to do so by the person dealing with the matter.

7.1 At any time during the process a complainant may withdraw a complaint, by notice in writing to the complaint handler.

7.2 Upon such withdrawal, consideration of the complaint will be discontinued.

7.3 The University reserves the right to further investigate matters on its own initiative based on information that has been provided as part of a withdrawn complaint, or based on information that the University has subsequently acquired that is relevant to the withdrawn complaint.

8.1 It is expected that a complainant will comply with all aspects of the complaints process in a reasonable manner. The University will take action to restrict access to the student complaint process where it is determined that the behaviour of a complainant is having a disproportionate and unreasonable impact on the University, its staff, services, time and/or resources through any of the following:

  1. unreasonable persistence that is continued, incessant and unrelenting including where the substance of the complaint has already been considered by the University and satisfactory measures have been taken to resolve the matter;
  2. unreasonable demands (express or implied);
  3. unreasonable lack of cooperation including submission of documents and other materials to the University that are excessive in volume, unstructured, repetitive or irrelevant to the complaint;
  4. unreasonable arguments that are not based in reason or logic, that are incomprehensible, false or inflammatory, trivial or delirious;
  5. unreasonable behaviours that compromise the health, safety and security of our staff, other service users or the complainant themselves.

8.2 In any case in which the behaviour of a complainant is found to constitute unreasonable complainant conduct, as defined in 8.1 (a) to (e) of this policy, action may be taken by the University to:

  1. change or restrict access to the student complaint processes; and/or
  2. refer the matter to be dealt with under the Student Conduct and Discipline Policy.

9.1 A student may elect to provide feedback through the online feedback form where they are not seeking a formal resolution, but would like to submit feedback about their experience at, or of, ACU, the University’s operations or to make suggestions for improvement.

9.2 While complainants are encouraged to resolve any concerns or complaints they may have, nothing in this policy detracts from the right of a student or prospective student to access any other appeal or complaint mechanism available to them as legislated in the relevant State or Territory. If any external process is initiated, the internal complaint process will be terminated.

9.3 Following exhaustion of the internal complaint processes, in the case of matters for which there is no external avenue of appeal, or complaint mechanism available, a student can request an independent review in accordance with the Independent Review of Student Appeals or Complaints Policy.

Date Major, Minor or Editorial Description of Revision(s)
30 November 2016 Minor Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015 compliance review amendments
24 February 2017 Minor Amendment to section 3.2 to add that complaints will be considered at any time on their merit
28 November 2018 Major Reviewed according to the Academic Board Policy Development and Review Schedule
8 May 2019 Minor Amendment to section 8.0 of the Procedures so that complaint can be referred to another officer where designated complaint handler has been involved
1 January 2020 Minor Editorial change to Section 9.3 in line with theIndependent Review of Student Appeals or Complaints Policy
7 July 2021 Minor Consequential amendments to Procedures as a result of the Student Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Policy review.

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