Legislative Council Tuesday 2 April, 2019
Ms FORREST QUESTION to the LEADER of the GOVERNMENT in the LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL, Mrs HISCUTT
With regard to the rights of volunteers working in government organisations including the Tasmanian Fire Service, Tasmanian Ambulance Tasmania and Tasmanian State Emergency Services -
1. What are the policies and procedures for investigating a grievance complaint lodged by a volunteer against another member of the same organisation?
2. What is the usual time frame for investigation of complaints from within organisations?
3. What are the standard communication procedures between the organisation and the complainant?
4. What is considered a reasonable time frame for investigation and response to a complaint?
5. What rights of appeal are available to volunteers with regard to unfair dismissal claims?
Tasmania Fire Service (TFS)
1. The Tasmania Fire Service Volunteer Handbook includes a reference to the Tasmania Fire Service Resolution Procedures document which is aimed at assisting all members of the TFS to resolve grievances and problems regarding inappropriate behaviour. The document provides principles and guidelines (not rules) to support members, senior officers and managers to resolve problems and issues between members.
2. The Resolution Procedure does not specify timeframes but has been developed to resolve complaints locally and as quickly as possible.
3. The appropriate level and type of communication will vary from case to case depending on the circumstances. Complainants and respondents are accorded procedural fairness throughout the process and appropriate levels of confidentiality are maintained.
4. The reasonableness of time frames for any investigation will depend upon the nature of the grievance, the complexity of issues, the availability of key persons and the requirements of procedural fairness.
5. TFS volunteer membership can only be terminated with the approval of the Chief Officer. There are no specific rights of appeal in relation to this decision. TFS volunteer members are not employees and therefore the Tasmanian Industrial Commission does not have jurisdiction in relation to ‘unfair dismissal’.
Ambulance Tasmania (AT)
1. All grievance matters relative to Ambulance Tasmania employees, including salaried staff and volunteers, are dealt with under the Grievance Management Procedure of the Department of Health.
A formal Grievance is submitted to the relevant manager for assessment and intervention, in accordance with the Grievance Procedure. Where a Grievance cannot be resolved at the local level, the matter is referred for advice to Human Resources, Management and Strategy. This may then result in an investigation of the matter being undertaken by a Human Resource advisor or an independent consultant.
2. Grievance matters may relate to a diverse range of issues, involve multiple parties and may require consideration of the health and wellbeing of those people directly impacted by the grievance process. Consequently, although the intent is for all Grievances to be dealt with in a timely manner, this may not be feasible
3. The Grievance Lodgement Form is formally submitted by the complainant to the relevant manager. The manager is required to sign the form in acknowledgement of the matter.
Communication between the organisation and the complainant occurs face-to-face, whereby the complaint is invited to attend an interview with a support person of their choosing. Face-to-face meeting outcomes are recorded by the manager.
Communication with the complainant will also occur via email and formal correspondence.
The complainant should be informed of progress in relation to investigation of the Grievance, referral to other parties for advice and/or investigation, and finalisation of the Grievance, including agreed outcomes.
If the complainant disagrees with the outcome, they can lodge a Request for Reconsideration Form, which is to be lodged with the next most senior manager
4. The intent is to deal with all Grievances in a timely manner, but timeframes are impacted by the complexity of issues which inform the Grievance.
5. A request for review of the termination volunteer membership can be referred to the Chief Executive, Ambulance Tasmania for consideration. AT volunteer members are not employees and therefore the Tasmanian Industrial Commission does not have jurisdiction in relation to ‘unfair dismissal’.
State Emergency Service (SES)
1. The process for managing grievances is documented in the State Emergency Service Member Information Guide, which is provided to members during the induction process. The State Emergency Service manages volunteer member complaints in accordance with the principles of procedural fairness and on a case by case basis.
2. The SES endeavours to resolve volunteer member complaints as quickly as possible. The time frames required for resolution are impacted by various factors such as the complexity of the issues, access to information, availability of volunteers, and the requirements of procedural fairness.
3. The appropriate level and type of communication will vary from case to case depending on the circumstances. The SES accepts volunteer member complaints verbally and in writing. Once a grievance is escalated to the Assistant Director Operations & Resources details of the complaint are sought in writing.
4. The SES endeavours to respond to the complainant as soon as possible. Some complaints may take longer to progress to resolution depending on the issues and individuals involved.
5. The Director SES has the power to determine the suitability of a volunteer member and to terminate membership. There are no specific appeal rights in relation to this decision. SES volunteer members are not employees and therefore the Tasmanian Industrial Commission does not have jurisdiction in relation to ‘unfair dismissal’.