The Clean Energy Regulator Complaints Handling Policy draws on the
Better practice guide to complaint handling developed by the Commonwealth Ombudsman, and the NSW Ombudsman’s
Effective complaint handling guidelines.
Complaint handling is a necessary part of program and service delivery. Errors, misunderstandings, client dissatisfaction and unexpected problems occur in all administrative systems. Complaint handling can be effective in resolving a problem before it unnecessarily escalates, and in nurturing good relations between the agency and the public.
Complaints provide the agency with information about scheme and service delivery issues. Good administration involves continuous improvement through regular program review, and the lessons learnt from complaints can feed into this process.
An expression of dissatisfaction made to the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) relating to an action, service or process undertaken by the CER 1, where the Complainant requests or reasonably expects a formal response or resolution.
Note: A request for a reconsideration of a decision or escalation of an issue to a more senior person in the organisation will not generally be considered a complaint – see Scope of this Policy for more information.
The purpose of this policy is to outline the agency’s process for Complaints handling. The policy and its associated processes has been developed to complement existing client service processes, meet the expectations of clients, stakeholders and the Commonwealth Ombudsman, and align with the Government’s Regulator Performance Framework.
The policy supports a culture of openness to Complaints from our clients and stakeholders by actively providing transparent and accessible processes for handling their Complaints.
This policy applies to expressions of dissatisfaction relating to an action or service that meets the definition of Complaint. The policy does not apply to compliments, negative feedback that does not seek further action on the part of the agency, suggestions, requests for information or requests for a review of a statutory decision.
It is important to note the difference between dissatisfaction with the agency’s, service and dissatisfaction with the agency’s statutory decisions. The model described in this policy focuses on dissatisfaction with service. Dissatisfaction with statutory decisions is handled informally, by escalation within the agency, or formally, through the
Internal Review process and court and tribunal processes. Where escalation is necessary, this will generally be done through a warm transfer of the call or timely forwarding of correspondence to the relevant area/person. It is the responsibility of business areas to develop protocols for escalation.
Where a Complainant raises an issue with the operation of legislation, including the policy behind the legislation, consideration must be given to whether the matter is best handled by the Clean Energy Regulator or the Department of the Environment and Energy. Until a formal handover has been agreed and confirmed by the Department, this policy and its processes will apply. If a formal handover occurs, arrangements must be made for the Deregulation, Legislation and Governance Section to monitor the Complaint and the Department’s response.
Complaints can be received by the Clean Energy Regulator by any method. It is anticipated that they will usually come via at least one of the following channels:
This policy outlines the agency’s seven stages to effectively managing complaints- receive, acknowledge, plan, investigate, respond, follow up, and consider.
The Clean Energy Regulator’s Complaint Handling Policy is modelled on the principles of fairness, accessibility, responsiveness, efficiency, and integration with core business.
All Complainants have a right to expect that their privacy will be respected and their Complaint will be treated confidentially. A Complainant is entitled to know how a Complaint will be handled and the outcome of the investigation.
Clients and stakeholders can easily access information about our Complaint Handling process and the types of complaints that we can address including clients with special needs i.e. those with a disability or who are from non-English speaking backgrounds.
All Complaints will be resolved within an agreed timeframe with the least possible impact on the resources of the Complainant, and the agency.
The Clean Energy Regulator’s Complaints Handling process is a core business activity.
The Complaint may come through any of a number of channels. If the matter fits the definition of a Complaint it will be referred to the responsible area within the agency.
All Complaints should be formally acknowledged within two business days of receipt by the agency.
If a Complaint cannot be resolved on receipt by the agency, the Complainant will be advised their Complaint will require investigation, and a short description of the proposed approach will be provided along with contact details for the purpose of tracking the handling of the Complaint. Information that is provided at this stage may include any or all of the following:
The purpose of an investigation is:
Complaints will generally be investigated confidentially. As a matter of procedural fairness, the Complainant will be given an opportunity to comment on adverse information before a Complaint is dismissed.
The administrative law requirements for the handling of an investigation are outlined in best-practice guides published by the
Administrative Review Council. The following are requirements relevant to complaint investigation:
When the investigation of a Complaint is completed the Complainant will be told the particulars of the investigation, including any findings or decision reached. It may not be possible in all cases to provide full details of the findings or actions taken as the result of the Complaint. In some cases, this will be due to privacy considerations. In other cases it may be because of operational requirements for example, if a Complaint demonstrated a system vulnerability, the actual remedy may not be able to be disclosed to the Complainant.
The Clean Energy Regulator will advise options for internal and external review if the Complainant remains dissatisfied with the agency’s response.
Contact details and an invitation to follow up will be provided when the Complainant is notified of the outcome of the investigation.
The agency will consider if there are any systemic issues that warrant attention.
1 Contractors engaged by the Clean Energy Regulator will also be subject to this policy. A contractor means an individual working for the CER who is:
engaged for a specific role/s requiring specialist skill sets to perform or develop particular functions or deliver specific outputs, and
is not engaged on an ongoing or non-ongoing basis as per the
Public Service Act 1999.
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