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 complainant 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, and

  • Whether a resolution requires the involvement of other organisations, 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 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, and

  • Inform them that if they are not satisfied with our decision, that it will be deemed an unresolved complaint or conflict and will follow the HEA Constitution’s clauses under Sections 17-18 and/or 19-22 as appropriate:

Disciplining of members

  • 17. A member may be expelled from membership of the association (or otherwise disciplined) by the committee if, in the opinion of the committee after affording the member an opportunity of offering an explanation of his/her conduct, the conduct is regarded as being detrimental to the interests of the association.

  • 18. A member who wishes to appeal against a decision expelling or otherwise disciplining him/her may do so by notifying the Secretary in writing that s/he wishes the decision to be reviewed at the next general meeting of the association

Disputes between members

  • 19. In the event of a dispute arising between members (in their capacity as members) or between a member(s) and the association or a member(s) and the committee the following procedure shall apply.

  • 20. Each side of the dispute shall nominate a representative who is not directly involved in the dispute. Those representatives shall then attempt to settle the dispute by negotiation

  • 21. Should the nominated representatives be unable to resolve the dispute within 14 days (or such other period as they may agree upon) the dispute shall be referred to a person mutually agreed upon for mediation

  • 22. In the event that no person can be agreed upon to mediate the dispute it shall be referred to a community justice centre for mediation in accordance with the Community Justice Centres Act 1983


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.

 Analyse 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.

Policy - HEA Handling Complaints, V.2019-11

Portfolio: Governance