Persons and Responsibilities
Persons and Responsibilities in the grievance process
Any member of staff, whether employed by the Sydney College of Divinity or by its Member Institution, may have a role in the formal grievance process, depending on the particular circumstances. The key persons and their responsibilities under this policy are as follows:
The Dean appoints a Grievance Handler and Student Advocacy Officer from amongst the SCD Directors based in the Office of the Dean for grievances lodged with SCD, including those concerning the Research Degrees Program, and ensures that, for any student who does not find the appointed Student Advocacy Officer acceptable, an acceptable alternative is provided.
The Dean receives prompt notification of any allegation of abuse of vulnerable persons or other unlawful acts and takes the appropriate further action.
If a grievance is not resolved through discussion facilitated by the SCD Grievance Handler, the Dean appoints a Grievance Committee and directs the Grievance Handler to communicate the outcome to the student. If the student wishes to pursue the matter further, the Dean either arranges for the External Grievance Officer to investigate and report on the matter (for domestic students) or refers the student to the Overseas Student Ombudsman (for overseas students).
The Dean is delegated by Council to bear overall responsibility for the grievance process and to report to Council the outcome of any grievance process involving the External Grievance Officer or the Overseas Student Ombudsman.
The Dean ensures that a record of the SCD grievance process is retained for at least seven years.
The Grievance Handler is a staff member appointed by the Dean to act as the initial go-to person for advice and information regarding the nature of the grievance process and the facilitator of the grievance process, and is given appropriate training.
The Grievance Handler acts with promptness, courtesy, and impartiality towards all parties to the grievance. The duties of the Grievance Handler include:
- facilitating exchanges between complainant and respondent, and recording the results;
- documenting the overall process including decisions made or actions taken; and
- making appropriate referrals.
For the Research Degrees Program, the Grievance Handler is regularly the Director of Student Administration.
Student Advocacy Officer
The Student Advocacy Officer is a staff member appointed by the Dean to provide personal assistance and support for the student throughout the grievance process, and is given appropriate training.
This person’s service is provided free of charge to the student.
The Student Advocacy Officer ensures that the student has full information about the process and appropriate advice as needed throughout the process, accompanies the student to meetings if requested by the student, and communicates with the student promptly, respectfully, and sensitively. The Student Advocacy Officer refrains from discussing details with anyone but the student unless the student requests otherwise, and is tasked solely with supporting the student to achieve a just and proper outcome.
In relevant circumstances, the Student Advocacy Officer refers the student to counselling or health services.
For the Research Degrees Program, the Student Advocacy Officer may be the Director of Coursework or the Director of Research, depending on the circumstances.
Other staff within each teaching body and the Office of the Dean
If any Grievance Handler or Student Advocacy Officer is unacceptable to a student wishing to lodge a grievance, another staff member is appointed to this role by the Dean, in consultation with the student.
External Grievance Officer
The External Grievance Officer is a person of demonstrable authority and experience in Higher Education, who is not otherwise employed by SCD or any of it’s Member Institutions. This person is appointed by the Dean to investigate grievances of domestic SCD students if these are not resolved through the normal processes and is approached by the Dean in such circumstances.
The External Grievance Officer is Rev Dr Mark Harding, Dean of the Australian College of Theology (updated on January 2020).
Overseas Students Ombudsman
The Overseas Students Ombudsman is a person appointed by the Government to investigate complaints that overseas students may have with private education and training in Australia: https://www.ombudsman.gov.au/How-we-can-help/overseas-students