Catholic Education Melbourne (CEM) and the schools it serves strive to be communities of faith, hope and love where communication takes place in an environment of transparency, respect, compassion, tolerance and inclusion in the interests of all students.
Catholic teaching emphasises the primacy of parents as the first teachers of their children. Within the reality of the schooling experience, it is recognised that from time to time misunderstandings and differences of opinion will occur, and that these need to be resolved satisfactorily in partnership with the stakeholders involved. Addressing such matters within a framework of dignity, respect and truth can provide powerful opportunities to model the love of Christ in the reality of our contemporary world.
The role of CEM is to provide support, resources and advice to Catholic schools. CEM is not a regulatory body and all schools are empowered to manage grievances and complaints at the school level. CEM can provide support services and legal advice to school communities in managing complaints.
This policy outlines CEM's complaints resolutions process for external complaints that are unable to be resolved at the school level, and referred to CEM1 from parents, guardians, carers and students (the Complainant). Procedures for making a complaint are presented in Section 8 of this policy.
This policy does not relate to critical incidents, emergency management, criminal offences, conduct of religious clergy or other religious persons.
1CEM includes the central office located at James Goold House in East Melbourne and its regional offices which are located in the North, South, East and West of metropolitan Melbourne.
A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction with an action taken, decision made, service provided or handling of an issue at a Catholic school within the Archdiocese of Melbourne.
In receiving and responding to complaints, the following guiding principles will inform and direct CEM's actions:
The nature of the complaint will determine who is the most appropriate person or body to manage a complainant's concerns.
All complaints of alleged misconduct or serious misconduct by a teacher or staff member should be reported to the Principal of the school. Complaints about teachers can also be reported to the Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT), which is the regulator in relation to the registration and investigation of serious misconduct (including conduct which is of a physical or emotional nature) of all teachers in the state of Victoria. If unsure if the complaint constitutes serious misconduct by a teacher, contact the VIT on telephone 1300 888 067 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In some cases, certain actions which involve physical or emotional misconduct, such as unlawful assault or threats to the person, may constitute a criminal offence. These types of offences should be reported to and investigated by the police. Initial consultation with the principal of the school may help to determine the appropriate course of action in these circumstances.
There are legal obligations on all adults to report child abuse to police once a reasonable belief is formed that a sexual offence has been committed against a child. Failure to disclose a sexual offence against a child is a criminal offence under Section 327 of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic.) and applies to all adults (18 years and over) in Victoria.
Complaints involving communication with children under 16 years by teachers, staff, or any other person to prepare or ‘groom’ a child for future sexual activity is a criminal offence under Section 49B (2) of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic.) and must be reported to the police. The offence of grooming applies to any person aged 18 years or over and does not apply to communication between people who are both under 18 years of age.
For further information, refer Catholic Education Melbourne Policy 2.19 Child Protection – Reporting Obligations.
In the case of complaints involving the principal of a Catholic primary school which forms part of a parish, the Parish Priest (‘the employer') and the manager of the CEM regional office which oversees that school should be informed immediately.
Complaints against the principal of a Catholic secondary school should be referred to the regional manager of that school zone. CEM regional offices are located in the North, South, East and West of metropolitan Melbourne.
Contact details are listed in Section 9.4 of this policy.
In the case of a Catholic school governed by a Religious Institute or a Ministerial Public Juridic Person (MPJP)2, complainants can be referred to the Chair, Director or Executive Officer of the school’s Board or Council. Alternatively, the complaint can be referred directly to the Provincial of the Religious Institute or MPJP. In many cases the Religious Institute or MPJP will have its own Professional Standards Office or equivalent.
2 In Victoria, the Religious Institutes and MPJPs with governance responsibilities for some Catholic schools are the Antonine Sisters, Carmelite Fathers, De La Salle Brothers, Dominican Education Australia, Edmund Rice Education Australia, Faithful Companions of Jesus, Good Samaritan Education, Jesuits, Kildare Ministries, Loreto Education,, Marist Schools Australia, Mary Aikenhead Education, Mercy Education Limited, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, Presentation Sisters, Sisters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Society of the Sacred Heart, Salesians, Sion Sisters, Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart and Sisters of the Resurrection.
If the complaint relates to the clergy or other religious persons of a Catholic primary or secondary school, the complainant should contact and seek advice from the Professional Standards Unit of the Vicar General’s Office in the Archdiocese of Melbourne, 228 Victoria Parade, East Melbourne. Contact www.cam.org.au or telephone 03 9926 5680.
If the priest or religious person is a member of a religious order, the complainant should also contact the Provincial Head or Professional Standards Office of that congregation or religious order.
Catholic Education Melbourne endeavours to address and respond to all complaints. In some situations CEM may not be able to fully address complaints that are made anonymously or without sufficient detail being provided to enable an investigation or resolution of the matter. To ensure procedural fairness, respondents have a right to know the particulars of the allegations being made against them, and be given an opportunity to respond to them.
All schools are required to develop and maintain a fair, effective and efficient complaint-handling process so that complaints about events or decisions at the school can be addressed.
The following steps can guide the process in making a compliant about issues arising at a school.
If the matter cannot be resolved at the school level, or if the complaint is about the principal of the school, complainants may contact the relevant CEM regional office (see 5.3 above and 9 below).
In the case of a Catholic school governed by a Religious Institute or a Ministerial Public Juridic Person (MPJP), complainants can be referred to the Chair, Director or Executive Officer of the school’s Board or Council. Alternatively, the complaint can be referred directly to the Provincial of the Religious Institute or MPJP. In many cases the Religious Institute or MPJP will have its own Professional Standards Office or equivalent.
The role of the CEM regional office is to provide advice to:
CEM regional offices will generally not respond to a complaint and/or become involved when:
CEM regional offices are responsible for responding to complaints when:
Following receipt of a complaint, the regional manager (or delegate) will:
The CEM regional office assessment may result in advice provided to the school for action. The suggested actions could include providing the complainant with:
It is not the role of CEM to ‘sanction’ or ‘punish’ a school or to disclose details of disciplinary proceedings relating to its employees. Privacy laws may prohibit information being provided to the complainant of any specific action that has been taken in relation to individuals about whom the complaint has been raised.
A complaint can be referred to the regional manager of the relevant school zone via email or telephone as per contact details below:
Eastern Regional Office39 Hewish RoadCROYDON VIC 3136Ph: (03) 9427 6400Email: email@example.com
Northern Regional OfficeCnr Howard & Rosslyn StreetsWEST MELBOURNE VIC 3003Ph: (03) 8387 3200 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Southern Regional Office602 South RoadMOORABBIN EAST VIC 3189Ph: (03) 8301 7400 Email: email@example.com
Western Regional Office47 Synnot StWERRIBEE VIC 3030Ph: (03) 8412 2400 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
CEM (East Melbourne) is responsible for:
CEM will not respond to a complaint and/or become involved when:
CEM will, in conjunction with regional managers, carefully assess complaints based on all the relevant information provided and will endeavour to address the complaint within its responsibilities.
CEM may undertake one or more of the following processes to help resolve it:
A complaint to CEM can be lodged by email via www.cem.edu.au under 'Contact us'. Refer the feedback complaints form entitled RESOLVE.
The postal address for lodging complaints is:
Catholic Education Melbourne
James Goold House, 228 Victoria Pde, East Melbourne
(PO Box 3 Melbourne, Vic 3002)
The relevant legislative and regulatory framework for this policy includes:
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