Customer Service Charter

At Yarra City Council we are committed to working in partnership with you, our community, to deliver excellent service through dedication, innovation and continuous improvement.

Yarra City Council places great emphasis on the efficient handling of complaints. Our aim at all times is to provide a quality service. We may not be able to provide complete satisfaction but we will always try for the best possible solution. We aim to achieve this by involving and informing the community and by working with others to provide a service that is value for money for those who live, work or visit the City of Yarra.

Who is a customer?

A customer is any person or organisation having dealings with Yarra City Council.

Our service standards

Our responsibility to you – at all times we aim to:

  • treat customers courteously and with respect
  • deal with customers in a polite and helpful manner
  • listen to customers and take their views into account
  • provide customers with necessary and relevant information
  • treat customers fairly and take account of their particular needs
  • act on our commitments in a timely manner
  • value customer’s privacy by treating all personal information confidentially
  • treat you as an individual by giving you the service that you need
  • be punctual for meetings and appointments.

When a customer visits or telephones Council

  • We will attend the counter and answer the telephone promptly, courteously and deal with an enquiry directly without unnecessary referrals or transfers.
  • If we cannot deal with the enquiry we will provide you with the name of the person the request or enquiry will be referred to or, if that information is not readily available, we will request the relevant person to contact you directly.
  • Telephone calls will be returned at the first opportunity, however if information is not readily available verbal enquiries will be answered within 5 (five) working days.

When a customer writes to us

  • We will aim to respond within ten (10) working days.
  • If a full reply is not possible, then you will receive an acknowledgement, which will indicated the time the reply can be expected and the name of the officer to contact with queries.

When a customer emails us

  • We will acknowledge your email within one working day.
  • We aim to respond within ten working days.
  • If a full reply is not possible, then you will receive an acknowledgement which will indicated the time the reply can be expected and the name of the offi cer to contact with queries.
  • All correspondence will be as prompt as possible, courteous and written in plain language.

Our expectations of the customer

To make our job easier in providing our services we ask customers to:

  • treat Council officers with respect
  • respect the privacy, safety and needs of other members of the community
  • provide accurate and complete details
  • phone to make an appointment for a complex enquiry or a need to see a specific officer.
  • phone the officer nominated on correspondence sent to the customer and quote the file number on the letter.

Abusive customers

  • Where the customer is personally abusive or uses bad language, the communication may be terminated immediately by the officer.
  • If face to face, the officer may walk away.
  • If by telephone, the officer may terminate the call. If in an email, the address may be blocked or not responded to.
  • The Manager Governance or Chief Executive Offi cer may decide to limit or cease responses to any person who is abusive and or derogative in his/her communication with Council or who fails to accept that Council has done all that it can to assist.
  • A decision of this nature will be communicated in writing to the person.
  • If an officer feels threatened by the language or behaviour of the customer, the Police may be notified.

Complaints

What is a complaint?

A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction with a decision, level or quality of service, or behaviour of an employee or agent, which can be investigated and acted upon where no right of appeal or review is available under any other legislation. Some legislation (Act, Regulation, Rule by By-Law) specifically makes provision for an appeal, or an internal or external review of a decision.

What is not a complaint?

  • A request for service (unless there was no response to a first request for service)
  • A request for information or an explanation of a policy or procedure.
  • Disagreement with a policy of the Council.
  • An appeal or request for internal or external review of a decision for which a structured process applies, other than that made as the result of a complaint.
  • An expression concerning the general direction and performance of Council or its Councillors.
  • An expression of dissatisfaction with the behaviour of a Councillor.
  • Reports of damaged or faulty infrastructure.
  • Reports about neighbours, noise, dogs, nuisances, unauthorised building work or similar issues that fall into the regulatory aspect of our service.

Many of the issues above are called ‘complaints’ when a customer contacts us. They are called complaints because a customer is unhappy about a situation and wants something done. The actions we take to resolve many ‘complaints’ are an everyday part of organisational life for us due to the nature of services we provide and will be dealt with apart from the formal complaints management process.

Complaints Management Process

  • The Manager of each Branch of Council is responsible for handling complaints relevant to that Branch.
  • While most problems can usually be resolved at an early stage, there are times when they require detailed investigation.
  • If a complaint is of a very serious nature, it will be referred to the Chief Executive Officer.
  • Irrespective of the manner in which the complaint was received a response to the complaint can be expected within ten (10) working days.
  • If an Ombudsman has submitted a complaint on a customer’s behalf, we will also try to respond to the Ombudsman within ten (10) working days.
  • There are times when it is not possible to meet this deadline e.g. where a complaint is a complex one or the Ombudsmen needs to be briefed on the outcome of the investigations.
  • In these cases, we will endeavour to keep the customer informed of progress.

Form of complaint

  • A complaint may be lodged in person, by phone, letter or email, and responded to in the same format or by meeting with the Manager of the relevant Branch to discuss the complaint.
  • The Manager Governance is Council’s Internal Ombudsman and is responsible for overseeing the management of complaints from the public concerning Council’s affairs.
  • In some circumstances, complaints may also be directed to theChief Executive Officer.
  • Any Councillor in receipt of a complaint should refer the matter directly to the Chief Executive Officer or the Manager Governance.
  • If the complaint relates to a complex matter or there is no resolution from discussing the matter with staff or the relevant Manager, a complaint should be made in writing setting out the complaint as simply as possible.

To assist Council in dealing with your complaint a customer should include the following, if relevant:

a) date, time and location of events
b) nature and description of complaint
c) to whom the customer has spoken (names, position in the Council and dates)
d) copies of references to letter or documents relevant to the complaint
e) state what the customer hopes to achieve as an outcome to the complaint

Internal review and escalation

  • Experience has shown that the majority of complaints will be satisfactorily resolved by the relevant Manager.
  • However, a person who is not satisfied with the outcome may request a review of the complaint by Council’s Manager Governance.
  • A request for a review of the complaint to the Manager Governance is to be in writing.
  • The Manager Governance will inform the customer of the findings on completion of an investigation.

Consideration of a complaint

In considering a complaint the relevant Manager or the Manager Governance will:

  • examine and analyse the information already available and follow up points requiring clarification
  • look at the Council Policies which might have a bearing on the complaint
  • consider whether or not the Council is at fault
  • consider any necessary action to be taken to correct the faults identified
  • consider a review of the Council’s procedures, to avoid recurrence of any similar complaint in the future if necessary
  • The relevant Manager or the Manager Governance may enter into informal discussions or mediation on a complaint with a view to resolution.

Vexatious complaints

  • All complaints received by Council will be treated with the utmost seriousness, however if a complaint is found to be malicious, frivolous or vexatious, no further action will be taken on the complaint.
  • The customer will be informed of this decision in writing by the Manager Governance.

Anonymous complaints

While we will receive anonymous complaints, we will generally only act on them where the matter is considered to be serious and there is sufficient information in the complaint to enable an investigation to be undertaken.

Complaints alleging misconduct, corrupt conduct or improper behaviour

  • Complaints alleging serious misconduct, including corrupt conduct are to be directed immediately to the Chief Executive Officer, even where such a complaint is made verbally or anonymously.
  • Complaints alleging improper behaviour are to be directed immediately to the Manager of the Branch, even where such a complaint is made verbally or anonymously.

Complaints/reports regarding child protection within Council services

  • All such complaints are to be referred immediately to the Director, Community Programs Division.

Conflict of interest OR improper use of positions

  • All such complaints are to be referred immediately to the Manager Governance.

Competitive neutrality complaints

  • The Yarra City Council supports the principles of competitive neutrality by ensuring that Council business operates without any net competitive advantages over other businesses as a result of its public ownership.
  • It will receive and deal with any complaints in relation to these issues.
  • All such complaints are to be referred to the Manager Governance.

Protection of customer

  • We will take care to ensure that the reporting of complaints will not result in a customer experiencing any form of victimisation or unfair treatment as a result of the complaint.

What if a customer is not satisfied with the resolution of the complaint?

Council is confident that it can resolve the majority of complaints received, however we understand that we may not be able to satisfy every customer on every occasion. Sometimes Councils have to make difficult and complex decisions involving many people and individual customers do not get the outcome they want.
If a complaint remains unresolved or a customer is dissatisfied with our process in dealing with a complaint other avenues remain for the customer to explore which include:

  • alternative dispute resolution procedure, such as mediation or conciliation
  • the Ombudsman of Victoria is an independent officer of the Victoria Parliament who investigates complaints about state government departments, most statutory authorities and local government
  • the Ombudsmen is located at Level 9, 459 Collins Street (North Tower) Melbourne, 3000. Ph (03) 9613 6222.
  • complainant informed of appeal procedure or other legal remedy
  • while a customer is entitled to refer a complaint directly to these Bodies at any time, customers are encouraged to allow the Council to investigate the complaint first.

Personal information protection

Council has a commitment to the protection of personal information provided by a customer to Council in accordance with the requirements of the Personal Information Protection Act 2004 and the Freedom of Information Act 1991.

Availability

This Customer Service Charter is also available to download:

 pdf format Customer Service Charter (3.21MB)

Review

This Customer Service Charter is to be reviewed at least once every two years in accordance with section 339F(4) of the Local Government Act 1993.

Relevant Legislation:

  • Privacy Act
  • Freedom of Information
  • Whistleblowers Protection
  • Human Rights Charter

 


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