In late 2021, BCA wrote an open letter to members, in light of allegations of serious misconduct within the National Federation of the Blind in the USA.
This letter outlined BCA’s commitment to responding to all reported incidents and areas of concern confidentially and promptly. This letter can be accessed on BCA’s website, or in your preferred format, on request.
Since this time, BCA’s complaints process has been open, and is accessible via the website.
In order to strengthen the complaints process, and undertake any required investigation thoroughly and without prejudice, BCA has set up an independent complaints process, engaging Susan Halliday AM as independent investigator.
Our first step to ensuring our expectations of staff, board, contractors and volunteers are set clearly, was to ensure key internal policies and procedures are up to date and robust.
This process included the update of BCA’s Internal Complaints policy and procedure, where staff, board and volunteers can raise issues of concern within the workplace. We also reviewed the Code of Conduct, and Social Media Policy, and created new policies: Appropriate Behaviour, Alcohol and Drugs, and Child Safety and Wellbeing. BCA also has a Service Charter, outlining BCA’s commitment to providing high quality and accessible services to Australians who are blind or vision impaired.
BCA staff have had induction sessions on these new policies, and this induction will soon be extended to volunteers, board and branch leaders.
The second aspect of the development of a robust, confidential and supportive independent complaints process, was the significant update of BCA’s External Complaints process. This is the mechanism by which members and all service users can share their concerns about BCA. A new aspect of this procedure is the external pathway of raising a complaint if the concern is of a serious nature, regarding unacceptable behaviour.
This Complaints Policy details how members, service users and external parties involved with the organisation can raise concerns and make complaints about:
- communications, events and projects via interaction with BCA staff;
- advocacy and other programs and services via interaction with BCA leaders; and
- unacceptable behaviour via the Independent Complaints Process.
All matters raised under the auspice of the Independent Complaints Process will be reviewed and assessed. Available options to move forward will be identified and these options will be discussed and mapped with the complainant and other relevant parties if required. Options can include, but are not limited to, conciliation to address misunderstandings, mediation and formal investigation.
The Independent Complaints Process adheres to the principles of natural justice. All necessary steps will be taken to ensure fair, reasonable and accessible process prioritising confidentiality to the fullest extent possible.
We have taken some time and much effort to design this process, because BCA values transparency, where we communicate and conduct business in a way that develops trust between staff, board, members, volunteers, partners and the community, and that strengthens our reputation.
The full complaints process is available on BCA’s website, and is also available in your preferred format, on request.