ACS Complaint Handling & Investigation Procedure – Workplace Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Harassment and Bullying
This procedure outlines how a complaint and investigation into discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, bullying, vilification or victimisation will be conducted when a complaint is received.
Australian Cinematographers Society encourages any members or volunteer who believes they have been subjected to or has witnessed a member or volunteer being subjected to discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment or bullying to report the behaviour to their Contact Person ACS Peer Contact Person/s: Ron Johanson OAM ACS or Carolyn Constantine ACS manager/head of department or the Complaints Person.
The Australian Cinematographers Society will deal with a complaint regarding discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment or bullying in accordance with this procedure. However, where it is considered appropriate, the Australian Cinematographers Society may deal with the complaint in an alternative way in order to resolve the complaint in a confidential, efficient and sensitive manner. In those circumstances, the Australian Cinematographers Society will provide details of the process for dealing with the complaint.
- All members, volunteers and guests of the Australian Cinematographers Society in Australia, including:
o Leadership and management personnel
o work experience students/interns;
- Contractors, sub-contractors and secondees;
For the purposes of this procedure, the definition of volunteers includes company owners and board members.
All volunteers must comply with the procedures set out in this document, which may be amended from time to time.
This procedure forms part of and is incorporated into any members or volunteer’s contract for service with the Australian Cinematographers Society
This procedure extends to every associated entity of the company with the meaning of Section 50AAA of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).
All members or volunteers are required to read this procedure in conjunction with other relevant Australian Cinematographers Society‘s policies, procedures, documents and agreements, including [Guidance note (delete this later): list relevant policies and procedures such as:
- Workplace discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment and bullying policy
- Code of Conduct: workplace discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment and bullying
- Discipline procedure
- Mission, vision and values statements
Any members or volunteer can raise a concern or complaint if they believe there has been a breach of the Australian Cinematographers Society’s Workplace Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Harassment and Bullying Policy.
A complaint can be raised by a member or volunteer who is experiencing or is a witness to discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment or bullying.
Members, volunteers and guests should raise any concerns or complaints with the ACS Peer Contact Person/s: Ron Johanson OAM ACS or Carolyn Constantine ACS.
If members, volunteers or guests do not feel comfortable raising a complaint with the ACS Peer Contact Person/s: Ron Johanson OAM ACS or Carolyn Constantine they could seek independent legal advice or raise the complaint with one of the following organisations:
- Australian Human Rights Commission;
- Anti-Discrimination Board of New South Wales;
- Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission;
- Anti-discrimination Commission Queensland;
- Equal Opportunity Commission Western Australia;
- South Australian Equal Opportunity Commission;
- Equal Opportunity Tasmania;
- ACT Human Rights Commission;
- Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commission;
- Fair Work Commission (for complaints related to bullying);
- Relevant union (e.g. Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance);
- The police (if the allegations are of a criminal nature such as physical or sexual assault, some instances of sexual harassment).
Members or Volunteer may raise concerns or complaints verbally or in writing. Depending on the nature of the complaint, the ACS Peer Contact Person/s: Ron Johanson OAM ACS or Carolyn Constantine ACS may ask the complainant to document the complaint in writing (e.g. in an email or using the Australian Cinematographers Society’s complaint form).
When a complaint is raised, the Australian Cinematographers Society will maintain confidentiality to the maximum extent possible, taking into account its obligation to provide a safe work environment and to afford natural justice to those against whom a complaint is made (respondent).
Members, volunteers or guests who are directly involved with a complaint or an accompanying investigation must maintain confidentiality. A failure to do so may result in disciplinary action.
Where an allegation is made against another person, that person is entitled to be afforded natural justice – a right to have their side of the story heard and respond to those allegations.
When a complaint is raised, the Australian Cinematographers Society will appoint someone (internal or external to the organisation) to investigate the complaint. This person will collect and consider all relevant evidence before making a determination.
Complaints Persons are to remain impartial, as far as is reasonably practicable.
Victimisation means adversely treating a member or volunteer who has raised a complaint or has assisted someone in raising a complaint.
Victimisation is unlawful and will not be tolerated at the Australian Cinematographers Society Any incidents of victimisation should be immediately reported to the ACS Peer Contact, Ron Johanson OAM ACS or Caroline Constantine ACS.
A member or volunteer who makes a complaint under this procedure will be treated with respect and the matter will be dealt with in the strictest confidence possible. The Australian Cinematographers Society will take all reasonable steps to ensure that no member or volunteer is/are treated poorly, victimised or disadvantaged as a result of:
- Making or intending to make a complaint;
- Providing information as a witness;
- Providing support to a person who has made a complaint.
All participants in an investigation are entitled to have a support person (such as a friend or a union representative) present when being interviewed. The support person should not be a party to the complaint or a witness to the behaviour that is the subject of the complaint.
A support person’s role is to provide emotional support; they should not act as an advocate or speak for the participant. A support person is required to keep all details of the complaint and investigation confidential.
All participants in an investigation are entitled to have an advocate (such as union representation or a lawyer) present when being interviewed.
An advocate may act and speak on the participant’s behalf. An advocate is also required to keep all details of the complaint and investigation confidential.
Once a concern or a complaint has been raised, the ACS Peer Contact Person/s: Ron Johanson OAM ACS or Carolyn Constantine ACS will outline to the complainant the options available for dealing with the concern or complaint. Options include following the Australian Cinematographers Society’s internal informal or formal procedure, or raising the complaint with an external agency such as Australian Human Rights Commission, Fair Work Commission or the police if the allegations are of a criminal nature.
Informal procedures emphasise resolution rather than factual proof or substantiation of a complaint. Formal procedures focus on proving whether a complaint is substantiated. A formal complaint procedure will be more appropriate where the alleged behaviour is of a serious nature and, if substantiated, would lead to disciplinary action (e.g. termination of membership).
It will not always be appropriate for the complainant to determine whether to use the informal or formal complaint procedure. For example, the Australian Cinematographers Society may determine that the nature of the complaint is serious and warrants a formal investigation. The complainant will be kept informed of any change in the manner in which the complaint procedure is categorised (e.g. informal to formal) and the reasons for the change.
A member, volunteer or guest cannot ‘own’ a complaint. The Australian Cinematographers Society recognises that sometimes a member or volunteer or guest may be reluctant for the Australian Cinematographers Society to take any action. However, the Australian Cinematographers Society may have a duty of care to act, as other members or volunteers or guests may be at risk.
6.1.1. Dealing with complainants who wish to remain anonymous and dealing with anonymous complaints
Where a complainant makes a complaint but advises the Australian Cinematographers Society that they wish to be anonymous, the Australian Cinematographers Society will discuss the support that the Australian Cinematographers Society can offer the complainant during the complaints process and will clearly outline the complaint process to the complainant. The complainant should be advised at the outset that there are certain situations in which the ACS Peer Contact/s or the Australian Cinematographers Society may be compelled to disclose the identity of the complainant in order to ensure that the alleged perpetrator is afforded natural justice during the complaint handling process. In the event that in order for the Australian Cinematographers Society to properly address the issue raised, natural justice requires notifying the alleged perpetrator and removing anonymity, the complainant shall be advised of this in advance.
Where complaints are anonymously made about a member or volunteer or person engaged at the Australian Cinematographers Society, the Australian Cinematographers Society will use all reasonable endeavours to investigate the anonymous complaint in accordance with this Complaint Handling and Investigation Procedure. If the Australian Cinematographers Society determines that it does not have sufficient information to deal with a complaint, the Australian Cinematographers Society may act on an anonymous report by undertaking the following:
- If there is more than one anonymous complaint or report, the Australian Cinematographers Society can instigate its own independent investigation into the person(s) observing due diligence;
- The Australian Cinematographers Society may decide to implement additional training or targeted training where the complaints are arising from specific areas of the organisation;
- The Australian Cinematographers Society may wish to survey their workers to obtain more information to assist the investigation process.
6.1.2. Dealing with complaints which may constitute a criminal offence
Some instances of unlawful conduct can also be criminal offences, including physical assault, sexual assault, stalking or cybercrime, which is where a carriage service is used to menace, harass or cause offence. This can include conduct that occurs over the phone, in text messages or online.
The Australian Cinematographers Society encourages a complainant to report the matter to the police and will provide appropriate support to do so. The Australian Cinematographers Society will:
- respect this decision;
- enquire whether the complainant would like access to counselling or other support;
- if appropriate, consider whether it is necessary to implement any changes to the workplace to provide the member or volunteer with a safe work environment while the complaint is being investigated;
- deal with the complaint consistent with the procedures outlined in this section.
The informal complaint procedure emphasises resolution rather than factual proof or substantiation of a complaint.
In some cases, despite the complainant preferring to utilise the informal complaint procedure, an ACS Peer Contact/s or the Australian Cinematographers Society may decide that a complaint is serious enough to warrant formal investigation. Formal investigation may be warranted where the conduct that is the subject of the complaint is of a serious enough nature that, if substantiated, would warrant disciplinary action against the alleged perpetrator.
Informal ways of dealing with complaints can include the following actions:
A direct private discussion is held or mediated by the ACS Peer Contact, Ron Johanson OAM ACS or Carolyn Constantine ACS.
- between the complainant and the respondent;
- An impartial third person conveys information between those involved;
- An impartial third person helps those involved to talk to each other and find a solution;
- A complaint is made, the respondent admits the behaviour, investigation is not required, and the complaint can be resolved through conciliation or counselling;
The complainant wants to deal with the situation themselves but may seek advice on possible strategies from the ACS Peer Contact Person/s: Ron Johanson OAM ACS or Carolyn Constantine ACS;
- The complainant asks the ACS Peer Contact Person/s: Ron Johanson OAM ACS or Carolyn Constantine ACS to speak to the respondent on their behalf and the ACS Peer Contact Person/s: Ron Johanson OAM ACS or Carolyn Constantine ACS privately conveys the individual’s concerns and reiterates the Australian Cinematographers Society policy to the respondent without assessing the merits of the case; a member, guest or volunteer observes unacceptable conduct occurring and takes independent action even though no formal complaint has been made.
An informal complaint may also be dealt with without individually identifying a respondent. Informal ways of dealing with the complaint can also include collective actions such as:
- Providing a refresher induction to all members or volunteers;
- Redistributing and again explaining the policies;
- Requiring all members or volunteers to complete appropriate training;
- Making alterations to working arrangements to reduce the risk.
In some instances, the Australian Cinematographers Society may engage an independent mediator.
6.3.1. Steps involved in a formal complaint and investigation
The process for dealing with formal complaints is set out below. However, where it is considered appropriate to do so, the Australian Cinematographers Society may alter the process and will promptly advise the complainant of the new complaint handling and investigation process.
As part of a formal complaint process, the Australian Cinematographers Society will appoint an impartial person to investigate the complaint (Complaints Person). This may be a member or volunteer of the Australian Cinematographers Society or an external investigator.
Step 1: Obtain information from the complainant
As soon as practicable, but within one week of receiving the complaint, the Complaints Person will meet with the complainant to better understand the complaint and obtain any additional information. During this meeting, the Complaints Person will also:
- Provide information about the complaint process, potential outcomes, options for assistance/support;
- Explain that the complaint will be taken seriously and the action that will be taken against someone who victimises a complainant;
- Ensure the allegations are documented in writing, either by the complainant or the Complaints Person;
- Explain that the process is confidential, what this means and why it is important;
- Explain what records of the complaint will be kept, for how long and where;
- Explain the action that may be taken if the complaint is found to be vexatious or malicious;
- Ask the complainant to provide relevant documents or details of witnesses that may support the allegations.
Where there is a concern about supporting information being destroyed or compromised, the Complaints Person should try to obtain this information before taking any further action.
The complainant is welcome to have a support person or advocate present during the meeting.
Step 2: Advise the respondent about the complaint
As soon as practicable, but within one week of receiving all necessary information from the complainant, the Complaints Person will meet with the respondent to advise that a complaint has been made. The Complaints Person will provide as much information as possible about the allegation(s) (and supporting information, where applicable), both verbally and in writing.
During the meeting, the Complaints Person will also:
- Confirm that the respondent will be given the opportunity to respond to the allegations in writing or through an interview;
- Provide information about the complaint process, potential outcomes and options for assistance/support;
- Explain that the process is confidential, what this means and why it is important;
- Explain what records of the complaints will be kept, for how long and where;
- Explain that it is unacceptable to victimise someone who has made a complaint.
The respondent may be asked to take leave or be transferred to another part of the organisation or a different location so that a fair and efficient investigation can occur. In the event that it is safe for and a complainant and respondent are required to work together during the complaints process, a representative of the Australian Cinematographers Society shall work closely and actively amongst them to monitor their relationship and ensure that safety, wellbeing and respect is intact.
Step 3: Provide the respondent with the opportunity to respond to the allegation(s)
The respondent will have the opportunity to respond to the allegation(s) in writing and/or verbally in a follow up meeting with the Complaints Person. The respondent is welcome to have a support person or advocate present during the meeting. The meeting will normally occur within three working days of the respondent being notified of the allegation(s).
The Complaints Person will document the information obtained during the meeting and the respondent will be asked to review and confirm the accuracy of the information.
Step 4: Interview any relevant witnesses
If the Complaints Person considers it necessary or appropriate, they will interview any relevant witnesses to the alleged conduct. To maintain confidentiality, witnesses should only be advised of the nature of the investigation insofar as it relates to them providing accurate and truthful evidence.
Step 5: Clarify contradictory or new evidence
If new or contradictory evidence comes to light during the investigation, the Complaints Person will hold further discussions with the respondent and/or complainant to clarify information.
If either the respondent or complainant disputes any of the new or contradictory evidence, the Complaints Person may:
- Seek further information from the respondent and/or complainant;
- Seek further statements/information from any witnesses;
- Gather any other relevant evidence.
The Complaints Person may continue to seek additional information or clarification from the respondent, complainant or witnesses on any outstanding matters until the Complaints Person is satisfied that there is no additional evidence to be collected or further clarification required.
Step 6: Assess the evidence and make a determination
The Complaints Person will assess the information and evidence gathered and form an opinion about the complaint. The Complaints Person may find one of the following:
- The complaint is substantiated;
- The complaint is not substantiated;
- It is not possible to make a conclusive finding about whether discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment and/or bullying occurred.
The Complaints Person’s findings and the standard of proof in the investigation are based on ‘the balance of probabilities’ – which means it is more likely than not that the conduct occurred.
If the respondent confirms the alleged conduct occurred, the Complaints Person should provide the respondent with the opportunity to comment on any proposed decision and outcome before a final decision is made.
In making a determination, the Complaints Person may access the industry register of findings.
Where the complaint is substantiated, the Complaints Person may recommend disciplinary action. If the Complaints Person identifies an area that could be improved to reduce or avoid such complaints in the future, the Complaints Person may recommend that the Australian Cinematographers Society consider implementing those improvements.
Step 7: Prepare a report
The Complaints Person will prepare a report documenting the investigation process, the evidence, the finding(s), the recommended outcome(s) and reasons for the recommended outcome(s). The Complaints Person will submit the report to the appropriate decision-maker as soon as possible and within a week of concluding the investigation.
Step 8: Respond to report
The decision-maker will implement the recommended outcome(s) or decide on an alternative course of action.
Step 9: Notify the complainant and respondent of the outcome
Within one week of receiving the investigation report, the decision-maker will notify the complainant and the respondent of the outcome of the complaint in writing (and verbally if appropriate).
6.3.2. Variation to the timeframe
There may be occasions, when having regard to the complexity of the facts and the seriousness of the allegations, that the process takes longer or there is a departure from the process.
If the timeframes for the investigation are likely to differ greatly from those outlined above, the complainant and the respondent will be informed of this during the course of the investigation. However, the Australian Cinematographers Society will take all practicable steps to undertake and conclude investigations in a timely way, ideally within a fortnight and less than a month.
6.3.3. Work arrangements
When a complaint is lodged, the complainant and respondent are required to continue work as normal, unless notified otherwise by the Australian Cinematographers Society For example, either the complainant or the respondent may be asked to take leave so that a fair and efficient investigation can occur.
The complainant and respondent have a responsibility to:
- Participate in the investigation process and the implementation of this policy in good faith;
- Co-operate fully in the investigation process and the implementation of this policy;
- Not make vexatious or malicious complaints and, in the case of a respondent, not victimise the complainant; and
- Maintain confidentiality as described above.
6.3.4. Outcomes from the investigation
Where the complaint is substantiated, the ACS Peer Contact Person/s: Ron Johanson OAM ACS or Carolyn Constantine ACS will make a decision on the appropriate action to take, based on the Complaints Person’s findings.
Outcomes of a formal investigation can include any combination of the following:
- Counselling, coaching or mentoring;
- Formal written warning;
- Termination of voluntary role or ACS Membership
- The Australian Cinematographers Society facilitating a meeting between the complainant and the respondent to attempt to resolve the matter by direct discussion;
- Developing a process for ‘moving forward’;
- Regular monitoring of behaviour;
- Further training and education;
- A commitment by the respondent to change behaviour or conduct;
- A change in working arrangements;
- An apology;
- Referral of the matter to police.
The most appropriate outcome in each case will depend upon factors such as:
- The severity and frequency of the inappropriate conduct;
- The weight of the evidence against the respondent;
- The wishes of the complainant (however this will not be determinative of the matter);
- Whether the respondent has been given any prior warnings for the same or similar conduct;
- Training previously provided to the respondent specifically related to the subject matter of the complaint.
The disciplinary procedure will be applied in a manner that is consistent, clearly explained, fair and proportionate.
Where allegations have not been admitted or substantiated, the Australian Cinematographers Society may decide to take some action as a result of the complaint. For example, the Australian Cinematographers Society may:
- Provide refresher training for all members or volunteers regarding appropriate workplace behaviour;
- Re-issue the workplace discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment and bullying policy, the Code of Conduct and other related policies to all employees.
The Australian Cinematographers Society encourages the reporting of behaviours that an employee genuinely believes to be discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment or bullying. Further, any such member or volunteer will not be disadvantaged or treated unfairly for making a complaint.
If a complaint is found to be frivolous, vexatious or malicious, then appropriate disciplinary action up to dismissal may be invoked against the complainant. Examples of frivolous, vexatious or malicious complaints include:
- Fabricating a complaint;
- Making a complaint with the intention of deliberately harming someone (e.g. for the purposes of revenge);
- Making a meritless complaint to harass or sub-due someone;
- Seeking to re-agitate issues that have already been addressed or determined;
- Making a complaint against reasonable management actions;
- Making a complaint that the complainant does not genuinely believe to be true.
If you have a query about this procedure or would like to raise a concern or complaint, please contact the ACS Peer Contact Person/s:
Ron Johanson OAM ACS [email protected] or
Carolyn Constantine ACS [email protected]
This procedure was adopted by the Australian Cinematographers Society on 2nd May 2021
This procedure was last updated on 16 March 2022