FAQ - Compliance Procedure / Complaints
What is the role of the Compliance Department?
The Compliance Manager/Officer perform an administrative function by facilitating the process as this relates to a complaint.
The full process may be viewed under VCA Constitution, Rules & Regulations on our website.
The Compliance Department is the liaison point between Complainants (those making a complaint), the Respondent (the person about whom the compliant is made) and Committee representatives.
The Compliance team do not have decision making or investigative power. This role is accorded appointed Committees in the process. Committees include: Management Committee, Investigations Committee, Mediation Committee, Disciplinary Committee and Appeals Committee.
The Compliance Department ensures that matters are progressed through the approved system for dealing with complaint matters, ensuring that all parties are afforded an opportunity to be heard.
It is important to note that Dogs Victoria do not have the power to award monetary compensation. As a member based organisation, it falls within our purview to determine breach or compliance with the Code, Constitution, Rules and/or Regulations. Should financial compensation be the outcome you are seeking, it may also be necessary to lodge a civil claim (e.g. VCAT).
IMPORTANT NOTE: Please note that the Compliance Department is unable to engage in any communication relating to the CONTENT of a case. The reason for this is that any such dialogue may be seen to prejudice a case. The role of the Compliance Department is administrative, facilitating the progress of a case file through approved procedural channels.
Does Dogs Victoria provide a legal/legal advisory service?
No. Should you be seeking legal advice, it will be necessary to contact legal aid or a solicitor.
HOW DO I MAKE A COMPLAINT?
A complaint form can be located by clicking on Complaint Pack. All information relating to lodging a complaint is explained in this pack.
What happens once I lodge a complaint?
- The complaint is acknowledged in writing. Depending on the nature of the complaint, the matter is generally referred to the next scheduled meeting of the Management Committee. Management Committee meet once a month and Agenda items generally close the first Wednesday of the month;
- A letter is issued to the Respondent with a copy of the Complaint and/or supporting evidence enclosed. Please be assured that all personal contact information (unless acknowledged in a public forum such as Facebook) is redacted (i.e. blackened out) prior to issue to the Respondent;
- Management Committee will determine the course of the application. For example, the Committee may direct the office to forward the matter to Investigations Committee; Mediation Committee or both. Both parties will be notified, in writing, as soon as this information is to hand;
- If your complaint has been referred to the Investigations Committee, a member of that Committee may be in contact with each party to confirm the facts. For matters referred to Mediation, either the Chair or Compliance Manager will be in touch with further information. Once a decision is reached, both parties will be notified in writing;
- Assuming that a matter has been referred to Investigations Committee, the Committee shall determine whether or not there is a case to answer.
Case to Answer
- Fee, if applicable, will be refunded (by cheque, direct deposit, or held in credit for future use) to the Complainant;
- The complaint will be referred to the Disciplinary Committee and a letter issued to both parties specifying the nature of any/all breaches of the Codes, Rules and/or Regulations;
- To allow for preparation, any new evidence gathered by the Investigations Committee during the course of the investigation will be issued to both the Complainant and Respondent;
NO Case to Answer
- Fee is retained by Dogs Victoria (i.e. shall not be reimbursed to the Complainant);
- Case is closed and both parties notified in writing;
- The Complainant will be given an explanation;
- The decision of the appointed Committee will stand. Given Complainants are given adequate opportunity to present a case/supply additional evidence during the course of an investigation, there is no right of appeal by a Complainant (i.e. not allowed for under the Dogs Victoria Rules).
Matters referred to Disciplinary Committee. What happens next?
- A letter is issued to both Complainant and Respondent outlining the breaches as determined by Investigations (inclusive of additional evidence where relevant);
- A Committee representative may be in contact with each party to discuss the case;
- A Hearing Panel is convened and a Hearing date set. Parties must be notified of the Hearing date not less than 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the Hearing;
- Both the Complainant and the Respondent will be notified in writing further providing an opportunity to be heard. While it is not mandatory for a Complainant to present in person,
there is an expectation that both parties attend (either in person or via telephone conference);
- Provision are made for a Complainant, Respondent and/or witnesses to be heard via telephone conference during a Hearing.
- The risk a Complainant runs in deciding not to attend a Hearing (allowing the Hearing to stand on existing evidence alone), is that a case could be dismissed should further evidence be presented by a Respondent on the night which cannot be corroborated/refuted;
- Should a Respondent fail to appear on two separate occasions without justified cause, Disciplinary Panel reserves the right to hear the case in absentia (i.e. in the Respondent’s absence) (Regulation 5.1.6 refers);
- Each party in attendance may bring a representative/witness (Regulation 5.4.4 refers). It is the responsibility of the Respondent (and/or Complainant) to arrange their own witnesses or representation. The office must be notified of attendance not less than 24 hours prior to a Hearing in such instances.
Disciplinary Hearing Outcome/s – What happens then?
- The Respondent will be advised of the Panel decision (if presenting in person/via phone) on the night of the Hearing;
- Both parties will receive a formal letter of notification of the result;
- The Respondent shall have the right of Appeal within 7 days. Where a Respondent is not in attendance to hear the decision immediately, right of Appeal shall be within 7 days of receipt of written notification;
- All Hearing outcomes are reported on the Dogs Victoria website and in the Gazette. Those cases resulting in a suspension will also be listed on the ANKC website (Reg 3.11.1 refers)
Who pays? (Reg 5.1.1 refers)
- A complaint fee of $250 is required and applies to any member of an ANKC Ltd state member body and Affiliates;
- Non-members and overseas parties are not required to pay a fee.
Is my fee refundable?
- Once a prima facie case is established (i.e. proven to be a valid case to answer) by the Investigations Committee, the fee is reimbursed to the Complainant;
- Should the Committee decide that there is “no case to answer”, the fee shall be retained (i.e. is non-refundable).