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Annex 7.I : Informal dispute resolution

Aim

  1. The Joint Housing and Accommodation Review Committee is an informal body that considers members' complaints about the provision of Service residences to members, which cannot be satisfactorily resolved at the regional level. However, the complaint must be reviewed by the local Housing Management Centre Managers before consideration by the Committee. The aim of this process is to give Defence members an avenue to seek a remedy for complaints in respect of the wide range of services that the Defence Housing Australia provides. The process aims to:

    1. provide a transparent national mechanism to seek resolution of a complaint;

    2. provide clear information to members on how to seek resolution of a complaint;

    3. highlight any weaknesses in policy that may trigger changes to that particular policy;

    4. provide a forum for members to present a case;

    5. provide a support service for the client and the system;

    6. resolve complaints at the lowest level;

    7. allow for the independent and fair review of a complaint; and

    8. provide members with a clear explanation of decisions.

Grounds for dispute

  1. A complaint may be made by a member with respect to any matter concerning the services provided by the Defence Housing Australia, provided:

    1. it is not a general complaint about housing entitlements or contributions;

    2. the normal housing administrative system has been allowed a reasonable time (normally one month) to respond to the member's complaint before the matter becomes a complaint;

    3. the complaint relates only to the member's circumstances at the time the complaint is lodged;

    4. the member states the nature of the complaint and the desired remedy in specific terms (the process is not to be used as a means of expressing general dissatisfaction);

    5. if the complaint is concerned with the amount of rental contribution, the complaint must relate to deficiencies or unsuitability of the Service residence (for example because of incorrect classification), having regard to the member's particular situation;

    6. if the complaint is concerned with failure to carry out repairs, maintenance or improvements, the complaint must relate to the effect on the member and the member's dependants;

    7. deficiencies which were the cause of a Service residence being downgraded and are reflected in the lower rent being paid, or were the cause of a rental rebate being awarded, will not be grounds for a further rebate unless those deficiencies have been substantially aggravated since the original downgrading (for example Group 1A Service residences will not normally be subject to rent rebate on the grounds of deficiency in standard, as the Group 1A rent rate is a rent rebated from the Group A rate in recognition of the shortcomings of dwellings which are less than Group A by size and/or standard).

Process

  1. A complaint may be registered with the Defence Housing Australia in one of three ways:

    1. a member or the member's representative may notify the Housing Management Centre of a complaint;

    2. a member may notify the Defence Housing Australia on 139 342 (in which case a form, titled 'complaint resolution', will be forwarded by the Defence Housing Australia to a nominated contact officer in the Housing Management Centre for action; or

    3. a member may submit a written complaint to the Housing Management Centre or Defence Housing Australia head office, 26 Brisbane Avenue, Barton ACT 2600. The complaint will then be registered with the Defence Housing Australia 1800 number and passed to the relevant Housing Management Centre for investigation/consideration, if the complaint is received at head office, and has not previously been dealt with by a Housing Management Centre.

Role of Housing Management Centre contact staff member and manager

  1. In the first instance, the Housing Management Centre contact staff member will aim to resolve the complaint in conjunction with the Housing Management Centre Manager. If the complaint is resolved, resolution will be confirmed with the member verbally and will be followed up in writing. If the complaint is not resolved, the Housing Management Centre will advise the member, both verbally and in writing, of his or her rights and the procedures to be followed. This involves advising the member of the details of the process and requesting that, if the member has not previously provided their reasons in writing, the details of the complaint and the requirements for resolution be put in writing to the Housing Management Centre for further action. The member will be encouraged to seek the assistance of the Service chain of command or another party to act as an advocate for the member if he or she feels the need for assistance.

  2. When considering resolution of a complaint, the Housing Management Centre contact staff member and the Housing Management Centre Manager will make use of Defence specialists who may assist in resolving the complaint. This includes the regional Defence Relocations and Housing Manager, and staff from the Directorate of Housing and Removals Policy, the Defence Community Organisation, or any other agency that could help resolve the complaint.

  3. When considering the likelihood of a complaint being elevated, the Housing Management Centre Manager will notify the regional Defence Relocations and Housing Manager (or other appropriate persons, such as a member's Commanding Officer) of the details of the complaint. The Housing Management Centre Manager is to ensure the confidentiality of the complaint, especially if sensitive personal issues are involved.

  4. If the complaint is against the decision or action of the Housing Management Centre Manager, the Housing Management Centre Manager will forward the complaint, with full documentation, to Defence Housing Australia head office for investigation and consideration by the Committee.

  5. Once a complaint is resolved, the Housing Management Centre Manager will write to the member to notify the result and advise that, if not satisfied, the matter may be referred to the Committee for further action.

  6. If the complaint is unable to be resolved by the Housing Management Centre Manager following discussions with the member, a formal meeting will be held between the Housing Management Centre Manager and the Defence Relocations and Housing Manager (including the member, if appropriate), with the aim of jointly resolving the complaint. Before this meeting the member will be advised by telephone that the complaint will be addressed by the Housing Management Centre Manager and the Defence Relocations and Housing Manager. If the complaint is not resolved by the Housing Management Centre Manager and the Defence Relocations and Housing Manager, it will be elevated to the Committee for consideration.

  7. If the member commences action through the Defence redress system or contacts the Defence Complaints Resolution Agency before contacting the Defence Housing Australia or during the attempted resolution by the Defence Housing Australia, the Defence redress system will refer the complaint to the Committee.

Membership and role of Joint Housing and Accommodation Review Committee

  1. The membership of the Committee is as follows:

    1. Director Housing and Removals Policy, or representative (Chair and secretarial support).

    2. Director Relocations and Housing, or representative.

    3. Manager Client Services, Defence Housing Australia, or representative.

    4. Representatives from the Service Headquarters.

  2. If a matter is forwarded to the Committee, the member will be advised in writing, within seven days, confirming receipt of the complaint. The Committee secretariat will ensure that the member has clearly stated the grounds for complaint and the redress sought. All relevant information will be provided by the Housing Management Centre Manager to ensure that the complaint can be considered or resolved. In attempting to resolve the complaint, the Committee may approach the member and any authorities previously involved in the problem who are in a position to provide expert advice. The Committee will consider the issues and will make recommendations on:

    1. whether the member's complaint is justified or partly justified;

    2. a proposed remedy; or

    3. the reasons why the memberís complaint is not justified.

  3. The Committee will advise the tenant, in writing, of the result of the investigation, and further advise them that, if not satisfied, they have a right to submit an Application for redress of grievance, in accordance with Defence Instruction (General) Personnel 34-1, Redress of Grievance – Tri-Service Procedures.

Application to Reservists: Yes, on continuous full-time service.



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Further info

Contact

Defence Housing Australia

139 342

www.dha.gov.au

Toll Transitions

1800 819 167

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Defence Service Centre

1800 DEFENCE (1800 333 362)

YourCustomer.Service@defence.gov.au