Corporate Policy Statement

This policy sets out the ACNC's expectations of customer behaviour. It explains how the ACNC will respond to unreasonable customer behaviour, including those who are abusive or aggressive, or who make unreasonable demands that divert the ACNC’s time and resources away from its regulatory and legal functions.

Principle 1: Mutual expectation of reasonable and fair treatment 
Principle 2: Abusive or aggressive behaviour will not be tolerated
Principle 3: Unreasonable demands will not be accommodated
Principle 4: Documentation of interactions with customers

Context

  1. This policy will guide all ACNC staff who have direct contact with customers or the public though any medium. The ACNC will publish this policy on the ACNC website to inform the public of their responsibilities and the consequences of unreasonable behaviour when interacting with the ACNC.

Principles

Principle 1: Mutual expectation of reasonable and fair treatment

  1. The ACNC aims to treat all its customers with courtesy, consideration and respect, to act impartially, with integrity and honesty, and to be sensitive to the diversity of the Australian community. In turn, the ACNC expects customers to adhere to the same standards when dealing with the ACNC.

Principle 2: Abusive or aggressive behaviour will not be tolerated

  1. Abusive or aggressive behaviour may include:  
  • rude or otherwise vulgar expressions, noises, or gestures  
  • verbal abuse of a personal nature, or against a particular subset of society
  • threatening or offensive behaviour, or
  • threats of physical violence against a person or property.  
  1. If, in the opinion of any staff member, abusive or aggressive comments or statements are made, the staff member:  
  • will clearly warn the customer that if the unreasonable behaviour continues the conversation may be terminated, and  
  • may terminate the conversation if the unreasonable behaviour continues after a clear warning has been given.  
  1. Where a staff member terminates a conversation, the staff member they will note this in the call record and notify their manager of the situation as soon as practical.  
  1. The ACNC may report violence, damage to property or threatening behaviour to the police.  
  1. If, in the opinion of a manager, any correspondence to the ACNC contains personal abuse, inflammatory statements, or materials clearly intended to intimidate, the ACNC may return the correspondence to the sender and not otherwise act upon it (unless the ACNC is required to deal with the correspondence such as processing an objection application).  
  1. If, in the opinion of a manager, any correspondence to the ACNC contains prohibited, sexually explicit, obscene, or offensive materials, the ACNC may refer the matter to the police or other relevant authorities.

Principle 3: Unreasonable demands will not be accommodated

  1. Customers who make repeated, unreasonable demands unnecessarily divert the ACNC’s time and resources away from its regulatory and legal functions. This includes customers or groups who:  
  • do not accept that the ACNC is unable to assist them despite being advised of this;  
  • do not accept that the ACNC cannot provide further assistance, and/or
  • disagree with the level of action the ACNC has taken in relation to their issue or concern (e.g. decisions or complaints about charities that are outside of the ACNC’s jurisdiction).
  1. If, in the opinion of a manager, a customer makes repeated unreasonable demands of the ACNC and the customer continues to contact the ACNC after all appropriate avenues of internal reviews or appeals have been exhausted:

(a) the Manager will notify their Director of the situation, including a summary of the customer’s concerns, and any proposed management strategies for consideration, and;
(b) the Manager may contact the customer to advise them of the ACNC’s position and request that they limit and/or focus their requests. If the customer continues to make unreasonable demands, the ACNC may:  

  • require that all communication between the customer and the ACNC be in writing and give staff permission to terminate any future calls from the customer
  • not respond to any future correspondence and only take action where, in the opinion of a Director, the correspondence raises specific, substantial or serious issues
  • only respond to a certain number of requests in a particular period, and/or
  • read and file subsequent correspondence but only acknowledge, or otherwise respond if the customer provides significant new information relating to their issue or concern, or the customer raises new issues which, in the opinion of a Director, warrants renewed action by the ACNC.
  1. If the customer continues to contact the ACNC after they have been advised of the ACNC's proposed course of action and after consideration of the customer's situation, a Director may advise the customer whether the consequences above will apply.
  1. The customer may wish to provide formal feedback in accordance with the ACNC’s policy, Complaints and compliments about the ACNC.  
  1. If the customer wants to raise new concerns, they will be able to do that through the usual methods (online enquiry, phone, email, letter, or social media).

Principle 4: Documentation of interactions with customers

  1. In all the situations referred to in this policy, the ACNC will document and maintain records of the customer interaction.  
  1. If a staff member feels that a customer's behaviour is failing to meet the ACNC’s expectations, they will notify their manager who will consider notifying their Director and taking action in accordance with this policy.  
  1. Where a Director determines to limit a customer’s access to the ACNC in any of the ways specified in this policy, the Director will advise the relevant Assistant Commissioner and/or the Commissioner, of the circumstances.

References

ACNC Policy Framework
Commissioner's Policy Statement: Reviews and Appeals
Commissioner's Policy Statement: Complaints about Charities
Corporate Policy: Complaints and compliments about the ACNC

Version Control

VersionDate of effectBrief summary of change
Version 1 - Initial policy30/05/2016Initial policy endorsed by Acting ACNC Commissioner
Version 2 - Amendment09/07/2019Updated policy to reflect current practice. Removed obsolete references and updated links.