Part 1: What is unreasonable conduct by a complainant?

This manual is designed to help organisations and their staff take a systematic and consistent approach to managing their interactions with complainants. It provides a series of suggestions and strategies to assist all staff members – not just frontline officers – to appropriately interact with all complainants, particularly those who are perceived to be behaving unreasonably. The strategies have been developed by complaint handlers for complaint handlers, and although the focus of this manual is on the public sector, the suggested strategies can be equally applicable to customer and private sector situations.

We define unreasonable conduct by complainants (UCC) as any behaviour by a current or former complainant which, because of its nature or frequency, raises substantial health, safety, resource or equity issues for the parties to a complaint. The parties to a complaint that might be detrimentally impacted by UCC include, the organisation responsible for handling a complaint, the case officer(s) tasked with dealing with a complaint, any subjects of complaint, the complainant himself or herself (potentially including members of their families and friends) and other complainants and service users.

The manual is not intended to tell you exactly how to deal with every situation. There is no ‘one size fits all approach’ to managing unreasonable conduct by complainants and the suggestions in this manual will not be effective in all situations. The strategies should be adapted to suit the circumstances of each case and should also supplement rather than replace existing organisational policies, procedures and protocols.

The links below are aimed at helping you to understand what UCC is, why we have developed the manual and how the manual is structured.