From time to time complaints come to the ATA Office from members of the public.
In the first instance when a complaint comes to the ATA Office the protocol is to ask the complainant to complete an ATA Complaints Form so that the complaint is put in writing. In the process specific reference to which sections of the ATA Code are in question is detailed. After this step we then approach the business or tutor involved and ask them for their version of events. The CAC does not convene until after the business has been given a chance to put a case.
The CAC Process
The CAC will look at the complaint and any evidence provided by the complainant. It will then look at the member’s evidence, including any evidence of how it followed the ATA Code of Conduct in the way the conflict was handled. The CAC looks for clear evidence of how/whether the complaints procedures detailed in the ATA Code of Conduct were followed. Each member should familiarise themselves with the Complaints Procedures as each member is bound it.
If a member opts to dismiss the authority of the ATA then the member forfeits its right to membership, as the ATA Code of Conduct is what gives the public confidence in ATA membership.
The NSW government via the NSW Office of Fair Trading annually between 2007 and 2014 issued press releases encouraging members of the public to only choose ATA members when opting for a tutor. They refer to the ATA Code of Conduct in each Press Release.
The ATA takes its role seriously in regards to consumer protection and all members need to be aware that the peak body acts to protect the legitimate interests of consumers as much as it acts to protect the legitimate interests of members. It also recognises that in the consumer-business relationship, generally consumers are the more vulnerable. This will be taken into account by the CAC when hearing complaints.
The ATA takes a precautionary approach to consumer protection matters. This means that where in the view of the ATA Board the complainant is seriously aggrieved and can show supporting evidence then in the absence of evidence from the member or a refusal to comply with a request for information, the Board must find in favour of the complainant. To do otherwise would be against the messages and stance of the ATA as stated by Board members in newsletters since the ATA’s inception.
The ATA may also support the complainant to formalise a complaint via the various consumer protection bodies.