On Friday the 2nd of September 2016, the Council of International Students Australia (CISA) held its inaugural grievance training aimed to equip the equity and welfare portfolios in handling international student grievances per the best practices in the industry. Melita Hoskin, senior investigation officer for the Overseas Students Ombudsman (OSO) and Teesta Prakash, Equity Officer of CISA 2016-2017 held the training. Attending the training were grievance officers of equity and welfare portfolios, along with their campaign and research coordinator colleagues from all over Australia.
The main aim of the training was to make our complaint handlers aware of the best practices and resources that have been made available to international students to handle their grievances. Melita Hoskin and Teesta Prakash focused on the following aspects:
- Steps to making a complaint
- How to make a complaint to your education provider
- Organizations that can help students to complain (Victoria: Study Melbourne, New South Wales: Redfern Legal Centre International Student Legal Advice, Western Australia: The International Education Conciliator in WA, South Australia: The Training Advocate in South Australia, Queensland: Caxton Legal Centre inc.)
- If grievance remains unresolved, how to contact the relevant ombudsman (State/Territory ombudsman, Overseas Students Ombudsman)
- Who to contact about other issues (work rights, discrimination/racism, accommodation, health insurance, student visa issues and immigration advice)
Moreover, the volunteers trained in better practices for complaint handling with education providers. They discussed the National Code and its complaint handling standards, specifically standard eight that states that all educational providers that teach international students must have a documented internal complaints and appeals process. The volunteers learned about the complaints procedure in a step by step method which ensures that all complaints are handled in a systemic manner.
As a first of its kind initiative for CISA, this grievance training proved to be highly valuable to the Equity and Welfare portfolios of CISA. The volunteers in the two portfolios were introduced and trained in one of the most important responsibilities of CISA – giving a voice to international students’ concerns regarding their well-being whether academic, social or economic. This session would not have been possible without the cooperation and expertise of Overseas Students Ombudsman, especially Melita Hoskin the senior investigation officer (OSO).