Grievance and Dispute Resolution Policy

Purpose and Approach

The purpose of PWI’s grievance and dispute resolution procedure is to ensure that all members of the PWI community including staff, students and faculty, are able to work and study in a safe and positive environment.

All members of the community should be able to raise concerns without fear of reprisal.

No-one shall be subjected to adverse treatment for participating in any part of a grievance or dispute resolution process.

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PWI grievance procedures reflect our values and commitment to facilitating conflicts in order to deepen relationships and discover unexpected resolutions and resources from apparently intractable problems.

PWI has the commitment and belief that there is growth and learning for both parties in any conflict or relationship issue, and that there is a deeper common ground of understanding that can be reached together.  Furthermore, PWI understands that interpersonal issues are connected to the larger community group process and their resolution can bring benefits to all.

As part of this commitment, PWI encourages all parties to feel confident to address concerns directly with the other party or parties concerned, wherever possible, in order to achieve the best outcome for the relationships between parties.

PWI also provides options for support and guidance for parties to raise and resolve their concerns, in recognition of the complexities of rank and power differences between individuals, including the intersectionality of social issues and the impacts of systemic oppression.

These options include opportunities for informal support, including preparation and coaching to raise the issue directly, and the opportunity to access a facilitator.

Grievance and Dispute Resolution Procedures

The aim of this Grievance Procedure is to settle grievances or complaints fairly and it is intended to operate simply and quickly within the context of a small community-based nonprofit organization. Every effort should be made to resolve the issue at the earliest possible stage, and at each step efforts will be made in order to avoid proceeding to the next step and to settle the issue amicably.  Grievances should be raised without unreasonable delay, ideally within one month of the incident to which the grievance refers.

If the following informal dispute resolution steps (steps 1-3) do not reach a satisfactory conclusion, parties are able to submit a formal written grievance (step 4) which the organization will act upon.  If the grievance refers to conduct that falls within the scope of PWI’s Ethical Principles and Standards, PWI will refer the matter to the Ethics Committee (see further detail below).

Step 1.

PWI encourages any party with a concern to firstly seek to bring up and attempt direct resolution of the dispute with the party involved.

Step 2.

If Step 1 does not achieve a resolution or is not immediately possible, the party should contact their Immediate Supervisor to engage in an informal discussion and gain support to proceed to a resolution.  This step should be taken as soon as possible after an incident or dispute arises.  The supervisor and the party with the grievance should together determine the next actions to resolve the situation.

Immediate Supervisor is defined as follows for different roles within the PWI community:

Students – Advisor or other Individual Guidance team member

Faculty – Dean

Employees – supervisor

If the grievance or dispute involves the person’s Immediate Supervisor, the person should seek guidance from the PWI Ombudsperson, the Executive Director, or the Ethics Committee as most appropriate.  Parties should contact the PWI Office for current contact details for the most appropriate party.

Step 3.

If the person is unable to attain a satisfactory resolution after receiving support from their Immediate Supervisor to address the issue directly, they may request that PWI provides the opportunity for a facilitated meeting with the other party.  The person (or the person’s Immediate Supervisor) should contact the Executive Director to discuss the request for facilitation (or, if the ED is a party to the complaint, contact the PWI Ombudsperson).

Requests for a facilitator must be approved by the Executive Director.  A facilitator will be provided by PWI as appropriate for the context, and with regard to availability for a prompt and timely meeting. While the preferences of parties involved will be considered in the choice of facilitator, PWI cannot guarantee the availability of any particular facilitator.

Step 4.

If the party with a concern is not satisfied with the informal dispute resolution in the previous steps, they may submit a formal written grievance that the organization will act upon using the procedures outlined below.

A formal written grievance  (or the appeal of a grievance decision) must be submitted on the PWI Grievance Form to the Executive Director.  If the grievance concerns the Executive Director, it should be submitted to the PWI Ombudsperson who will refer the matter to the PWI Board of Directors.

The Grievance Form is available here: PWI Formal Grievance Form.

The party submitting the grievance has the right to:

  • expect a response and invitation to a meeting to discuss the matter without unreasonable delay, and usually within 5 business days of PWI receipt of the written grievance
  • bring a support person to the meeting
  • appeal the organization’s decision within 30 days.

If the grievance refers to conduct that falls within the scope of PWI’s Ethical Principles and Standards, PWI will refer the matter to the Ethics Committee (see further detail below).

In the case of a student grievance, if a student disagrees with the result, they may enter a dissenting statement into the record, which shall remain part of the confidential student file.  The Dean will investigate if there is evidence of poor professional conduct on the part of the Faculty.

All complaints and the results of the student complaint arbitration are kept securely on record by the administration. Complaints filed by the student are available to the student on request. Only the student’s Study Committee, the Dean, President and administrative staff have access to the complaint file. No records are released without the student’s written permission.

PWI is committed to the highest standards of ethical conduct and student service. If a complaint remains unresolved following PWI procedures, individuals or groups may follow up by seeking assistance from the International Association of Process Oriented Psychology.

Faculty Expectations

Process Work Institute Faculty are expected to conduct themselves according to the highest standards of professional practice at all times and to represent the organization with integrity in all their interactions.

Faculty are required to commit to and practice the process-oriented approach to the facilitation of relationship issues, conflicts or disputes, as expected of a Processwork Diplomate, and the standards of conduct recognized by the International Association of Process Oriented Psychology Practitioners.

These standards include:

  • willingness to address a relationship conflict if invited to do so by another party
  • commitment to personal innerwork and facilitated personal development to enable the Faculty member to be able to take the other side in a dispute.

Faculty are also expected to utilize the annual faculty retreat or other special purpose dedicated faculty meetings to pursue peer-facilitated, community supported relationship and conflict resolution work. PWI is committed to the understanding that interpersonal conflicts have meaning, relevance and learning for the community and organization as a whole.

To support the productive and growth-oriented approach to dispute resolution, faculty members contribute pro bono facilitation services (not more than 2 hours annually) to support students, staff and faculty colleagues in resolving conflicts that need the support of a facilitator.