The following provides a brief overview of what may occur next, depending upon the decision of the Complaints Director with respect to the action to be taken.
Certain types of concerns and problems are dealt with more effectively through discussion and resolution between the concerned parties. When appropriate, the Complaints Director will encourage the concerned parties to communicate with each other and resolve the issues surrounding the complaint. With the consent of both parties, the Complaints Director may also work with the parties in an attempt to resolve the complaint.
The Complaints Director may also suggest to the parties that they pursue an alternative complaint resolution process to resolve the matter. This process includes involvement of a neutral third party who acts as a mediator to assist the parties to achieve a resolution and come to some form of agreement between themselves.
If none of these efforts to resolve a complaint are successful, the Complaints Director will determine which further action will be taken.
Note: Facilitated Resolution will not apply to allegations that may cause further harm to a complainant including, but not limited to allegations of sexual abuse or sexual misconduct.
Assessments and Investigations
During the process of dealing with a complaint, the Complaints Director may determine that an assessment or investigation is required for the purpose of obtaining further information regarding the matter. Speciﬁcally, the Complaints Director may:
- Request an expert to review and assess the issues surrounding a complaint and provide a written report on the matter;
- Investigate the matter; and/or
- Appoint an investigator.
In some cases, the Complaints Director may perform the investigation and/or in some cases, an independent professional investigator hired by ACSLPA will conduct the investigation. At times the investigator may be a qualified, unbiased speech-language pathologist or audiologist. Investigators may electronically record interviews with the complainant, the regulated speech-language pathologists and audiologists and other witnesses, to ensure the integrity of the investigation by providing an actual recording of the interview.
The HPA states the process for an investigation, specifying the following:
- The investigated person and the complainant are notified that the matter that has been referred to an investigation and provided with the name of the investigator.
- The investigator will meet with the complainant and others who have direct knowledge of the matter for the purpose of gathering information and documents that relate to the complaint.
- The investigator will meet with the investigated person, who may be accompanied by a representative, for the purpose of gathering information and documents that relate to the complaint.
- During the course of the investigation, the investigator may require any person to answer any relevant questions (under oath, if deemed necessary), and to provide any documents or items relevant to the investigation.
- The investigator may at any reasonable time enter and inspect any premises (except a private home) where the investigated person provides services.
- The investigator has the authority to investigate other matters unrelated to the original complaint that are related to the conduct of the investigated person.
During the investigation process, the investigated person may be subject to conditions on their practice permit or suspension of their practice permit, pending the outcome of a professional conduct hearing.
Information that is gathered by ACSLPA during an investigation is shared for the purposes of conducting the investigation or discipline processes or when authorized by law. In addition to sharing written complaints with investigated speech-language pathologists and audiologists, certain other information or documents gathered during the investigation may be shared with parties or witnesses in order to conﬁrm their accuracy or to obtain statements and evidence in relation to the investigation.
If a matter proceeds to a hearing, information gathered during the investigation will be provided to investigated speech-language pathologists and audiologists. Information gathered during the investigation or disclosed during a hearing may also become available to the public through the discipline process.
Upon completion of the investigation, a report must be prepared and submitted to the Complaints Director. Based on the information provided in the report, the Complaints Director will determine which of the following actions will be taken.
Dismissal of the Complaint
If the decision is made to dismiss the complaint, the Complaints Director must give notice to the complainant of the dismissal and of their right to apply for a review by the Complaint Review Committee.