The role of the UCO is to provide referral information on equity policies and practices, together with details of services and support available through to assist in resolving issues of concern. They do not provide advice. The UCO role does not include counselling, investigating complaints, recommending a course of action or determining or advising/confirming whether or not discrimination or harassment has occurred.
It is very important to stay impartial. A UCO must be able to deal with all complaints impartially, without prejudgement or bias. If for some reason you feel that you may not be able to meet this requirement, refer the person to another UCO or discuss your situation with the Manager, Planning and Equity.
No one can know everything and UCO’s should never guess if they don't know the answer. The best approach, if you are uncertain about an issue, is to let the complainant know that you are unsure and contact the Equity Unit for support.
The role of a UCO is about providing students and staff with a range of options that empower them to take steps to resolve an issue of concern. In some instances a student or staff member may request that a UCO accompany them to a meeting for the purposes of ‘moral support’. In such instances where there is an allegation related to an Equal Opportunity issue, and if a UCO is comfortable doing so, UCOs need to advise all parties that they are attending the meeting to provide ‘moral support’ and that they are not attending such meetings to advocate on behalf of a complainant, investigate a complaint, or determine whether or not discrimination or harassment has occurred.
It will not always be possible for a UCO to immediately outline a possible range of options for a complainant. In these instances it might be best to let the complainant know that you are unsure and contact another area, to discuss the range and appropriateness of their services, before getting back to the complainant. A contact list for UCO's has been developed to provide a range of common points to liaise with and refer complainants to. However, please note that a UCO should never disclose the identity of a complainant to another person or area within the University.
Issues not related to Equal Opportunity, i.e. harassment, discrimination, or victimisation, should be referred to your line manager, or in some instances other areas of University. The UCO service is not a proxy for other important services such as those offered by Human Resources or through unions.
Please consult the Contact List for UCO Referrals.
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