Unreasonable behaviour towards Council staff

We all deserve to be treated with respect and feel safe at work. City of Port Phillip expects our customers to treat Council staff with the same respect we require our officers to extend to our community.

When you interact with Council staff, we will behave as described in our Customer Charter. We are committed to treating all members of our community with respect, dignity and fairness.  

In return, we expect our community to extend that same respect to Council officers they may interact with.  

What is unreasonable behaviour?

Unreasonable behaviour may include any of the following: 

  • Unreasonable persistence: Repeated requests or complaints about a matter Council has already responded to, made by a community member, which has a disproportionate impact on our organisation, staff, services, time and/or resources. 
  • Unreasonable demands: Demands (express or implied) made by a community member which have a disproportionate impact our on organisation, staff, services, time and/or resources. 
  • Unreasonable lack of cooperation: Unwillingness and/or inability by a community member to cooperate with our organisation, staff or complaints system and their associated policies or processes which results in a disproportionate impact on our organisation, staff, services, time and/or resources.  
  • Unreasonable arguments: Any arguments that are not based in reason or logic, that are false or inflammatory, trivial or vexatious, and which disproportionately impact on our organisation, staff, services, time and/or resources.

Steps we will take when responding to unreasonable behaviour

If we observe unreasonable behaviour, we will let you know: 

  • what behaviour we are finding unreasonable
  • the behaviour is not okay. 
  • we will not be able to help you if it continues. 

If the behaviour continues, we will warn you that we will end the interaction.  

If the behaviour still continues, we will end the interaction. We may do this by:  

  • ending a phone call
  • leaving the front counter 
  • not replying to emails and instead escalating the situation to our senior staff.  

In certain circumstances, we may bring the behaviour to the attention of the Council’s Chief Executive Officer, who will consider if a referral to State or Commonwealth law enforcement agencies is necessary.  

Repeated unreasonable behaviour may lead to you receiving a warning, restriction, or ban.  

What is unacceptable behaviour?

Unacceptable (Zero tolerance) behaviour is:  

Behaviour or actions which are unreasonable in all circumstances – regardless of how stressed, angry, or frustrated you may be.
For example: 

  • Verbal abuse 
  • Racial abuse
  • Aggressive Behaviour 
  • Harassment or threats 
  • Physical assault
  • Sexual harassment, abuse or assault

Steps we will take when responding to unacceptable behaviour

We will take any and all appropriate steps in response to unacceptable behaviour, whether it is over the phone, by email, at our ASSIST counters, or anywhere on Council premises. This includes reporting threats, violence or other zero tolerance behaviours to the police. 

What does warning, restricting, or banning mean?

We want to ensure that our expectations are well-defined, helping our community to understand the boundaries of what the Council can and cannot address regarding their concerns. In managing unreasonable behaviour, we adhere to rigorous complaint handling processes, providing explicit reasons for any limitations or restrictions on interactions with Council Staff. 

These measures may include, but are not limited to: 

  • Restricting communication to written channels only 
  • Designating a dedicated case officer for handling all customer communications
  • Responding to complaints solely when new, pertinent information is provided 
  • Advising you that we will no longer respond to correspondence about issues or requests we have already thoroughly investigated or actioned.

These steps will only be implemented as a last resort, with the aim of maintaining a fair and efficient resolution process while safeguarding the well-being of both our staff and the community we serve. In the case of any warning, restriction or ban, we will provide you with clear information about your avenues for appeal. All restrictions or bans are reviewed periodically and we may renew or remove these at any time.