Equipping Council staff to manage unreasonable conduct

Published on 16 May 2023

Cessnock City Council is encouraging local residents to have their say on a draft Unreasonable Customer Conduct Policy, which is currently on exhibition.

Unfortunately, on occasion council staff members may find themselves confronted by dissatisfied customers, particularly after receiving decisions or outcomes that are unfavourable and which they do not accept.

Cessnock City Council General Manager Ken Liddell said it was important that Council staff feel supported and are afforded clear guidance on how to respond when they find themselves in challenging or confronting situations.

“The safety and wellbeing of staff is our highest priority,” Mr Liddell said.

“The draft Unreasonable Customer Conduct Policy provides a clear and unambiguous framework to handle unreasonable conduct, including aggressive, abusive, harassing or threatening behaviour by members of the public.

“Importantly, the draft policy draws a clear line on unacceptable behaviour towards Council employees, stating: Council has a zero tolerance policy towards any harm, abuse or threats directed towards Council Officials or third parties attending Council premises.

“Council also aims to provide a consistent experience for customers when managing a dispute, underpinned by a complaint handling process centred on objectivity and fairness.”

The draft Unreasonable Customer Conduct Policy has been updated to align with the NSW Ombudsman’s Managing Unreasonable Customer Conduct Manual and model policy, including awareness of cultural factors that may lead to misunderstanding or miscommunication, while not excusing unacceptable behaviour.

The draft Unreasonable Customer Conduct Policy is on public exhibition until 22 May.

Visit https://together.cessnock.nsw.gov.au/draft-unreasonable-customer-conduct-policy to find out more about the draft policy and to have your say. 


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