Our policies

Understand our way of working with you

Our policies help us make a meaningful impact while respecting people’s safety, privacy, needs and rights.

We’ve created a safe space where you can speak openly. As a general rule, we won’t share the information you give us with anyone else. There are a few exceptions – we’ve explained these below.

We’ll only share your information if:

It’s subpoenaed. This means a court of law says we have to give them the information.

It’s about an immediate or serious danger, including:

  • Suspected abuse or neglect of a child aged under 16.
  • Suspected abuse or neglect of someone aged 16-18 by their parent or guardian.
  • Someone’s life being in immediate danger.
  • Something that endangers our clients or staff.
  • An extreme situation that affects Avalon’s liability.

It’s necessary for our work. 

  • We share information within our team so that we can supervise and support our staff.
  • Our staff may also share information externally without using your name to improve their skills or register with a regulatory authority.
  • Please note that if you allow us to share your information with another person or organization, it’s possible they may share it elsewhere.

This policy and procedure applies to all complaints regarding any member of Avalon Staff, Management, Volunteer, Contract Worker, or Member of the Board of Directors.

Avalon strives to provide a client-centered, trauma-informed, culturally responsive, community- driven, and inclusive space. Based on these values, we allow client-provided support(s) during the complaint process to acknowledge and appreciate the diversity within our clients, staff, board, and volunteer demographic, including but not limited to national origin, language, race, color, disability, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, and socioeconomic status. Many clients may need support(s) due to their lived experience with trauma and varied unique needs.

Avalon takes complaints of discrimination, harassment, violence, bullying, and other inappropriate behaviours seriously. As such, Avalon seeks to respond to all complaints as set out below.

Types of Complaints

Definition: A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction about the service, actions, or lack of action by Avalon as an organization or a person acting on behalf of Avalon.

  • Informal Complaint – An informal complaint promotes resolution of concerns at the earliest possible stage. Avalon encourages clients to speak directly with the individual involved to address their concern. Each complainant has the right to choose whether they wish to have support(s) for this conversation.

    When complaints or concerns involve an Avalon therapist, we offer the opportunity for clients to meet with a therapeutic supervisor. The meeting can occur with or without the Avalon therapist. This process allows an examination of misunderstandings, relationship breakdowns (therapeutic ruptures), or lack of clarification regarding therapeutic agreements. This is a timet o explore resolution and repair between client and therapist. We support client empowerment and choice.

    Both a therapist and/or a client may request this informal resolution support. If, after this meeting, repair and continuation at the informal step process do not seem possible, the supervisor will clarify the next steps and activation of the formal complaint process.

  • Formal Complaint – A formal complaint needs to be provided in writing from the client using the attached form and not done through a third party. This form can be sent via email or handwritten and mailed to Avalon. Formal complaints are made when a client’s informal complaint has not been addressed to their satisfaction or if the individual making the complaint feels they cannot address the complaint at the informal step.

Client Complaint Process

If a client has a complaint with any aspect of Avalon services, they have the option to take the following appropriate action:

When appropriate and if the client feels comfortable doing so, we always encourage relational discussion to be the first step in addressing concerns. Clients are encouraged to first discuss their concerns with the staff person directly (Informal Complaint Process). If the complaint cannot be resolved informally or if the client feels the concern requires escalation, the client is to outline their complaint using the Client Complaint Form included and submit it to the appropriate person listed below.

Please use the following process to submit a formal complaint:

  • If your complaint is regarding an Avalon staff member working for the Provincial Community-Based Sexualized Violence Trauma Therapy Program (CB-SVTTP), please direct all formal complaints to Megan Thompson, CB-SVTT Program Manager. Email: megan@avaloncentre.ca
  • If your complaint is regarding an Avalon staff member working for the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program, please direct all formal complaints to Cara Steele, SANE Program Manager.
    Email: cara@avaloncentre.ca
  • If your complaint is regarding an Avalon staff member working for the Community Navigation Program, Legal Advocacy Program, Fund Development Program, Education Program, or involving the Office Administrator please direct all formal complaints to Kailee Wakeman, Director of Operations.
    Email: kailee@avaloncentre.ca
  • If your complaint involves a Program Manager, SANE Coordinator, Director of Operations, or Executive Director, please submit all formal complaints to Avalon’s Board of Directors.
    Email: board@avaloncentre.ca
  • If your complaint involves a member of the Board of the Directors, please submit your complaint to Sarah Rodimon, Executive Director. Email: sarahr@avaloncentre.ca

Complaints Procedures

All formal complaints will be reviewed and investigated in a manner that is reasonable and appropriate in the circumstances.
Such review and investigation may include, but is not limited to:

  • Interviewing the relevant parties and possible witnesses;
  • Reviewing relevant documents
  • Review and where necessary update policies and procedures

As part of these investigations Avalon may be required to keep records. Avalon will keep records of the investigation including:

  • A copy of the complaint or details about the incident.
  • A record of the investigation including notes.
  • A copy of any investigation report.
  • A copy of any corrective action taken to address the complaint or incident.

All records of the investigation will be kept confidential. The investigation documents, including the investigation report will not be disclosed unless necessary to investigate an incident or complaint, take corrective action or otherwise as required by law. Avalon will make all reasonable efforts to respond to the client within 5 business days of receiving the complaint. Avalon will also make all reasonable efforts to provide resolutions or status updates regarding next steps within 10 business days.

Clients who request details about an Avalon staff member’s College Registration Number will be provided with this information from the Manager reviewing the complaint. Some Avalon staff members are registered to colleges, and their colleges have their own Complaint process which the client may wish to engage with in addition to, or in the alternative to filing a complaint with Avalon. These colleges include Nova Scotia College of Social Work, Nova Scotia College of Counselling Therapists, and Nova Scotia College of Nursing NSCN.