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Ethics Committee Role

Ethics Committee Role

The Role of the SYTA Ethics Committee

  • SYTA has both a Code of Ethics and a Code of Professional Practice.
  •  SYTA members are expected to observe these Codes.
  • The SYTA Management Committee appoints the Ethics Committee according to Rule 13(f) of the Rules of Incorporation.
  • The Ethics Committee is charged with providing advice and guidance in relation to ethical issues.
  •  SYTA members may ask the Ethics Committee for advice or guidance in relation to ethical issues.
  •  Any person may make a complaint in relation to the professional conduct of a SYTA member to the Ethics Committee, the Management Committee or to a member of the Management Committee.
  •  The Ethics Committee will be the primary body responsible for responding and managing the complaint in accordance with the Complaints Handling Procedure dated March 2018. The Management Committee’s role is to determine any relevant action or sanction for serious departures from a SYTA professional and ethical obligation in accordance with the policy.

    The 2018/2019 SYTA Ethics Committee Members are Karmashakti and Dayasagar.  

    SYTA members can contact the Ethics Committee via email: [email protected] .

To view the SYTA Code of Ethics and Code of Professional Practice, please click here.

To view the SYTA Complaint Handling Procedure, please see below.

Download a copy of the SYTA Member Complaint Form.

SYTA Member Complaint Form May 2018

The SYTA Complaints Handling Procedure

Date created: March 2018
Next review: March 2020

Satyananda Yoga Teachers’ Association (SYTA) is a professional association of yoga teachers in Australian and New Zealand which supports its members to teach yoga in the Satyananda system of yoga, maintaining high professional and ethical standards.
SYTA has the power to make and enforce rules which are to be followed by its members.

Purpose: This procedure replaces the SYTA Grievance Procedure 1996. It sets out the process whereby a person may make a complaint based on the SYTA Code of Ethics.

A complaint may be made about a SYTA member by anyone adversely affected by the member’s professional conduct.
A complaint may be made orally or in writing to the Ethics Committee, Management Committee or to a member of the Management Committee
A complaint made to either the Management Committee or to a member of the Management Committee will be passed on to, and initially handled by the Ethics Committee at the earliest opportunity.

Complaint Handling Principles and Guidelines
SYTA is committed to addressing all complaints seriously and acknowledges that the circumstances of each complaint will be unique, so STYA is committed to ensuring the process of addressing any complaint is appropriate to the particular circumstances. All complaints will be addressed in accordance with the following principles and guidelines.

Principle  Guidelines 
Treat complaints seriously  Listen carefully to a complaint. Address inappropriate behaviour. Agree to look into the issue. 
Act promptly  Respond to a complaint as quickly as possible. Reduce the risk of the issue escalating. By acting promptly, the facts can be ascertained more accurately as they are fresh in the memory. 
Treat people fairly  • Listen to both sides of a story.
• Explain the complaint handling process.
• Allow people to have a “support” person present.
• Don’t hold a grudge against those involved in a complaint.
• Guard against harassment or victimisation of people involved in the complaint (either side). 
Remain neutral  Avoid conflicts of interest. 
Keep people informed throughout the process  Inform people who should know:
• What is going to happen
• Who is going to be involved
• Probable length of process
• Possible outcomes 
Maintain confidentiality  Only inform those who need to know about it, including witnesses and committee members. Reassure people that confidentiality will be maintained. 
Keep accurate records  Where possible prepare and maintain written records – notes of meetings, interviews, who was present, key points, agreed outcomes. 
Natural justice  A person accused of inappropriate behaviour has the right to:
• Know who is complaining
• Have all the allegations put to them
• Tell their side of the story
• Have the matter investigated and resolved before action is taken
• Receive appropriate consequence if allegation substantiated
• Where appropriate, have the opportunity to correct their behaviour
Some situations (eg physical or sexual assault) will require urgent action.



Complaint Handling Processes
A. Informal Processes
Informal processes may be used where the issues are less serious. The behaviour complained about may be:
• out of character
• one-off
• not entrenched
• low risk of harm or impact on others
Examples of less serious behaviour include:
• mild coarse language, rudeness
• late attendance to a class
• low quality teaching

Options for resolving less serious complaints:
1. Provide more information to the person complaining
2. Suggest person complaining talks directly to the person complained about
3. Meeting with person complained about
4. Informal discussion with all those involved

Option 1: Provide more information to the person complaining
This is an appropriate option when:
• There are clear guidelines and it appears to involve a lack of awareness of these
• The person complaining is seeking greater understanding
• The complaint is in the early stages of the process

Steps to follow:
• Provide person complaining with a copy of the Code of Ethics, or other yoga teaching guidelines
• Explain how this relates to the issue/complaint/concern

Option 2: Person complaining talks with the person being complained about
This is an appropriate option when:
• The person complaining requests this option
• The complaint is in the early stages
• The focus of the person complaining is to move forward rather than to lay blame
• There is no significant power imbalance
• The person complaining is confident and/or isn’t concerned about victimisation
• There are not strong emotions involved

Steps to follow:
• Consider suggesting to the person complaining that they:
• Choose an appropriate time and place to talk (eg not in front of other students)
• Avoid being emotional
• Focus on the solution rather than the problem
• Take responsibility to help move forward, solve the issue

Option 3: Meeting with the person complained about
This is an appropriate option when:
• The issue can be resolved by clarifying any policies or guidelines
• There is a power imbalance between the parties
• The behaviour has been observed by others
• The person complaining requests this option

Steps to follow:
• Find a time to talk privately with the person being complained about (eg not in front of others)
• Convey the concerns/complaints without making it personal
• Acknowledge the member’s contribution and discuss the relevant policies or guidelines
• Ask the member for his/her perspective on the issue, how it might be resolved
• Check if the member requires further support (eg specific training)
• Respond to the person complaining with the outcome and monitor the situation

Option 4: Informal discussion with all those involved
This is an appropriate option when:
• The issue is not highly emotive or there is no aggression involved
• Discussion of the issues will be beneficial to all parties (eg clarifying roles and responsibilities)
• The person complaining is open to discussion with another person

Steps to follow:
• Find a convenient time and place for parties to meet
• Reassure parties that focus is on open discussion rather than laying blame
• Ensure parties have fair opportunity to present their point of view
• Refer to Code of Ethics and any other relevant teaching guidelines
• Identify common ground and build on this for workable solutions
• Allow parties to contribute to solutions
• Follow up to check that parties consider the problem resolved

B. Formal Processes
Formal processes are appropriate for more serious complaints that may include:
• Alleged unlawful behaviour
• Repeated pattern or entrenched behaviour
• More than one person affected
• More than one person continuing the behaviour
• Person complaining unable to address the issue/ Power imbalance
• Conflict of interest
• Person complaining demands formal disciplinary measures
• Issue unresolved at informal level

Examples of serious issues that should be dealt with using formal processes include:
• Bullying
• Sexual harassment
• Racial abuse and vilification
• Homophobia
• Extreme inappropriate teaching style (e.g. profanities accompanying aggressive/threatening gestures)
Complaints that have been assessed at the ‘’serious’ end of the continuum lend themselves to a formal process, including an investigation.

Where an investigation is required, the Ethics Committee in consultation with the Management Committee will appoint a person with the appropriate experience to carry out the investigation.
A person appointed to carry out an investigation will take such steps as he or she considers appropriate to conduct an investigation of the factual allegations. The investigator will provide a report in an appropriate form to the Ethics Committee. The Ethics Committee will then make a decision about the complaint and appropriate outcomes.
The investigator will not be involved in any decision making relating to a complaint.

Options for more serious complaints

Relevant options for resolving serious complaints include the following:
1. Mediation
2. Investigation and decision
3. Referral to an external agency

Option 1: Mediation
This is an appropriate option when:
• the person complaining requests mediation and the person being complained about is likely to be agreeable to this
• The allegations don’t or are unlikely to warrant any form of disciplinary action

Steps to follow:
• Explain to the person complaining and the person being complained about that mediation is a process that may help them understand and explore their issues and find resolution with the help of an independent third party
• Get agreement from both parties that they are willing to meet with a mediator to try and sort out their problems
• Contact a mediation agency to discuss the issue and arrange mediation if appropriate. Each state and territory has mediation services; either donation or low cost (community mediation and justice centres) or fee for service (referral through a Law Society)
• Appoint a mediator
• The Ethics Committee in consultation with the Management Committee to monitor the situation and review policies and procedures to prevent the problem from recurring.

Option 2: Investigation & Decision
This is an appropriate option when:
• Mediation is not possible
• The parties disagree about what has happened
• There is a potential detriment to either party
• The matter is one better resolved at this level (rather than escalated to an external agency)
• The matter is unlikely to require an external investigation.

Steps to follow:
• The Ethics Committee to respond, preferably in writing, to any complaint and explain the process the committee will take in dealing with the complaint.
• Inform the person being complained about of the allegation and the process the Ethics Committee will take in dealing with the complaint.
• Either:
o Appoint Ethics Committee members who are unbiased and don't have a conflict of interest to hear the complaint, in circumstances where the factual matters are agreed or are clear; or
o Arrange for an investigation if there are disputed factual allegations or the relevant facts are unclear.

  • Ensure both parties get to tell their side of the story to the Ethics Committee or the investigator.
  • The Ethics Committee must be comfortably satisfied that the allegations can be substantiated based on its own enquiries or after considering any report from an investigator, before any decision is made.
  • If the complaint is not substantiated, the Ethics Committee should notify the complainant and the person about whom the complaint is made. No further action will be taken.
  • If the complaint is substantiated, the Ethics Committee must refer the matter to the Management Committee to decide what action should be taken. Any decisions must be based on the facts and could include dismissal of the complaint, disciplinary action, and/or referral to an external body for further advice. Before finalising a decision about action to be taken, the Management Committee may provide the SYTA member with the opportunity to be heard before taking the appropriate action.
  • During the process, the Ethics Committee will respect the confidentiality of all persons’ involved and will keep both parties informed throughout the process communicating any decisions as soon as possible.
  • The Ethics Committee in collaboration with the Management Committee will review policies, SYTA Code of Ethics and SYTA Code of Professional Practice and communicate these to members and personnel to prevent further issues arising.
  • The Ethics Committee will maintain appropriate records of all documents relevant to a complaint or investigation.

    Option 3: Referral to external agency
    This is an appropriate option when:
    • The matter is too complex or beyond the experience of the Ethics Committee. The Management Committee may seek legal advice about the appropriate manner to address the complaint, including advising the complainant to seek legal advice.
    • After gathering more information or following an investigation, the complaint appears to be very serious
    • When the complaint involves alleged harm to a child
    • When the issue may involve criminal or unlawful behaviour
    • Whenever the Management Committee are unsure and need to seek further advice
    • There is a possible conflict of interest (or close relationship) between the people on the Management Committee and any of the parties to the complaint
    • It is beyond the skills of the committee and specific expertise or experience may be required to manage the complaint
    • The complaint has not been able to be resolved at the level of the Ethics Committee
    • The issue is more serious than first thought

    The complainant and person concerned will be advised at the earliest opportunity if the Management Committee determines that the complaint cannot be managed by SYTA and needs to be referred.