Internal complaints, conflicts and disputes - who can you talk to?


Disagreements are a regular part of any community organisation such as a community radio station – and in fact, they can be a healthy thing.

How your station handles them determines whether the disagreements are resolved or snowball into fully-blown conflicts which can then escalate and affect everyone. Poorly handled conflicts can be extremely detrimental to the whole organisation. Difficulties handled in a mature, professional and transparent manner can strengthen your organisation and lay the platform for a more secure future for your station.

Are you having a dispute with someone at your station?

There are several places from which you can access information and seek guidance if there is an ongoing dispute at your station.

Dispute resolution infographic

Step one - Talk to the manager or members of the board or management committee

The manager, board, or management committee is responsible for ensuring that any complaints are conscientiously considered, investigated if necessary, and responded to substantively as soon as possible. Under Code 1 of the The Community Radio Broadcasting Codes Of Practice ("the Codes"), the station is responsible for resolving internal disputes.

Step two - Look at the station's constitution, policy and procedures

If the management committee is unable to assist you, or the internal dispute remains ongoing, it is advised you refer to your station's constitution and internal conflict policies and procedures. As an organisation controlled and operated by an independent body, the station's constitution, policies and procedures, created in accordance with the Codes and Fair Trading guidelines (if your station is an incorporated association), are the guidelines for running your station and should be able to assist you.

Step three - Call the CBAA for more advice

If at anytime you have a query in regards to resolving a dispute at your station, or a formal complaint has been made, please feel free to call us and we can speak with you about your situation. Please be advised however the CBAA is not a regulatory body. We can provide resources, advice, support and member access to our mediation and legal services (more information below), however ultimately internal station disputes must be resolved internally. Please call us on 02 9310 2999 and ask for one of our Member Services Officers.

Further information


The Codes set out the operational standards and guiding principles and policies for programming on community broadcasting stations. Codes of Practice – Code 7: Complaints outlines our legal requirements as community broadcasters relating to complaint handling, both internal and external.

The appendices attached to the Codes offer community broadcasters practical guidance to assist with compliance and the running of a harmonious, effective organisation.

Workplace bullying

Workplace bullying is verbal, physical, social or psychological abuse by your employer (or manager), another person or group of people at work. Workplace bullying can happen in any type of workplace, including community organisations. Workplace bullying can happen to volunteers, work experience students, interns, apprentices, casual and permanent employees.

The Australian Human Rights Commission has put together the following fact sheets that may help you understand, prevent and resolve workplace bullying:

Workplace bullying - what boards and management committees need to know

Amendments to the Fair Work Act allow workers, including some volunteers, who believe they have been bullied at work to take a complaint directly to the Fair Work Commission. These laws came into effect 1 January, 2014. Directors must exercise due diligence and have a positive obligation to ensure their organisation complies with the regulations. The new laws may increase the number of legal claims against your organisation in relation to bullying. Directors can be personally liable and penalised for their actions (or failure to act). There is more information about what this means for not-for-profits on the Institute of Community Directors website. 

Read more about this in the Fair Work Act Anti-Bullying Guide.

You can prevent bullying by:

  • Ensuring staff, volunteers and managers are trained.
  • Ensuring bullying policies and internal complaints procedures are updated and circulated.
  • Dealing with any complaint quickly to minimise damage to individuals and reputational damage to your station.
Conflicts and disputes - accessing dispute resolution services 

CBAA member benefits include access to resources that can assist with internal disputes.

Dispute Resolution Initiative

The CBAA partners with the Resolution Institute to provide pro-bono mediation services to CBAA members in the case of an internal dispute.

Our Community - Conflict Management, Conflict Resolution

Our Community is Australia's Centre for Excellence for the nation's not-for-profits, providing advice, tools, resources and training. Our Community have resources available to assist community broups with conflict resolution, including the Ten Tips to Manage and Resolve Conflict.

Download the above graphic for your station.