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Ethical issues at Gaia House

The role of the Ethical Ombudsperson and the Ethics and Reconciliation Council

 Everyone who lives, works or practises at Gaia House is expected to follow the five ethical precepts.
Everyone who teaches at Gaia House is required to adhere to the Teachers’ Code of Ethics.

While ethical breaches in our community are fortunately rare, we recognise that they can occur. Gaia House has established the role of the Ethical Ombudsperson to receive complaints concerning breaches of the ethical guidelines, to support complainants, and to ensure that their concerns are heard and dealt with appropriately.

The holders of this office are independent from but responsible to Gaia House Trust.

The Ethical Ombudsperson(s) are available to receive ethical complaints i.e. allegations of actions:

  1. By teachers in breach of the Teachers’ Code of Ethics;
  2. By staff, trustees, teachers or others associated with Gaia House, in breach of the five ethical guidelines.

Complaints to the Ethical Ombudsperson

Any person wishing to raise concern or bring a complaint regarding the ethical behaviour of anyone teaching or working at or for Gaia House (for example, any teacher, member of staff or volunteer) is invited to contact the Ethical Ombudsperson. Whilst we encourage anyone with a complaint to raise it directly with the person concerned if appropriate, we recognise that there may be circumstances where this is either not appropriate or not possible, or does not produce a satisfactory resolution to the issue.

Anyone wishing to make a complaint to the Ethical Ombudsperson is entitled to request the support of the Director or Chair of the Trust as set out in the Gaia House Complaints Procedure.

On receiving a complaint within their remit, the Ethical Ombudsperson will:

  • Inform Gaia House Trust that they have received a complaint
  • Contact the complainant to discuss their concern/experience
  • Normally contact the person(s) whose behaviour is the subject of the complaint to inform them the complaint has been made, and discuss with them their understanding of what occurred. However, taking into account safeguarding issues, this step may be delayed or omitted to protect the complainant.
  • Seek to facilitate discussion between the parties with a view to a resolution of the complaint.

Complaints will be dealt with on a confidential basis.

If the Ethical Ombudsperson’s mediation is not able to produce a satisfactory resolution between the parties, the Ethical Ombudsperson will inform the complainant that they are entitled to make a formal complaint in writing, outlining the specific behaviour complained of and specifying the precept / guideline allegedly breached.

Formal Complaints and the Ethics and Reconciliation Council

On receipt of a formal complaint, the Ethical Ombudsperson will request the Trust to convene an Ethics and Reconciliation Council.  The EAR Council will consist of two Gaia House Trustees and two members of the Gaia House sangha selected by the Trust and approved as suitable by the Ethical Ombudsperson.

The EAR Council will set a time and place for hearing the complaint, which the parties or their representatives will be asked to attend. At the hearing the EAR Council will hear from the parties and make a determination as to whether or not the complaint is upheld.  The hearing of formal complaints shall be done in confidence, and without publicising the identity of the parties. The EAR may decide that in the interests of the wider sangha, it is appropriate to publish some or all of the following; the nature of the complaint, the name of the person(s) subject of the complaint, whether or not the complaint was upheld, any sanctions imposed or undertakings required. In this case the identity of the complainant and any information, which would lead to their identity being revealed, shall remain confidential unless the complainant consents in writing to such disclosure.

The Ethical Ombudsperson(s) are:

Helen Sieroda
Eaglehurst
Mill Street
Chagford
Devon, TQ13 8DR

Tel: 01647 432693
Email: helen@wisegoose.co.uk

Gay Watson
Coomery Farm
Tuckenhay
Totnes
Devon, TQ9 7EP

Tel: 01803 732272
Email: gaywatson@mac.com