Policy library Staff only

Staff complaint procedures

Direction and guidance for employees in schools and education support offices about raising workplace concerns and addressing concerns about decisions, policies, procedures or processes. Additionally, these procedures guide employees in addressing the types of concerns not managed under these procedures and the support available to staff in raising and addressing workplace concerns.

Audience

All department employees

Version Date Description of changes Approved by
V02.0.0 14/05/2024 Under the 2023 Policy and procedure review program, these procedures clarify and streamline the process for addressing complaints from community members. Chief People Officer


About the policy

These procedures must be read with the department’s:

Term Definition

Advocate

A person who is 18 years or older and is authorised to represent the complainant to help resolve the matter. An advocate includes a union or legal representative with written authorisation to act on behalf of a person.

Also see support person.

Anonymous complaint

A concern raised by a person who does not disclose their identity. This does not include situations where a person provides their identity when raising a concern but requests that their identity not be disclosed to others.

Business days

Number of days, excluding weekends, public holidays and holiday periods.

Challenging behaviour

Any kind of behaviour that is unprofessional, inappropriate, rude, unpleasant, disturbing or offensive. For example, disruptive, demeaning, intimidating, passive-aggressive, passive-disrespect, dismissive treatment and nonverbal insidious behaviour.

Complaint

An expression of dissatisfaction made to or about the department related to its products, services, employees and/or the handling of a complaint, where a response or resolution is explicitly or implicitly expected or legally required. An expression of dissatisfaction raised by a department employee about a workplace issue may be referred to as a workplace concern, staff complaint or grievance.

Complainant

The employee making a complaint.

Complaint

An expression of dissatisfaction made to or about the department related to its services, employees and/or complaint handling, where a response or resolution is explicitly or implicitly expected or legally required.

Complaint manager

A person, nominated by a manager, who is responsible for clarifying a complaint, asking questions, assessing available information and deciding what needs to happen next to address the concerns and finalise a complaint.

Concern

A workplace issue raised by an employee that may be addressed under the staff complaint procedure or another relevant process. Sometimes referred to as a particular or issue.

Conflict of interest

When the private interests of employees come into conflict with their duty to act in the public interest.

Conflict resolution

May include specialised intervention such as coaching, facilitation or mediation. Conflict coaching develops skills for understanding and improving a workplace relationship that has been impacted by conflict or challenges. Facilitation and mediation involve a person assisting 2 or more people to meet for a constructive discussion on issues that need resolution.

Direct management action

A collection of processes and techniques that managers and principals use on a day-to-day basis to support and manage the conduct of employees.

Employee

A person employed by the department including ongoing, temporary and casual employees; employees on secondment to the department; members of the public service senior executive (PSSE); contractors and agency staff engaged to perform work for, or on behalf of, the department; interns or graduate program participants.

Does not include a volunteer or a person employed by an organisation external to the department who performs work at a department location.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

A key initiative to support the health and wellbeing of all department employees. The services include free, independent, and confidential advice and counselling services to assist employees in their personal and workplace matters.

External review

An independent assessment of the handling of a complaint by an organisation or agency outside the department. Does not include a review by a person or organisation engaged or contracted by the department.

Internal review

An assessment of the complaint handling by the department with the purpose of determining whether the process and outcome were reasonable in all the circumstances.

Manager

A person who has decision-making authority in a department workplace and supervises employees. This includes both employees in schools and education support offices (formerly known as corporate).

Misconduct

Unacceptable or improper employee conduct or behaviour that is unlawful or breaches the department’s Code of Conduct and/or the department’s polices or procedures that set acceptable standards for employee behaviour. This includes but is not limited to racism, bullying, unlawful discrimination, harassment and inappropriate communication of any kind.

Employees are responsible for determining whether a report to Professional and Ethical Standards (PES) is required, using the PES Reporting Guide to inform this decision. PES decision makers determine whether misconduct has occurred.

PES

Professional and Ethical Standards directorate.

Public interest disclosure

A report made by an employee to the Secretary, a disclosure officer or their manager about an allegation of serious wrongdoing. Serious wrongdoing includes corrupt conduct, maladministration, serious and substantial waste, a privacy breach or contravention of government information.

Public interest disclosures can be voluntary, mandatory or made by witnesses in investigations.

Reviewer

A person nominated by a manager who is responsible for assessing the complaint handling process after it is completed and where circumstances indicate that a review should take place.

Risk assessment

The process of identifying, analysing and evaluating risks and their level of seriousness. Includes risks to health, safety and wellbeing.

Risk management

The process of implementing controls or processes to eliminate or reduce identified risks.

Staff Complaints System (StaCS)

The department’s customer relationship management (CRM) system used to record workplace complaints made by a department employee.

Support person

A person who is 18 years or older and assists a person in a complaint process. Assistance can be emotional, practical, cultural or informational, depending on the person’s requests. A support person may speak during meetings but is not authorised to advocate for, speak on behalf of, or make decisions for the person making the complaint. A suitable support person is someone over 18 years old who may be an employee, a family member, a friend, a union representative, or a legal representative who has no special rights or status while in the role of a support person.

Also see advocate.

Unreasonable complainant conduct

Any unacceptable behaviour by the person who made the complaint, which, because of its nature or frequency, raises substantial health, safety, resource or equity issues for the people involved in the complaint process. This includes but is not limited to:

  • threatening, aggressive or intimidating actions, language or tone
  • treating employees differently due to aspects such as their identity, religion or disability
  • raising complaints that lack substance
  • raising complaints relating to a situation that could reasonably be considered too long ago to allow meaningful inquiries or opportunities for resolution
  • communicating inappropriately, unreasonably and/or excessively.

Witness

A person with relevant knowledge about an event or situation and can assist in clarifying information.

Workplace

Any department location where work is conducted for the department. This includes schools, education support offices and authorised places for department activities, including where an employee has been authorised to work from home.

Employees have a responsibility to:

  • treat others with respect to create a trustworthy environment and behave in ways that are ethical and lawful in accordance with the department’s values
  • take reasonable steps to promote wellbeing at work by seeking support when needed
  • take steps to resolve a concern or issue locally and directly before it escalates by raising concerns informally if possible
  • be clear about the relevant facts with a focus on resolution
  • be willing to work cooperatively to resolve concerns and actively participate in any related complaint handling processes
  • raise their concern directly with the decision maker, principal or manager at the time of the event or situation (or as soon as reasonably possible afterwards), noting that action may not be taken to address concerns relating to a situation that occurred more than 12 months ago or could reasonably be considered too long ago to allow meaningful inquiries or opportunities for resolution
  • respond cooperatively and within a reasonable timeframe when a complaint manager or reviewer requests information
  • provide information that is clear, concise and without unrelated or unnecessary detail
  • maintain confidentiality and only share information with those who need to know
  • declare an actual or perceived conflict of interest
  • know, understand, and comply with the Code of Conduct and all the ethical and legal responsibilities that apply
  • seek an explanation to address their concerns and/or further information and support (if required)
  • ask for help if it is needed.

Employees have a right to:

  • access information about the process for raising and addressing concerns
  • be heard and have their concerns genuinely considered
  • have a support person and/or union representative present during meetings and be provided with sufficient time to engage a suitable support person to be available at the time of a scheduled meeting
  • seek advice from another person or organisation, including a union, professional association or legal representative, to assist them to address their concerns
  • be informed whether or not action will be taken as a result of their complaint
  • receive regular and appropriate communication throughout the complaint process
  • request a summary of a complaint and/or outcomes in writing
  • a reasonable complaint process with impartial decision-making
  • make a complaint without being subject to detrimental action.

Managers, principals and their delegates have a responsibility to:

  • create a positive and psycho-socially healthy workplace culture that encourages feedback and open discussion about concerns
  • identify, respond and promptly address concerns and conflict that arise in the workplace, with a focus on resolution
  • inform employees of and provide access to these procedures
  • suggest available support services that may assist an employee, including the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), a union or a professional association
  • address concerns with the least possible disruption and impact on employee’s health and safety
  • declare and manage a conflict of interest (actual or perceived), including by excusing themselves from managing a complaint where appropriate
  • refer a complaint to a specialist area of the department as specified in these procedures
  • address underlying and/or systemic issues arising from a complaint.

Managers, principals and their delegates have a right to:

  • ask employees to resolve concerns and issues directly and informally wherever possible
  • ask for more information to better understand a concern or issue
  • decide on the management of the concern while considering the circumstances and ensuring reasonable consultation with relevant parties
  • manage a complaint or appoint a complaint manager to manage a complaint in accordance with these procedures
  • set conditions about the way we communicate with a person when there is clear evidence that they have behaved in a way that is not reasonable or has unreasonably diverted department resources from their intended purpose.

Complaint managers and reviewers have a responsibility to:

  • be professional and instil trust and confidence in the department’s complaint handling process by following these procedures
  • address concerns promptly, confidentially while focusing on a resolution
  • declare and manage a conflict of interest (actual or perceived), including withdrawing themselves from managing a complaint or review where appropriate
  • understand and address the concern or issue effectively, fairly and impartially
  • actively listen and respond with sensitivity
  • identify and effectively manage risks arising from a complaint, including risks to employee or student health, safety and wellbeing, which may include taking immediate action before a complaint is finalised
  • provide regular and appropriate communication to relevant parties about the progress and finalisation of a complaint
  • suggest available support services that may assist an employee, including the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), a union or a professional association
  • suggest an acceptable support person and/or that an acceptable support person be sought if the person nominated is not suitable
  • apply sound problem solving and decision-making skills
  • make practical, sensible and ethical decisions to address a complaint
  • record and store securely and confidentially details of the concerns and the action taken to a level that is commensurate with the nature, seriousness and complexity of the concerns
  • communicate the outcome to parties who participated in the complaint process, taking into consideration the level and nature of the information that is appropriate to the person's role and circumstances
  • identify and promptly report allegations of serious employee wrongdoing, including misconduct and breaches of privacy that are deliberate and more than trivial to a manager, principal or Professional and Ethical Standards (PES)
  • report data breaches to Legal Services and take action to manage the breach
  • act promptly on any reports of unfair treatment or detrimental action by an employee that may be linked to a complaint and refer the reports to PES for assessment.

Complaint managers and reviewers have a right to:

  • ask a person to summarise or identify their main concerns
  • ask for information within a specified timeframe to inform an assessment of a complaint, including an assessment of risk, the concerns raised and reasonable outcomes
  • decide if a support person nominated by an employee is acceptable
  • recommend or decide a course of action (which may not be the preferred outcome of one or more parties) or decline to take further action, after fair consideration of the circumstances.

Professional and Ethical Standards has a responsibility to:

  • promote clear and accessible pathways for employees to raise concerns
  • assess and refer complaints received through the department’s online complaint forms to the appropriate area
  • provide guidance to complaint managers handling complex and/or high risk complaints
  • provide employees and their workplaces with the training and resources needed to implement these procedures correctly
  • implement and manage these procedures
  • engage with relevant stakeholders when reviewing these procedures
  • manage and record data in the department’s Feedback and Complaints System, where relevant.

Professional and Ethical Standards has a right to:

  • seek information to inform its assessment of a concern or issue.

The NSW Department of Education has a responsibility to:

  • foster a culture that encourages employees to speak up in the workplace
  • receive complaints from employees about the department’s products, services and/or complaint handling
  • provide a fair, efficient and accessible complaint handling process
  • provide support services to employees and their workplaces where health, safety and wellbeing may be impacted
  • ensure compliance with these procedures.

What needs to be done

These procedures only apply to concerns raised by the department’s employees about situations arising in the department’s workplaces. This includes complaints made by:

  • ongoing, temporary, and casual employees, including employees on secondment to the department and members of the public service senior executive (PSSE)
  • contractors or agency staff who perform work for, or on behalf of, the department
  • interns and graduate program participants.

These procedures do not apply to situations outside the department’s workplaces, or when a person outside the department raises a concern about an employee.

1. Addressing workplace concerns

Any employee can raise an issue or concern about a situation arising in the department’s workplaces. Workplace concerns should be raised and addressed promptly, locally and as informally as possible, with regard to the relevant procedure or process for addressing the specific nature of the concern.

Employees are responsible for raising their concerns directly with the decision maker, principal or manager at the time of, or at a reasonable point after, the event or situation. In most situations, employees raising a concern should expect to provide their name and be identifiable.

Managers or their delegates are responsible for addressing workplace concerns that are brought to their attention and can decide on what action to take based on the nature and seriousness of the issue.

Refer to Managing staff complaints flowchart (PDF 676 KB) (staff only) for more information.

1.2. Manage concerns not under the staff complaint procedures

Although a person may refer to a concern as a ‘complaint’ or raise a concern through complaint mechanisms, there are some situations where the staff complaint procedures do not apply.

This includes:

  • concerns that require specialist handing
    • alleged criminal conduct
    • child protection concerns
    • legal proceedings and requests for payment of damages
    • misconduct by an employee
    • privacy breaches
    • public interest disclosures (PID)
    • racism and religious intolerance
  • concerns involving another employee
  • complaints from parents, carers, students and community members
  • complaints from or about organisations external to the department
  • situations where there are other avenues to address a concern or issue
    • data breaches
    • industrial disputes
    • performance concerns
    • recruitment.

Alleged criminal conduct

Managers must report:

Refer also to the Code of conduct (employees only).

Child protection concerns

Managers must report:

  • the risk of significant harm to a child or class of children to the Child Protection Helpline
  • an allegation of criminal conduct to the NSW Police
  • the risk of harm that is not considered significant to the department’s Child Wellbeing Unit
  • child protection concerns relating to an employee to PES
  • allegations of problematic or harmful sexualised behaviours between students to the department’s Child Wellbeing Unit.

Information relevant to the safety, welfare and wellbeing of a child or young person may be shared with a third-party entity, such as a parents and citizens (P&C) association or an out of school hours care provider, under Chapter 16A of the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 (NSW).

If there are any concerns related to child protection, the manager or principal must complete the Mandatory Reporter Guide. They should record the outcome and take any required action.

Refer to:

Legal proceedings and requests for payment of damages

Legal proceedings and requests for payment of damages by a person in the community must be emailed to Legal Services: LSCorro@det.nsw.edu.au.

Misconduct by an employee

The department’s Code of Conduct obliges employees to be accountable for their professional and personal conduct. There are a range of consequences for breaching the code depending on the nature and seriousness of a breach.

Allegations of misconduct should be reported to Professional and Ethical Standards (PES), which is responsible for maintaining appropriate standards of conduct and performance across the department.

Managers are responsible for determining whether a report to PES is required. They can use the PES Reporting Guide (staff only) to inform this decision, and the guide considers areas such as:

  • allegations of a child protection nature against an employee. If there is a risk of harm, a report must also be made to the Child Protection Helpline, the Child Wellbeing Unit (staff only), and/or the NSW Police (refer to 1.2.3 ‘Complaints from parents, carers, students and community members’ below)
  • reports that allege serious wrongdoing that may constitute a public interest disclosure, such as corruption, maladministration or serious waste
  • allegations of other misconduct by an employee, including alleged racism, bullying, harassment or discrimination.

Refer to:

Privacy breaches

Reports of privacy breaches that are deliberate and more than trivial may amount to misconduct and must be reported to PES according to the outcome of the PES Reporting Guide.

Refer to Breaches of privacy or misuse of information (staff only) for more information.

Public interest disclosure (PID)

Reports that allege serious wrongdoing should be reported to PES.

A decision about how the department will deal with a public interest disclosure, or a decision not to deal with a report as a voluntary disclosure, can be reviewed in accordance with the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2022.

Refer to the Public interest disclosures procedures for more information.

Racism and religious intolerance

The department does not accept any form of racism or religious intolerance. Any person may report racism or religious intolerance to any employee.

Reports of racist behaviour and religious intolerance in schools displayed by students towards other students, teachers or community members are managed using the Anti-racism policy and Student behaviour policy.

Reports of racist behaviour and religious intolerance by employees may constitute misconduct. Managers are responsible for determining whether a report to PES is required. They can use the PES Reporting Guide (staff only) to inform this decision.

Refer to:

Employees who have concerns about a colleague’s behaviour in the workplace (other than child protection or serious misconduct), should raise their concerns directly with the person involved in a calm and respectful manner. Where the employee continues to have concerns, they can raise their concerns with their immediate workplace manager or the person ’s line manager.

Managers are responsible for determining whether a report to PES is required. They can use the PES Reporting Guide (staff only) to inform this decision.

Where PES is not involved, concerns involving a colleague, including interpersonal conflict and challenging behaviour, are managed through direct management action and conflict resolution approaches as appropriate.

Managers decide the most appropriate way to address challenging behaviour and interpersonal conflict, considering the nature and seriousness of the concerns and expected standards of behaviour consistent with the Code of Conduct. In most situations, it is not necessary for a manager to undertake comprehensive inquiries, formulate particulars or make findings or determinations.

Refer to:

Complaints from students, parents, carers, and community members are managed under the community complaint procedures. This includes complaints from people who no longer work for the department and employees of other agencies. It also includes complaints about an employee’s experience as a consumer of the department’s services, for example, complaints from employees when they are engaging with the department as the parent or carer of a child who attends a public school or uses department services.

Refer to:

Complaints about the department’s services from employees of organisations external to the department are managed under the community complaint procedures.

Complaints about services external to, but regulated by, the department are managed under the relevant organisation’s complaint handling processes. This includes the early childhood education and care sector and vocational education and training providers (except for employees working in department-operated preschools and out of school hours care).

Refer to Making a complaint about other education services for more information.

Data breaches

Employees must report suspected data breaches involving the unauthorised access or disclosure of personal information, or the loss or theft of personal information where unauthorised access or disclosure is likely to occur, to Legal Services.

Refer to Reporting and managing data breaches (staff only) for more information.

Industrial disputes

Issues that are appropriately characterised as an industrial dispute (defined in the Teachers Award as ‘including a question or difficulty’) are managed in accordance with the relevant award.

Refer to Industrial Relations for more information.

Performance concerns

Disputes about the decision to begin a performance improvement program are managed under the relevant Improvement Program procedures.

Refer to Guidance on underperformance for more information.

Recruitment

Appeals against an irregular or improper recruitment process, including a review of a promotion decision, are managed by the Staffing Services Selection Appeals secretariat.

Refer to Recruitment for more information.

1.3 Complaint handling principles

Complaint handling in the Department of Education is fair, efficient and accessible. Our workplaces foster a safe, respectful, and inclusive culture where employees feel valued, included and supported to perform at their best, and are encouraged to raise concerns.

The department takes complaints and feedback from employees seriously and is committed to building a speak up culture across its workforce, where employees can share their ideas, suggestions and concerns in a respectful way and encourage others to do the same.

The department's core business involves seeking feedback and addressing complaints from employees. This promotes a positive workplace culture, employee engagement and continuous system improvement.

The following principles underpin how the department manages staff complaints:

  • respectful treatment
  • information and accessibility
  • effective communication
  • taking ownership
  • timeliness
  • transparency.

2. Making a staff complaint

2.1 Raise a workplace concern

Any employee can raise a concern about a situation arising in the department’s workplaces. The action taken depends on the nature and seriousness of the issue.

A concern relating to interpersonal conflict or challenging behaviour that does not reach the threshold for Professional and Ethical Standards (PES) intervention is addressed by conflict resolution approaches or direct management action. Refer to 1.2.2 Concerns involving another employee (section 1.2) for guidance on addressing interpersonal conflict or challenging behaviour in the workplace.

If an employee has concerns about:

  • workplace policy, procedure, process or systems, they should raise their concerns directly with the owner of the policy, procedure, process or system
  • the application of policy, procedure or process, they should raise their concerns directly with the decision maker or their principal or workplace manager.

A policy, procedure or process may be applicable across the department or specific to school or service.

The owners of the department’s policies and procedures are listed on the relevant document(s).

The owner of a procedure, process or system specific to a school or service is usually the principal or manager responsible.

In many circumstances, a respectful conversation will allow the decision, policy, process or systems to be explained or for the decision to be reconsidered and the complaint process can be finalised.

Employees can raise their concerns:

  • in person
  • by telephone
  • by email
  • via the online Staff Complaint Form

An employee should:

  • raise their concern as soon as possible
  • outline their concern politely and professionally
  • make reasonable attempts to determine the owner of a workplace policy, procedure, process or system and seek an explanation or further information about the decision, system, procedure or policy (where applicable)
  • provide any relevant and available information about the situation.

The employee should provide:

  • details of their concern, including the nature of the concern, the current situation and who was involved (without extraneous material)
  • the circumstances giving rise to the complaint
  • the outcome(s) sought.

The person receiving the concern may ask for clarification or a summary of the main issues to determine the appropriate procedure or process to address them.

Multiple complaints about the same or substantively the same concern(s), or those made directly to the Secretary or other senior employees, will be referred to the relevant principal or manager for response.

Refer to:

2.2. Make an anonymous complaint

If an employee makes a complaint without providing their details, it is an anonymous complaint. It is not considered anonymous if they provide their details but request their identity is not disclosed.

If a complaint is anonymous, information cannot be provided to the person making the complaint about what action, if any, is taken. The complaint manager may find it more difficult to address the complaint if insufficient details are provided.

While the department will take reasonable steps to keep the person’s details from being disclosed, the department must respond appropriately, and this may mean the identity of the person making the complaint will be revealed.

Refer to 4.3.8 Manage an anonymous complaint (section 4.3) for more information.

3. Ensuring reasonable conduct

3.1 Maintain confidentiality in the complaint process

Everyone involved in a complaint, such as complaint managers, reviewers, complainants, people being complained about and witnesses, must keep complaint information confidential. People should only discuss the complaint process on a 'need to know' basis. Information about a complaint should only be shared appropriately to manage risks, advance the complaint's management and ensure fairness.

The Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (NSW) (the PPIP Act) and the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002 (NSW) govern the handling of personal and health information by NSW Government agencies.

Unless where authorised by law, do not:

  • provide the complainant with a copy of witness accounts, including accounts by a person responding to a complaint, and/or any report arising from the complaint
  • provide other parties involved in the complaint with a copy of the complaint, witness accounts and/or any report or legal advice arising from the complaint
  • disclose personal and/or health information to other parties involved in the complaint without prior consent unless an exemption under the legislation applies.

The complaint manager may request student records to support effective complaint management under the PPIP Act. The complaint manager must not use the information other than to assess the merits of the complaint and will not disclose the information to any other person or agency except as required under this procedure or authorised by law.

A privacy or confidentiality breach by an employee that is deliberate and more than trivial may amount to serious wrongdoing and must be reported to Professional and Ethical Standards for assessment.

Below are exceptions to the privacy principles outlined in these procedures or legislation:

  • complaint managers must report allegations of criminal conduct to the NSW Police and the Incident Report and Support Hotline
  • complaint managers must report child protection concerns to the NSW Department of Communities and Justice and/or the department’s Child Wellbeing Unit
  • the department will refer concerns received through the department’s online Complaint, compliment or suggestion form to the relevant workplace manager or principal.

3.2 Disclose conflicts of interest

Conflicts of interest arise when there is a perceived, potential or actual conflict between a person’s private interests and public duties. For a conflict of interest to exist, there needs to be more than a professional relationship or circumstances where the person gave a direction to make a particular decision or acted in response to a decision.

Employees must proactively declare any conflict of interest that would affect the handling or outcome of the complaint and complete a Conflict of interest declaration. Employees must cooperate fully with any management action implemented to deal with actual or perceived conflicts of interests.

A person will not be prevented from managing a complaint or review solely because they have information about a situation, have been involved in other decisions about an employee, or have supervised people involved in the situation.

A failure to declare or appropriately manage a conflict of interest may amount to serious wrongdoing and must be reported to PES for assessment.

Refer to Conflict of interest (staff only) for more information.

3.3 Maintain respectful and reasonable conduct during the complaint process

Effective complaint resolution depends on all parties behaving in a respectful and reasonable manner. While making or responding to a complaint can be stressful, the standards of behaviour required under the Code of Conduct continue to apply during the complaint process

Managers must address any unacceptable, improper or unreasonable behaviour by an employee that raises substantial health, safety, resource or equity issues for the parties involved in the complaint process. This behaviour includes:

  • aggressive or intimidating actions, language or tone
  • treating employees differently due to aspects such as their identity, religion or disability
  • raising complaints repeatedly that lack substance
  • inappropriate and excessive communication.

The complaint manager may use the department’s restorative practice approach to build, maintain and restore a positive relationship with the person raising the concern.

Where addressing a complaint may require unreasonable and substantial diversion of resources (when balanced with the substantive concerns) and/or where the complainant does not reasonably participate in the complaint process, complaint managers may decide:

  • to finalise a complaint on the available information
  • not to take action
  • to limit the scope of inquiries.

Managers can decide to limit communication, for example, by advising that further communication that does not raise substantively new information will be noted and filed without further response.

Unacceptable or improper conduct by an employee may constitute misconduct. Managers must report any potential misconduct to PES and follow the department’s advice and guidance on managing challenging behaviour in the workplace

Refer to:

3.4 Protect against detrimental action

Detrimental action includes, but is not limited to, an action that causes injury, loss or damage to the person raising the complaint. Examples of detrimental actions include intimidation, bullying, harassment, unfavourable treatment, disciplinary action or damage caused to reputation.

Detrimental action does not include responding to unreasonable conduct by a complainant, including action under the Inclosed Lands Protection Act 1901.

Employees must not:

  • take detrimental action against a person for making a report, providing evidence or raising a complaint
  • take detrimental action against a student or other learner if their parent or carer makes a complaint
  • seek to directly discuss a person’s report, evidence or complaint where complaint processes have begun without the investigator’s or complaint manager’s approval.

Managers and principals must act promptly on any reports of employee misconduct, unfair treatment or detrimental action linked to a complaint and refer them to PES for assessment.

Refer to:

3.5 Manage complaint timeframes

Complaints should be addressed promptly and informally whenever possible and as close to the time that the event or situation occurred. While many complaints can be finalised within expected timeframes, some complaints may take longer.

A complaint manager must:

  • manage employees’ expectations about the complaint process and timeframe
  • provide reasonable updates about progress in the same way the complaint was received or as a complainant requests
  • communicate any delay or alteration to a timeframe
  • advise when more information can be expected.

Refer to:

Complaint managers must:

  • acknowledge a complaint within 3 business days
  • finalise a complaint within 20 business days
  • follow up actions arising from the complaint within 20 business days of being finalised
  • advise the person making the complaint of their right to request an internal review and that this request must be made within 10 business days.

Note: business days exclude weekends, public holidays and holiday periods. Expected timeframes are a guide and may be impacted by individual circumstances.

Factors that may impact on the expected timeframes:

  • school holidays
  • employee availability
  • advice seeking
  • concerns raised that are complex and the involvement of multiple parties or other processes underway
  • other competing workplace priorities
  • employee health, safety and wellbeing.

Refer to Effective complaint management (staff only) for more information.

4. Managing and closing a staff complaint

4.1 Nominate a complaint manager

When a manager or principal receives a complaint, they should assess the risk and consider the nature and seriousness of the concern before referring or delegating it. Where possible, a manager should:

  • resolve concerns promptly and informally at the local level
  • have the expertise to resolve the specific concerns
  • have the authority to decide the outcome and action to be taken
  • not have any actual or perceived conflicts of interest that could foreseeably arise while managing the complaint.

Where possible and appropriate, the local school level manages complaints about school operations. The relevant policy owner manages the department's policy, procedure, or process complaints.

Complaint managers need an understanding of the complaint process but do not need to be a manager or member of the school executive.

Refer to:

4.2 Resolve early and locally

Many concerns raised can be resolved locally, quickly and efficiently. Most complaints are managed by the relevant school or service, consistent with the principle of resolving complaints locally and informally where possible.

The complaint manager should consider whether:

  • the concern requires specialist handling (see 1.2 Manage concerns not under the staff complaint procedures)
  • the person raising the concern indicates a desire to discuss the matter informally and this is appropriate in the circumstances
  • the available information supports a view that the complaint has arisen from a misunderstanding or miscommunication.

If the concern is resolved early and informally, the complaint manager must record the outcome, and include:

  • the complainant’s contact information (if known)
  • the nature of complaint issue or concern
  • the agreed outcome.

Refer to:

4.3 Clarify expectations and acknowledge receipt

The complaint process begins with effective communication and clear expectations between the complaint manager and the complainant.

Here are some considerations:

  • Acknowledge receipt within 3 business days where practicable (business days exclude weekends, public holidays and holiday periods).
  • Consider the concerns and the situation from the complainant’s point of view.
  • Manage the complainant’s expectations from the outset by asking them what outcome they expect. Explain the process, what is likely and achievable, and how and when information will be communicated.
  • Consider any adjustments to assist an employee to participate in the complaint process.
  • Provide clear advice about what concerns will be addressed under these procedures and what will be addressed under other processes.
  • Provide information about the expected timeframe for addressing the complaint, considering the situation’s complexity, employee availability, holiday periods and other factors.

Refer to 1.2 Manage concerns not under the staff complaint procedures for more information.

Who can acknowledge a complaint:

  • the complaint manager
  • person receiving the complaint (manager or another appropriate person).

How to acknowledge a complaint:

  • in person
  • by telephone
  • by email
  • in writing
  • in the same way it was received or as a complainant prefers.

What to include:

  • information on these procedures and next steps
  • information on the complaint manager’s role
  • advice on the level of involvement the complainant will have with their complaint
  • information on anticipated timeframes and how they will be kept up to date on the progress of their complaint
  • information on privacy and confidentiality obligations.

Refer to Acknowledging the complaint (staff only) for more information.

Some complaints may include multiple concerns. The complaint manager decides which aspects of the complaint should be managed under these procedures and which aspects should be managed through other processes. For example, direct management action or conflict resolution approaches.

As a first step, the complaint manager engages with the complainant to identify and understand the nature of the concerns. They can do this by:

  • listening carefully, clarifying the concerns and asking for more information when needed to identify the reason(s) for their concern, particularly when a complaint is raised verbally
  • explaining the process, and how and when information will be communicated
  • asking the complainant what outcome they are seeking and explaining possible outcomes
  • asking the complainant what action has been taken previously to address their concerns, such meetings or alternative dispute resolution
  • explaining to the complainant that information may be sought from other parties to inform the assessment of the complaint
  • asking the complainant what adjustments they may need to be able to participate in the complaint process.

For ongoing management, the complaints manager can:

  • summarise the concerns and seek the complainant’s agreement about the nature of the complaint, particularly where clarifying information indicates that the complaint issue is different from the original
  • request the complainant summarise their main concerns to ensure the complaint has been accurately recorded
  • document additional information provided by the complainant
  • organise information using timelines or mind maps when there are multiple concerns or where the situation has evolved over time
  • consider whether a PES report is required using the PES Reporting Guide (staff only).

At all times, the complaint manager must:

  • manage the complainant’s expectations from the outset by explaining what can be done to address their concern and why this is the case
  • consider whether the concerns raised in the complaint have previously been addressed, including whether the complainant is entitled to an internal review of the handling of a previous complaint
  • clearly state what will and will not be considered in the complaint.

If a complainant does not respond to requests for information within a reasonable time, the complaint manager can assess and finalise the complaint with the available information. What is reasonable will depend on the circumstances and will include consideration for illness, accessibility barriers, religious holidays, and cultural obligations such as Sorry Business.

When a complainant identifies themselves but asks that their identity not be provided to the relevant school or service, the complaint is not an anonymous complaint. The complaint manager should:

  • make it clear that, although the department will take reasonable steps to keep the person's details from being disclosed to the school or service, they may be identified through other means
  • explain that their details will be recorded
  • provide information about the complaint handling process and what will happen in response to the complaint.

Refer to:

The complaint manager can decide to:

  • limit the scope of inquiry to exclude concerns that are reasonably assessed to
    • be of low risk
    • be without substance
    • have been considered and finalised previously
    • relate to a situation that occurred more than 12 months ago or could reasonably be considered too long ago to allow meaningful inquiries or opportunity for resolution
  • address complaints made by a group of employees on an individual basis
  • limit the scope of inquiry or finalise a complaint if the complainant indicates that they do not wish to proceed, taking into consideration the nature and seriousness of the concern(s).

Refer to 4.5 Determine the outcome for more information on assessing the available information

The complaint manager must take reasonable steps to ensure cultural and psychological safety in the staff complaint process by:

  • eliminating barriers or biases, either conscious or unconscious, that may prevent an employee from raising concerns or impact the successful resolution of issues
  • being open, focusing on a mutually desirable outcome and normalising complaints as part of the improvement process.

This may be addressed by asking the person, ‘What do you need?’ or ‘What will work for you?’.

Cultural safety exists when there is no challenge or denial of a person’s identity, of who they are, and what they need. It is about the experience of working together and having shared respect, meaning and knowledge.

Psychological safety exists when a person feels safe speaking up and can freely share ideas, suggestions, and concerns respectfully. It is also when a person can encourage others to do the same.

When responding to complaints, the department commits to:

  • being open to families, communities, Kinship groups and Elders being involved in the complaint process, with the written consent of the employee
  • acknowledging and being responsive to the history of dispossession, racism and institutional mistrust, which may be a barrier to Aboriginal people engaging with the department
  • acknowledging and being responsive to the culture and experience of people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities
  • respecting Aboriginal ways of knowing, protocols and communication.

An employee can choose to have either a support person or advocate present at a meeting related to a complaint. The employee is responsible for arranging a support person or advocate. The complaint manager may suggest a support person if the employee has not organised support themselves.

An advocate is authorised to speak and make decisions for the person making the complaint to assist in reaching a resolution. A support person may speak at a meeting but must not speak on behalf of, advocate for, or make decisions for, the complainant.

A suitable support person is someone over 18 years who may be an employee, a family member, a friend, a union representative, or a legal representative who has no special rights or status while in the role of a support person. A person is not suitable as a support person if they are under 18 years, may pose a risk to the safety of others, and/or someone who is unable to commit to maintaining confidentiality.

A complaint manager can decide that an employee's nominated support person is not suitable after considering potential risks, perceived or actual conflicts of interest (for example, direct involvement with the complaint concerns), or other factors that may suggest the nominated support person's involvement would be unreasonable in the circumstances. The complaint manager should explain why the person is not suitable and ask the person to nominate an alternative support person.

Complaint managers and other managers should remind staff involved in the complaint process of the support available via the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and/or their union or professional association.

Refer to Assisting with a staff complaint (staff only) for more information.

The department provides reasonable adjustments to support people to communicate a concern. Adjustments may be required to support people with disability or culturally, linguistically and religiously diverse communities. This may include interpretation and translation services (refer to Interpreting and translations) or a meeting with a complainant to clarify and record the details of the concern.

The department provides reasonable adjustments for employees to ensure that they do not experience disadvantage or barriers when raising or resolving a concern. Complaint managers should ask the person ‘What do you need?’ or ‘What will work for you?'.

Adjustments may include changes to the physical environment, assistive technology and/or employee engagement to ensure that they feel included and understand the complaint process requirements.

Refer to Staff wellbeing (staff only) for more information.

The complaint process can continue if an employee is on leave. However, before contacting a person who is on leave, the complaint manager must consider the circumstances. A complaint manager should:

  • consult with Workplace Health Management if an employee is on workers compensation and seek medical clearance for the employee to participate in the complaint process before contacting the employee
  • check whether the person has indicated that they want to participate in the complaint process while on leave
  • consider the impact of any delay on addressing the concerns and fairness to all involved parties

The department is responsible for addressing concerns that are received anonymously. Anonymous complaints relating to workplace concerns are managed in the same way as any other staff complaint where practicable, noting that a response cannot be provided to the person raising the concern.

The complaint manager:

  • must assess the complaint and report concerns that require specialist handling, including alleged criminal conduct, child protection concerns or potential misconduct by an employee
  • must take reasonable steps to address the concerns and address any underlying issues identified through the complaint process

The complaint manager can decide to address the concerns or finalise an anonymous complaint based on the available information, after considering:

  • the nature and seriousness of the concern
  • the available avenues of inquiry
  • the time that has passed
  • whether further information can reasonably be obtained to adequately understand and address the concern.

A situation where an employee provides their details but requests that their identity is not disclosed to others is not considered to be an anonymous complaint.

4.4 Assess a staff complaint

Complaint managers do not need to gather evidence or investigate complaints for the purpose of making findings or determinations. The complaint manager determines what action, if any, to take to address the concerns identified in the complaint and communicates the outcome to relevant parties.

The complaint manager gathers relevant information in a manner that:

  • is fair and impartial
  • is sufficient to understand the concern
  • maintains confidentiality and only shares information where necessary
  • gives involved employees an opportunity to provide a response.

Steps to consider:

  • identify, analyse and treat any risks
  • determine the scope of any inquiries
  • gather information relevant to the concerns
  • finalise a complaint within 20 business days (business days exclude weekends, public holidays and holiday periods).

While many complaints can be finalised within expected timeframes, some complaints may take longer in consideration of individual circumstances.

The complaint manager:

  • must evaluate the potential risks associated with the complaint, including those related to the individuals involved, and use the available information to determine the possible impact on the complaint process
  • is responsible for effectively managing risks associated with a complaint and maintaining relevant records, considering the nature and seriousness of the concerns.

When to complete a risk assessment:

  • at the initial assessment of a complaint
  • at any stage of the complaint process.

Things to consider:

  • risk of harm to children and young people
  • safety and wellbeing (personal and cultural) for employees, students and other parties
  • a person’s vulnerability and capacity to self-advocate for a fair or good outcome
  • risks to the department, such as reputational, financial or other that include the possibility of the complaint being escalated internally or externally
  • controls currently in place
  • whether a concern should be referred to a specialist area for advice and handling
  • conflicts of interest; perceived or actual.

How to complete a risk assessment:

  • review the available information to inform the assessment
  • ask the complainant and other relevant parties for more information (if required)
  • use the department’s risk matrix to guide the risk assessment
  • create a record of significant risks that are identified and action taken to mitigate them.

Manage or refer risk:

  • confirm any existing controls in place for the duration of the complaint process
  • develop new controls to manage the risk during the complaint process
  • refer risk(s) to a specialist area within the department for advice or management.

Refer to:

After clarifying the issues of concern with the complainant, the complaint manager gathers any further information to determine the most appropriate option(s) for prompt finalisation.

Further information can include:

  • action taken previously to address the concerns, such as details of meetings or alternative dispute resolution
  • firsthand accounts from people about what they saw, heard and/or know (not what others have told them)
  • copies of policies, procedures or processes
  • copies of previous correspondence or other departmental documents such as forms, reports and other records.

The complaint manager decides what information is necessary to inform a decision or outcome (the scope of inquiry) and how information should be gathered, taking into consideration:

  • the nature of the concern
  • the time that has passed since the situation arose
  • the circumstances of the people involved.

The complaint manager can engage an appropriate third party to clarify information, inform a decision, or address aspects of the complaint.

The complaint manager must provide information about the concerns to any person who is being complained about and give them the opportunity to respond and participate in resolving the issues.

The person who is being complained about has the right to know the nature of the concerns. However, they are not entitled to a copy of the complaint or any evidence gathered by the complaint manager, such as accounts from other parties. The complaint manager can provide a written summary of the concerns to inform the person’s response.

The complaint manager decides if information about the concerns will be provided to any other parties, considering their need to know and level of involvement in resolving the issues.

Refer to:

4.5 Determine the outcome

Once the relevant information has been gathered, the complaint manager should decide the complaint’s outcome and the best option(s) for addressing any systemic or underlying issues.

Steps to consider:

  • decide if any decisions that were made in the original handling of the situation were reasonable in the circumstances
  • decide if a policy, procedure, process or system needs to be reviewed and/or amended in light of the concerns raised
  • address any systemic or underlying issues.

Outcomes will depend on:

  • the nature and seriousness of the concerns
  • the time that has passed
  • the strength of the information gathered
  • any reasonable outcome(s) suggested by the parties involved
  • any whole of school or workplace issues, including workplace culture
  • any other systemic issues.

Sometimes the complaint manager may not be able to change what has happened or will decide that the original handling of a situation was reasonable in the circumstances. Whatever the outcome, the complaint manager will give clear reasons and seek to restore relationships between parties where appropriate

Complaints about the application of policy, procedure or process include perceived unfairness in workplace decisions and how work is allocated or managed where there is no applicable appeal or review process.

The complaint manager must consider whether to maintain or change decisions raised in the complaint. These considerations include whether:

  • the decisions were reasonable in the circumstances
  • the decisions were made following policy, procedure or process
  • the decisions were reasonable in the context of all the circumstances when no existing policy, procedure or process was available to guide the original decision maker.

The complaint’s outcome is whether to maintain or change any decisions that were the subject of the complaint.

Complaints about workplace policy, procedure, process or systems include the perceived fairness, efficiency or effectiveness of policy, procedure, process or systems.

The complaint manager must form a view as to whether:

  • the policy, procedure or process itself is reasonable
  • the policy, procedure or process should be reviewed
  • If a review of the policy, procedure, or process is necessary, the policy, procedure, or process owner will determine when and how to consider the information related to the complaint.

The complaint’s outcome is whether to review and/or amend policy, procedure, process or systems.

The complaint manager must also consider the option(s) for addressing any underlying issues relevant to the complaint.

Actions may include:

  • take action to fix the matter or improve the situation
  • apologise
  • provide an explanation
  • acknowledge that the situation could have been handled better or differently
  • hold a facilitated conversation to assist employees to move forward
  • offer other alternative dispute resolution approaches, such as conflict coaching and mediation
  • offer training, coaching or mentoring support to employees
  • seek specialist advice in addressing specific issues, for example, about potential misconduct or underperformance
  • report allegations of misconduct to Professional and Ethical Standards (PES)
  • make an incident report to the Health, Safety and Staff Wellbeing directorate if the information identifies concerns about student or employee health, safety or wellbeing
  • offer support services to employees, such as EAP
  • undertake to review policies, procedures or processes as a result of the complaint or provide relevant information to the owner of the policy, procedure or process so it can be taken into account when it is next reviewed.

Refer to:

4.6 Close the staff complaint

The complaint manager closes the complaint, within 20 business days (business days exclude weekends, public holidays and holiday periods), when:

  • a decision has been made
  • the outcome has been communicated to all relevant parties
  • the information about the complaint and its outcome has been recorded and stored securely in accordance with these procedures
  • a plan is in place for monitoring the progress of any action to be taken as a result of the complaint.

The complaint manager must communicate the outcome to the complainant and other relevant parties involved in the complaint process. The level of information provided:

  • must consider the person’s role in the complaint process and their need to know
  • should be sufficient to demonstrate that the complaint has been addressed fairly and impartially.

While the complainant needs to know the nature of the action taken to address their concerns, they do not receive a copy of reports or other documents relating to the complaint’s management, or direct evidence gathered by the complaint manager, such as accounts from other parties. In many situations, a meeting or a brief email summarising details of the complaint’s outcome is sufficient.

Communication must be accessible, readable and understandable. The complaint manager maintains a record of any verbal advice to a complainant and relevant parties in relation to the outcome.

Things to consider:

  • consult with Workplace Health Management if an employee is on workers compensation or long term sick leave
  • if an employee is on leave, check if they want the outcome advice while on leave
  • inform the workplace manager or specialist area of the department if a policy, procedure or process needs to be reviewed as result of the complaint.

How to communicate the outcome:

  • in person, for example, a meeting
  • by telephone
  • by email
  • in writing
  • in the same way the complaint was received or as a complainant requires to support their understanding of the outcome.

What to include in the communication:

  • the outcome and reason(s) for the decision
  • the action (if any) that is going to be taken, by whom and when
  • a brief summary of what the complaint was about
  • a brief summary of the action taken to obtain and assess information about the complaint
  • the information, policies, procedures and processes that were considered
  • an acknowledgement of the person’s perspective about their experience and the impact of the issues they raised
  • an apology (if appropriate to the circumstances)
  • an acknowledgement of the person’s contribution to addressing and resolving the complaint
  • an invitation to make contact if they want to discuss the decision
  • a contact name and contact details for the decision maker
  • the advice about the internal review option
  • the process of what will happen after the complaint is finalised.

The complaint manager closes the complaint when:

  • a decision has been made
  • the outcome has been communicated to all relevant parties
  • the information about the complaint has been recorded
  • the outcome has been stored securely following these procedures.

Expected timeframes

A complaint should be finalised within 20 business days (business days exclude weekends, public holidays and holiday periods).

Refer to:

4.7 Follow up on required actions

The complaint manager must implement a plan for monitoring the progress of any action taken due to the complaint. The plan can be informal, but it should identify who is responsible for any actions and the timeframes for implementation. The relevant line manager will generally be responsible for monitoring progress.

Considerations

  • Check in with complainant within 20 business days (business days exclude weekends, public holidays and holiday periods) or within a reasonable time of the complaint being finalised to confirm that agreed actions have been progressed and/or completed.
  • Discuss whether any restorative action is required and who should progress this.

At the point of follow up

The manager responsible for monitoring progress makes reasonable inquiries to determine whether the:

  • action taken was as agreed
  • action taken has effectively addressed the concerns.

The manager decides what additional action, if any, should be taken, with consideration of the concerns’ nature and seriousness.

5. Review of a staff complaint process and outcome

5.1 Internal review

Only one internal review will be conducted in relation to the handling of a complaint. This includes a review conducted by an external party directly engaged by the department. This is the final level of review conducted by the department.

An internal review is an assessment of the handling of a complaint. It can be conducted by:

  • a manager not previously involved in managing the complaint
  • the next line manager, or a manager at peer level to the original complaint manager.

A review considers the way the complaint was handled, and whether the complaint’s outcome was reasonable in all the circumstances.

A complainant can request a review of the handling of the complaint within 10 business days if they can give reasons:

  • why the outcome of a complaint was incorrect
  • how the complaint handling process was unfair and how this contributed to an incorrect complaint outcome.

A manager can decide if a review will be undertaken and the scope of any inquiries, taking into account the information provided to support the request for review, the time that has passed and the individual circumstances of the matter.

A request for review must be made in writing to the complaint manager or their supervisor within 10 business days of receiving the complaint outcome, unless there are special circumstances (for example, illness).

The request for review must include:

  • what aspect of the complaint is the subject of the review request
  • what aspect of the outcome is incorrect
  • how the policy, procedure or process was incorrectly applied.

A manager or the reviewer may request that this information is provided before beginning a review.

A reviewer may decide not to conduct or continue the review in the following circumstances:

  • the complainant’s request for review substantively relates to disagreement with the outcome and there is no information to support that the outcome was incorrect or the process was unfair
  • the information is insufficient to proceed and reasonable inquiries were made to obtain that information
  • the situation leading to the complaint occurred more than 12 months before the request for review, or the information provided is outdated or no longer applicable
  • the complainant has not responded to reasonable requests for information, including requests to clarify or summarise information provided
  • the timeframe for review has lapsed with no special circumstances identified
  • a review would involve an unreasonable and substantial diversion of the department’s resources when balanced with the seriousness of the concerns.

The reviewer must consider whether to maintain or change decisions made by the complaint manager.

The review’s outcome is the decision(s) the reviewer made about whether the original complaint’s outcome was reasonable in the circumstances.

The reviewer:

  • declares and manages actual or perceived conflicts of interest
  • confirms the original complaint outcome or decides on a different outcome
  • completes the review or advises the complainant of a decision not to conduct a review within 20 business days after receiving the request where possible
  • communicates the review outcome in writing to relevant parties
  • provides a copy of the review letter to the original complaint manager and addresses any issues about the handling of the complaint
  • provides constructive feedback to the complaint manager about their handling of the complaint
  • suggests any action required to address underlying concerns, including training or counselling. In some circumstances a reminder of the Code of Conduct is required.

Refer to:

How to communicate the outcome:

  • in person, for example, a meeting
  • by telephone
  • by email
  • in writing
  • in the same way the complaint was received or as a complainant requires to support their understanding of the outcome.

What to include in the communication:

  • the outcome and reason(s) for the decision
  • the action (if any) that is going to be taken, by whom and when
  • a brief summary of what the complaint was about
  • a brief summary of the action taken to obtain and assess information about the complaint
  • the information, policies, procedures and processes that were considered
  • an acknowledgement of the person’s perspective about their experience and the impact of the issues they raised
  • an apology (if appropriate to the circumstances)
  • an acknowledgement of the person’s contribution to addressing and resolving the complaint
  • an invitation to make contact if they want to discuss the decision
  • a contact name and contact details for the reviewer
  • the process of what will happen next.

The reviewer closes the review when:

  • a decision has been made
  • the outcome has been communicated to all relevant parties
  • the information about the review and its outcome has been recorded and stored securely in accordance with these procedures.

Expected timeframes:

A review should be finalised within 20 business days (business days exclude weekends, public holidays and holiday periods).

Refer to Reviews (staff only) for more information.

5.2 External review

An employee can:

  • seek independent advice about external review options
  • seek an external review if they are not satisfied with the outcome of an internal review
  • raise their concerns with an external agency at any time.

The action taken by an agency is at the agency’s discretion and there is no automatic right to an external review of the complaint handling process.

Record-keeping requirements

The level of detail in record-keeping will depend on the nature and seriousness of the concerns. The complaint manager decides on the records to be kept, as detailed below.

Complaint managers decide which records to keep in relation to:

  • concerns raised by the complainant
  • key steps taken to manage a complaint
  • information gathered
  • outcome(s) of the complaint
  • steps taken to follow up and monitor outcome actions, including details of any reviews of work processes or systems.

The complaint manager records details of verbal interactions through email, diary/case notes or meeting records.

A person can request an amendment of meeting records, such as minutes, if they can give reasons why the record is inaccurate. The complaint manager can decide to amend the meeting record or to attach a copy of the request but not amend the record.

Managers must implement a secure system for retaining staff complaint records (electronic or paper based).

Staff complaint records must be retained for 7 years and destroyed in compliance with the State Records Act 1998.

Details of certain complaints are held in the department’s Staff Complaints System, including:

  • complaints or reviews managed by Directors Educational Leadership, Executive Directors School Performance and their delegates
  • complaints or feedback made through the department’s online complaint forms
  • complaints or feedback where specialist advice is provided on their management by PES.

Records to be retained in the Staff Complaints System include correspondence relating to the complaint, details of any action taken and the outcome.

Refer to:

Policy contacts

Executive Director, Professional and Ethical Standards
02 7814 3722
PES@det.nsw.edu.au

Director Feedback and Complaints
02 7814 3722
PES@det.nsw.edu.au

The Executive Director, Professional and Ethical Standards monitors the implementation of this procedure, regularly reviews its contents to ensure relevance and accuracy, and updates it as needed.

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