Complaints of racism
Anti-racism contact officers
Each school has a trained Anti-Racism Contact Officer (ARCO) to facilitate the complaints handling process and promote anti-racism education in the school.
Anti-racism education – advice for schools implementation document outlines the three major aspects of the ARCO role; complaints support role, educational role, and monitoring role.
Members of the school community can make a complaint about racism, including students, parents, staff members and members of the school’s wider community. Complaints of racism within the school community should be directed to the school’s Anti-Racism Contact Officer (ARCO).
The ARCO is the central point of contact for complaints of racism. They record complaints and resolution methods, and maintain all data in line with the policy guidelines.
The following complaints process has been summarised from the Anti-racism education – advice for schools implementation document:
- The ARCO liaises with the complainant to ascertain the most appropriate complaints resolution procedure.This depends on the seriousness of the complaint or if complainant is fearful of, or intimidated by the respondent.
- If an informal resolution isn’t possible, the ARCO advises the complainant of their rights and refers the matter to the complaints manager. The complaints manager is nominated by the principal and is often an executive member of staff or the principal themselves. In line with the guidelines, they can request the ARCO’s assistance.
- The complaints manager is responsible for complaints requiring a formal resolution and they lead any investigation or negotiation.
- The complaints manager makes the final decision on whether a negotiated settlement is possible. The complaints manager informs the complainant, the respondent, the ARCO and the school principal of each outcome.
Nomination and training
The principal nominates the ARCO for their school and ensures they undertake training. The ARCO is a teacher who:
- has good communication and mediation skills
- is trusted by parents, teachers and students
- does not have an advocacy role in the school
- is willing to further develop their understanding of racism
- is a full-time experienced member of staff.
In larger schools, the principal may nominate several teachers as ARCOs.
Training is delivered by experienced ARCOs who are trained as ARCO Tutors. Courses are regularly advertised in SchoolBiz and can be accessed at: https://myplsso.education.nsw.gov.au/q/RG00129
The ARCO training course is a blended online training delivered through NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) registered training. It examines:
- the nature, extent and effects of racism in the school context
- the ARCO role - legislative background, NSW Department of Education policies and procedures, and ARCO role and responsibilities
- the complaints handling procedures - ARCO and complaint manager roles and responsibilities when dealing with complaints of racism
- listening and questioning skills for supporting complainants.
Promoting the complaints procedure
Members of the school community should be familiar with the Complaints Handling Policy. Principals can ensure this by including this information in the school newsletter and distributing translated documents on the role of an ARCO to parents. See anti-racism education resources for professional learning resources and promotional material.