Schools - guide for parents, carers and students

We welcome the opportunity to receive feedback and improve our services. We are committed to resolving complaints promptly and at the first point of contact, wherever possible. 

We are committed to making ourselves and our systems accessible. We will support people that may need assistance to make a complaint. All complaints will be handled fairly, objectively and promptly.

We encourage you to contact the school to talk about your concerns, as most problems can be solved by talking to the school office staff, your child's teacher or the school principal. They know your child and are best placed to help you. Also, it's best if you let them know about your concerns as early as possible.

What can a complaint be about?

You can make a complaint about:

  • any aspect of the services we provide  
  • the behaviour or decisions of staff
  • practices, policies or procedures.

What can you expect when you make a complaint?

You will be treated fairly and respectfully. Your complaint will be treated with objectivity and fairness.

How do I make a complaint?

It is best to discuss your concerns with your child's teacher first. Make an appropriate time to meet with them or phone the school and ask for an appointment with the teacher.

Complaints do not need to be in writing. For some matters it may be appropriate to talk to a more senior person. If you aren't sure who to complain to, we will provide you with the correct contact details.

If you need assistance with English, please call the Telephone Interpreter Service on 131 450. Tell the operator what language you need and the phone number of the person you want to contact. The operator will call that number and get an interpreter on the line to assist you. This service is free of charge.

You may bring a friend or relative to be your support at meetings. If you need an interpreter, we will arrange that – just ask beforehand.

If your complaint cannot be resolved straightaway, we may ask you to put the complaint in writing. It is important that you include specific details and tell us what you would like to happen as a result of the complaint. We can help you to put your complaint in writing, if required.

Can I make an anonymous complaint?

Yes, you can make your complaint anonymously. However, it may be difficult to resolve an anonymous complaint if you do not provide your contact details and further information is required.

Who will handle my complaint and how do I contact them?

You will be told who will handle your complaint and how to contact them. If a complaint concerns a risk to health or safety, security, corrupt conduct, criminal conduct, or child protection it will be managed appropriately.

Will my complaint be kept confidential?

The person who is dealing with your complaint will advise you if confidentiality applies to your complaint. Confidentiality cannot be guaranteed. If your complaint is about another person, they have a right to know that the complaint has been made about them and be given a chance to respond.

How long will it take for my complaint to be dealt with?

It will depend on what your complaint is about. In circumstances where a complaint requires specialist handling or an investigation, we will acknowledge the complaint and inform you about who will be dealing with the matter and how to contact that person. If it is likely to take longer than 20 working days, you will be kept informed about progress on a regular basis until the matter is resolved.

If you have not heard from the person who is handling the complaint within a reasonable time, call them to ask what is happening.

Will I be told what is happening at the end of my complaint?

In almost all cases, we will tell you what we found, any action we are taking and the reasons for our decisions. In some matters there may be privacy legislation that prevents us from providing you with another person's personal information.

What about my privacy?

In accordance with the relevant legislation, complainants' personal information will not be disclosed to any third party without their consent, except where required or authorised by law. Advice about privacy is available at [give ref].

What are the possible results of my complaint?

If the complaint is upheld, you may be offered one or more of the following:

  • Action to fix the matter or improve the situation
  • An apology
  • An explanation
  • An admission that the situation could have been handled better or differently
  • An undertaking to review The Department's policies in light of the complaint.

If the complaint is not upheld you also will be given clear reasons.

What if I am not happy with the result?

If you are not happy with the way in which your complaint was handled or you have further information, you may ask for a review of your complaint by contacting the Principal or Director Public Schools or the manager of the section of the Department that handled your complaint.

What if I am still not happy after I have requested a review?

If you feel that you have not been treated fairly or that the result is still unreasonable, you may wish to seek a review from an independent organisation.

Organisation Name Phone Number Web Address
NSW Ombudsman 02 9286 1000 www.ombo.nsw.gov.au

Australian Human Rights

02 9284 9600

www.humanrights.gov.au  

What does the Department expect of complainants?

The Department expects complainants to be respectful and reasonable in their dealings with the Department and to assist the complaint handler to deal with the complaint.

What does the Department do if complainants do not behave reasonably?

Where complainant conduct becomes unreasonable and obstructs the proper management of a complaint, a senior officer from the Department may decide to restrict or terminate contact with a complainant.

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