Complaints, Feedback and Compliments
Community Services Directorate has a comprehensive Complaints Handling and Management Platform that sets out how the Directorate responds to Complaints, Feedback and Compliments. It covers all areas of the Directorate – Disability ACT, Housing and Community Services, Child and Youth Protection Services, Therapy ACT and the Offices for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Multicultural Affairs, Women and Ageing as well our Community Programs.
The Directorate welcomes and values complaints and recognises that a strong commitment to responding to and resolving complaints allows clients, stakeholders and employees to contribute to the improvement of the services it delivers. To help us do this, we want and need to hear from people who use our services. We want to hear about any aspect of the services that we provide or the way that we provide them.
We aim to provide a high quality response to complaints regardless of who the complainant is, what the complaint is about or where and how the complaint is made. This includes:
- making sure that clients and service-users know how to contact us to tell us what they think
- listening to what you have to say;
- doing our best to understand your stated concerns or issues;
- investigating those concerns in a fair and impartial manner;
- doing our best to resolve the issue or fix the problem, although this may not always be possible;
- acknowledging any mistakes or errors we may have made;
- providing clear explanations for our decisions, unless limited by law; and
- ensuring that as a client, you are encouraged and supported to make a complaint in a way that is comfortable for you, your family, carer or advocate so that services and supports better meet your needs, expectations and outcomes.
What is a complaint
We define a complaint as an expression of dissatisfaction in relation to a service provided by or on behalf of the Community Services Directorate.
This might be formal such as a written/emailed complaint, or informal such as a discussion with a staff member expressing dissatisfaction with suggestions to improve a service.
We recognise that not every informal complaint requires a written response however if you specifically require a written reply please advise the staff member you are speaking with.
What you can complain about
We want to hear if you think:
- we have made a mistake
- we have treated you badly or unfairly
- we have made a wrong decision
- we can do something better or differently OR if
- we have done something well
Some examples of complaints:
- unreasonable delays; failing to follow up or to do something that was promised;
- staff acting unprofessionally when providing a service such as rudeness; inappropriate behaviour;
- poor communication; inadequate or incorrect advice or information, access to information;
- not applying policy or procedures correctly or fairly including decisions about access to services;
- no opportunity to appeal against or have a review of a decision;
- decisions or actions are unreasonable or discriminatory.
Who else will know about my complaint?
Your complaint will be dealt with in a confidential manner and will only be discussed with the people directly involved in managing and responding to the complaint. As part of an investigation into a complaint, allegations may be discussed with the relevant staff where appropriate in line with natural justice principles.
Making a Complaint
On the following pages and links you will find information on how to send us complaints, feedback or compliments so that the information gets to the right person as well as information on how complaints are managed in the Directorate.
We encourage you to try and address your complaint informally which can sometimes be a better and quicker way of addressing the issues. Your complaint is still taken seriously, but if you feel that you would prefer a formal response please let us know.
We also encourage you tell us about a problem as soon as possible. The earlier you tell us, the faster we can act to resolve it. Wherever possible give us as much information as possible to help us resolve the problem.
You may make a complaint anonymously if you prefer. You will not however receive a response and if you do not provide enough information, we may not act on, or be able to resolve your complaint or concerns.
Complaints about providers or services provided on behalf of the Directorate
The Directorate funds a number of organisations to provide services on its behalf. Generally complaints should be referred to the Service Provider in line with their complaints management processes in the first instance. If you are unhappy with their response you can discuss the issue with the relevant area of the Directorate or refer your complaint to the appropriate external oversight agency.
Where to lodge a complaint, provide feedback and compliments
You can lodge a complaint by mail, email, phone or face to face to:
- the person that you have been dealing with;
- the Complaint Unit from the relevant area of the Directorate
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs
- Community Participation Group including Office for Women, Office of Veterans and Seniors Affairs and Multicultural Affairs
- Disability ACT
- Housing and Community Services Child and Youth Protection Services
- Therapy ACT
- Regulation Oversight and Quality Service; or
- the Directorate’s main contact point:
Address: GPO Box 158 Canberra ACT 2601
General Enquires: 133 427
Fax: (02) 6207 1552
We recommend you follow the steps outlined below as soon as possible if you have a complaint.
Speak to the person who made the decision or provided the service that you are dissatisfied with to give them an opportunity to resolve it for you in a timely way.
If your complaint is complex, serious, or involves decisions by the Business Area that the staff member is not responsible for, they may ask you to contact the complaints area or to set out your complaint in writing.
Please note: Complaints about staff conduct cannot be addressed by frontline staff and will be referred on to a more senior officer. It would be best to raise your complaint or concern with the relevant area’s Complaint Unit.
If you are not satisfied with the response, talk to the manager of that area – you can ask the staff member to put you through on the phone; or, ask for the name and contact number of their manager; or, ask the staff member to arrange for the manager to contact you.
Step 3:If your complaint is still not resolved, contact the Complaints Unit in the area that you are dealing with. This link provides contact information for Disability ACT, Housing and Community Services, the Child and Youth Protection Services and other areas of the Directorate as well as a general contact number for the Directorate.
Use our Online Client Feedback Form
This link allows to you to submit your complaint on-line to the Directorate and it will be forwarded to the relevant area for attention.
Step 4:If your complaint remains unresolved you can contact the Regulation Oversight and Quality Service the Directorate’s independent complaint management service for all areas of the Directorate. The Regulation Oversight and Quality Service will liaise with the relevant area and determine what further action can be taken. See also Internal Review.
If you are still dissatisfied with our response you can refer your complaint to an external oversight such as the ACT Ombudsman, Human Rights Commission, Privacy Commissioner, ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Feedback - I don’t want to complain BUT
Do you want to provide us with feedback about a concern or just something you think we can do better but don’t want to make a formal complaint? You can use any of the above methods and, you can provide information anonymously. We aim to use all feedback to continuously improve our services so appreciate all comments.
We are always happy to receive compliments about our services and our staff. You can follow the same processes as outlined above to give us a compliment. Any compliments related to individual staff and staff teams are forwarded to them appropriately and recognised – so thank you.
Responding to Your Complaint
What you can expect from us when you make a complaint
All areas of the Directorate respond to complaints in line with the Directorate’s Complaint Handling and Management Platform.
The Platform sets out the requirement that complaints are acknowledged within 2 days of being received by the relevant area and that complaints requiring a response are replied to within 30 days.
The Platform also sets out the requirement that in managing complaints, staff:
- seek appropriate confirmation if someone complains on your behalf;
- investigate complaints in a timely manner and in line with the principles of natural justice;
- acknowledge any mistakes or errors that may have been made;
- ensure that all decisions, including those occasions where you may not lawfully be entitled to certain information, are explained clearly and simply.
We expect our staff to:
- receive all complaints respectfully;
- listen to what you have to say and do their best to understand your concerns or issues;
- attempt to resolve the matter immediately if possible;
- do their best to resolve the issue or fix the problem, although this may not always be possible;
- respect your privacy and the confidentiality of your information;
- keep you informed if the complaint is taking longer than expected to review;
- let you know the outcome of your complaint and respond in writing where appropriate.
What we expect from you when you make a complaint
- speak to our staff respectfully;
- give the person you have spoken to an opportunity to either resolve or pass your complaint to the relevant person;
- If possible, tell us what you want to happen as a result of your complaint;
- provide as much information about the complaint as possible;
- let us know of any special needs you may have or if you need extra help in understanding or accessing our complaints service.
When can I expect a response
- Complaints made by phone or face to face will be acknowledged at the time.
- for complaints submitted via email or in a letter, an acknowledgment will be sent within 2 working days of receipt by the relevant area.
- Where an issue has been raised directly with a front line staff member by phone or in person and can be resolved quickly, staff will endeavour to do so. If an issue can not be resolved immediately, it should be resolved within 7 days where possible.
- The standard response time for written complaints requiring an investigation is 30 calendar days.
Internal Complaint Review
Following Receipt of a Formal Response
If you are dissatisfied with the response you have been provided, you should speak with the relevant business area’s Complaints Unit in the first instance, and request that the matter be reviewed. Depending on your complaint, it may be reviewed by the Complaints Unit, referred to a more senior person within the Business area for consideration, or referred to the Directorate’s independent Regulation Oversight and Quality Service. You may also be provided with information in relation to external oversight agencies such as the Human Rights Commission or the Ombudsman. Some decisions may be subject to specific review processes.
Unresolved complaints in relation to tenancy or occupancy agreements under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, may be addressed through the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT). Querries should be directed to the Housing and Community Services Complaints Unit in the first instance.
Alternately you can contact the Directorate’s Regulation Oversight and Quality Service to assist. The Regulation Oversight and Quality Service is part of the Service Strategy and Community Building within the Community Services Directorate.
The Regulation Oversight and Quality Service provides a complaints resolution service relating to complex or persisting complaints, and an internal complaint review function. The staff of the Regulation Oversight and Quality Service will listen to your concerns and seek to address the matters raised. This may include consultation with the relevant area and escalating your complaint to a more senior officer or seeking further clarification. In some instances we may undertake an investigation for complex complaints or an internal review of the management of a complaint.
For more information see CSD Internal Review Process.
Regulation Oversight and Quality Service staff can be contacted via:
Phone: 6205 0473
Fax: 6207 2048
External Oversight Agencies
We recognise that people who use our services, their families/guardians are free to make complaints directly to external oversight agencies such as the ACT Ombudsman or ‘Human Rights Commission’ and we support their right to do so.
If you believe a formal decision made by the Directorate is not correct you can ask for this decision to be reviewed by the relevant ACT External Oversight Agency.
It is preferable that you try to resolve your complaint directly with the relevant area in the first instance and give them an opportunity to resolve your concerns; and if appropriate the Directorate’s Quality and Compliance Unit before raising concerns with any of the External Oversight Agencies. However you have the right to seek their assistance at any time.
Other People Who May Be Able to Help You with Making a Complaint
ACT Disability Aged and Carer Advocacy Service (ADACAS)
Telephone 02 6242 5060
ACT Deafness Resource Centre
Telephone 02 6287 4393
Canberra Blind Society
Telephone 02 6247 4580
National Relay Service (NRS) for hearing or speech impaired complainants
Teletypewriter (TTY) Telephone users dial133 677 and ask for 13 2281
Speak and listen users phone 1300 555 727
Internet relay users connect to the NRS
CSD’s Regulation Oversight and Quality Service
The service can also assist for other special needs complainants*
Telephone 6205 0473