The purpose of the Complaints and Notifications Framework is to guide the management of complaints and notifications, consistent with the Complaints and Notifications Policy.
Complaints and notifications are best managed locally, wherever possible. A person making a complaint should contact their School as their first point of reference.
The Framework is intended to:
- describe the process to manage and resolve complaints and notifications;
- where appropriate, identify any aspect of service delivery which requires review or change to effect improvement; and
- prioritise student support, safety and wellbeing.
1.2 Processes for managing complaints and notifications
Receipt of a Complaint or Notification
People making a complaint or notification are encouraged, in the first instance, to contact their School to discuss their complaint. Additionally, complaints and notifications can be received by the Department of Education, at:
- The School; or
- The Education Regional Office or Residential College; or
- The Central Services business area; or
- The Standards and Integrity Directorate.
At all stages of the process, records should be kept in accordance with the Records Management Policy and Procedures.
A complaint or notification can be made verbally (e.g. in person or by phone) or in written form (e.g. email, mail or through the Online complaints form for parents and members of the public, or the Online notification form for staff - staff only).
People making a complaint or notification may have a support person present when making a complaint and / or throughout the management process. Refer to Understand the role of a support person (staff only) for additional information.
People making complaints or notifications can remain anonymous if they wish to, however this may impact the ability to appropriately resolve the complaint.
Reporting a Complaint or Notification to External Agencies
People making complaints or notifications can elect to report the matter to another relevant agency at any time. Suggested relevant agencies include:
- The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency;
- The Australian Human Rights Commission;
- The Commissioner for Children and Young People WA;
- The Corruption and Crime Commission;
- The Equal Opportunity Commission;
- The Information Commissioner;
- The Ombudsman of Western Australia;
- The Public Sector Commission;
- The Teacher Registration Board;
- The WA Police Force; and
Manage the Risk and Categorise the Complaint or Notification
The complaint or notification must be reviewed for risk factors, such as:
- Health and safety;
- Education delivery;
- Cultural safety; and
- Fraud and corruption.
Determine whether the matter relates to staff conduct and whether the complaint is not managed under the Complaints and Notifications Policy. Refer to Manage complaints and notifications (staff only) for further information. If the complaint or notification reflects a risk to student safety and wellbeing, exercise professional judgement in reporting the matter to the Standards and Integrity Directorate. You can seek the Directorate’s guidance in relation to risk management strategies at any time. If the complaint or notification includes allegations of staff conduct, report the complaint or notification to the Standards and Integrity Directorate.
Communicate with the Person Making the Complaint or Notification
The complaint or notification should be acknowledged to the person making the complaint or notification within two working days, where possible. Refer to Acknowledge the complaint or notification (staff only) for further information and a template response for acknowledging complaints and notifications.
Locally managed complaints or notifications should be completed and resolved within a reasonable timeframe after receipt and assessment. Ensure regular communication occurs with the person making the complaint or notification.
Mandatory Reporting Obligations
If a complaint or notification involves allegation(s) subject to Mandatory Reporting under section 124 of the Children and Community Services Act 2004 (WA), the receiving officer is to ensure compliance with the relevant requirements set out and the mandatory reporting obligations outlined in the Child Protection in Department of Education Sites Policy and the corresponding procedures.
Public Interest Disclosures
Complaints and notifications reported under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2003 (WA) should be managed with the utmost confidentiality and not disclosed or made available to any person not involved in the management or resolution of the complaint or notification. These matters must be reported to the Standards and Integrity Directorate. Failure to comply with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2003 (WA) confidentiality requirements may result in prosecution and / or penalty.
The Department has an obligation to notify and report specific allegations to the Teacher Registration Board, the Public Sector Commission, Corruption and Crime Commission and the WA Police Force. Refer to the Complaints and notifications categorisation schedule for guidance on identifying which matters require reporting to the Standards and Integrity Directorate. Other than mandatory reporting obligations under section 124 of the Children and Community Services Act 2004 (WA), Standards and Integrity will make these notifications to the relevant agency.
Engage Specialists Support
Consideration should be given to engaging with Statewide Services for matters involving students with a disability, students with special needs or behaviour and wellbeing support.
Assessing Complaints and Notifications
Complaints and notifications will be assessed by the relevant receiving area in accordance with the following steps:
- They will be categorised using the Complaints and notifications categorisation schedule as either:
- Conduct related;
- General; or
- Out of scope (e.g. grievances, underperformance matters or student behaviour).
- Complaints and notifications will be managed by a School in the first instance, an Education Regional Office or Residential College, business area or the Standards and Integrity Directorate.
- If matters deemed out of scope of the Complaints and Notifications Policy are within the scope of another Department policy or procedure, that policy or procedure should be followed.
- The managing area will take action to provide an outcome for the complaint or notification. The Standards and Integrity Directorate will provide guidance and assistance to Schools, Education Regional Offices or Residential Colleges and business areas at any stage in the process.
- Complaints made by students or involving students must be managed with support for the student and with a focus on ensuring student safety and wellbeing. Wherever possible complaint management should include student participation ensuring students are informed of their rights and empowered to participate in decisions affecting them.
- Procedural fairness must be provided during the management of the complaint or notification;
- The person managing the complaint or notification should do so impartially, fairly and without prejudice or bias; and
- In the event that an allegation relates to staff conduct, the person managing the complaint or notification should ensure the reported staff member is afforded reasonable opportunity to respond to the allegation(s) and provide their account.
- Manage complaints and notifications (staff only) has been developed to assist Schools, Education Regional Offices and the Standards and Integrity Directorate when managing complaints and notifications.
- The report outlining the outcomes and actions taken to resolve the complaint or notification should be recorded consistent with the Department’s record keeping requirements.
Complaint or Notification Resolution
The resolution should be communicated, where possible, to the person making the complaint or notification verbally or in writing. Email correspondence is acceptable and encouraged.
If the person making a complaint or notification does not understand or is not satisfied with the resolution, the managing area will make every effort to assist the person in gaining an improved understanding of the management process.
Parent Liaison Office
If the managing area requires Parent Liaison Office support, contact the Parent Liaison Office. Refer to Parent Liaison Office (staff only) for further information about engaging the Parent Liaison Office.
The person making the complaint or notification may request for internal review of the management of their complaint or notification. Note, only one internal review will be conducted unless additional information, not already considered, is provided or exceptional circumstances exist. Refer to Review the resolution process (staff only) for further information and a template response to a request for a review.
1.3 Related Documents
Relevant legislation or authority
Children and Community Services Act 2004 (WA)
Corruption, Crime and Misconduct Act 2003 (WA)
Disability Services Act 1993 (WA)
Disability Standards for Education 2005 (Cth)
Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (WA)
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986 (Cth)
Public Interest Disclosure Act 2003 (WA)
Public Sector Management Act 1994 (WA)
Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth)
School Education Act 1999 (WA)
School Education Regulations 2000 (WA)
School Education (Student Residential Colleges) Regulations 2017 (WA)
Working with Children (Criminal Record Checking) Act 2004 (WA)
Working with Children (Criminal Recording Checking) Regulations 2005 (WA)
Related Department policies
Child Protection in Department of Education Sites
Working with Children Checks in Department of Education Sites
Aboriginal Cultural Standards Framework
National Principles for Child Safe Organisations (2019) (Cth)