Addressing parents’
concerns and complaints
effectively: policy and guides
•The Policy
•Advice for Schools
•The Guides and Other Resources
• Community expectations that all public sector agencies,
including all levels of the Department of Education and
Early Childhood Development, have visible, accessible
and effective complaints handling procedures.
• A draft report, prepared by Ombudsman Victoria, identified
areas where the Department did not meet, or partially met
essential elements of the Australian Standards for
Complaints Handling.
Addressing parents’ concerns and
complaints effectively: policy and guides
• Section A:
About the Policy and Guides
• Section B:
Concerns and Complaints Policy
• Section C:
Advice for Schools when Developing
Concerns and Complaints Policy and
• Section D:
The Policy
Section A: About the Policy and Guides
For the Department to confidently address parent concerns and complaints
promptly, consistently and fairly.
About parents’ concerns and complaints
Generally parent concerns and complaints are school based and relate to their
child’s progress or to a particular incident.
This policy is to be used specifically for parent concerns and complaints and
does not replace procedures for serious misconduct or unsatisfactory
Policy framework
Parent concerns and complaints are addressed within the legislative and
regulatory framework, the Department's Dignity and Respect Statement and the
codes of conduct for Victorian teachers and public sector employees.
The Policy (continued)
Section B: Concerns and complaints policy
All schools will have a policy and procedures to address
parent concerns and complaints.
All parties will:
• act in good faith and in a calm and courteous manner,
maintaining confidentiality
• work towards a mutually acceptable outcome
• recognise the rights and responsibilities of all involved.
The Policy (continued)
Section B: Concerns and complaints policy
Anonymous complaints
The Department requires all complaints to be investigated to establish
whether the complaint has substance.
Unreasonable complaint conduct
Behavior that is significantly outside the expectations of confidentiality,
cooperation, courtesy and respect, is vexatious or orientated towards
conflict is considered to be unreasonable conduct.
Unreasonable complainant conduct should be managed by developing
a plan to address the complaint and the complainant’s interaction with
the school or regional office. The complainant should be notified of the
plan and all officers involved in the process should adhere to the plan.
The Policy (continued)
Section B: Concerns and complaints policy
Information about how to make a complaint should be readily available to the
school community. It should be provided in a variety of formats that are
accessible to everyone, so that no one is disadvantaged.
A system to record and monitor complaints and their resolution should be
Information should be included in reporting procedures to school council that
give an indication of the complaints received by the school.
The school council should review its parents’ complaints policy and
procedures as part of its cyclic review schedule.
Advice for School
Section C: Advice for schools when developing concerns
and complaints policy and procedures
The Department requires all schools to develop and implement a
policy and procedures to effectively address parents’ concerns and
Development of policy and procedures should be completed in
consultation with the school community.
Section C provides a policy outline which includes suggested text
under a number of headings.
When developing policy and procedures schools can access an
electronic template which mirrors the advice provided in Section C.
Guides and Other Resources
Section D: Guides
This section contains fourteen guides that provide practical advice about issues
to be considered when addressing parents’ concerns and complaints
The Guide includes:
Building positive relationships
Moving beyond stalemate
Dealing with a complaint
Encouraging fair play in negotiations
Improving your listening skills
Managing aggressive reactions
Saying ‘yes’ and ‘no’ with confidence
Being calm in a high-stress situation
Understanding the blame cycle
Responding to strong emotions
Managing a request for an apology
Managing confrontation
Managing your anger
Managing unreasonable complainant conduct
The Guides and Other Resources
Other Resources
Department website:
Resources available on the website include:
A brochure providing information for parents about how to raise a concern or
make a complaint. The brochure is translated into twenty-five community
A template for developing school policy
A complaint lodgment form – available in word and PDF versions
A poster for use on parent information boards
Ombudsman Victoria website:
Resources available on the website include:
Information about complaint handing workshops
A complaint handling guide for the Victorian Public Sector and advice on
dealing with unreasonable complainants.
Addressing parents’ concerns and
complaints effectively: policy and guides
For more information contact:
Community and Stakeholder Relations Branch
Group Coordination Division
on 9637 2442
[email protected]

Addressing parents' concerns and complaints effectively