Think of it as constructive criticism and other useful tips for handling complaints


​Even the best of services may receive a complaint about their operational or teaching and learning practices.

How do I know it’s a complaint?

Complaints can come in various shapes and forms and are sometimes not easily identifiable.

People may make comments, give feedback or share concerns instead of telling you they are making a complaint.

You can receive a complaint:

  • in writing such as on a complaint or survey form, or in an email or letter
  • in person such as when talking to an educator
  • indirectly via a third person such as a friend or relative
  • on social media such as a comment or post on a blog or Facebook
  • via the head office, management company or other administrative area
  • on a family’s exit survey
  • from another person or organisation such as the Regulatory Authority, a government organisation or local council on behalf of the complainant.

Some complaints are serious and you will need to notify the Regulatory Authority within a specific timeframe.

Nominate someone who will take complaints

Every service must have someone on the premises to whom people can make a complaint. Services need to display this person’s name and telephone number where families can see it.

A positive attitude towards the person who complained will show staff, families and the community that you are taking the issue seriously and willing to investigate promptly, fairly and thoroughly.

By thinking of negative feedback as constructive criticism and having an effective complaints management process you can:

  • fix minor issues before they become more serious
  • improve the quality of service delivery
  • find out the needs and wants of families and children
  • build positive relationships with children, their families and the community
  • avoid unnecessary follow-up to the Regulatory Authority.

The impact a complaint—big or small—has on your service is largely determined by how it is managed.

Handle feedback badly and you risk parents withdrawing their child. They may even encourage others to do the same.

Six steps to positively manage a complaint

  1. Acknowledge the complaint quickly.
  2. Assess the complaint, identify whether to notify the Regulatory Authority and give it priority.
  3. Plan whether you need to collect evidence and what you need and investigate the complaint.
  4. Respond to the complainant, explaining what was found and what was done.
  5. Follow up any concerns or give feedback to the person who complained.
  6. Reflect on areas for improvement.

Related information

Learn more about having effective systems for managing a service, including handling complaints and using self-assessment to improve service quality in the guide for effective complaints management.

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Last updated 21 January 2020