A guide to the complaints process

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You have the right to raise a concern or a complaint about your child’s education. This section explains the official complaints process. You can get support to make a complaint.

On this page:

In this section and elsewhere

This section outlines how the complaints process for Victoria schools should work. It includes detailed information on government school processes, and an outline of processes in the Catholic and independent school systems.

Much of the information in this section is relevant across all sectors, and of course, all Victorian schools are bound by the Disability Standards for Education and relevant state and Commonwealth laws.

To learn more about your child’s rights and how to raise a concern effectively, also see:

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If you are concerned about your child’s safety

All schools have a special duty of care to their students. All children and young people have the right to be safe at school. If you are concerned that your child is at risk of, or is being subjected to, any form of violence or abuse at school, this is a matter for the police.

  • In an emergency you should always telephone 000. Or you can contact your regional Victoria Police SOCA (Sexual Offences and Child Abuse) Unit. Find contacts at police.vic.gov.au – search under “SOCA unit”.
  • Find out more about safety and your child’s rights.

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Understanding school complaints processes

It’s important to understand and follow the proper complaints processes for your child’s school. This gives you the best chance of success, and helps you, if you need to take your complaint further. These pages are most relevant to government schools, although the page on core principles is broadly relevant to all schools.

Complaints should be resolved, wherever possible, with those most directly involved. But if you raise a complaint and are not satisfied with the first response you get, you have the right to take it further.

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Catholic and independent school complaints processes

Catholic and independent schools are bound by the Disability Standards for Education and all relevant laws, and as publicly-funded institutions, they must also have proper policies for complaints handling. Processes vary, but there are several avenues open to parents and carers who wish to raise a concern or complaint.

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Taking your complaint further – all schools and training providers

If you have been unable to resolve your complaint through complaints processes described in the pages above, you might be able to use an external complaints mechanism, such as a human rights body or the Ombudsman. You are always entitled to approach an external complaints body to ask for advice or make a complaint. However, depending on the nature of your complaint, they might ask you to use the school complaint system first, before they intervene.

You are also entitled to seek legal advice and representation. Bear in mind that if you do this in relation to a government school, the DET complaints policy will no longer apply, and your complaint will be referred to lawyers representing DET.

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Good practice in complaints handling

The Victorian Ombudsman is a statutory body that can be very helpful in resolving issues that Victorian people have with government-funded agencies, including government, Catholic and independent schools. We discuss the Ombudsman’s role in the page on External complaints mechanisms.

The Ombudsman has produced a guide for all Victorian public sector agencies to help them handle complaints well, and in accordance with the Victorian Human Rights and Responsibilities Charter. This guide can be used by schools to evaluate their existing complaint handling system, or as an aid to establish a new system.

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Raising a concern or complaint effectively

How you go about raising your concern or complaint can have a big impact on the school’s response, and the eventual outcome. It is important that everybody involved is respectful of each other, and of the proper process. We summarise successful strategies and tips from our parent support staff and families in Raising a concern with school.

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