Complaints about Catholic and independent schools: introduction

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Whatever school your child is in, you have the right to raise a concern or make a complaint, and to get help to do so.

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All schools and education providers must comply with the Disability Standards for Education and all relevant laws, including equal opportunity laws. All schools are required to have a complaints handling policy.

If you are considering raising a concern or complaint about your child’s school, it’s a good idea to read the school’s policy first. Schools often publish these on their website, in family information booklets, or you can ask the school office. If you follow the school’s policy and procedures in raising a concern or complaint, this will increase your chance of success; it will also help if you need to take your complaint to the next level.

You always have the right to seek support to raise a concern with your child’s school, for example from an advocacy organisation like ACD.

A number of complaints mechanisms are available to students, parents and carers in Catholic and independent schools, within the Catholic and independent schools systems, and through external bodies.

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If you are concerned about your child’s safety

Every child has the right to be safe at school. If you are ever 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, rather than the usual complaints processes.

You do not have to go to the school first, or inform them that you are contacting police. Schools have a special duty of care to their students. If you have any concerns about the safety of your child, or any child at school, please do not hesitate to contact the police. The same applies if you are concerned about any potential criminal matter at school.

  • 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”.
  • Read more about your child’s rights and safety at school.

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Minimum standards and complaints across the three school sectors

As publicly funded institutions, all Victorian schools are accountable to government authorities. To operate, all Victorian schools must be registered with the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA), the peak statutory body responsible for accreditation, registration and certification in Victorian schools. The VRQA sets minimum standards that schools must meet, in order to operate. One of these requirements is that the school must have a proper policy and procedures for complaints handling.

The VRQA also acts as the ‘review body’ for complaints about independent schools, as outlined below. However, the VRQA has a formal agreement with DET and the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria (CECV) that they will act as the ‘review bodies’ for complaints about government and Catholic schools respectively.

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