We are reviewing our Complaints Policy and we want to hear from you.

What is the Complaints Policy?

It explains how we handle complaints, and a customer’s right to make a complaint.

Why are we reviewing the policy?

We want a positive culture around complaints. Reviewing our policy helps us:

  • find ways to improve our services
  • prevent future complaints.

Key points of the policy

The draft Complaints Policy has been based on the Victorian Ombudsman’s Guide Councils and Complaints: A Good Practice Guide 2nd Edition. The updated policy includes the following changes:

Policy exclusions

2.3 This policy excludes complaints governed by relevant legislation or acts subject to statutory review that are dealt with through separate mechanisms. The following list provides examples but is not exhaustive, and complaints falling under these must be handled according to their respective requirements:

  • Building Act 1993
  • Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992
  • Health Records Act 2001
  • Infringements Act 2006
  • Local Government Act 2020
  • Planning and Environment Act 1987
  • Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014
  • Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008
  • The Australian Standard on Fraud and Corruption Control (AS 8001:2021)
  • The Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005
  • The Public Interest Disclosures Act 2012

2.4 This policy does not cover complaints against Councillors or the Chief Executive Officer.

2.5 This policy does not cover internal staff grievances, internal allegations of staff or contractor misconduct.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • All staff

    Are responsible for:

    • complying with this policy
    • receiving, acknowledging, and assessing complaints and, where possible, resolving at the point of contact within the scope of their role
    • escalating complaints that cannot be resolved at the first point of contact to the appropriate officer for investigation and handling.
  • Actioning Officers

    Are responsible for:

    • carrying out investigations and handling complaints assigned for actioning
    • ensuring complaint recovery action is accurately recorded in centralised systems
    • ensuring customer receives adequate communication about the complaint
    • escalating complaints to their direct supervisor when the complainant is unsatisfied with the outcome of the initial investigation and response.
  • Councillors

    Are responsible for:

    • encouraging residents to lodge their complaint directly with Council for it to be actioned accordingly under this policy.
    • forwarding a complaint for it to be actioned as outlined in this policy.

    A Councillor cannot direct or influence the complaint handling process and the complaint will be investigated as outlined in this policy.

Complaint Stages

This is the 4 tier approach to complaints handling. It outlines the steps we will take to respond to a complaint and options for escalation.

TierComplaint typeExplanationActioning officer
1StandardStandard complaints relate to the quality, delay or failure to deliver a service. The actioning officer can provide quick and mutually acceptable solutions to address any grievances raised at the first point of contact.Any customer facing officer can receive and resolve a complaint.
2ComplexComplex complaints are grievances that cannot be resolved at the first point of contact and require investigation. A Council officer will conduct an investigation, gathering additional information to make an informed decision. You will be kept informed throughout the process, and we will provide you with a written explanation of the Council’s decision at the end of the investigation.The Complaints Resolution Officer will work with relevant staff and Senior Council Officers to resolve the issue.
3EscalatedIf the customer is dissatisfied with Council’s response to their complex complaint, they will be offered the option to request an internal review, which is Tier 3 of our process. A senior officer will conduct an independent assessment to determine if the complaint should have been handled differently, and this could result in either upholding or overturning the original decision.A senior officer who was not involved in the investigation or services at tier 1 or tier 2 of the complaints handling process.
4External reviewIf the customer remains dissatisfied with Council’s decision, Council will guide the complainant on how to pursue an external review, which is Tier 4 of our process. At this stage, customers can refer complaints to independent oversight bodies such as the Ombudsman, Local Government Inspectorate, or a tribunal or court. Our Council actively participates and cooperates with the external review process during Tier 4.A senior officer will provide guidance to the complainant on the process for engaging the appropriate external organisation. These may include but are not limited to:

Victorian Ombudsman www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Local Government Inspectorate www.lgi.vic.gov.au

Office of the Victorian Information Commission www.ovic.vic.gov.au

Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission www.ibac.vic.gov.au

Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission www.humanrights.vic.gov.au

Victorian Electoral Commission www.vec.vic.gov.au

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) www.vcat.vic.gov.au

Fines Victoria www.online.fines.vic.gov.au

Unreasonable Conduct

Most complainants who lodge a complaint with Council act reasonably and responsibly in their interactions with us.

Unreasonable conduct is behaviour by a complainant which, because of its nature or frequency, raises substantial health, safety, resource, or equity issues.

Complainant’s behaviour will be inappropriate and unacceptable when they involve:

  • Unreasonable persistence

    This can include excessive communication, seeking different answers from various officers, reframing old complaints, and refusing to accept investigation outcomes

  • Unreasonable demands

    This can involve insisting on immediate responses, addressing every minor point, demanding unauthorised information, and seeking higher-level involvement without reason
  • Unreasonable lack of cooperation

    This encompasses sending excessive information, providing minimal details, offering information incrementally, rejecting reasonable requests for information

  • Unreasonable arguments

    This can involve emphasising minor issues and making baseless allegations
  • Unreasonable behaviour

    This can entail verbal abuse, aggression, harassment, and making threats

Draft Complaints Policy


We would like your feedback on how we can ensure the policy is culturally and community-appropriate.