Complaints Handling Policy


DVCS is committed to ensuring that any person or organisation using DVCS services or affected by its operations has the right to lodge a complaint or to appeal a decision of the organisation and to have their concerns addressed in ways that ensure access and equity, fairness, accountability and transparency.

DVCS will provide a complaints handling procedure that:

  • is simple and easy to use
  • is effectively communicated and promoted to all clients and stakeholders
  • ensures complaints are fairly assessed and responded to promptly
  • is procedurally fair and follows principles of natural justice
  • complies with legislative requirements, and
  • respects, protects and promotes the human rights that are enjoyed by everyone in the ACT regardless of gender (eg. LGBTI+ communities), religious belief, nationality, race or any other point of difference.


  • The intention of DVCS is to minimise and prevent the incidence of complaints.
  • All DVCS clients have access to a clear and accountable complaints mechanism.
  • DVCS will consider all complaints it receives.
  • DVCS is accountable for the quality and manner of service delivery and encourages clients to use their human rights to question or comment on the service they receive.
  • DVCS will treat all complainants with respect, recognising the rights of the complainant and that the issue of complaint is important to the complainant.
  • DVCS will ensure advocacy is available to Clients who make a complaint and require support.
  • DVCS will maintain confidentiality of parties involved, keeping any information private to those directly involved in the complaint and its resolution.
  • In the event of a complaint being made, DVCS is committed to dealing with the complaint promptly.
  • DVCS will act upon feedback received and undertake a fair investigation of any complaints. A resolution will be pursued through open communication, evaluation and review.
  • DVCS will ensure Board Members and Staff are given information about the complaints procedure as part of their induction and are aware of procedures for managing client feedback and complaints.
  • DVCS will ensure Clients and stakeholders are aware of their human rights and the complaints policy and procedures.
  • DVCS will ensure that a complainant is not penalised in any way or prevented from use of services during the progress of an issue.
  • Clients, or those acting on their behalf, will have access to the information gathered through an investigation and be informed of outcomes of the complaint procedure.
  • DVCS will ensure that feedback data (both positive and negative) is considered in organisational reviews and in planning service improvements.
  • Third parties, who are approached in relation to complaints, will be asked to encourage the Client to use the following procedure.

DVCS complaints handling procedure: information for clients and stakeholders’

This section contains information on:


How to make a complaint

A person wishing to make a complaint may do so in writing or verbally to:

  • the staff member they were dealing with at the time
  • CEO of the DVCS service
  • the DVCS Board.

If the complaint is about:

  • a staff member, the complaint will normally be dealt with by the Director Client Services
  • the CEO, the complaint will normally be dealt with in the first instance by the Board Chair.

Written complaints may be sent to the CEO at PO Box 1922, Fyshwick, ACT 2609 or who will be responsible for receiving this correspondence and directing it to the appropriate person.

Managing a complaint (internal DVCS procedures)

DVCS Staff responsible for handling formal complaints should have a working knowledge of the Human Rights Act and understand how to apply human rights considerations and decision-making practices to resolving complaints.

Processing the complaint

  • Register the complaint in the confidential complaints register.
  • Inform the complainant that their complaint has been received and provide them with information about the process and time frame.

Investigating the complaint

  • Examine the complaint within 3 working days of the complaint being received.
  • Investigate the complaint and decide how to respond.
  • Inform the complainant in writing within 5 working days of the complaint being received of what is being done to investigate and resolve it, and the expected timeframe for resolution.

As far as possible, complaints will be investigated and resolved within 7 working days of being received. If this time frame cannot be met, the complainant will be informed of the reasons why and of the alternative time frame for resolution.

Resolving the complaint

  • Making a decision or refer to the appropriate people for a decision within 5 working days of the complaint being received.
  • Inform the complainant of the outcome. The outcome may be as follows:
    • upheld and if so what will be done to resolve it
    • resolved and how this has been achieved, or
    • if no further action can be taken, the reasons for this.
  • Inform the complainant of any options for further action, if required.

Reviewing the complaint

If the complainant is not satisfied with the investigation and proposed resolution of their complaint they can seek a further review of the matter by contacting:

  • The Community and Health Services Complaints Commissioner, or
  • Human Rights Commission of the ACT.

Nothing in this policy takes away a client’s individual right to use relevant civil or criminal legal procedures to settle their complaint.


A confidential register of complaints will be kept by the CEO. The register will be maintained by the CEO and will record the following for each complaint:

  • details of the complainant and the nature of the complaint
  • date lodged
  • action taken
  • date of resolution and reason for decision
  • indication of complainant being notified of outcome
  • complainant response and any further action.

Copies of all correspondence will be kept in the CEO’s office. The complaints register and all associated files will be confidential and access is restricted to the CEO, Director Client Services and Business Manager.

A statistical summary of complaints and appeals will also be kept and maintained by the Manager. The CEO will also be responsible for preparing a report on complaints to the Board on an annual basis.

Results from this report will be reviewed by the CEO and the Board and used to:

  • Inform service planning by including a review of complaints in all service planning, monitoring and evaluation activities.
  • Inform decision making by including a report on complaints as a standard item on staff and management meeting agendas.

Complaints involving a specific staff member

External complaints by clients or stakeholders made against a staff member will be managed by the CEO who will:

  • Notify the staff member of the compliant and its nature.
  • Investigate the complaint and provide the staff member with an opportunity to respond to any issues raised.
  • Attempt to mediate the dispute (if appropriate) and/or attempt to resolve the matter to the satisfaction of the outside party.
  • Take any other action necessary to resolve the issue.

Any disciplinary action against a staff member arising from a complaint will be taken in accordance with the procedures contained in the Counselling and Disciplinary Policy 3.11.

Complaints involving the CEO will be managed by the Board Chair. Where the Board Chair is the subject of a complaint, the complaint should be referred to other office bearer/s.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Internal complaints, where a Staff Member makes a complaint concerning another Staff Member will be dealt with in accordance with the DVCS Handling Staff Grievances, Complaints and Disputes Policy 3.10.