Standard Six

Effective complaints management

Processes for raising concerns and complaints are responsive, understood, accessible and used by children, adults, families, carers, communities, and personnel

6.1 The entity’s Complaints Handling Policy outlines the roles and responsibilities, approaches to dealing with different types of complaints, reporting obligations and record keeping requirements.

6.1.1 Policies and procedures address mandatory reporting obligations.

6.1.2 There are clear procedures that provide step-by-step guidance on the response and action to be taken for different types of complaints, including:

  • breaches of Codes of Conduct;
  • disclosures, allegations, or concerns of current abuse of a child;
  • an adult bringing forward a complaint of abuse suffered as a child; and
  • an adult bringing forward a complaint of current or past abuse experienced as an adult.

6.1.3 The Complaints Handling Policy outlines how perceived or actual conflicts of interest are managed.

6.1.4 The Complaints Handling Policy acknowledges that power imbalances may exist between the complainant and respondent and has strategies in place to address this.

6.1.5 The Complaints Handling Policy spells out who has responsibilities in relation to handling complaints and when procedures are enacted.

6.1.6 Abuse complaints, incidents, allegations, disclosures, concerns and referrals are recorded, and confidential information is stored, protected and retained according to the Privacy Act, and for 50 years.

6.2 The Complaint Handling Policy is understood by children, adults, families, carers, and personnel, and focuses on the rights of children and adults at risk.

6.2.1 The Complaints Handling Policy and procedures demonstrate how the safety and wellbeing of children and adults at risk are prioritised.

6.3 Complaints are taken seriously and responded to promptly and thoroughly.

6.3.1 The Complaints Handling Policy is aligned, and operates in conjunction, with the Code of Conduct, HR, and other policies.

6.3.2 The Complaints Handling Policy commits to an initial risk assessment if a complaint of abuse is received, to identify and minimise any risk to children and adults. Ongoing risk assessments are conducted throughout investigation processes.

6.3.3 Complainants are responded to promptly and kept informed as to the progress of dealing with their complaint.

6.3.4 Trauma-informed and victim-centred support and care is offered to any child or adult who has experienced or is alleging abuse.

6.3.5 Sharing information relating to complaints adheres to the Australian Privacy Principles and relevant legislation.

6.3.6 The Complaints Handling Policy and procedures empower and support personnel to raise, in good faith, concerns and allegations about unacceptable behaviour towards children and adults by other personnel.

NOTE: Indicators 6.3.7 and 6.3.8 apply to clergy and religious.

6.3.7 Where a complaint related to the sexual abuse of a child or adult against clergy or religious is substantiated under a civil standard, the Church Authority undertakes a risk management process to determine the appropriate action, in keeping with Church protocols.

6.3.8 Where a cleric or religious is convicted of a canonical offence relating to sexual abuse, the respondent is to be prohibited from the exercise of ministry until such time as the process for imposing a penalty is completed by the relevant dicastery.

6.4 The Complaints Handling Policy includes the process of reporting complaints and concerns to relevant authorities, requiring cooperation with any statutory or contractual processes.

6.4.1 The Complaints Handling Policy requires that:

  • concerns and complaints of child abuse occurring within an entity be reported to the appropriate statutory authority/ies;
  • concerns and/or complaints of serious offences against adults be reported to statutory authorities; and
  • personnel cooperate with law enforcement procedures and directives.
6.6 The Church Authority ensures respondents facing allegations are supported and monitored.

6.6.1 Appropriately trained personnel are engaged in consultation with the respondent to counsel and represent the pastoral needs of the respondent.

6.6.2 Arrangements are in place to monitor, supervise and support a respondent, where there is a complaint, until (and if) the Church Authority no longer has this responsibility.

Find definitions of key terms used throughout the Standards in our glossary