Complaint resolution

Complaints to Council

Council recognises the importance of good complaints management as part of a quality customer service system and has developed quality Citizen Engagement Standards(PDF, 55KB) that outline our commitment to customer service and a Complaint Resolution Procedure to help try and resolve any issues raised.   While most problems can be resolved by an initial communication with Council officers there may be times when it is necessary to make a more formal complaint.  If it is necessary to make a formal complaint it should be lodged first with Council for investigation and resolution before making a formal complaint to another organisation.

Administrative -

Formal complaints about matters that relate to an action or decision made by Council staff. 

Formal Council decisions -

Sometimes a matter relates to a Council decision. As Council staff are required to implement the Council’s decisions, it may require a formal Council decision to resolve the particular problem.

If you want to find out about a Council decision, the Council minutes include both the report considered by Council and the precise wording of the Council decision.  Some reports such as contracts are confidential and in these instances, only the decision will be published. Minutes are available for public inspection at the Council’s offices and are also published on the internet in our Council Meetings Directory.

 How to make a complaint to Council

Complainants can:

  • Contact Council directly. If the matter cannot be resolved on the spot the complainant will be advised of the next steps officers will take.

  • Put the complaint in writing to the Chief Executive Officer to assist Council in understanding the details of the complaint.  A staff member is available to help the complainant to do this if necessary.

  • Council’s Online form

Details on how complainants can do this can be found on the Contact Us page.

 

Complaint Process

Stage 1:

When Council receives an administrative complaint it will be investigated by the service area that provided the service.  If it is a complaint about a staff member that person’s manager/coordinator will resolve it with the complainant. If the complainant is not satisfied with the response or the way in which the complaint was handled and believes there are sufficient grounds, Council officers can ask for the complaint to be referred to a Stage 2 review.

Stage 2:

If the complaint reaches this stage it will be investigated by a Director of the department and a response provided as quickly as possible. If the complainant is still not happy with the response to this review the Director can refer the complaint to the Chief Executive Officer for a Stage 3 review.

Stage 3:

The Chief Executive will review the case and provide a response. All complaints will start at Stage 1.  Where a complaint is directed to the CEO it will be passed back to the relevant department to enable Stage 1 of the process to be conducted.

A response from the CEO may:

  • lead to a resolution of the problem

  • result in an alternative solution that partly resolves the problem, and/or

  • provide an explanation of why the problem cannot be resolved

We will 

  • deal with complaints professionally, promptly and impartially
  • provide information requested by the complainant which is relevant to their complaint
  • provide any information about the complaint process including any timelines for a final response
  • document all complaints and identify what steps have been taken to redress the complaint and to minimise any chance of re-occurrence
  • provide any assistance to the complainant necessary to enable the complaint to be dealt with in an effective manner
  • ensure all staff understand the complaints process
  • respond to all complaints, including verbal complaints where appropriate, in writing
  • provide information to affected people as to their rights of appeal or review if they are not satisfied with the outcome of the general complaints process.

We will not

  • investigate any complaint if the complainant abuses, harasses or threatens the safety or welfare of Council staff; 
  • investigate any complaint if the complainant remains anonymous and the complainant is abusive or derogatory of Council staff or Councillors; or
  • investigate any complaints that fall outside of Council’s jurisdiction.

Whilst anonymous complaints will not be rejected, they may limit our ability to fully investigate the problem depending on the amount of information supplied.

If the complaint/request appears to relate to public safety then an investigation will be undertaken and rectification is undertaken if found necessary. 

If the complainant remains anonymous and the complainant is abusive or derogatory of Council staff or Councillors no further action will be taken.

Due to the anonymity, Council will be unable to provide reasons for any decisions or actions taken. If insufficient information is deemed to have been supplied, no further action will be taken.

These are complaints of corrupt or improper conduct by a public officer or body and more information can be found on our web page

  • A request for service and/or action by Council
  • Reports of a hazard (eg fallen tree)
  • Reports concerning neighbours that trigger the legislation, local law or other regulations administered or enforced by Council to be enacted (eg dog barking, noise issues)
  • A request for information or an explanation of a policy or procedure
  • Decisions made under legislation which provides for separate avenues of appeal (eg Building Act decisions and General Local Law prosecutions)
  • An alleged breach under the Councillor Code of Governance

Occasionally we receive a complaint involving neighbours which in many instances cannot be resolved by Council.  On these occasions, Council may direct complainants to other resources including the Dispute Settlement Centre on 1800 658 528, the Law Handbook www.lawhandbook.org.au and Reaching Agreement www.disputes.vic.gov.au.

Council has to act in the best interests of the entire community and will have to take account of other people’s needs as well as financial and legal restrictions.

If your problem affects other people it is possible that their needs or views may be quite different from your own. Alternatively, the Council may not be able to afford the cost of works or services that could resolve your problem or it may be unable to do something because of laws that prevent or require particular actions.

In the end, there may need to be a compromise or even acceptance that Council cannot do what you want. If this happens we will give you an explanation as to why we cannot do what you have asked.

Finally, if you are still not able to resolve your problem with us, there are a number of organisations that can consider complaints relating to a Council. Each of these have specific roles and limitations.

Generally, you should only take your concern to another organisation if you have been unable to resolve your complaint with us first. 

Other organisations which may be able to assist with Council complaints are :

  • Local Government Investigations & Compliance Inspectorate which accepts complaints about council operations and potential breaches of the Local Government Act including misuse of position, conflict of interest, the disclosure of confidential information and electoral offences.
  • Victorian Ombudsman which takes complaints about the actions and decisions of councils including complaints about services, communication, complaint handling, compliance with policies, procedures or law, other actions or decisions which may be unreasonable.
  • Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption (IBAC) which accepts complaints about suspected corruption and misconduct in the public sector including taking or offering bribes, using a position of influence dishonestly, committing fraud or theft and misusing information from the workplace.
  • Other legal remedies can be considered as a last resort.