In many instances, children and their families pass through the whole educational experience without having to resolve any minor/major issues. If you are really fortunate, you may have a completely trouble free experience. However, with your child in schools for up to 13 years and probably attending more than one school, it is quite possible there will be some occasion when you will have at least a minor concern and possibly even an occasion when there is a major issue or concern.

It is in the best interest of all involved that any concern involving student, family and teacher[s] should be solved as soon as possible so that it does not become worse and create greater difficulty.

Note : There is always a possibility of something being so major that initial steps suggested here need to be bypassed and later suggestions implemented. While this is possible - but hopefully never occurs - additional options are provided below.
These are clearly marked with what they are intended to cover and when they should be considered necessary.

All schools operate under standard anti-discrimination and vilification laws, child protection laws and Family Court orders.

All teachers are mandatory notifiers in relation to child protection.

This page looks at a suggested process for achieving such a resolution and offers suggestions as to the best way this can be achieved.


  • Most instances causing concern in schools come from misunderstandings or incomplete understandings. In the vast majority of cases these will be solved by discussion with the school person directly involved with your child or, if needed, the school principal. This should be done as soon as possible after a problem occurs rather than leaving it with the possibility of becoming worse in the future.
  • If the concern involves your child and a teacher, or your child’s learning, then you should first arrange an appointment to discuss the matter with the teacher involved. Do not just turn up and expect to be able to talk to the teacher or staff member. Remember, they have a class which they have to work with and look after. Staff members may be available during school hours, during breaks and possibly before or after school.
  • For very small concerns, it may even be possible to ring and talk to a staff member during one of their breaks, or even email them. However, it is often better to talk face to face.


  • All Australian schools are required to have a Welfare/Discipline Policy which must be made available. Irrespective of the type of bullying, it should be covered by this policy and the procedures which are contained in it.
  • Any breach of this policy should be brought to the attention of the school, if they are not already aware of it. They will then take action in line with the procedures listed in the school policy. The only alternative to this should be if it falls under one of the “Other Options” as listed in the Contact Details section below.
  • Be aware that if children are involved in bullying, either as an instigator, bullier, or someone being bullied, specialist staff may become involved in finding a solution for the problem. These could include School Counsellors and other specialist staff [Teacher’s Aide, Learning Support, Psychologists, Behaviour Practitioners, . . .] . These can be requested by students and parents can make appointments to see them and discuss a problem which has arisen and what may be done to provide a solution for it.
  • In talking with a staff member, always work on the actual problem, not whether you feel upset or angry about it. Know the facts you want to talk about and concentrate on them. Write them down and take these notes with you if you are not sure you will remember them all. Think about how you are going to say the things you want to raise. Using statements such as “I am concerned about . . . ” or “Can you tell me why . . . ” rather than “You have to . . . ” or “You haven’t done . . . ” are much more likely to gain support and assistance.
  • Be prepared to listen to what the staff member has to say in response. There may be things about which you are not aware. There may be things you weren’t told about. There may already be things that are being done to solve the problem. You also need to be willing to listen to what the other person has to say just as you would expect them to listen to what you have to say.
  • You should never be abusive ! Do not use bad language, do not be insulting. This is guaranteed to put people offside and makes finding a workable solution much more difficult. If you are really abusive, insulting or aggressive, it may even lead to you being banned from the school premises. This only creates a second problem rather than resolving the first one.
  • If you are not confident about meeting with a staff member, then it may be possible to take a friend with you. While they need to know why you are going and what the problem is, they are only there to offer moral support and you are the person who must do the talking, not them.
  • If you agree on a course of action, then you must allow enough time for this to be followed through. There should be another meeting to finalise this once an agreed, reasonable period of time has passed. This can be arranged at the first meeting or by either party within a reasonable period or at a specific time.
  • If you are not happy with the outcome of the meeting, or if you believe the matter is serious enough, you can make an appointment with a staff member’s supervisor or the school principal.
  • If this is the case, you should follow the same procedure outlined in the steps above. Be aware, the supervisor may request the staff member be present at the meeting. This might create extra tension, but the supervisor or principal should be skilled enough to handle the situation.
  • Do not expect a staff member to be admonished during this meeting. If you were in a similar situation to them, you would not be happy if this occurred. You could not expect them to feel any different. If there is a cause for them to be admonished then this would be done in a different setting and at a different time.
  • There are numerous options available at the school level. All would be considered as part of any plan to resolve a problem that exists. These may range from providing additional assistance for your child, additional supervision, moving the child to another class, working with the teacher on particular skills or any one of a number of other options. The school will work with the method or methods which are seen as being best to help resolve the problem.
  • As previously, allow time for any action that is agreed upon to take place. Similarly, there should be a further meeting to ensure the matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of all involved and that people are aware of and satisfied with the outcome.
  • If you are not happy with the steps the school has taken, or if for some reason you believe you need to go further without trying to resolve the problem at the school level, there are higher levels within all school systems where you can lodge complaints and seek to resolve them.
    Complaints would then become what are termed “Formal Complaints”.
  • Information regarding these is provided in the next section.
  • You should be aware that in most cases the complaint goes back to the school for information about what is happening, so they will know a complaint has been made. If you have not tried to solve the problem at the school level first, this may cause further tension.
    In most systems, the higher authority will make the statement that the school should be the first point of contact.
    Some indicate it must be the first point of contact.

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  • All systems have both policy and procedures for handling complaints - whether it is called complaints, grievance procedures, dispute resolution, . . .  . Even Independent Schools do, as this forms part of the registration process.
  • In all cases of a formal complaint being made, it follows a set procedure. There are specific steps to be followed. This applies whether it is within the government or any other system. These procedures are detailed either through a specific policy, a written set of procedures, working with a particular person, using a specific form, or any combination of these. You will either find the details of these or be made aware of them by the person you contact.
  • There are a number of levels above the school, depending on the system that includes your child’s school.
  • Many of the things said in the Informal Complaints section still apply [no abuse, plan what you are going to say, know clearly what you want, . . . ]. In addition, we emphasise again - you must know exactly what the problem is and what you want as an outcome of the complaint. Be clear but realistic about what you expect.
  • Again, you will need to allow a period of time for the procedures to be followed, so that whatever is done will be fair to everyone involved, whatever the outcome.


  • Depending on the system the first level may be a District Office. This will have someone in charge at a level such as a Superintendent or Inspector.
  • Most state systems have Regional Offices. These may cover schools directly, or be responsible for a number of districts.
  • All systems have a Head Office and a Director-General. There are web sites for these with all contact details available. Contact details for complaints to the Head Office of any system are provided in the Contact Details section below, listed under each state and territory. If you use these sites, you should also be able to find contact details for either/both District and Regional Offices by using the Site Maps or Search boxes provided.
  • If you are not sure of who to ask for at a District, Regional or Head Office level, ask to speak to the person who is responsible for the school your child attends, then indicate you have a complaint you wish to talk to someone about. They may even have a specific person, or a section, that handles the complaints process.


  • The next level in the Catholic System is most likely to be a School Council or further on to a Catholic Education Office, Diocese or Archdiocese Education Office, though it may also be a statewide body depending on the size of the system.
  • Again, if you are not sure of who to ask for at this level, ask to speak to the person who is responsible for the school your child attends and indicate that you have a complaint you wish to talk to someone about. They may even have a specific person who handles complaints.
  • While it is possible that members of the clergy may become involved, it is far more likely that the matter will be left to education personnel, unless there are specific reasons for not doing so.
  • Most Catholic systems have specific policies and procedures for the handling of complaints and in some cases particular people who will handle them. As with the government system, in most instance the complaint will go back to the school in order for them to respond, to provide further information on what it includes, what is being done and what solutions are being sought.
  • If you are not sure about whom to contact a number of contacts are provided, where known, in the Contact Details section below, listed under each state and territory. The information may also be available through material from these offices which comes through the school, or be available on the school’s website, perhaps as part of a Links section.


  • In most cases the complaints process stops at the school level. In fact, some Independent School Groups are quite specific about this. For example, “Independent Schools Victoria will not act as a mediator between parents and schools” is a very clear statement, though it is qualified by the explanation that they may assist by helping to clarify a school’s position.
  • Check with the individual school regarding their policy and procedures for handling complaints. Most should have these offered via their websites.
  • If the matter cannot be solved at the school level in an independent school, the only other options seem to be the individual School Board, an explanation from the state body where this is offered, or one of the other options included in the Other Options listing in the Contact Details section below.

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This section provides contact details for various educational departments and systems. In addition to providing contact details, many include advice, policy information and the procedures that will normally be followed should a complaint be made. Some simply provide a contact point or person. Be aware, contact would be considered only when a complaint could not be resolved satisfactorily at the local level or when it is of so significant a level that it requires the involvement of other agencies without delay.

Note : Virtually all indicate you should contact the school prior to forwarding complaints to them.

Additional links will be added as these come to hand.





  • ACT Education - Contact Us
    Includes details for contact regarding “Concerns and Complaints” [scroll down the contact list provided to Feedback and Complaints]. Further information and procedures are found in the Complaints Policy. [See Implementation Documents box on the right side of the page.]



As Catholic Education is run from a series of Catholic Education Offices, you will need to contact the relevant office listed below.


  • Making a complaint about NSW public schools - Guide for Parents & Carers
    ‘We are committed to working with parents, carers, students and families to ensure all students are happy and thrive at school. If you have a question, issue, complaint, feedback or compliment about our schools, we’d like to know’. Please select from the links below for details about who to contact if you want to discuss a problem, concern or would like to make a complaint. Check the boxed information [covering different sections/topics] on the Your Feedback page.
  • Easy Read Guide
    ‘The Easy Read guide explains with words and pictures how to make a complaint, give a compliment, or suggestion to our schools. The guide also contains information about supports available to make a complaint’. Schools
  • Making a Complaint at TAFE NSW
    ‘Complaints to TAFE NSW are managed in accordance with TAFE NSW’s Customer Complaint Policy

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As Catholic Education is run from a series of Catholic Education Offices, you will need to contact the relevant office listed below.


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  • School or Preschool complaints
    Department for Education. Before making a complaint; How to make a complaint; Step 1 – contact the school or preschool; Step 2 – raise the issue with the Customer Feedback Team; Step 3 – lodge a complaint with the SA Ombudsman; After you make a complaint; Treatment and behaviour during the process; and Complaints about a central [corporate] office. Further information can also be found at the following website - Feedback, Complaints and Reporting. [Options here for different education levels.] Note : ‘For all complaints please discuss the matter with the school principal in the first instance’.



  • Contact Us - Tasmanian Catholic Education Office
    ‘The Catholic Education Tasmania Feedback Portal has been created to provide you with a platform for providing feedback to the Tasmanian Catholic Education Office. Use this site to send us your congratulations, concerns, complaints and feedback’.


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As Catholic Education is run from a series of Catholic Education Offices, you will need to contact the relevant office as listed below.


  • Complaints About Schools
    ‘It is essential that parents attempt to resolve any complaint with a teacher before approaching the principal and, if necessary, the Chair of the School Board. Independent Schools Victoria will not act as a mediator between parents and schools’. Contact details are provided on this page.
  • Complaints – Parents : Policy
    ‘This policy sets out the requirements for schools with respect to management of parent complaints based on the Department’s Parent Complaint Policy. It also outlines the Department’s complaints framework and the various supports available to school staff when responding to parent concerns and complaints’.
  • Issues, Incidents and Feedback
    ‘Find out what happens if your child is involved in an incident at school and how to provide feedback or make a complaint or a report’. Multiple sections to this page. The main one relating to complaints is Feedback, Complaints and Reports which details how to ‘Provide feedback or make a complaint or a report about government schools or staff’. They also have sections on Behavioural Issues and How the Independent Office for School Dispute Resolution can help parents and carers ‘This office exists to support you in resolving complex, ongoing issues between you and your child’s government school’.
  • Parent Complaint Policy
    ‘The Department’s complaint-handling system commences with consultation between families and schools which follows a clear process to resolve the complaints. All parties are treated fairly and those involved in a complaint are provided with a reasonable opportunity to respond to the issues raised and to present their views. The primary purpose of the complaint process is to resolve complaints with a focus on student wellbeing and to support students to remain engaged in learning. This policy is intended to support the resolution of complaints in a manner that enables students, families, schools and the community to maintain a positive relationship and active engagement in education’ [Docx format]
  • Parent Concerns and Complaints
    ‘How to raise a concern or complaint about your child’s experience at a Victorian government school’, while you can find help with Parent Complaints - Child Care or Children’s Services using the information on this page. Further information about the Child Care sector can be found at Make a complaint about Early Childhood Services.
  • Provide feedback about government schools or school staff
    ‘Find out the different ways you can provide feedback [good and bad] and key information to include’.
  • Provide feedback or make a complaint to the Department of Education [Victorian Government]
    ‘Guidance on how to provide feedback about our services such as schools, teaching, exams, training, child care, or employees’.
  • The Victorian Independent Office for School Dispute Resolution
    ‘This office was established by and reports to the Minister for Education. It helps people reach a workable solution to ongoing issues between a school and a family. If no resolution is possible, a recommendation can be made to the department about what further solutions or steps may be helpful. These recommendations are not findings of fault or blame. They are ways to resolve the current issue and may include ideas for system improvements that will have longer-term benefits’.



  • Anglican Schools Commission
    Provides details for different ways of contacting the Commission should there be feedback, congratulations or a complaint.
  • Complaints about Non-Government Schools
    If you have a concern about a registered non-government school, contact the school directly first. Non-government schools must have a complaint handling system which meets Standard 9 [Complaints] requiring a fair process and the availability of a review. In most schools, the review enables a complainant to escalate an unresolved complaint to the school’s governing body [as in, the Board or Management Committee]. We are unable to intervene in a complaint or to override a school’s decision’
  • Dispute and Complaint Resolution
    ‘CEWA is committed to the process of procedural fairness in the investigation and/or review of concerns and complaints. CEWA advocates for maintaining the dignity of all persons. As such, whoever raises a query, concern, or complaint, does so knowing that they are free from prejudice, intimidation, harassment or any detriment’


  • Complaints and Concerns
    ‘Our schools are committed to providing quality education to all students in a safe, inclusive and caring learning environment. We value working together with parents and families as critical partners in student learning outcomes. If you have concerns talking to your child’s teacher or principal is the best place to start.Effective communication is the key to building a positive relationship between home and school and plays an important part in the education of your child. You should feel confident that we will listen and respond to your concerns and effectively manage and resolve complaints’. It clarifies a range of issues and provides advice on ways to go about any complaint that may exist. There is a link to their Policy section. Contact the school, Education Regional Office or phone the complaints advice line on 1800 655 985 if you need support with the complaint process.
  • Downloads
    There are a number of downloads to be found in the lower section of this site which are designed to assist you in understanding and implementing a complaint should this arise. Each can be downloaded as needed.
  • Understand the complaints process
    This ‘will help you decide how to make a complaint, the supports available to you and how we handle a complaint’. Extensive information covering this.

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In some instances, it is inappropriate to contact a school first, though this is, thankfully, fairly rare. In these cases, there are a number of other options available and several of these are listed below. However, be certain they do come under the categories listed below and cannot/should not be addressed at a school level in the first instance. Be sure of your facts. Only supply facts, not gossip, maybes, perhaps it happened, . . . .


Sometimes members of parliament may be able to assist though their first response will likely be Have you been to your local school ?. In most cases, the complaint will then go back down the line to the school for comment and/or clarification of what has been done or will be done if they are not already aware of the problem. In this regard, you are perhaps unlikely to get a greater response than working through the various levels previously discussed above. Details for all MPs at state/territory level can be found on government websites.


Disability, Racial, Gender, Religious, Marital and Sexual Discrimination is against the law and should never be tolerated. If it occurs within the school setting, then you should approach the school, make them aware of the situation and give them the opportunity to solve the problem.

Again, be aware that faith-based schools may have been exempted from some parts of this process because of their specific religious beliefs.

If they are unable to do so, then there are a number of avenues which you can follow up including the formal complaint process above, or by going to the :


This area can include actions such as inappropriate gestures, language, communication and touching. It also includes use of the internet for actions similar to this.

This is also against the law and should not be tolerated. If it occurs within the school setting, then you should approach the school, make them aware of the situation and give them the opportunity to solve the problem.

If they are unable to do so, then there are a number of avenues which you can follow including the formal complaint process in the section immediately above using the link below :


If a serious instance occurs in either of these categories, contact should be made directly with the police.


If an instance falls into this category, contact should be made directly with the police.


These positions are normally limited to specific areas such as public agencies and Freedom of Information on a larger scale, rather than individual concerns which may be best handled by other agencies. However, as each is state based, these may vary and if nowhere else is able to assist and all other avenues have been exhausted, they may be worth considering. For individual state and territory ombudsmen, see the links at :

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