Before you complain

Step 1: Raise a formal complaint with the agency, education provider or organisation (the agency) and wait for a response.

  • Record a complaint reference number and the date you lodged your complaint.
  • In most cases the agency will publish its complaint process online or advise you how to make a complaint in their decision notification.
  • If you don’t receive a response within the agency’s published timeframe, you should contact them to follow up.
  • The agency may ask you for more information to help it assess your complaint.
  • We will not, and in some cases cannot, accept your complaint if you have not made a complaint to the agency first.

Step 2: If you are not satisfied with the way your complaint was handled or the outcome, you should discuss this with the agency first.

  • If your matter is urgent, you should consider phoning the agency.

Step 3: If your issue remains unresolved, contact the Office.

Tips and advice for making a complaint

Even though you may be feeling angry and frustrated, it is important you:

  • stay calm and co-operate with the person assessing your complaint (avoid being abusive or aggressive)
  • focus on the problem and identify the key issue(s) that you want to complain about. Be clear and concise.
  • Stick to the facts and include dates and reference numbers. It is important to tell us about your issues in order.
  • Consider how you would like your complaint resolved—be realistic and practical about your desired outcomes.

In our experience it is usually best to put your complaint in writing if the issue is complex or you have already tried to resolve the issue with a phone call.

Common questions about making a complaint

We can assess complaints about the actions of Australian Government agencies and prescribed private sector organisations that we oversee, if we consider the actions were:

  • wrong
  • unjust
  • unlawful
  • discriminatory, or
  • unfair.