Make a complaint

occ complaints chart NO YES App r oach Does i t meet the G r ounds of a Complaint (s.21)? Assessment of Complaint No f urther action P r e l iminary I nquiry can o c cur I n v estigate Complaint R esol v e Complaint Dec l ine Complaint R e f er Complaint


When the Children’s Commissioner receives an approach (any contact e.g. phone call, email, visit to the office, etc), a determination is made as to whether or not the approach constitutes a complaint as set out in Children’s Commissioner Act (the Act).

You can provide information to the Children’s Commissioner and discuss concerns you may have without having to make a complaint.

In this circumstance the information you provide will be recorded on the Children’s Commissioner Complaints Database as an approach. Approaches are of value and interest to the Children’s Commissioner as they help to identify areas where service provision provided to vulnerable children may require improvement.

The Children’s Commissioner does not deal with any matter that involves the immediate safety or well-being of a child. If a child is at risk you must contact Territory Families child protection hotline on 1800 700 250 and make a notification.

If your approach is beyond the Children’s Commissioner’s jurisdiction you will be given information to assist you to access the most relevant body or agency to address your concerns.


A complaint is an approach that meets the grounds for a complaint [section 23 of the Act].

A complaint must relate to a vulnerable child [section 7 of the Act] and relate to services provided by a service provider [section 21 of the Act].

Staff at the Children’s Commissioner will determine from the information you provide if your approach meets the grounds for a complaint.

Preliminary inquiries

The Children’s Commissioner may make preliminary inquiries [section 23(2) of the Act] to further assess any issues of complaint.

Preliminary inquiries may involve; the review of relevant documentation, Close Circuit Television (CCTV), site inspections or speaking with staff and/or the child.

How will the Children’s Commissioner deal with the complaint?

The Commissioner has four options to deal with a complaint. These include, to:

1. Investigate the Complaint

The Children’s Commissioner may determine to investigate the matter herself. In this circumstance the Children’s Commissioner must notify the relevant service provider/s:

  • of her decision to conduct an investigation;
  • details of the matter to which the complaint relates; and
  • that the service provider may make a written submission about the matter.

The Children’s Commissioner must complete an investigation report at the completion of her investigation. The report must be provided to the service provider.

The Children’s Commissioner can recommend within the report that the service provider take specified actions within a specified timeframe in relation to the matter.

The person who made the complaint will not be provided with a copy of the report, however will be given information regarding the findings and any recommendations that are made if the Children’s Commissioner considers it appropriate to do so.

2. Resolve the Complaint

The Children’s Commissioner may determine that the matter can be resolved without an investigation. In this circumstance the Commissioner will identify and propose certain actions that she feels will resolve the matter in collaboration with the service provider.

3. Decline to deal with the Complaint

The Children’s Commissioner may determine not to deal with the complaint. [Section 24 of the Act] sets out circumstances that the Children’s Commissioner may make this determination.

4. Refer the complaint to another person or body to investigate and resolve

The Children’s Commissioner may refer the complaint to another person who has an established mechanism to deal with similar complaints for investigation and resolution.

In this circumstance, the Children’s Commissioner will need to determine if the referred authority accepts to investigate and resolve the complaint. If so, the referred authority must provide the Children’s Commissioner with the result of the investigation and resolution.

The Children’s Commissioner will assess the outcome and determine whether she is satisfied that the matter has been adequately dealt with.

How long will this take?

The Children’s Commissioner must make the decision on how best to deal with a complaint within:

  • 28 days after receiving the complaint; or

  • If the Children’s Commissioner needs other information for the decision, then 28 days after obtaining the information.

What happens next?

The Children’s Commissioner will inform the person who made the complaint of how she intends to deal with the complaint, and when she considers a matter to be finalised she will provide the person who made the complaint information relating to the outcome of complaint.

Make a complaint