How to make a complaint if you are a child or young person

You can lodge a complaint against organisations you come into contact with.

Organisations, and the people they employ, should listen and respond respectfully to your wishes and concerns. If they do not you can make a complaint. You have the right to be safe and feel safe.

If you feel unsafe or at risk and need help urgently, call the Police on 000 or Crisis Care on 1800 199 008.

You will not get into trouble for making a complaint.

It is important that your voice is heard, and people or organisations can correct mistakes that have made you unhappy, unsafe or worried.

If you are an organisation wanting to ensure your complaints process is child friendly, visit the Commissioner for Children and Young People website.

I want to know about when, how and what I can complain about

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The Commissioner for Children and Young People is a person who works with children and young people to help make Western Australia a better place for you.

The Commissioner does not directly handle complaints but will explain how to make your complaint.

The Commissioner for Children and Young People has a website that has help for you to decide:

  • When should I complain?
  • How do I complain?
  • What should happen when I make a complaint?
  • Where do I make my complaint?

Or you can watch a video that may help you.

Visit the the Commissioner’s website.

Government agencies: I want to complain about a Government agency

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The Ombudsman is a person who has a special role to receive, investigate and resolve complaints about government agencies.

The Ombudsman is independent and will not take sides, they will listen to you. If the Ombudsman find a government agency has made a mistake, or done the wrong thing, they can ask them to fix it or make changes.

Even if the organisation you want to make a complaint about is not part of the government the Ombudsman will help you find the right people to complain to. 

The Ombudsman has information about how they can help you in English but also in lots of other languages, like Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, Italian and others .

You can call them on (08) 9220 7555 or 1800 117 000 (free from landlines).

Or you can get more information on the Ombudsman website.

The place where you are having problems can also help you make a complaint and have your voice heard.

Foster and out-of-home care: I want to complain about my experience living in the care of the Department of Communities

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If you are a child or young person and are living in out-of-home care, you can make a complaint to the Department of Communities (Communities).

You can make a complaint Communities about: 

  • a service you are getting or a service you think you should have received
  • how you have been treated by someone
  • something that has made you feel unhappy or unsafe
  • something to do with where you live
  • Communities not doing anything about something that happened to you or your being unhappy with what we did trying to fix it.

Communities staff will work with you to try and resolve or fix your complaint.  You will not get into trouble for making a complaint.

You can make a complaint by:

  • speaking to a staff member at the District office. This may be your Case Manager, Team Leader, Aboriginal Practice Leader, Assistant District Director, District Director or any staff member you feel comfortable with
  • speaking with a staff member where you live
  • completing an online complaint form 
  • calling the Complaints Management Unit on (08) 9222 29594
  • filling in the ‘Make a Complaints’ form and giving it to the reception staff at any District office or to your case worker

The Complaints Management Policy for Children and Young People will help you through all the steps.

If you are a child or young person in the care of Communities and don’t feel comfortable contacting the Department through the official complaints process, you might like to contact the Advocate for Children in Care.

Education Department: I want to complain about my school or college or a person who works there

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Where to go if you have a complaint about a school or college or anyone employed by the Department of Education.

If the behaviour or conduct of someone employed at your school or college is causing you concern, or you are unhappy with the service provided in general, you can make a complaint.

People employed by the Department of Education at schools and colleges include teachers, principals, classroom assistant, cleaners, gardeners and administrative support staff.

You can speak directly to a teacher you trust at the school or to the Principal who is in charge and tell them about your complaint.  

If you have a complaint relating to the delivery of services you should contact the relevant school or education regional office.

Service delivery complaints include but are not limited to issues with:

  • syllabus and curriculum
  • homework provision
  • enrolment
  • student behaviour
  • academic programs
  • extra-curricular activities
  • poor maintenance or lack of facilities or resources.

If you cannot talk to someone at the school or college then the organisation that is in overall charge, the Department of Education, can listen to your complaint and make sure you are heard.

You can visit the Department of Education’s complaint page. You can also send a complaint directly to the Department of Education by email complaints@education.wa.edu.au, or phone (08) 9264 4740.

Justice: I want to complain about the youth justice system or a person who works there

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Where to go if you want to make a complaint about the Department of Justice or a staff member.

You can make a suggestion to the Department of Justice to help them improve their services, provide positive feedback about the things they do well or if you are not happy with services provided by the Department, you can lodge a complaint through their Online Customer Feedback System. This is the quickest way of getting your feedback lodged.

Areas you may wish to complain about that fall under the Department of Justice include corrective services, courts and tribunals, child witness services, victim mediation services and redress.

Victims of Crime

If you have been the victim of a crime, there are guidelines in the Victims of Crime Act 1994 on how you should be treated. You can make a complaint if you feel that the guidelines were not followed.

Making complaints can be hard for victims of crime, but it is important to speak up if you feel you have been treated unfairly. Refer to the making a complaint guidelines and complete a complaint form.

Health and Disability: I want to complain about my care with a health or disability service

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Where to go if you want to make a complaint about your health care service or service provider.

Visiting health services like doctors, specialists, dentists, physiotherapists and hospitals can be challenging. You should be treated with respect and consideration and receive a high standard of care at all times.

You can make a complaint about health service providers including: 

  • ambulance services 
  • chiropractors 
  • dentists 
  • hospitals 
  • medical practitioners (e.g. doctors) 
  • nurses
  • occupational therapists 
  • optometrists 
  • pharmacists 
  • physiotherapists 
  • psychologists 
  • screening and immunisation services 
  • social workers in a health setting.

Complaints about disability service providers may include: 

  • in-home support 
  • respite services 
  • accommodation 
  • therapy services 
  • day activities, recreation and leisure services 
  • advocacy services 
  • complaints about mental health service providers may include: 
  • allied health professionals 
  • community mental health services 
  • mental health nurses 
  • non-governmental organisations that are publicly funded 
  • private and public hospitals 
  • private psychiatric hospitals 
  • psychiatrists 
  • psychologists.

It’s OK to speak up if you feel something wasn’t right with the medical treatment or services you have received.

It is usually best if you first try and speak to the person, doctor, clinic or hospital where you are experiencing the problem, the Health Consumers’ Council can help you with this.

But being responsible for your own health and well-being does not mean you have to manage it alone. The Health and Disability Services Complaints Office (HaDSCO) can offer help and advice on issues you have experienced with health, disability and mental health service providers.

HaDSCO is an independent Statutory Authority, separate to the Department of Health, which offers complaint resolution services relating to health, disability and mental health services in Western Australia.

You can get more information at HaDSCO’s website or you can view an information sheet for tips and advice for young people who want to make a complaint.

You can also contact HaDSCO by email at mail@hadsco.wa.gov.au or call them on (08) 6551 7600 or 1800 813 583 (free from landlines).

Police: I want to complain about the Police

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Where to go if you want to make a complaint about the Western Australia Police Force.

The Western Australia Police Force is committed to accepting complaints about the actions and performance of personnel.

To make a complaint about the Western Australia Police Force, you are encouraged to complete the online complaint form or contact your nearest police station or district office in person, by telephone, or in writing. Depending on the issues that you raise, police may be able to resolve the complaint to your satisfaction or it may require further investigation.

The Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) assesses, investigate and exposes misconduct in the Western Australian public sector and the Western Australia Police Force. You can report corruption via the CCC website.

Page reviewed 13 October 2020