Long day care, kindergarten, outside school hours care and family day care services are required to to be approved under the National Quality Framework.
A number of services operate under the Victorian children’s services legislation including all limited hours and short term licensed services, services that currently hold a standard licence such as budget-based services not funded for Child Care Benefit, occasional care, early childhood intervention, mobile services, and a few school holiday care programs.
If you are concerned about about an approved education and care service or a licensed children's service, you should raise your concerns with the service in the first instance. This may be the approved provider or licensee of the service, or any person who controls or manages the service or a staff member at the service.
It is the services responsibility to deal with all complaints and to notify the Department, if required.
The service is required to deal with and respond to your complaint in a discreet, effective and timely way. Also, they must tell the Department within 24 hours if your complaint alleges that:
- a child's health, safety or wellbeing has been compromised
- the relevant legislation has been contravened.
For more information on the requirements of the National Quality Framework, including the National Law and National Regulations, and the requirements of the Victorian children’s services legislation, see: Regulation and Quality Assessment
Direct complaints can be made to the Department where the complaint alleges that:
- the safety, health or wellbeing of a child or children was or is being compromised while that child or children is or are being educated and cared for by the approved education and care service
- the relevant legislation has been contravened.
How do I raise an issue or make a complaint?
There are a number of ways you can raise any concerns you have about your child. You can:
- visit the centre where your child is being cared for. You can enter the service at any time during operational hours to talk to staff about your child or any concerns you have about your child’s care.
- ask to see the centre’s written procedures for dealing with complaints. All children's services must have a written procedure that states who you need to speak to about your complaint, how they will respond and which complaints the Department must be advised of. The name and the telephone number of the person who deals with complaints must also be displayed at the entrance to the service or in the case of family day care, at the principal office of the family day care office.
- contact the Department directly. You can make a complaint directly to the Department regarding the operation of a children's service at any time. In this situation, an authorised officer from your local regional office will assess how serious the complaint is and then take further action. An authorised officer will always investigate any complaints that allege a child’s health, safety or wellbeing has been compromised or there has been a contravention of the relevant legislation. Among other things, the authorised officer may telephone the service, inspect the service, question staff members, take written statements, conduct formal interviews, or seize evidence when investigating complaints. For contacts of your regional office, see: Regional Offices. For contacts of your regional office, see: Regional Offices
- contact the Licensed Childcare/Children's Services help line on 1300 307 415.
Remember children's services staff and educators have an obligation to deal with issues in a positive, constructive and professional manner. You should also deal with any concerns in a positive and constructive manner when speaking with staff and educators.
Things to consider before you make a complaint
Before you approach your child's kindergarten teacher or child care provider you should:
- be clear about the topic or issue you want to discuss
- focus on the things that are genuinely affecting your child
- always remain calm and remember you may not have all the facts relating to the circumstances of the topic or issue you wish to discuss
- think about what would be an acceptable outcome for you and your child
- be informed; check the relevant legislation and the service’s policies or guidelines, where relevant.
How to lodge a complaint in writing
You can use the written procedures that the children's service your child attends can provide to help you to put together all the information you need to submit a complaint in writing. If you are having difficulties filling out the form you can contact an authorised officer in your regional office or speak to the Licensed Childcare/Children's Service help line on 1300 307 415.
For contacts of your regional office, see: Regional Offices
What happens when you make a formal complaint?
Writing down your complaint is a useful way to put all of your information together and clarify your concerns. It also means you’ll have a clear record of the complaint.
All notifications to the Department are treated confidentially. Your identity cannot be disclosed unless you give written consent or a court grants leave for this to occur.
If you provide your name and contact details when you make a complaint, the Department will provide you with details of the outcome of their investigation.