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Early childhood services - complaints processes

Guidance on Child Safe Standard 7: Ensure that processes for complaints and concerns are child focused.


Standard 7 focuses on complaints processes that are child-focused, culturally safe and accessible to everyone.

Making a complaint can be challenging. Complaints are more likely to be raised when there are clear, well-communicated policies and procedures for concerns or allegations.

Empowering staff, volunteers and families to raise low‑level concerns will help them feel comfortable making a disclosure or reporting abuse. Children should also be empowered.

A complaint might reveal a bigger issue or prevent a situation from escalating.

Your complaints handling process must:

  • focus on children and their safety needs
  • be able to handle all kinds of complaints and concerns, including alleged abuse by adults and by children
  • be easily understood by all, including families with diverse languages and backgrounds
  • be easy to find, and include who to speak to
  • support investigations
  • help the service learn from their mistakes and feed into the continuous improvement process.

Using complaints to support continuous improvement

Services with school-aged children

Children attending OSHC services and holiday programs should be:

  • given age-appropriate material, using simplified language and visual aids such as flowcharts
  • empowered to give their views
  • consulted on complaints procedures, and offered an opportunity to provide feedback on their experience

Actions services must take to comply with Standard 7

Standard 7: Processes for complaints and concerns are child focused.

Services must comply with all of the following elements:

  • The service has an accessible, child focused complaint handling policy which clearly outlines the roles and responsibilities of leadership, staff and volunteers, approaches to dealing with different types of complaints, breaches of relevant policies or the Code of Conduct and obligations to act and report (7.1).
  • Effective complaint handling processes are understood by children and young people, families, staff and volunteers, and are culturally safe (7.2).
  • Complaints are taken seriously, and responded to promptly and thoroughly (7.3).
  • The service has policies and procedures in place that address reporting of complaints and concerns to relevant authorities, whether or not the law requires reporting, and co-operates with law enforcement (7.4).
  • Reporting, privacy and employment law obligations are met (7.5).

How to comply - examples and ideas