This information is for Victorian government schools only.
If you think a child may be at risk of abuse or danger, call 000 or your local police station.
What is a complaint?
A complaint is a concern you may have that affects your child's learning or wellbeing, which may include learning support, racism or bullying.
Members of the public, mature minors, adult students and advocates may also raise a concern about actions taken or service provided by the school that affects the community.
How to make a complaint
The aim of this process is to resolve complaints with a focus on student wellbeing and keeping them engaged in learning.
School complaints must be made in the order detailed below.
Your school is best placed to work with you to fix your concerns.
Before you approach your child's teacher or other school staff:
- be clear about the issues you want to discuss
- focus on the facts and the things that affect your child
- remember you may not have all the facts yet
- think about how the matter could be resolved
- check and the school's policies. You can ask the school for a copy of their complaints policy, or it may be on their website.
- be realistic about what the school can do.
When working through a complaint, everyone must:
- listen to each other's views
- work towards a solution
- be cooperative, respectful and kind
- respect people's privacy and keep things confidential.
School staff will follow legislation (the law), department policy and the code of conduct for Victorian public sector employees.
If you have raised your concerns with your child's teacher and are dissatisfied, you may wish to escalate your complaint to the principal. You might need to make an appointment time so you can meet and talk about your concern.
If your concern is about a principal, and you do not want to raise it directly with the principal, contact your closest regional office.
You will have the opportunity to explain your concern and what you are seeking as a resolution. The department staff member will help record your complaint and explain the steps they will take.
You need to give the department staff member time to speak with the principal and anyone else involved with the issue. If the issue is complex it could take a little longer to work through.
If you have received a response from the regional office, and are still unhappy with the outcome, you can contact the central office.
Our central office can work with you to resolve concerns you may have with the response you received from the region or in relation to the school. The central office can also refer eligible complaints to the .
Before you complete the central office online form, please ensure you have spoken with your school and regional office. Please also read through our . This explains how the department will handle personal information that is submitted via this online complaint form.
You can also contact the central office by:
Deputy Secretary, Schools and Regional Services
c/o Manager, Complaints and Improvement Unit
GPO Box 4367 Melbourne VIC 3001
Use a support person
You can have a support person to help you at any time while making a complaint.
The support person can be someone in your family, a friend, community member or from a support agency.
The support person can:
- help you clarify the issues
- discuss difficulties you're having about the complaint
- help create a good working relationship between you and the school
- help you understand our policies and any resolutions proposed.
Let the principal know you want to use a support person when making the complaint. You should provide their name, contact details and relationship to you.
Request an interpreter
If you would like to talk to your school with the assistance of an interpreter, you can call the National Translating and Interpreting Service on . For further information, please refer to the department's .
Speaking to your school
Having a discussion with the school about your child's wellbeing or learning is always okay. Raising concerns with the school gives them the opportunity to work with you to support your child's wellbeing and learning.
If you do not feel comfortable raising concerns directly with the school, the department's regional office can be contacted to discuss your concerns and offer options for moving forward.
Before you speak to the principal
It is important to plan your meeting.
- Book a time to meet with your principal and tell them what you would like to discuss.
- Tell the school if you would like an interpreter or a support person to come to the meeting with you.
- Talk to your child about the concern and see how they feel, what they are worried about, or how they would like the problem fixed.
- Have your information ready, such as letters you might have sent or received, or prepare some notes to make sure the details of your concern are clear. You may ask the school for a copy of its Parent Complaint policy and for help with finding and understanding other Department of Education and Training policies.
- Think about suggestions or options for resolving the issue to help support your child and how you, your child, and the school could work together.
When you meet with the principal
The principal is there to listen to your concerns and work with you to resolve them.
- Start the meeting by clearly explaining your concerns: tell them about the problem, what has happened, and what is happening now.
- Let the principal know how your child is feeling, how the problem is impacting your child's learning and wellbeing, and what would assist your child from now on. It is important to be open to listening and to speak honestly.
- Take the time to work with the principal to try and find a way to fix the problem together. The school may speak with other teams such as Koorie Engagement Support Officers or Student Support Officers. If the school needs some time to put steps in place to solve the problem, there might be a need for a follow-up meeting.
It may be useful to read some of the policies as they may relate to the issues you wish to raise:
Report religious or racial discrimination
Everyone in our school community deserves to be respected, valued and treated equally. Discrimination or abuse based on religion or race is not tolerated in our school communities.
There are ways you can . If your child has been the target of, or has witnessed, religious or racial discrimination or abuse, we encourage you to report it to your school. They will make sure appropriate action and support is provided.
If you are not comfortable reporting to the school, or are not happy with the school’s response, you can contact our Report Racism hotline:
We must handle personal, sensitive and health information in accordance with:
- the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (VIC)
- the Health Records Act 2001 (VIC).
The information you give us will be used to assess and respond to your complaint. This information is stored securely and used mainly by people who handle the complaint. Information may be used outside of the complaint handling process when necessary and allowed by law. For example, if there was a serious risk to the safety of someone.
Reviewed 07 August 2023