Good report card on complaints handling

By Angela Dorizas

The Queensland Ombudsman has released his review of complaints handling within state agencies.

The report by Ombudsman David Bevan found that agencies had significantly improved their complaints management systems since the introduction of his Complaints Management Program to help state government agencies deal more fairly and efficiently with community complaints.

“When we commenced this project, we found that the complaints practices and procedures of most state agencies were rudimentary, provided insufficient guidance to staff and provided little information to the community,” Mr Bevan said.

He said most agencies had complied with the 2006 Directive on complaints handling, which was issued on recommendation from the Ombudsman.

 “Most agencies have now implemented complaints systems that satisfactorily comply with the Directive and the remainder will comply with it once they implement my recommendations,” Mr Bevan said.

The Ombudsman assessed state agencies’ complaints systems on the basis of their visibility and accessibility to the community, and assistance provided to potential complainants; their responsiveness; if procedures existed for fairly and objectively dealing with complaints; if procedures required timely feedback to be given to complainants and information to be circulated within the agency; and if mechanisms were in place to record and analyse complaint data.

Mr Bevan said he made more than 300 recommendations to agencies during the review process and nearly all were accepted.

He stressed the importance of an effective complaints system.

“An effective complaints system not only enables an agency to correct decisions that are unfair or wrong, but also provides valuable feedback from members of the community that can be used to improve service delivery.”


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