Complaints Page

DSS encourages all clients to provide feedback on their experiences with DSS or a DSS funded service provider. The complaints management process ensures that any concerns you have with the services or decisions of DSS or a DSS-funded service provider are taken seriously and dealt with promptly. Your concerns can help us to improve our processes.

DSS will treat your concerns as a priority, managing your complaint with integrity and fairness, and keeping you informed while working with you towards a satisfactory resolution.

Advice on lodging a complaint

  • It is important that you remain calm and focus on the main problem. Think of what you want to complain about and what you think should be done to fix it.
  • Include in your complaint the main facts, in a logical order – your contact information, relevant dates and times, description of the complaint and attach relevant documentation.
  • Identify what outcome you would like from lodging the complaint. Make sure your outcome is not unreasonable.
  • Keep records of all correspondence sent and received.

What your complaint may be about

The Complaints Management process looks into complaints from the public about DSS’s service(s), or the service of a DSS funded service provider. These complaints may be about:

  • unreasonable delay;
  • inadequate service, explanation or reasons;
  • legal error;
  • factual error in decision making process;
  • human error;
  • procedural deficiency;
  • discriminatory action or decision;
  • flawed administrative process; or
  • inadequate knowledge/training of staff.
  • unprofessional behavior by an officer;
  • breach of duty/misconduct by an officer; or
  • fraud and compliance issues

Complaints regarding Employment Services participants and jobseekers

  • If you are an Employment Services participant and wish to make a complaint regarding your Employment Services provider, you should contact your provider in the first instance.
  • If the issue cannot be resolved directly, participants can seek assistance through independent, free call support lines. Participants can contact the National Customer Service Line (NCSL) on 1800 805 260 or the Complaints Resolution and Referral Service (CRRS) on 1800 880 052 if they think that their provider is not complying with the National Standards for Disability Services.

Complaints regarding Family Law Services

  • If you have received a service from a government funded Family Law Service provider and wish to make a complaint, you should contact your provider in the first instance.
  • If your complaint cannot be resolved through your provider, you can refer your complaint to the Attorney-General’s Department. You can find further information about the Attorney-General's Department’s complaint process for Family Law Services on the Attorney-General’s Department’s website or by calling 02 6141 6666.
  • Family Law Services include: Family Relationship Centres; Family Law Counselling; Family Dispute Resolution; Regional Family Dispute Resolution; First Nations Family Dispute Resolution; Family Relationship Advice Line; Family Law Pathways Network; Children’s Contact Services; Parenting Orders Program; Supporting Children After Separation Program; Safety Net Service.

Contacting the DSS complaints line

We recommend that you try to resolve the matter with the relevant organisation before contacting the DSS complaints line. General complaints are dealt with under the DSS Complaints Management process, please find below the details to contact the DSS Complaints line:

Making a Complaint

The team member will:

  • Discuss your concerns with you.
  • Advise you that the DSS complaints line facilitates your complaint being assigned to the right area within DSS and will keep you informed of progress
  • Register your complaint.

A written response will be provided to you within 28 days. If the issue is complex we may need to extend that time. We will advise you if this is the case.

Information we will require and confidentiality

To look into a complaint we require:

  • Details of your complaint.
  • Details of any attempts you have made to resolve the matter.

We will accept anonymous complaints but it is important to note that without your consent, it will be difficult for the department to comprehensively address your concerns.  The following optional information will help us to look into your concerns more effectively:

  • Your name and contact details.
  • Permission for the DSS officer/s looking into the matter to disclose your personal information to the relevant parties (if applicable).
  • Permission for the relevant parties to provide details of your dealings with them to the DSS officer/s looking into the matter (if applicable).

DSS staff will seek your consent before disclosing/requesting any of your personal information.

If you agree, your personal information will be used for the purposes of processing your complaint and will be protected under the provisions of the Privacy Act 1988 and in accordance with the Australian Privacy Principles. Your personal information will not be released to any person or organisation unless required by law or you provide your consent. 

You have the right to withdraw your personal information from the Complaints Management process at any time.

The DSS privacy policy contains information about how you can access and correct personal information held by DSS about you.  It also contains information about how you can complain about a breach of the Australian Privacy Principles and how DSS will deal with such a complaint.  The DSS privacy policy can be found on our website on the Privacy Policy page.

What you can do if you are not satisfied with the Departments response

If you are not satisfied with the way in which your concerns have been handled you can complain to the Commonwealth Ombudsman. Complaints to the Ombudsman can be made in writing, by phone, in person or by using an online complaint form.

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