Speak up and make a complaint - information for organisations
The Speak up and make a complaint resources were developed to help empower children and young people, their parents/support person to give feedback to organisations about their activities and services. The resources will help children and young people to report problems or concerns, and to make complaints if they’re not happy.
In February 2019, all Australian Governments endorsed the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations. The National Principles state that organisations should uphold the rights of children and young people. National Principle 6 highlights that organisations should implement a child‑focused complaints process.
Every organisation working with children and young people – no matter their size – has the same obligation to respond effectively to complaints from children and young people, or from adults on their behalf.
Making the Speak up resources readily available in your organisation (on notice boards, bathroom doors, in registration packs, and online) is one step towards meeting National Principle 6. Other important steps are outlined below.
Ensure your complaints system is child friendly. The National Office Complaint Handling Guide provides practical advice for organisations about how to develop, implement and maintain a complaint handling system that prioritises child safety and promotes the rights of children and young people to have a voice in decisions that affect them.
Ensure staff and volunteers receive training. Staff and volunteers should always:
- Understand the different ways children and young people express concerns or distress, such as changing their behaviours or demeanour.
- Be proactive in checking in with children and young people and making sure they feel confident and supported to raise issues, at any time.
- Discuss and invite feedback or complaints from children and young people.
- Feel confident to respond to all types of concerns from children and young people, including disclosures of harm.
- Be clear how lower-level concerns might contribute and link to formal complaints processes. What may seem small to an adult might not be to a child, or it could be the start of a bigger conversation.
- Understand their own obligations – for example, under mandatory reporting schemes.
Have regular conversations with children and young people and their parents/support person about the many different ways they can give feedback or make complaints.
- Ask children and young people what would help them to speak up in your organisation, support them to develop skills in speaking up and seek their feedback on the complaints process when they do use it.
- Let them know how your organisation uses complaints and feedback to continually improve your services and ensure the safety of children and young people. Keep them informed of the process and outcomes.
- It is important for children and young people to have a contact point for complaints within your organisation. There is space on the Speak up resources for you to add these details.
The following peak bodies and advocacy organisations address the needs of specific groups of children and young people. They may be a helpful information source as you develop and review your child‑friendly complaints processes.
- Search online for the Children’s Commissioner/Guardian of Ombudsman in your state or territory
- CREATE Foundation (for children and young people with an out‑of‑home care experience) – create.org.au
- Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) – snaicc.org.au
- National LGBTI Health Alliance – lgbtihealth.org.au
- Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA) – cyda.org.au
- Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network (Australia) – myan.org.au
Other organisations that can help include:
- Australian Human Rights Commission – childsafe.humanrights.gov.au
- Parentline or equivalent in your State or Territory – parentline.com.au
- Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800, firstname.lastname@example.org or kidshelpline.com.au
- headspace and eheadspace – headspace.org.au
If you have any questions about these resources, would like to request printed copies of the poster or leaflet, or would like to provide feedback, contact us.