This policy is intended to ensure that we handle complaints fairly, efficiently and effectively.

Our complaint management system is intended to

  • enable us to respond to issues raised by people making complaints arising from Special Religious Education provided by our volunteer Catechists in State Schools in a timely and efficient manner
  • boost confidence in our administrative process, and
  • provide information that can be used by us to deliver quality improvements in our SRE services and complaint handling.

This policy provides guidance to our staff and people who wish to make a complaint on the key principles and concepts of our complaint management system.


This policy applies to all staff receiving or managing complaints from the public made to or about us,
regarding our SRE services, volunteer Catechists, staff and complaint handling

The Armidale Diocese commitment

This Diocese is committed to fair, effective and efficient complaint handling. The following table outlines
the nature of the commitment expected from staff and the way that commitment should be implemented.

Who-Diocese of Armidale

Commitment- Promote a culture that values complaints and their effective resolution

How – Report publicly on The Diocese of Armidale’s complaint handling.

Provide adequate support and direction to key staff responsible for handling complaints.

Regularly review reports about complaint trends and issues arising from complaints.

Encourage all staff to be alert to complaints and assist those responsible for handling complaints resolve them promptly.

Encourage staff to make recommendations for system improvements.

Recognise and reward good complaint handling by staff. </

p>Support recommendations for improvement of SRE in State School’s by our volunteer Catechists and complaint handling improvements arising from the analysis of complaint data


Commitment- Establish and
manage our

How – Report publicly on The Diocese of Armidale’s complaint handling.

Provide regular reports to Bishop on issues arising from
complaint handling work.

Ensure recommendations arising out of complaint data
analysis are canvassed with the CCD Director and
implemented where appropriate.

Train and empower staff to resolve complaints promptly and in
accordance with the Diocese of Armidale’s policies and

Encourage staff managing complaints to provide suggestions
on ways to improve the organisation’s complaint management

Encourage all staff to be alert to complaints and assist those
responsible for handling complaints resolve them promptly.

Recognise and reward good complaint handling by staff.

Who-Staff whose duties
include complaint

Commitment- Demonstrate
complaint handling

How – Treat all people with respect, including people who make

Assist people make a complaint, if needed.

Comply with this policy and its associated procedures

Keep informed about best practice in complaint handling.

Keep informed about best practice in complaint handling.</

Provide suggestions to management on ways to improve the
organisation’s complaints management system

Implement changes arising from individual complaints and
from the analysis of complaint data as directed by Bishop

Who – CCD Director

Commitment – Understand and
comply with The
Diocese of
complaint handling

How – Treat all people with respect, including people who make

Be aware of the Diocesan’s complaint handling policies and

Assist people who wish to make complaints access the
Diocesan’s complaints process.

Be alert to complaints and assist staff handling complaints
resolve matters promptly.

Provide feedback to Chancellor on issues arising from

Implement changes arising from individual complaints and
from the analysis and evaluation of complaint data as directed
by Chancellor.

Terms and Definitions


Expression of dissatisfaction made to or about us, or our volunteer Catechists who teach Special
Religious Education (SRE) in State School’s or the handling of a complaint where a response or
resolution is explicitly or implicitly expected or legally required

Complaint management system

All policies, procedures, practices, staff, hardware and software used by us in the management of


An unresolved complaint escalated either within or outside of our organisation.


Opinions, comments and expressions of interest or concern, made directly or indirectly, explicitly or
implicitly, to or about our volunteer Catechists who teach Special Religious Education or about our
complaint handling where a response is not explicitly or implicitly expected or legally required.

Service request

The definition of a service request will vary depending on the organisation’s core business. However, it
is likely to include:

  • requests for approval
  • requests for action
  • routine inquiries about the organisation’s business
  • requests for the provision of services and assistance
  • reports of failure to comply with laws regulated by the Diocese
  • requests for explanation of policies, procedures and decisions.


A statement of instruction that sets out how we should fulfil our vision, mission and goals.


A statement or instruction that sets out how our policies will be implemented and by whom.

Public interest disclosure

A report about wrong doing made by a public official in New South Wales that meets the requirements
of the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994.

Guiding principles

Step 1

Facilitate complaints

Step 2


Step 3

the parties
to a

Facilitate complaints

People focus

We are committed to seeking and receiving feedback and complaints about our volunteer Catechists
who teach SRE within State Schools, or about their practices, procedures, and complaint handling

Any concerns raised in feedback or complaints will be dealt with within a reasonable time frame,
normally within two working days of receipt of any complaint

People making complaints will be:

  • provided with information about our complaint handling process
  • provided with accessible ways to make complaints
  • listened to, treated with respect by staff and actively involved in the complaint process where
    possible and appropriate, and
  • provided with reasons for our decision/s and any options for redress or revie

No detriment to people making complaints

We will take all reasonable steps to ensure that people making complaints are not adversely affected
because a complaint has been made by them or on their behalf.

Anonymous complaints

We accept anonymous complaints and will carry out an investigation of the issues raised where there is
enough information provided.


We will ensure that information about how and where complaints may be made to or about us is well
publicised. We will ensure that our systems to manage complaints are easily understood and accessible
to everyone, particularly people who may require assistance.

Respond to complaints

Early resolution

Where possible, complaints will be resolved at first contact with the appropriate authorised officer of the
Diocese of Armidale being the CCD Director.


We will promptly acknowledge receipt of complaints.

We will assess and prioritise complaints in accordance with the urgency and/or seriousness of the
issues raised. If a matter concerns an immediate risk to safety or security the response will be
immediate and will be escalated appropriately

We are committed to managing people’s expectations, and will inform them as soon as possible,
of the following

  • the complaints process
  • the expected time frames for our actions
  • the progress of the complaint and reasons for any delay
  • their likely involvement in the process, and
  • the possible or likely outcome of their complaint.

We will advise people as soon as possible when we are unable to deal with any part of their complaint
and provide advice about where such issues and/or complaints may be directed (if known and

We will also advise people as soon as possible when we are unable to meet our time frames for
responding to their complaint and the reason for our delay.

Objectivity and fairness

We will address each complaint with integrity and in an equitable, objective and unbiased manner.
We will ensure that the person handling a complaint is different from any staff member whose conduct
or service is being complained about.
Conflicts of interests, whether actual or perceived, will be managed responsibly. In particular, internal
reviews of how a complaint was managed will be conducted by a person other than the original
decision make

Responding flexibly

Our staff are empowered to resolve complaints promptly and with as little formality as possible. We will
adopt flexible approaches to service delivery and problem solving to enhance accessibility for people
making complaints and/or their representatives.
We will assess each complaint on its merits and involve people making complaints and/or their
representative in the process as far as possible


We will protect the identity of people making complaints where this is practical and appropriate.
Personal information that identifies individuals will only be disclosed or used by the Diocese as permitted
Part 2 – Components of the framework
under the relevant privacy laws, secrecy provisions and any relevant confidentiality obligations.

Manage the parties to a complaint

Complaints involving multiple agencies

Where a complaint involves an issue within a State School, we will work with the school or the
Department of Education where possible, to ensure that communication with the person making a
complaint and/or their representative is clear and coordinated.
Subject to privacy and confidentiality considerations, communication and information sharing between
the Diocese and the school of Department will also be organised to facilitate a timely response to the

Complaints involving multiple parties

When similar complaints are made by related parties we will try to arrange to communicate with a single
representative of the group.

Empowerment of staff

All staff managing complaints are empowered to implement our complaint management system as
relevant to their role and responsibilities.
Staff are encouraged to provide feedback on the effectiveness and efficiency of all aspects of our
complaint management system.

Managing unreasonable conduct by people making complaints

We are committed to being accessible and responsive to all people who approach us with feedback or
complaints. At the same time our success depends on:

  • our ability to do our work and perform our functions in the most effective and efficient way possible
  • the health, safety and security of our staff, and
  • our ability to allocate our resources fairly across all the complaints we receive.

When people behave unreasonably in their dealings with us, their conduct can significantly affect the
progress and efficiency of our work. As a result, we will take proactive and decisive action to manage
any conduct that negatively and unreasonably affects us and will support our staff to do the same in
accordance with this policy.

Complaint management system

  • Receive
  • Acknowledge
  • Assess and
  • Provide
    reasons for
  • Options for
    redress and
    close complaint


When responding to complaints, Diocesan staff should act in accordance with our complaint handling
procedures as well as any other internal documents providing guidance on the management of
complaints. Our staff should also consider any relevant legislation and/or regulations when responding
to complaints and feedback.
The five key stages in our complaint management system are set out below.

4.2 Receipt of complaints

Unless the complaint has been resolved at the outset, we will record the complaint and its supporting
information. We will also assign a unique identifier to the complaint file.

The record of the complaint will document:

  • the contact information of the person making a complaint
  • issues raised by the person making a complaint and the outcome/s they want
  • any other relevant and
  • any additional support the person making a complaint requires.

Acknowledgement of complaints

We will acknowledge receipt of each complaint promptly, and preferably within two working days.
Consideration will be given to the most appropriate medium (e.g. email, letter) for communicating with
the person making a complaint.

Initial assessment and addressing of complaints

Initial assessment

After acknowledging receipt of the complaint, we will confirm whether the issue/s raised in the
complaint is/are within our control. We will also consider the outcome/s sought by the person making
a complaint and, where there is more than one issue raised, determine whether each issue needs to
be separately addressed.

When determining how a complaint will be managed, we will consider:

  • How serious, complicated or urgent the complaint is
  • Whether the complaint raises concerns about people’s health and safety
  • How the person making the complaint, or their child is being affected
  • The risks involved if resolution of the complaint is delayed, and
  • Whether a resolution requires the involvement of other organisations such as a local school or the
    Department of Education.

Addressing complaints

After assessing the complaint, we will consider how to manage it. To manage a complaint, we may:

  • Give the person making a complaint information or an explanation
  • Gather information from the person or the school that the complaint is about, or
  • Investigate the claims made in the complaint.

We will keep the person making the complaint up to date on our progress, particularly if there are any
delays. We will also communicate the outcome of the complaint using the most appropriate medium.
Which actions we decide to take will be tailored to each case and take into account any statutory

Providing reasons for decisions

Following consideration of the complaint and any investigation into the issues raised, we will contact the
person making the complaint and advise them:

  • the outcome of the complaint and any action we took (with due regard and at all times adhering to
    privacy legislation pertaining to minor’s)
  • the reason/s for our decision
  • the remedy or resolution/s that we have proposed or put in place, and
  • any options for review that may be available to the complainant, such as an internal review,
    external review or appeal.

If in the course of investigation, we make any adverse findings about a particular individual, we will
consider any applicable privacy obligations under the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act
1998 and any applicable exemptions in or made pursuant to that Act, before sharing our findings with
the person making the complaint.

Closing the complaint, record keeping, redress and review

We will keep comprehensive records about:

  • How we managed the complaint
  • The outcome/s of the complaint (including whether it or any aspect of it was substantiated, any
    recommendations made to address problems identified and any decisions made on those
    recommendations, and
  • Any outstanding actions that need to be followed up.

We will ensure that outcomes are properly implemented, monitored and reported to the Bishop and/or
Chancellor of the Diocese

Alternative avenues for dealing with complaints

We will inform people who make complaints to or about us about any internal or external review options
available to them (including any relevant Ombudsman or oversight bodies).

The three levels of complaint handling

Level 3 – External review of complaints and/or complaint handling by organisations.

Level 2 – Internal review of complaints and/or complaint handling (may include further investigation of issues raised and use of Alternative Dispute Resolution options).

Level 1 – Frontline complaint handling and early resolution of complaints

We aim to resolve complaints at the first level, the frontline. Wherever possible the duly authorised officer(s) of the Diocese will be adequately equipped to respond to complaints, including being given appropriate authority, training and supervision.

Where this is not possible, we may decide to escalate the complaint to a more senior officer within the Diocese. This second level of complaint handling will provide for the following internal mechanisms:

  • assessment and possible investigation of the complaint and decision/s already made, and/or
  • facilitated resolution (where a person not connected with the complaint reviews the matter and attempts to find an outcome acceptable to the relevant parties).

Accountability and learning

Analysis and evaluation of complaints

We will ensure that complaints are recorded in a systematic way so that information can be easily
retrieved for reporting and analysis.

Regular reports will be run on:

  • the number of complaints received
  • the outcome of complaints, including matters resolved at the frontline
  • issues arising from complaints
  • systemic issues identified, and
  • the number of requests we receive for a review of our complaint handling.

Regular analysis of these reports will be undertaken to monitor trends, measure the quality of our
customer service and make improvements..

Both reports and their analysis will be provided to Bishop and his delegates for review.

Monitoring of the complaint management system

Monitoring of the complaint management system

  • ensure its effectiveness in responding to and resolving complaints, and
  • identify and correct deficiencies in the operation of the system.
  • Monitoring may include the use of audits of complaint satisfaction surveys.

Continuous improvement

We are committed to improving the effectiveness and efficiency of our complaint management system.
To this end, we will:

  • support the making and appropriate resolution of complaints
  • implement best practices in complaint handling
  • recognise and reward exemplary complaint handling by staff
  • regularly review the complaints management system and complaint data, and
  • implement appropriate system changes arising out of our analysis of complaints data and continual
    monitoring of the system