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The purpose of the Complaints and feedback management policy is to ensure the Education Standards Board (ESB) manages complaints and feedback in a fair, consistent, professional and timely manner.


This policy applies to all ESB employees.

It has been designed to comply with the Department of the Premier and Cabinet (DPC) Circular 039: Complaints management in the South Australian public sector.

It applies to complaints and feedback (positive or negative) about:

  • staff attitude, competency and knowledge
  • communication quality
  • confidentiality
  • systems/technology
  • process
  • content and access to information
  • safety
  • service responsiveness.


This policy does not apply to complaints about schools or early childhood services. See instead:

This policy does not apply to corruption, misconduct and maladministration. The conduct and practice of public authorities and their employees in South Australia (specifically relating to corruption, misconduct and maladministration) can be reported to the Independent Commissioner against Corruption (ICAC).


  • Stakeholder: the person or people who receive or use our services (individuals or organisations)
  • Complaint: an expression of dissatisfaction about our service (including our staff and contractors) where a response or resolution is expected or legally required
  • Feedback: any positive or negative comments about our service (including our staff and contractors) where a response is not expected or legally required
  • Complaint management system (CMS): policies, procedures, organisational culture, our employees, and the hardware and software needed to manage complaints and feedback in a timely and effective way
  • Procedure: instructions on how and who needs to implement a policy

Roles and responsibilities

ESB employees will:

  • ensure any complaints raised with them are referred to their manager.

Managers will:

  • resolve complaints in the first instance wherever possible.
  • ensure the CMS policy and procedures are visible, accessible and promoted throughout the agency and to stakeholders.
  • ensure complaint and feedback data is collected, analysed and used to improve our services.
  • support staff to manage complaints appropriately.

The Chief Executive will:

  • ensure the establishment, maintenance and promotion of an effective complaints management process.
  • support the use of complaints data to inform service improvements, leading to better customer service.


ESB applies a three-level model for complaint handling.

  • Level 1: Early resolution by manager
  • Level 2: Escalation to Chief Executive, if needed
  • Level 3: Referral to external agency, e.g. SA Ombudsman, if needed

Time frame

ESB aims to resolve an escalated complaint within 21 working days. If a complaint cannot be resolved within 21 working days, we will communicate with the stakeholder to advise when an outcome is expected.

Supporting all people with a complaint

All ESB staff need to show consideration to issues experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and people who have historically been marginalised or excluded (including those subject to socio-economic disadvantage), who may need support to make a complaint. We will ensure our processes are flexible and sensitive and stakeholders’ rights to make complaints are supported.

Receipt of complaints and feedback

The complaint or feedback and any supporting information will be recorded. This will include:

  • the stakeholder’s details (noting some complaints are made anonymously)
  • the date of the contact (to establish response time frames)
  • the nature of the contact (complaint, positive feedback or negative feedback)
  • the action sought by the stakeholder (if a complaint)
  • the outcome and decision of the complaint (once the investigation is completed)
  • any other information required to properly respond to the matter.

Timeframe for acknowledging complaints

We will acknowledge receipt of complaints or feedback within three (3) working days. Employees will use the stakeholder’s preferred communication method to acknowledge the complaint and maintain contact.

Investigating complaints

The ESB will address each complaint in an equitable, objective and unbiased manner. We may:

  • give the stakeholder information or an explanation.
  • gather information from the person or area relating to the complaint.
  • investigate the claims made in the complaint.

Providing reasons for decisions

We will contact the stakeholder about:

  • the outcome of the complaint and the action taken.
  • the reasons for our decision.
  • the remedy or resolutions we have proposed or put in place.
  • any options for review available to the stakeholder.

Closing the complaint

We will retain records detailing:

  • how we managed the complaint
  • the outcome of the complaint
  • any recommendations or decisions made
  • any outstanding actions that need to be implemented.

At the end of the investigation, we will review the cause of the complaint to assist with identifying trends and opportunities for improvement. We will ensure that, where appropriate or necessary, complaint outcomes are implemented and monitored by the ESB.

Complaints review

We will inform stakeholders who make complaints about the review options available to them, including to the SA Ombudsman.


We will monitor the quality and effectiveness of our complaints management process.

Information collected about complaints or feedback will be used to meet ESB’s annual reporting requirements.