Policies & Procedures

Complaints Handling Policy

Scotch College welcomes feedback from all members of the College community and takes all complaints or concerns that may be raised seriously. This Complaints Handling Policy is designed to assist you to understand how to make a complaint.

For the purposes of this policy, we use the terms "staff" and "staff member" to include all teaching and non-teaching staff, College Council members, volunteers, contractors and external providers.

What is a complaint?

A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction made to Scotch College, related to our services or operations, or the complaints handling process itself, where a response or resolution is explicitly or implicitly expected.

Complaints about child abuse, grooming or other harm, or other breaches of our Child Safe Codes of Conduct, relating to conduct by:

  • current or former staff members
  • current or former students
  • other people on College premises or at College events

are managed differently from other complaints.

Refer to the section at the end of this policy – Complaints About Child Safety Incidents or Concerns at or Involving the College or its Staff Members – for more information.

Scotch College's Commitment

Scotch College is committed to handling complaints effectively and efficiently. To manage complaints effectively, we have established a Complaints Handling Program in line with:

  • Principle 6 of the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations, using the Office of Child Safety's "Complaints Handling Guide: Upholding the Rights of Children and Young People"
  • the international complaints handling standard (ISO 10002:2018 Quality management – Customer satisfaction – Guidelines for complaints handling in organizations), and
  • the Australian/New Zealand complaints handling standard (AS/NZS 10002:2014 Guidelines for complaint management in organizations).

To manage complaints efficiently, Scotch College responds to complaints promptly and thoroughly.

Our internal complaints handling process is available at no cost.

Our Complaints Handling Program includes the establishment of an online complaints management system which allows us to effectively capture, manage and report on complaints.

Regular analysis of complaints received to identify causes and systemic failures so as to inform continuous improvement are key to the College's commitment.

When handling complaints, Scotch College ensures that reporting, record keeping, privacy and employment law obligations are met.

Scotch College's complaints handling process conforms to the rules of procedural fairness and confidentiality – information is only shared with those who need to know.

Culturally Safe Complaints Management

Scotch College values diversity and does not tolerate any discriminatory practices. To achieve this, we support the cultural safety, participation and empowerment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and their families. Our College's complaint handling system is one which is culturally safe and overcomes cultural barriers and taboos to disclosure – our complaints handling process is managed by people who are aware of and sensitive to potential complainant's culture and cultural attitudes.

Informal Complaints Resolution

The vast majority of issues causing concern in schools can be handled quickly and in an informal manner. We therefore ask that, where appropriate, you first raise your concern directly with the relevant staff member. Even if the issue is resolved informally, all staff are required to log issues through our complaints management system so we are able to identify any systemic issues arising, and take appropriate rectification action.

How do I make a Formal Complaint?

If you have been unable to resolve a matter informally, or simply wish to make a formal complaint you can do so by any of the following means:

  1. Provide your feedback/details of the complaint via the 'Tell Us' function on our public website.
  2. Sending an email to complaints@scotch.wa.edu.au
  3. Writing a letter to the College addressed to "The Complaints Manager".
  4. Telephoning the College and asking to speak to the student's Head of House, Homeroom Teacher, Class Teacher or the College's Complaints Manager.
  5. Parents/carers can provide their feedback/details of the complaint via the 'Tell Us' function in home.scotch.wa.edu.au.

All formal complaints will be logged into our online complaints management system and managed in accordance with the following procedure.

Our Internal Complaints Handling Process

Step 1 – All formal complaints are logged through our online complaints management system where they are screened by one of our Complaints Officers or the Complaints Manager, or in the case of complaints against the Headmaster, by the Chair of the College Council.

Step 2 – All valid complaints will be acknowledged in writing, as soon as practicable, and allocated a status, priority and target resolution date. It is our policy, where possible, to resolve all disputes within 14 days.

Step 3 – The Complaints Officer/Manager will conduct an investigation into the issues raised, following principles of procedural fairness, and make a determination.

Step 4 – Following the determination, if appropriate, the Complaints Officer/Manager will formulate a resolution and provide a written response to the complainant. The matter will be closed if this response is accepted.

Step 5 – Internal reviews: If the initial response is not acceptable, the matter will be reviewed internally by the Headmaster or the Headmaster's delegate, who may seek additional information or submissions from the relevant parties. The Headmaster or their delegate seek to resolve all disputes within 14 days from the date that the review process is initiated. The matter will be closed if the response of the Headmaster, or their delegate, is accepted.

Step 6 – All complaints received will be entered into our Complaints Register and, where appropriate, a corrective action request will be made to address any underlying processes which the complaints investigation revealed may require improvement.

Step 7 – If the matter remains unresolved, the complainant may pursue external resolution alternatives.

Overseas Students

Overseas students can access the College’s Internal Complaints Handling and Appeals Process at no charge. If the matter cannot be resolved informally, the overseas student can lodge a formal complaint or appeal and be accompanied and assisted by a support person at any relevant meetings.

Any complaint or appeal lodged by an overseas student will be assessed by the College in a professional, fair and transparent manner. Assessment of a complaint or appeal will commence within 10 working days of it being made and the outcome will be finalised as soon as practicable. 

The outcome of an internal appeal, including reasons for the outcome, will be provided to the overseas student in a written statement. In accordance with the College’s Internal Complaints Handling and Appeals Process, a written record of the complaint or appeal will be kept in the College’s Complaints Register, including the statement of outcome and reasons for the outcome.

Overseas Student Ombudsman

If an overseas student is not satisfied with the outcome of College's internal complaints handling process, they may lodge an external appeal through the Overseas Students Ombudsman (OSO) which investigates complaints about problems that overseas students or intending overseas students may have with private education and training in Australia.  The services of the OSO are free.  The contact details for the OSO are as follows:

Call: 1300 362 072 within Australia. Outside Australia call +61 2 6276 0111
Enquiries: 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, Australian Eastern Standard Time (Australian Eastern Daylight Time when daylight savings is in effect)
Post: Commonwealth Ombudsman, GPO Box 442 Canberra ACT 2601
Website: https://www.ombudsman.gov.au/How-we-can-help/overseas-students

Where the OSO process results in a decision or recommendation in favour of the overseas student, the College will immediately implement the decision or recommendation and/or take the preventative or corrective action required by the decision, and advise the overseas student of that action.


Confidentiality applies with respect to both information relating to the person making the complaint and, if relevant, to a person against whom a complaint is made. The College is committed to maintaining the confidentiality of information throughout the complaints process.

Personally identifiable information about a complainant will only be made available for the purpose of addressing the complaint and (unless the complainant consents) will be actively protected from disclosure.

Complaints About Child Safety Incidents or Concerns At or Involving the College or its Staff Members

Complaints about or allegations of:

  • breaches of the Child Safe Codes of Conduct
  • child abuse, grooming or other harm of a current or former student by
    • current or former staff members
    • current or former students
    • other people on College premises or at College events

are managed by the College in a different manner from other complaints.

This is because of the additional confidentiality and privacy requirements surrounding these kinds of matters.

We refer to these as child safety related complaints.

If your complaint is a child safety related complaint, please make your complaint to: the Senior Child Safety Officer, James Hindle, on 08 9383 6835 or at james.hindle@scotch.wa.edu.au, or, if this person is the subject of your complaint, please notify the Headmaster on 08 9383 6806 or at headmaster@scotch.wa.edu.au.

For information about how the College manages child safety related complaints, as well as any child safety incidents or concerns at or involving the College or its staff members, please refer to our Procedures for Managing Child Safety Incidents or Concerns At or Involving the College or its Staff, Volunteers or Contractors, available on our public website.

The Role of the Director General

The Director General of the Department of Education is responsible for ensuring that the College observes the Registration Standards, including the standard about its complaints handling system. Any student, parent or community member is entitled to contact the Director General with concerns about how the College has dealt with a complaint. Information is available on the Department of Education website. While the Director General may consider whether the College has breached the Registration Standards, she does not have the power to intervene in a complaint or override the College's decision.

Updated 27 October 2020.