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Tips to make a complaint or give feedback to the department

Before making a complaint or feedback with the department

  • Have you raised the matter with the original decision maker?
  • Has the leader (director, principal, manager, team leader) been given a chance to address the issue? This option may lead to a quicker resolution.
  • What outcome are you seeking?
  • Do you need help to make a complaint? Refer to accessibility and support to make a complaint or call the Customer Feedback Unit (CFU) on 1800 677 435.
  • If you're not sure who you should contact to make a complaint (for example if it's not about a decision made by a school or preschool), contact the general enquiry phone number 1800 677 435 or email Education.Customers [at] sa.gov.au.

Making a complaint or providing feedback

In person at a school or preschool

You should contact the original decision maker first to discuss the matter and raise your concerns directly. This might be a teacher, a principal or preschool director. Making a complaint in person to the school or preschool can often be the quickest way to resolution.

When making a complaint in person, it's important to take time to prepare. Consider the following:

  • make an appointment or set up a meeting with the teacher, preschool director, principal or delegated leader
  • set out important points for what to talk about to help make it clearer for you
  • allow time for planning and thinking
  • determine what you would like to know
  • be as specific and factual as possible
  • let the school or preschool know before the meeting what you want to know so they can respond at the meeting
  • know what outcome you are seeking
  • if it's suitable to bring someone to the meeting (a friend or advocate)
  • take any supporting documents and a pen and paper to the meeting
  • make a note of the people involved (for example who the complaint has already been lodged with)
  • follow up any unresolved concerns after the meeting in writing.

In writing

If your complaint is complex, submitting it online (in writing) may be the best option because:

  • setting out important points can help make your concerns clearer
  • it enables facts of situations as you know them to be described with clarity (be as specific and factual as possible)
  • it allows time to plan and think
  • it encourages a return response by email that you can keep and refer back to
  • it gives the staff time to review the complaint and provide a thorough response.

On the phone

When making a complaint or providing feedback on the phone think about the following:

  • call at an appropriate time (for example when there are no distractions for you)
  • try to remain calm so you can be clear about the issue
  • be as specific and factual as possible
  • wait until you are prepared (it might be helpful to develop a list of questions to ask beforehand)
  • consider emailing the questions before making a call so that you can be given a response.

What may happen when I make a complaint or provide feedback?

You may receive:

  • an opportunity to express your concern, explain your point of view and clarify misunderstandings
  • an opportunity for staff to clarify their actions and help you to understand the requirements if a decision is related to a law or policy
  • an acknowledgement that the complaint has been received
  • advice about who will be managing the complaint, likely timeline and possible next steps
  • reference to relevant policy, procedure or guideline.

What may happen after a complaint is made and followed up?

  • the complaint may be substantiated (upheld, confirmed), partially substantiated, unsubstantiated or the complaint may be resolved
  • there may be a review or change of decision, practice or procedure or further information on a topic may be received
  • there may be acknowledgement that the matter was handled appropriately or could have been handled better
  • there may be a statement confirming the decision, practice, procedure or a statement of regret, if warranted.