Giving Feedback, Making Complaints & Managing Disputes

It is very difficult and challenging having a child removed from your care. You can feel that everyone is judging you and treating you badly. You already feel bad enough about yourself and the last thing you need is more judgement.

PARENTS HAVE SAID,

“The worker was really aggressive. He brought his past into the situation and believed every allegation that came up”

“The worker was so judgemental, so unhelpful and constantly told me there was no way I was going to get my son back because of what I’d done”

“There’s only one agency that lets me be part of the case plan”

When you are acting on high emotions, it’s hard to be professional when the worker is being judgemental

You can complain if you feel you or your child are not getting a fair go. You can complain about a range of issues to do with your child and you including:

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Family time decisions (contact)

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Other decisions about your child including where they are placed

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Issues to do with your child’s education and health care

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If your children are are not supported to see their siblings or are not placed together

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Your participation in case planning

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Behaviour by caseworkers or other staff, such as, excluding you, rudeness, or disrespect.

Some tips for making complaints

The first step is to talk to the caseworker or case manager. If this doesn’t help, ask to talk to the team leader or manager from the agency or DCJ.

If this doesn’t work then consider making a formal complaint. If you decide to make a formal complaint put it in writing if you can. If you can’t put it in writing tell the staff member clearly that you want to make a formal complaint. Your options are:

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Calling or writing to the most senior person in the agency. This is likely to be someone with the title Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or principal officer

If you are complaining about DCJ, go to the DCJ website and contact them using the email or postal address provided or call them on 1800 000 164

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You can also complain to DCJ about what other agencies/funded service providers do, because they receive DCJ funding. Use the link above.

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Calling or writing to the NSW Ombudsman on 1800 451 524 or email: nswombo@ombo.nsw.gov.au

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Write to the Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services. The current Minister as at May 2021, is the Hon Mark Speakman MP

Managing disputes

It can be helpful to get outside support to manage disputes and disagreements when your children are in out of home care. There are a few alternative dispute resolution (ADR) processes you can ask for if you are having problems coming to an agreement with an agency or with DCJ. It is fine for you to suggest this – you don’t have to wait for the agency or DCJ to offer it.

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Disputes over family time (contact) – you can ask for an Dispute Resolution Conference (DRC) to help discuss issues and come to an agreement. This agreement can then be lodged in court and becomes a legal document (contact order).

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Any other dispute you have about your child and how they are being cared for.

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Disputes over where your child should be placed including whether or not they can live with you. A Family Group Conference (FGC) can be a good way for decisions to be made about who will care for your child long term and what support may be needed. Ask for a family group conference if you think this will suit you and your child.

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Get legal advice if you need more information about ADR and what process would suit you and your child.

Do you have a question?

If you require some additional direction or support, feel free to send us an email.