Chapter 10 — Complaints handling under the Information Sharing Schemes
About complaints handling under the Information Sharing Schemes
Under the Information Sharing Schemes, Information Sharing Entities and individuals (for example, parents, students and members of the community) may complain about how information was shared under the schemes.
Complaints can be made verbally or in writing.
In responding to complaints, schools should appropriately consider the circumstances and identities of the complainant and acknowledge and respond to concerns in a timely and respectful manner. It is recommended that complaints in relation to the schemes be addressed to the Principal or Assistant Principal.
Complaints to schools from other Information Sharing Entities
Schools may receive complaints from other Information Sharing Entities about how the school has undertaken activities under the Information Sharing Schemes, including if a request for information has not been met.
Under the Information Sharing Schemes, schools must respond directly to complaints from other Information Sharing Entities. This is to enable complaints to be resolved at a local level first, which supports the legislative principles of the schemes to promote services working collaboratively to coordinate their services in a manner that respects the functions and expertise of each Information Sharing Entity.
As an example of a complaint from an Information Sharing Entity to a school, an Information Sharing Entity may complain about how the school shared information under the Information Sharing Schemes, such as, the school did not:
- fulfil the request for information
- share relevant information that should be shared
- respond in a timely way.
In its response, the school may explain whether it viewed the requirements for sharing as having been met for all or some of the requested information and its professional judgement about whether it was safe, appropriate and reasonable to share the information. In relation to a complaint about timeliness, depending on the circumstances, a school may respond by explaining the reasons for the delay, or may apologise and consider how it could improve its operational response.
If schools cannot resolve a complaint with another Information Sharing Entity, it should advise that Information Sharing Entity that they may contact the regional office and request the region’s assistance with resolution.
Schools may also request the region’s assistance when responding to a complaint from an Information Sharing Entity.
Complaints from parents, carers and other individuals
Schools may receive complaints from parents, students and other individuals, such as other family members or members of the community, in relation to the Information Sharing Schemes. For example, a parent may complain that their views and/or the views of their child or other relevant family members were not sought in relation to sharing their personal information.
Note: A ‘parent’, in relation to a child, includes a carer and any person who has parental responsibility for the child including parental responsibility under the Family Law Act of the Commonwealth, and any person with whom a child normally or regularly resides.
For complainants who are parents, mature minors, or adult students. or advocates of these complainants, the Department’s three tier framework continues to apply. Parent (and mature minor, or adult student complaints) are best managed at the local school level.
- Where a parent is not satisfied with the outcome or resolution achieved with the school (tier one), they may contact the regional office (tier two), or if the complainant feels uncomfortable raising the complaint directly with the school, they can escalate the complaint to the local regional office (tier two) for resolution.
- Parents have an additional opportunity for resolution by contacting the Department’s central office, if they remain unsatisfied with the outcome or resolution achieved at the regional office.
For complaints from other individuals, for example, from other family members who are not parents, or neighbours, a two-tier framework of resolution at local school level first, then escalation to the local regional office for resolution applies.
School complaints policy
The template Complaints Policy has been updated to include record keeping obligations for the Information Sharing Schemes and a link to this Child and Family Violence Information Sharing Schemes topic. Schools should update their own local policy on parent complaints with this additional information.
Many complaints under the Information Sharing Schemes are likely to relate to privacy. For example, a parent may complain that their personal information, or their child’s personal information has been shared outside the Department without their permission. If the complaint is unable to be resolved at the local level, schools may direct these privacy complaints to the Department’s Privacy team. Contact the Privacy Team for advice by phoning or emailing
Schools should refer complaints that are a mixture of privacy-related elements and other more process-related elements (such as how the school has conducted activities under the Information Sharing Schemes) to their regional office in the first instance. The regional office will triage these complaints and refer to the Privacy team.
If a complaint has been responded to by the Privacy team and the complainant is not satisfied with the response, they can escalate their complaint to the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC) or the Office of the Victorian Health Complaints Commissioner (HCC). These Offices will first confirm that the Department has had the opportunity to respond directly.
The Department’s website advises complainants that privacy complaints can be made to a regional office, or directly to the Department’s Privacy team. Regional offices will refer any privacy complaints to the Privacy team for response.
Making a complaint to another Information Sharing Entity
Schools can complain directly to other Information Sharing Entities about how they have conducted their activities under the Information Sharing Schemes. Before making a complaint to another Information Sharing Entity, schools should first contact the Information Sharing Entity directly to raise their concerns. This is in keeping with the aim of the Information Sharing Schemes to facilitate services working together collaboratively for integrated services provision. It may be that through further conversation the issue can be resolved without a formal complaint.
Schools should check the other Information Sharing Entity’s website or contact them directly to determine the other Information Sharing Entity’s complaints handling requirements, for example whether they provide a complaints template or if there are specific contact details for complaints about sharing information under the Information Sharing Schemes.
If the complaint is not resolved locally by the Information Sharing Entity, schools may contact the Community Liaison Officer in their regional office for further support in the first instance.
Record keeping for complaints made under the Information Sharing Schemes
Record keeping for complaints received
Schools (as Information Sharing Entities) must keep a record of any complaints received in relation to the Information Sharing Schemes. Schools must record:
- the date the complaint was made and received
- the nature of the complaint — schools should record relevant details such as:
- whether the complainant is:
- an Information Sharing Entity or Risk Assessment Entity
- third party
- student or family member
- victim survivor of family violence
- if the complaint is about the information that was shared, whose information was involved
- the circumstances surrounding the sharing of information
- any harms that the complainant believes have resulted from the event
- whether the complainant is:
- any action that was taken to resolve the complaint
- any necessary action that has been taken to prevent, or lessen, the risk of further similar complaints by addressing the reasons for the complaint
- the time taken to resolve the complaint
- if the school was unable to resolve the complaint, what (if any) further action was taken.
Schools must store the complaint records securely and take reasonable steps to ensure that the records are kept secure and protected from misuse, loss and unauthorised disclosure. Refer to for further information.
Record keeping for complaints made by a school
Schools are encouraged to also keep a record of any complaints made in relation to the Information Sharing Schemes for good practice.
Schools should record:
- the date the complaint was made
- the nature of the complaint with relevant details
- the Information Sharing Entity to whom the complaint was made (including the details of the person to whom the complaint was made)
- the outcome of the complaint.
Reviewed 23 October 2023