Friday, December 1, 2023

Inner West Complaints Handling Policy

(27 November 2018 ) Council meeting

 Motion: (Da Cruz/Kiat)
THAT Council:
1. Adopt the amended Complaints Handling policy shown as Attachment 1 incorporating six monthly report on complaint statistics to be published on website;
2. Receive a six monthly report summarising the types of complaints received and actions to address issues identified; and
3. Rescind the below legacy policies of the former Ashfield, Marrickville and Leichhardt councils:
- Customer Complaints Policy (Ashfield);
- Service Complaints Policy (Leichhardt); and
- Council Complaint Management Policy (Marrickville).
Motion Carried
For Motion: Crs Byrne, Da Cruz, Drury, Hesse, Iskandar, Kiat, Lockie, Macri, McKenna OAM, Passas, Porteous, Raciti, Stamolis, Steer and York
Against Motion: Nil


Council Meeting 26 October 2021

July 2023


Item No:         C1021(3) Item 6

Subject:          Adoption of Complaints Handling Policy           

Prepared By:      Katherine Paixao - Acting Governance Manager  

Authorised By:  Peter Livanes - Acting Director Corporate 


THAT Council adopts the Complaints Handling Policy shown in attachment 1.


At the 20 July 2021 Council meeting, it was resolved:

“THAT Council:

1.  Endorse the draft Policy shown as Attachment 1 to be placed on public exhibition for a period of 28 days; and

2.  Consider the results of the public exhibition process when adopting a final policy”.

The Complaints Handling Policy was exhibited for public consultation between 29 July 2021 and 30 August 2021.

Four (4) submissions were received during the exhibition period.

Two (2) submissions were supportive of the draft policy, one (1) was opposed and one (1) was neutral.

Out of the total four (4) submissions received, the following key themes emerged from community feedback:

·    Support the aspiration and content in the policy

·    Council is difficult to contact

·    Allow residents and ratepayers to email Council instead of using the online self-service system

·    Provide a unique identifier and context of all submissions reported back to residents

·    Responses should not generate a new unique identifier and are attached to the original complaint/request

·    There should be an option to have a complaint handled by a body other than the Internal Ombudsman in cases where the policy would direct complaints there

·    Complainant should be involved in the assessment of their complaint

·    Complaint data should be displayed on Council’s website.

No changes have been made to the draft policy as a result of community feedback.





Draft Complaints Handling Policy


Council Meeting10 October 2023

Item No:              C1023(1) Item 4

Subject:              Public Exhibition - Draft Complaints Handling Policy           

Prepared By:      Michael Spikmans - Manager Customer Experience and Innovation  

Authorised By:  Melanie Gurney - Acting Director Corporate


1.    That Council publicly exhibit the draft Complaints Handling Policy for a period of 28 days and seek community feedback on the proposed Policy.

 2.    That following the conclusion of the exhibition period, the draft Complaints Handling Policy be brought back to Council to consider for adoption.


This report supports the following strategic directions contained within Council’s Community Strategic Plan:

5: Progressive, responsive and effective civic leadership


Council regularly reviews policies to ensure they are up to date and reflect current structures, practices, strategic direction, legislative changes, and guidance.

The current Complaints Handling Policy was adopted by Council on 26 October 2021 with a review scheduled for after two years in 2023.

Council’s Complaints Handling Policy has been reviewed and amended to ensure it conforms with the guidelines and policies of the NSW Ombudsman and reflects better practice in complaints handling and in meeting community expectations and needs.

This draft incorporates amendments to ensure Council’s Complaints Handling Policy works consistently with Council’s operations and meets contemporary best practice expectations.

The revised Complaints Handling Policy is proposed to proceed to public exhibition, with a further report to be tabled to Council in November 2023 to consider the policy for adoption.


Council’s first Complaints Handling Policy was adopted on 27 November 2018. At the Council meeting held on 26 October 2021, Council adopted Version 2 of the Complaints Handling Policy. Clause 9 of the adopted policy states it is subject to regular review every two years. Council has conducted a review of the policy in September 2023 as required by the policy.

Council’s Complaints Handling Policy establishes a consistent, proactive, and measurable approach to effective complaint management for Inner West Council and applies to all staff, elected Councillors, our community and service partners.

The changes made in this draft align the Complaints Handling Policy with Council’s Customer Experience Strategy and its commitment to delivering service excellence.  It highlights how an effective complaints management framework fosters continuous improvement in service delivery and enhances customer experience.

The redrafts improve customers’ experience by using plain English and clarifies key issues involving accessibility, acceptable behaviors, staff accountability and options for complaint review; to enhance Council’s efforts to foster a culture of service excellence.   


The draft Complaints Handling Policy provides a customer focused complaints management framework and adheres to NSW Ombudsman guidelines on effective complaints handling.

The draft Policy was updated to reflect contemporary best practice and current Council operations.

Relevant Council documents which have changed since the policy was last adopted and which are now reflected in this draft include Council’s Values and Model Code of Conduct and the Customer Service Charter. The draft policy also incorporates suggestions made by Council’s Internal Ombudsman Shared Service to clarify current complaint investigation processes.

The current policy had regard to the NSW Ombudsman’s 2021 Manual for managing unreasonable complainant conduct. This draft reflects relevant elements of the NSW Ombudsman’s July 2022 Model Policy: Managing unreasonable conduct by complainants, which was released after the current policy was adopted by Council. 

The draft policy employs plain English and adds more diagrams to help readers understand the process.

The draft Complaints Handling Policy highlights Council’s commitment to fair, effective, transparent, and efficient complaint handling practices, by:

·    Detailing guiding principles to ensure complaints received are dealt with courteously, investigated thoroughly through transparent processes and resolved efficiently and appropriately in line with Council’s Customer Service Charter

·    Clarifying the three levels of complaint handling, in line with the NSW Ombudsman’s Effective Complaint Handling Guidelines

·    Enabling inclusive methods for lodging complaints either online, e-mail, mail, phone call through the contact centre, face to face at service centres/mobile customer service throughout community locations or by utilising the Telephone Interpreter Service or National relay Service

·    Defining the service standards for complaint management

·    Embracing the opportunity for learning and continuous improvement.

Changes have been made to present information more clearly and logically in a way that is consistent with Council’s policy standards.

Key structural changes made in the draft policy from the current policy and the reasons why they were made are detailed in the table below.





Introduction removed and replaced with Scope in Section 2

Align the policy with current standards


Organisational Commitment moved to section 5

Align the policy with current standards and Council’s policy requirements.


Adds statement of Councillor commitment in line with the Code of Conduct and the Councillor and Staff Interaction Policy.


Terms & Definitions moved to Section 3

Bring the policy in line with current standards and Council’s policy requirements


 Moved to Section 6

-  Child Protection Complaints moved to Section 6.2 Managing Complaints





-  Public Interest Disclosure moved to section 6.2 Managing Complaints

Information moved from ‘Definitions’ to ‘Managing Complaints’. This section outlines Council’s commitment to creating a safe community for children and young people and how complaints regarding Child Protection are to be handled


This section defines Public Interest Disclosures and how these are to be handled.


Guiding Principles moved to Section 6

Re-sequenced for clarity


Council’s Complaint Management System moved to Section 9

As above


How to lodge a complaint moved to Section 8

As above


Our three levels of complaint handling moved to Section 7

As above


The draft Complaints Handling Policy is proposed to be placed on public exhibition for 28 days.  The Policy will be finalised following consideration to any feedback received, prior to tabling again to Council in November for review and adoption. 


There are no financial implications associated with the implementation of the proposed recommendations outlined in the report.



Current Complaints Handling Policy 2021


Draft Complaints Handling Policy V3

 Source: (viewd 1 dec 2023)




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