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How To Make A Formal Complaint Against An Early Childhood Service

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How To Make A Formal Complaint Against An Early Childhood Service

As an Educator, you are involved in the day to day running of the service. At times you are also witnessing to the services breach of regulations, staff misconduct or aspects of the service that you believe is unethical. If you feel that the service where you're working is not meeting National Regulations or are implementing bad practices then it is vital that you make a formal complaint. 

The following will give you information on the making a formal complaint against an Early Childhood Services and the investigation process involved.

Making A Complaint

The NSW Department Of Education is a Regulatory Authority gives Parents and Educators an opportunity to make a formal complaint about an early childhood service. Including complaints about:

  • staff behaviour or conduct
  • any practice, policy or procedure
  • any decision, including those about enrolment
  • any aspect of the service

Before making a formal complaint it is advised that Parents and Educators should raise any concerns directly with the service, so issues can be resolved quickly and directly. If the issue cannot be resolved by the service manager, then the next step would be to can contact the Department's Early Childhood Education Directorate to make a formal complaint about the service, or the Department of Fair Trading if the complaint is about service fees or business practices.

To assist in your complaint, please ensure that you collect evidence that will back up your claims. This includes detailed notes on what has happened including what you observed, what was said etc, photos if possible and anything else that you feel will be helpful during the investigation process.

Investigation Process

When a complaint or notification about a service is received it is assessed by the triage team, with more serious matters being referred for formal investigation. An investigation begins with initial contact with relevant parties involved in the complaint or incident. From then, the service involved will be visited and the investigation plan is developed. Evidence obtained is assessed, identifying whether a breach of the National Law has been substantiated.

Phase 1 – Initial Information
The investigation is assigned to an investigator. The investigator assesses information to determine required action.
Phase 2 – Plan Investigation
An investigation plan is developed to inform direction and ensure consistency of the investigation.
Phase 3 – Conduct Investigation
The investigator conducts field inquiries, obtains and examines records, interviews witnesses and affected parties.
Phase 4 – Finalise Investigation and Prepare Report/Brief Of Evidence
The investigator prepares a report of the investigation including evidence identified, findings, and recommendations as appropriate. The final report is then reviewed by the senior investigator and manager, compliance and investigations.

Published Enforcement And Decision Actions

The department uses a risk-based approach to regulation and conducts monitoring activities as part of that approach. If the department detects a breach of the legislation, it will formally notify the approved provider and will take any necessary and appropriate action to ensure the issues are rectified.

The department is committed to keeping parents, the community and the education and care sector informed about compliance action taken against serious offences through the publication of prosecutions under the National Law.

The enforcement actions list provides details of providers and nominated supervisors who have been convicted of, or who have pleaded guilty to, offences under early childhood education and care legislation.

Information will be displayed on the Enforcement Actions list after all court, tribunal or administrative action is finalised and any appeal processes have been concluded.

Information is displayed for the public to view including:

  • Provider/Individual Name
  • Service Name
  • Date Of Action
  • Action Taken
  • Sentencing
  • Proven offence

To view details of providers and nominated supervisors who have been convicted of, or who have pleaded guilty to, offences under early childhood education and care legislation, please read the following:

List Of Decision Of Actions For Convictions

Unfortunately, Early Childhood Services that are failing to meet requirements are still operating and it's up to the Educators working within the service to stand up for what's right and to make a complaint. Families trust us with their children and are likely to be unaware of what is happening behind the scenes. I am providing information on how you can make a formal complaint about a service so you understand the necessary steps involved. It's not something you should be worried about doing or worried about losing your job over (there are many jobs available). It needs to be done before something unavoidable happens and you end up getting caught in the crossfire. It's part of your duty of care to each child and their families to act on these unethical practices that you have witnessed.

*Please note the following information is based on the Regulatory Authority for NSW. For all other states and territories, the process may be similar. You can find your Regulatory Authority for your state/territory on ACECQA.

Reference:
Investigation, feedback and complaints, NSW Department Of Education.

Last modified on Wednesday, March 7, 2018

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