What to expect if you make a complaint to us

Assessing your complaint

After receiving your complaint, the first thing we do is assess it to see if it can be investigated by us. We consider:

  • Can we legally investigate your issue? Under the Ombudsman Act 2001, we can investigate complaints about the actions and decisions of Queensland agencies. We use the word ‘agencies’ to describe all of the Queensland state government departments, local councils, public universities and government authorities that we can investigate. Learn more about things we can and cannot investigate.
  • Is your complaint more than 12 months old? If so, we are unable to investigate, unless there are special circumstances.
  • Have you made a complaint to the agency involved before contacting us? We generally ask that you give the agency a chance to fix the issue first by using its complaint process.
  • Do you have other appeal rights? We will consider if your matter can be taken to other agencies, such as the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) or Magistrates Court, or managed by another complaint handling organisation.
  • Have you given us enough information about your complaint? We may need to ask for further information from you or the agency involved.
  • If you need help to make a complaint, you can talk to us. Our staff will listen to you. We realise some people may have barriers to communication. These barriers could include English as a second language, living with disability, individual communication needs, a person in a vulnerable or marginalised situation, or someone experiencing crisis. We can give you advice about your complaint or problem and what you need to do next. For example, we can help you identify who your complaint is about and how to make a complaint.

Our assessment will take about 10 days to complete and we will let you know the outcome.

Investigating your complaint

If we decide that your complaint should be investigated, it will be given to one of our investigators.

The investigator may need to request information from the agency involved. They will then look at all the information provided by you and the agency and assess:

  • the impact of the agency's decision or action
  • whether the agency's decision was lawful, fair and reasonable
  • the outcome you want
  • whether an investigation is likely to lead to a positive outcome for you and/or lead to an improvement in the agency's procedures.

This takes around one month to complete. During this stage of the investigation, the investigator will contact you to discuss your complaint.

At this point the investigator may:

  • determine that your complaint does not need to be investigated further; or
  • continue their investigation.

More information from you and/or the agency may be required. In some situations, we may also undertake site visits or conduct interviews with you and/or the agency's staff.

The time needed to complete an investigation depends on the complexity of the complaint and the amount of information we need to collect. Most investigations are completed within three months and straightforward matters are finalised much quicker than that. If an investigation is going to take longer we will let you know.

The investigator will keep you informed about the progress of the investigation and update you at least once a month. However, please contact us if you have questions at any stage.

If our investigation finds the agency's decision was unlawful, unfair or unreasonable, we may make recommendations to fix your complaint. This may involve working informally with you and the agency to reach an outcome. We may also recommend changes to the agency's policies or procedures so the issue does not happen again. We cannot force an agency to follow our recommendations but most are accepted.

To support the assessment and investigation process, the Office has a policy and procedure (PDF 217.9KB), and associated guidelines (PDF 256.5KB) for deciding complaints under the Ombudsman Act.

Our service to you

We aim to provide a high level of customer service. Your personal information, including name and contact details, is handled in accordance with the Information Privacy Act 2009. Learn more about how we ensure your privacy.

Last updated: Tuesday, 19 December 2023 9:37:13 AM