Complaints we handle

We handle complaints about most NSW government agencies, local councils, as well as some community services for children, young people and families.

We handle complaints about:

  • dishonest, unfair or unreasonable behaviour
  • lack of transparency with a decision
  • unfair or flawed policies or procedures
  • unreasonable delays
  • failure to act on complaints
  • failure to reply to correspondence
  • failure to manage conflicts of interest.

There are some services we cannot help you with – for example, Centrelink, banks and legal services.

Find who can handle your complaint

The following list will help you find the right place to make a complaint.

Government agencies

We can handle complaints about most NSW government agencies, including:

  • Housing
  • Service NSW
  • Transport for NSW
  • Land and Housing Corporation
  • Revenue NSW
  • NSW Trustee and Guardian
  • Fair Trading
  • Department of Education (including public schools)
  • Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

For a step-by-step guide to making a complaint, see How to make a complaint.

We cannot handle complaints about services managed by federal government agencies, including:

  • Centrelink
  • Australian Tax Office (ATO)
  • Australia Post
  • Immigration
  • Child support.

Contact the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

Local government

We can handle most complaints about local councils in NSW.

For a step-by-step guide to making a complaint, see How to make a complaint.

However, we cannot handle complaints about decisions of local councils that involve:

  • setting rates
  • adopting particular policies
  • allocating resources
  • compensation
  • the merits of development applications.

We also cannot amend or revoke development consents.

These resources may help you when dealing with councils:

For complaints about the general administrative conduct of councils, councillors and council staff, contact the Office of Local Government.

For complaints about alleged corrupt conduct of councillors or council staff, contact the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

Public interest disclosures (whistleblowing)

If you work for the government (including local government), you can report serious wrongdoing in your workplace. These types of complaints are called public interest disclosures and include:

  • corrupt conduct – for example, fraud, dishonesty or misuse of information
  • serious maladministration – for example, unreasonable, unjust or discriminatory conduct
  • serious and substantial waste of public money.

You can report serious wrongdoing to the person responsible for dealing with public interest disclosures in your agency.

Read more about making a public interest disclosure (whistleblowing).

Phone and internet

We cannot handle complaints about phone and internet companies – for example, Telstra, Vodafone and Optus. Contact the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.

Electricity, gas and water

We can only handle complaints about Sydney Water and WaterNSW. We can also handle complaints about water services provided by local councils.

For all other service providers, including Energy Australia, AGL and Origin, contact the Energy and Water Ombudsman NSW.

Custodial services

We can handle complaints about:

  • Corrective Services NSW
  • private correctional centres – for example, Junee, Parklea and Clarence
  • Youth Justice NSW
  • Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network.

Find out how to make a complaint about custodial services.

Police

We cannot handle complaints about the NSW Police Force or a member of the NSW Police Force. Contact the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission.

Children, young people and family services

We can handle complaints about community services run or funded by the government. This includes:

  • NSW Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ)
  • child protection and family support services
  • leaving care or after care
  • out-of-home care, including foster care, kinship care and intensive therapeutic care (ITC)
  • early intervention services
  • neighbourhood and community centres.

Read more about complaints about community services.

We cannot handle complaints about child support. Contact the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

Services for Aboriginal peoples

We handle complaints about agencies that provide services to Aboriginal communities, such as:

  • Aboriginal Housing Office
  • Registrar Aboriginal Land Rights Act
  • Aboriginal Land Councils – local Aboriginal land councils and the NSW Aboriginal Land Council
  • Aboriginal initiatives under OCHRE such as:
    • Language Nests
    • Opportunity Hubs
    • Local Decision Making
    • Connected Communities Schools

We have Aboriginal staff who assist to handle complaints we receive from Aboriginal peoples.

For a step-by-step guide to making a complaint, see How to make a complaint.

Homelessness services

We can handle complaints about homelessness services run or funded by the government, such as:

  • homelessness services for young people and adults
  • youth crisis accommodation
  • refuges for women, children, men and families.

Read more about complaints about community services.

Services for people with disability

People with a disability receiving services from NSW government agencies can complain to us about those agencies.

For a step-by-step guide to making a complaint, see How to make a complaint. We also provide additional support for people with a disability to make a complaint. We can help you make a complaint.

We cannot handle complaints about NDIS providers (registered or unregistered). Contact the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission.

Schools and universities

We can handle complaints about:

  • Department of Education
  • public schools
  • public universities
  • TAFE NSW.

We cannot handle complaints about:

  • private schools
  • private universities – for example, Australian Catholic University and University of Notre Dame
  • universities based in other states or countries – for example, University of Tasmania.

Contact the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA).

Health and medical services

We can handle complaints about NSW public health services and providers, including:

  • NSW Health
  • Health Care Complaints Commission
  • Ambulance Service of NSW
  • public hospitals.

For a step-by-step guide to making a complaint, see How to make a complaint.

However, we cannot handle a complaint if it is about clinical and medical care. We also cannot handle complaints about private health services and providers. Contact the Health Care Complaints Commissioner.

For complaints about private health insurance, contact the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

Private companies and small business

We cannot handle complaints about most private companies or small business, including:

  • retailers
  • real estate agents
  • tradies.

Contact Fair Trading or call Law Access NSW on 1300 888 529.

Banks and insurance companies

We cannot handle complaints about financial services, including:

  • banks and finance companies
  • trusts and investment funds
  • insurance companies.

Contact the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).

Employment

We cannot handle complaints about your employment or employer. Contact the:

We can handle employment complaints relating to public interest disclosures. This might be about detrimental actions taken against you after you made a disclosure. If you work for the NSW public sector, see Making a public interest disclosure.

We cannot handle complaints about legal services or courts. For complaints about:

Independent commissions

We cannot handle complaints about other independent integrity commissions or bodies, such as:

  • Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) (contact the Inspector of the ICAC)
  • Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (contact the Inspector of the LECC)
  • Casino Control Authority
  • Legal Services Commissioner
  • royal commissions

If you need help

If you are finding it hard to know who you should complain to, we can help you make a complaint.

We also support people with disability and Aboriginal peoples, and have information in easy English and other languages.