Online complaint handling information – guidance for agencies
Having complaint information easily accessible to the public is necessary to be compliant with the whole of government Commitments to Effective Complaint Handling. Agencies should also be proactively releasing complaint handling and other policies under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 open access information requirements.
Why have publicly available complaint information?
Providing information about the complaint process that is easily accessible and simple to understand is important because it increases public confidence in the services provided and may reduce unnecessary escalation of matters. Complaint information includes how and where complaints can be made, including how complaints and feedback are used by the agency. It is essential to building a culture that values transparency, open communication, and a sense that complaints will be valued. Additionally, for complainants to perceive that they have been treated fairly, they have to be aware that the procedures used are fair.
Accessible web content
Complaint information will be accessible if it is easily located, identified, and understood. Providing complaint information in a variety of formats will help facilitate complaints and provide access to people who may otherwise not have knowledge or the ability to make a complaint.
In this regard, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 state that accessible web content must be:
Perceivable: The user must be able to perceive the information by at least one of their senses
Operable: the web interface must be easy to use
Understandable: content must be easily understandable and in Plain English
Robust: content must be able to be viewed across a variety of platforms and technologies
For more information on accessible web content see: Understanding WCAG 2.0: A guide to understanding and implementing WCAG 2.0.
Agencies can ensure online complaint information is accessible by doing the following:
- making it available in a range of languages and alternate formats, such as large print and in Plain English, and
- providing Australian Sign Language (AUSLAN) video presentations.
The NSW Government must ensure people with disabilities are able to pursue complaints just as other members of the community are able to. For more information, see our Tips for accessible complaint handling fact sheet.
What complaint information should be publicly available?
It is important to provide sufficient information that makes the complaint process understandable and creates a reasonable expectation of what the customer can expect during the process.
Our office has reviewed several NSW government agency websites to identify key topics that should be included in online complaint information. Agencies can use this guidance and the information when reviewing their websites to identify what information might be helpful to customers.
Examples of complaint information on NSW government agency websites
The following agencies were identified by our office as having good complaint information on their websites:
- Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
- NSW Department of Education
- Department of Communities and Justice
- Revenue NSW
- Fair Trading NSW
For more information about complaint handling and the Commitments to Effective Complaint Handling, please see:
- Applying the commitments to effective complaint handling guidance for agencies
- Complaint management framework
- Tips for accessible complaint handling fact sheet and video