Complaints and suggestions for improvement policy

Governance Policy
Policy No: 27
Date: May 2017

About this policy

Vision Australia values complaints as a powerful means of feedback from its clients and members of the community. We are committed to being open and responsive to all feedback.

To whom does this policy apply

This policy applies to the whole workforce at Vision Australia.

Guiding principles

  • Complaints and feedback will be handled respectfully, confidentially, promptly, and with no adverse consequences for the complainant.
  • Vision Australia will ensure all complaints are investigated fully as part of our commitment to accountability, continuous improvement and transparency.
  • Our interactions with complainants will be based around our actively listening, empathising, and acknowledging when our services were not the best they could have been.
  • Complaints and feedback will be monitored for all opportunities to improve our services.


  • Complaints refer to issues of a negative nature brought to the attention of Vision Australia by clients and members of the community in order to bring about some kind of change or resolution.
  • Feedback refers to both suggestions for improvement and compliments. Suggestions for improvement differ from complaints as they specify possible changes for Vision Australia but do not involve an issue of a negative nature.
  • Vision Australia provides multiple channels (such as a phone line, mail box, email address or website form) for people to submit complaints and feedback. This ensures all people who wish to provide feedback are able to do so using a channel they feel comfortable with.
  • Vision Australia ensures the means to make a complaint and the complaints process are clear and easy to understand. Vision Australia ensures all clients are aware of their right to complain and their right to have their complaint dealt with through a formal complaint resolution process.
  • Vision Australia addresses all complaints in a confidential manner. Only the people directly involved in making, investigating or resolving a complaint have access to information about it. De-identified information may be provided as part of reporting requirements set either by Vision Australia or as part of external contracts.
  • Vision Australia ensures all parties are informed of their right to have a support person or advocate present to assist or represent them during the formal complaints procedure. Formal complaints can be written or verbal. If verbal, the assisting staff member will document the complaint. Access to interpreters is available if required.
  • Vision Australia ensures any complaint is free of repercussions for the complainant. Vision Australia takes all necessary steps to ensure that there are no adverse consequences for anyone who makes a complaint.
  • Where there is a possibility of conflict of interest Vision Australia will ensure the investigation and management of complaints is conducted by a neutral party. Where this is not practicable Vision Australia may employ a third party investigator.
  • Vision Australia communicates with all relevant parties about the progress of the resolution of a complaint.
  • No detailed information regarding a complaint, such as the nature of the complaint or any staff members involved, will be kept on an individual’s client or staff file. All detailed information will be kept in the separate Complaints Register.
  • Information regarding complaints is stored according to all relevant records keeping regulations.
  • Vision Australia ensures all clients are informed of the existence of this policy and its related procedures at the commencement of receiving services. A copy of this policy and the relevant procedure must be made available to clients in their preferred format as requested.
  • Vision Australia recognises the right of individuals to approach an external agency if the formal complaints procedure has not resolved the issue to their satisfaction. Information on external complaints agencies is provided to clients.


  • De-identified information on complaints is regularly reported to both the Board, the Leadership Team and to Clinical Governance to inform them of trends and opportunities for improvement.
  • In the case of high risk complaints information is reported to the CEO to ensure sound governance. See below for more information about risk management.

Formal complaints

All formal complaints from clients and members of the community are overseen centrally by the compliance team. A central formal complaints register stores all information relating to formal complaints.

This central management of complaints is necessary to:

  • Ensure they are assessed for risk and escalated when necessary.
  • Ensure all formal complaints can be analysed to provide continuous improvement opportunities to improve Vision Australia’s service.
  • Provide information necessary to meet our third party service verification under the relevant quality standards for disability and aged care.

Each formal complaint is managed by an assigned responsible manager. Complainants are informed about the progress of their complaint. Formal complaints follow a formal complaints process. This process consists of:

  • Acknowledgement
  • Investigation
  • Resolution
  • Review

Informal complaints

Informal complaints will be stored in a separate state based register. This register will be regularly audited to identify risks and emerging trends.

Suggestions for improvement

Vision Australia values suggestions for improvement. These suggestions are provided to the responsible manager and logged.


Compliments received by Vision Australia will be passed along to the relevant staff member or department and logged.

Risk management

All complaints are assessed for risk to ensure the safety and wellbeing of complainants, the community, and that Vision Australia is complying with all legislative requirements.

The risk assessment matrix and risk levels are defined in the complaint’s risk documentation.


Informal complaint - Any issue of a negative nature which is brought to the notice of Vision Australia in order to bring about a change or resolution which can be successfully resolved informally between the client and staff involved at the point of service.
Formal complaint - Formal complaints refer to any issue of a negative nature which is brought to the notice of Vision Australia in order to bring about a change or resolution where:

  • A satisfactory resolution cannot be reached informally between the client and staff involved at the point of service and so requires escalation.
  • The issue is submitted through a formal complaint and feedback channel.
  • The reported issue suggests serious implications, such as a critical incident, abuse, bullying or harassment, incidents involving children, or other serious misconduct.

Suggestion for Improvement - A suggestion for improvement refer to an issue brought to the attention of Vision Australia to specify possible changes for Vision Australia but do not involve an issue of a negative nature.
Compliments – A compliment is a message brought to the attention of Vision Australia which praises some element of Vision Australia, such as staff or services.
Leadership Team – Vision Australia staff at a management level who are normally the head of a division and are responsible for the facilitation, monitoring, coordination and communication to Vision Australia staff within their area.
Vision Australia – Vision Australia, its controlled entities, any outsourced operations and contractors.
Client - An adult, or parent/guardian of a child, who is blind, vision impaired, deafblind or print disabled and who is currently receiving services or has received services from Vision Australia
Member of the community - Any person who is not a client and who is representing themselves, a community Organisation or company. Member of the community includes volunteers and donors.
Workforce – All employees, volunteers and unpaid staff, contractors / sub-contractors and any of their employees whilst engaged in work for Vision Australia, as well as consultants or consultants’ employees whilst engaged by Vision Australia and agents whilst acting on behalf of Vision Australia.
External Complaints Agency – An organisation which provides complaints services to a particular group. These agencies are often created as part of or relate to disability funding agreements.
Compliance Team – The Compliance Team is the group of staff working for the Compliance Manager at Vision Australia


Cross Reference

Complaints and Suggestion for Improvement Procedure.

Authorised by

Ron Hooton
Chief Executive Officer

Document control

Effective date: April 2017
Prepared by: Compliance and Risk 
Authorised by: Vision Australia Leadership Team
Document identifier: Vision Australia - Complaints and Suggestions for Improvement Policy
Next review: April 2019