Providing feedback or following a complaints process may assist in resolving issues you have with Child Safety Services.
Before you start, consider: What would you like to see happen? What is the outcome that you are seeking? Would you like change in the way a specific worker acts? Would you like something specific to happen in your case, or would you like to help change the way Child Safety Services does things more generally?
Ways to provide feedback and make a complaint:
- You may be able to resolve the problem by speaking to the staff member, or their Senior Team Leader or Manager.
- Remember: If you do come to some agreement it is best to put it down in writing (in a letter to the Child Safety Officer or Senior Team Leader that you spoke to) confirming what was agreed to.
- Write a letter to the Child Safety Officer, Senior Team Leader or Manager of the Child Safety Service Centre explaining the problems you have and what you want to happen. Keep copies of the letter.
- Make sure the agreement is in writing and that you get a copy of it.
- Be aware that Child Safety Services can apply for a child protection order at any time during the Care Agreement.
If you are unhappy with the response to your complaint, you can write to, or call the ‘Complaints and Review’ area of Child Safety Services. They will arrange to investigate the complaint and will keep you informed of the actions that they take.
Complaints and Review
Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services
GPO Box 806
Brisbane Qld 4001
Some tips before you provide feedback or make a complaint:
- Always keep good records of your dealings with Child Safety Services. It is helpful to keep a diary and records of the conversations that you have with Child Safety workers. Record the name of every worker you spoke to and the date and time you spoke to them.
- If you are not getting calls returned, record the number of times you attempted to make contact.
- Ask for paperwork. If you get paperwork late and you have a court date, then you can ask the court for more time to look at the paperwork and get legal advice. Remember: keep all paperwork!
- If you receive a letter from Child Safety Services that you do not agree with, then it is important that you reply by letter what your side of the story is.
If you are unhappy with the outcome of the Internal Review, you can take your complaint to the Queensland Ombudsman. The Queensland Ombudsman has general powers to investigate and make findings about the actions and decisions of Queensland public agencies and their staff that may be unlawful, unreasonable, unfair, improperly discriminatory or otherwise wrong.
They also help state agencies and local councils improve their administrative practice by:
- making recommendations based on their investigations
- conducting training on good decision-making and complaints management
- providing advice and other assistance
The Ombudsman’s findings are not binding on the Child Safety, but they can help to improve systems and address unjust situations.
If your complaint is taking a long time and/or is not resolved to your satisfaction, you may also complain to the Minister for Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services or to your local State Member of Parliament.
Letter writing and tips
It is important to write your complaint as simply and clearly as possible.
- Work out what your main problems are (eg that you are not getting your calls returned; that you don’t feel that your concerns are taken seriously; that you are worried about your children’s carer).
- Make sure that you get the right postal address (either by ringing the Child Safety Service Centre or getting the details from Child Safety Services’ website).
- Remember to put your child’s full name and date of birth at the start of the letter so that it is easy for the person who reads it to know who the matter is about.
- Focus on the child’s best interests in the letter. You will be more effective if you say things like:
“I am really concerned about the effect of the arguments between the other children and my child in the carer’s home”
“I think that only having 2 hours contact with my child per week is not enough for my child to have a good continuing relationship with me”