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Complaints And Feedback Policy And Procedure


Family Planning NSW seeks feedback, both positive and negative, from all our stakeholders as an opportunity to maintain and improve the quality of services. We seek feedback from:

  • clinic clients (including participants of the Sexuality and Disability Service)
  • course participants
  • research participants
  • donors
  • people in countries where we deliver international development projects
  • partners and others affected by our work

Individuals making a complaint will be reassured that the service they receive will not be affected by the fact that they have made a complaint.


All Family Planning NSW staff, volunteers and in-country partners


In managing complaints, Family Planning NSW adopts the following principles:

Visibility - we clearly publicise information about how and where to submit feedback or lodge a complaint.

Information about providing feedback or making a complaint is made available to all those participating in Family Planning NSW activities. Information provided includes details for contacting relevant agencies and authorities including the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission and other bodies. Contact information for providing feedback of lodging a complaint is included in the Family Planning NSW annual report. In addition, a Feedback and Complaints email is available on the website.

Family Planning NSW ensures that making a complaint is as easy as possible. All relevant communications explain this and explain our procedures for handling complaints including:

  • where or to whom complaints can be made
  • information to be provided by the complainant
  • the process for handling complaints
  • time periods associated with various stages in the process
  • the complainant's options for remedy, including external means
  • how the complainant can obtain feedback on the status of the complaint

Family Planning NSW acknowledges that promoting our willingness to receive complaints makes clear our preparedness to work hard to continually improve our performance.

Education Services

  • Course participants are requested to complete evaluations at the conclusion of every course and where appropriate invited to participate in a more structured evaluation of course content and delivery. The Family Planning NSW Continuous Curriculum Improvement Procedure outlines the mechanism through which course evaluations inform course review and course development.
  • Course participants are advised of the complaint management process in course documentation. For all nationally recognised training, information is provided in the Participant Handbook for each course. Individual general practitioners participating in courses accredited through the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Quality Improvement and Continuing Professional Development Program will be informed of the ‘GP adverse experience feedback form’ at the time the course is delivered. Where adverse feedback is received by the RACGP, a Quality Assurance Audit may be initiated.

Research Centre

  • Complaints regarding the conduct of approved research projects may be directed to the Ethics Executive Officer in the first instance. Information about making a complaint is included in the Participant Information Sheet and/or Consent Form for each project.

International Development

  • Family Planning NSW is a member of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) and a signatory to its Code of Conduct. The Code requires members to meet high standards of corporate governance, public accountability and financial management.
  • In the Pacific region, Family Planning NSW works in partnership with government and non-government organisations to build their capacity to strengthen the health system to address areas of reproductive and sexual health need in their communities. We aim to build the capacity of local partners to engage in a transparent and ethical manner, adopt a rights based approach, support child protection, promote workplace health and safety, address bullying and harassment and respond to complaints.
  • Family Planning NSW international development projects are subject to rigorous evaluation in line with our Development Effectiveness Framework. Evaluation activities are conducted subject to the approval of the Family Planning NSW Ethics Committee, a Human Research Ethics Committee registered with the National Health and Medical Research Council. Ethical review involves a critical examination of research proposals to ensure the rights and wellbeing of participants are protected and that processes are fair and equitable.
  • Feedback from project participants is sought on all aspects of the project. There are many ways individuals’ in-country can provide feedback and complaints regarding international development projects including:
    • Formal evaluation of projects in accordance with the research proposal. As part of this process, information sheets are provided to all participants identifying a local contact to provide written or verbal feedback regarding project activities and participants will be asked specific questions regarding their satisfaction with the project
    • Evaluation of community education activities delivered as part of the project
    • Formal evaluation of training programs delivered in-country
    • Submitting a note in the in-country partners suggestion box
    • Submitting a written complaint via letter or email to the local community partner
    • Submitting a written complaint via email to Family Planning NSW or by the Family Planning NSW website
  • Family Planning NSW is committed to providing a child safe and friendly environment. This includes having a child friendly complaint system; appendix 1 shows examples of how this can be achieved.
  • For in-country partners, information about how to lodge a complaint is included:
    • In the memorandum of understanding signed with the in-country partner. This includes the contact details of the Director Planning, Education and International Programme, Family Planning NSW and the ACFID Code of Conduct Committee, in the event of alleged breaches of the Code
    • on the Family Planning NSW website
    • In the Family Planning NSW Annual Report. This includes the contact details of the CEO, Family Planning NSW and the ACFID Code of Conduct Committee, in the event of alleged breaches of the Code.
  • Complaints can be made to the Director Planning, Education and International Programme by telephone (+612 8752 4308) or email international@fpnsw.org.au.
  • Complaints regarding alleged breaches of the ACFID Code of Conduct can be made to the ACFID Code of Conduct Committee via www.acfid.asn.au. Where complaints are made by in country beneficiaries, staff of partner agencies will ensure that the complaint is documented and contains all the information the complainant wishes to provide. Family Planning NSW project officers will assist individuals in countries where we deliver international development projects to lodge complaints as necessary. Complaints will be managed in line with the Family Planning NSW Incident Management Procedure and principles of transparency and open disclosure will apply.

Sexuality and Disability Service

  • Family Planning NSW is a NDIS provider and adheres to the NDIS Complaints Management and Resolution Rules 2018. The FPNSW Sexuality and Disability Service offers individual and group-based programs that are tailored to the sexuality support needs of people with disability and their support people. It is conducted within a therapeutic framework, with a focus on a person-centred / strengths-based approach.
  • NDIS participants are advised of the feedback and complaint process, including how to contact the NDIS Commission in the service-specific informed consent document and in the Service Agreement. Both documents are available in Standard English and Easy English. NDIS participants can contact the National Disability Insurance Agency by calling 1800 035 544, visiting one of their offices in person, or by visiting www.ndiscommission.gov.au/participants/complaints.
  • Feedback forms are provided to participants and their support people (as required) at the end of service provision.
  • NDIS participants are included throughout the complaints handling process, to the extent possible, to ensure that their needs are addressed in relation to complaints or issues that affect them. Family members, carers and advocates may be included and recognised in the complaint handling process, depending on their role in the life of the person with disability and the preference of the participant
  • FPNSW staff employed to provide NDIS services are provided with training on the feedback and complaints process as part of their orientation.

Accessibility - we ensure that our complaint handling process is as easy and accessible as we can practically make it to all complainants.

Through the mechanisms outline above, Family Planning NSW ensures that options for submitting feedback or complaints are readily accessible. While complaints received are managed in accordance with the Family Planning NSW Incident Management procedure, managers will ensure that compliments, suggestions and other feedback is reported using feedback@fpnsw.org.au email account ensuring that all feedback.

Responsiveness - we respond to complaints in a fair, efficient and timely manner.

Feedback and complaints can be received verbally or in writing. Where complaints are made verbally, staff will ensure that the complaint is documented and contains all the information the complainant wishes to provide.

The staff member receiving a complaint will complete an Incident Report in line with the Incident Management procedure and refer the matter to their manager who will ensure it is reported to the CEO within 24 hours. The manager responsible will contact the complainant on the day the complaint is received and:

  • if appropriate, express regret for the person’s poor experience
  • undertake to investigate the matter
  • let the person know when they will be contacted again

As necessary,

  • advice will be sought from a senior member of staff
  • the complaint will be managed in line with the Family Planning NSW Incident Management procedure.

A written complaint, addressed to the CEO, will be acknowledged by the CEO in writing within 5 working days, confirming the timeframe for resolution of the complaint.

Managers and staff receiving feedback directly, face to face or through phone calls, letters email or ‘Have Your Say’ forms are required to note the feedback received and forward it, including scanned copies of documents received, to the feedback@fpnsw.org.au email account. This email account is checked daily by the Personal Assistant to the CEO to ensure that any complaints/feedback are forwarded to the relevant manager and addressed in accordance with the Incident Management procedure.

Reducing barriers to making a complaint - Objectivity, Costs to complainant, Confidentiality, Consumer/client-focused approach - We address all complaints in an equitable, fair and unbiased manner using evidence submitted by both the complainant and our personnel through the complaint handling process. The interests of our consumers/clients/participants are foremost in our approach to complaint handling. As far as possible, Family Planning NSW endeavours to adopt the principles of transparency and open disclosure in managing complaints.

Complaints will be received in a manner that welcomes discussion and comments about the quality of service and care that we provide. Complainants will not be charged for lodging a complaint. In the spirit of open communication, costs to the complainant will be minimised where possible.

Information about a complaint will be available only to those directly involved in resolving the complaint. We will not reveal a complainant’s name or personal details to anyone in or outside our organisation, without obtaining the complainant’s permission. Anonymous complaints may be received, but it must be understood that anonymity compromises our ability to investigate the complaint and respond appropriately.

Family Planning NSW will ensure that a complainant is not required to express their complaint to a person implicated in their complaint. We will also ensure that a person implicated in a complaint is not involved in any way with the handling of that complaint. Any staff member who is the subject of a complaint must not communicate directly with the complainant unless directed to do so. Staff members who are the subject of a complaint will be supported and kept informed throughout the investigation process.

Accountability - we ensure that accountability for and reporting on the actions and decisions with respect to complaint handling is clearly established.

Where appropriate, the complainant will be contacted at each stage of the resolution of the complaint, not just at the beginning when they lodge the complaint, and at the end when they are informed what has been decided. The response to complaints will be as follows:

  • establish the complainant's expected outcomes
  • make an initial assessment of the severity of the complaint and the urgency of action
  • clearly explain how the issues raised will be addressed and whether and how the complaint will be investigated
  • give an estimated timeframe for action or a commitment to keeping the complainant informed

Following the investigation:

  • provide assurance that lessons have been learned
  • explain the changes that have been made to prevent a repeat
  • follow up where necessary, and monitor whether the complainant is satisfied.

Continual improvement - In order to continually improve the complaint handling process we:

  • maintain the Incident Report Register which includes documentation of complaints received and action taken to resolve complaints
  • review the Register to identify trends and improve services
  • undertake specific training and retraining of staff to foster a consumer/client-focused approach and better complaint handling practices


Children have the right to voice a complaint. Family Planning NSW is committed to develop appropriate ways to listen, be responsive and accessible to children.


Children communicate in a different way to adults and need to know that:

  1. the complaint is treated with respect
  2. the process is clear and accessible for children
  3. the procedures are responsive and flexible
  4. there is an advocate available
  5. there will be action taken

The main elements of a child friendly complaints process are appropriate access and response, such as:

  • ensure that complaints can be made in a number of different ways (face-to-face, telephone, online, in writing)
  • allow complaints to be made anonymously when the complainant sends it through a friend or the beneficiary reference group
  • recognise that children and young adults may feel more comfortable with face-to-face complaints, and are heard by someone with a respectful and patient manner
  • make sure the child or young person's comments are wanted and ensure a relaxed open environment
  • make sure the person dealing with the child or young person's complaint is an active listener who is helpful, understanding and responsive
  • make sure that you respond to the child or young person as soon as possible, even just to acknowledge receipt of the complaint
  • give the child or young person the option to choose how and whether they will be kept informed of the progress of their complaint and how often they would like to be kept up to date


  • Have a complaints officer who is appropriately trained to facilitate child friendly complaint handling procedures and to raise awareness with local community stakeholders and children of the procedures and how to implement them
  • Local staff receive training in the proposed child friendly processes and procedures, interviewing children, facilitating feedback sessions with children and adults and recording of complaints
  • Ensure an environment that guarantees confidentiality of any complaint.

*Adapted from ADRA Australia complaints policy in line with ACFID Code of Conduct requirements


Last updated: August 2019

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