Loreto Kirribilli welcomes feedback from all members of the school community and takes all complaints or concerns that may be raised seriously. This Complaints Handling Policy is designed to assist you to understand how to make a complaint.

What is a complaint?

A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction made to Loreto Kirribilli, related to our services or operations, or the complaints handling process itself, where a response or resolution is explicitly or implicitly expected.Complaints and allegations of staff misconduct or reportable conduct are managed separately to other complaints. Refer to the section at the end of this policy – Complaints and Allegations of Staff Misconduct or Reportable Conduct for more information.

Loreto Kirribilli’s Commitment

Loreto Kirribilli is committed to handling complaints effectively and efficiently. To manage complaints effectively, we have established a Complaints Handling Program in line with both the international complaints handling standard (ISO 10002:2018 Quality management – Customer satisfaction – Guidelines for complaints handling in organisations), and the Australian/New Zealand complaints handling standard (AS/NZS 10002:2014 Guidelines for complaint management in organisations).

Informal Complaints Resolution

The vast majority of issues causing concern in schools can be handled quickly and in an informal manner. We therefore ask that, where appropriate, you first raise your concern directly with the relevant staff member.

How do I make a Formal Complaint?

If you have been unable to resolve a matter informally, or simply wish to make a formal complaint you can do so by contacting the Relevant Contact Person listed below:

Academic Concerns in the Senior School – Director of Teaching & Learning

Pastoral Care Concerns in the Senior School – Director of Student Wellbeing

All other matters in the Senior School – Director of Senior School

All matters in the Junior School – Head of Junior SchoolAll formal complaints will be managed in accordance with the following procedure. 

Our Internal Complaints Handling Process

Step 1 – All valid complaints will be acknowledged in writing, as soon as practicable, and allocated a status, priority and target resolution date. It is our policy, where possible, to resolve all disputes within 14 days.

Step 2 – The Relevant Contact Person will conduct an investigation into the issues raised, following principles of procedural fairness, and make a determination.

Step 3 – Following the determination, if appropriate, the Relevant Contact Person will formulate a resolution and provide a written response to the complainant. The matter will be closed if this response is accepted.

Step 4 – If the initial response is not acceptable the matter will be reviewed internally by the Principal who may seek additional information or submissions from the relevant parties. The Principal seek to resolve all disputes within 14 days from the date that the review process is initiated. The matter will be closed if the response of the Principal is accepted.

Step 5 – If the matter remains unresolved, the complainant may pursue external resolution alternatives.

Confidentiality

Confidentiality applies with respect to both information relating to the person making the complaint, and, if relevant to a person against whom a complaint is made. The School is committed to maintaining the confidentiality of information throughout the complaints process.Personally identifiable information about a complainant will only be made available for the purpose of addressing the complaint and (unless the complainant consents) will be actively protected from disclosure.Complaints and Allegations of Staff Misconduct or Reportable ConductComplaints and allegations of staff misconduct and/or reportable conduct are managed by the School in a different manner to other complaints. This is because the School has legal obligations to report certain staff conduct to external authorities. Staff misconduct is a broad term that could include breaches of professional boundaries, codes of conduct or standards of behaviour, whereas reportable conduct is a term defined in law as including:

  • any sexual offence or sexual misconduct, committed against, with or in the presence of a child (including child pornography offences, sexual touching or an offence involving child abuse material) including grooming behaviours
  • any assault, ill-treatment or neglect of a child
  • any behaviour that causes psychological harm to a child (whether or not, in any case, with the consent of the child).

If your complaint relates to alleged staff misconduct or reportable conduct please make your complaint to the Principal or Head of Junior School, or if this person is the subject of your complaint please notify the Deputy Principal.

For more information about Loreto Kirribilli’s complaints handling procedures regarding allegations of staff misconduct or reportable conduct, please refer to our Procedures for Handling Allegations of Staff Misconduct and Reportable Conduct document available on our public website below.

COMPLAINTS HANDLING PROCESS SUMMARY

Procedures for Handling Allegations of Staff Misconduct and Reportable Conduct

Introduction

Complaints regarding allegations of staff misconduct and reportable conduct are managed in a different manner to other complaints received by the School. This is because often these complaints are of a sensitive nature and raise potential privacy and confidentiality issues.

Loreto Kirribilli requires all staff to comply with a Code of Conduct and standards of behaviour that are intended to prevent staff misconduct and reportable conduct, and staff are encouraged to report any breaches of the Code or standards.

It is also critical that the broader School community reports staff misconduct and reportable conduct (both defined below) to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students, and that the School complies with its legislative reporting obligations. Loreto Kirribilli has a legal obligation to investigate and report to the NSW Ombudsman all allegations of reportable conduct made against staff at the School as defined by the Ombudsman Act 1974 (NSW) (Ombudsman Act).

For the purposes of this policy, “staff” and “staff member” is defined to include teaching and non-teaching staff, Board members, volunteers, contractors and external providers.

Definition of Staff Misconduct

The School defines “staff misconduct” as conduct by a staff member that:

  • breaches the School’s Code of Conduct or other key policies/procedures
  • displays purposeful neglect of duties/responsibilities
  • involves alcohol and/or other substance abuse
  • is physically, verbally or emotionally abusive
  • endangers the safety or wellbeing of students or others at the School.

Definition of Reportable Conduct

Section 25A of the Ombudsman Act defines reportable conduct as including:

  • any sexual offence or sexual misconduct, committed against, with or in the presence of a child (including child pornography offences, sexual touching or an offence involving child abuse material) including grooming behaviours
  • any assault, ill-treatment or neglect of a child
  • any behaviour that causes psychological harm to a child (whether or not, in any case, with the consent of the child).

Some examples of conduct that would not constitute reportable conduct include touching a child to get their attention, guide them or comfort them, a teacher raising their voice to attract attention or restore order in a classroom, or conduct that is established to be accidental.

Making a Complaint or Allegation of Staff Misconduct or Reportable Conduct

If you would like to make a formal complaint or allegation of staff misconduct or reportable conduct, you can do so by:

Senior School

  1. Sending an email to the Principal.
  2. Writing a letter to the School addressed to the Principal.
  3. Telephoning the School and asking to speak to the Principal.

If the Principal is the subject of your complaint or allegation of misconduct or reportable conduct, please contact the Deputy Principal.

Junior School

  1. Sending an email to the Head of Junior School.
  2. Writing a letter to the School addressed to the Head of Junior School.
  3. Telephoning the School and asking to speak to the Head of Junior School.

The Head of Junior School will notify the Principal within 24 hours of all complaints and allegations received. If the Head of Junior School is the subject of your complaint or allegation of misconduct or reportable conduct, please contact the Principal.

Investigating and Managing Staff Misconduct and Reportable Conduct

The School initially investigates all complaints and allegations to determine whether the conduct in question amounts to staff misconduct, as defined in this policy, or reportable conduct that must be further investigated and reported to the NSW Ombudsman. All investigations uphold the principles of procedural fairness confidentiality – information is only shared with those who need to know.

Staff Misconduct

When a complaint or allegation does not include conduct that is defined as reportable conduct following the School’s initial investigation, and it is determined through the School’s investigation that staff misconduct has occurred, the School will notify the complainant of the finding and corrective actions that will be taken. Staff misconduct is managed through our Human Resources policies and procedures relating to internal grievances, discipline and termination.

Reportable Conduct

When a complaint or allegation does include conduct that is defined as reportable conduct following the School’s initial investigation, the School is required by law to report the allegation to the NSW Ombudsman as soon as practicable.

We also conduct a risk assessment following any allegation that includes conduct defined as reportable conduct to identify and mitigate any ongoing risks to student safety and wellbeing.

The School must conduct an internal investigation, led by the Principal or an accredited investigator.

When conducting an internal investigation, the School follows the NSW Ombudsman’s Practice Guide: Planning and Conducting an Investigation.

A further risk assessment is conducted during the internal investigation and at the end of that investigation.

There are five potential findings that the School can make following the internal investigation:

  • Sustained – finding that the alleged conduct did occur
  • Not Sustained – Insufficient Evidence: finding that there is some, but insufficient, evidence available to reasonably establish that the alleged conduct did occur
  • Not Sustained – Lack of Evidence of Weight: finding that the evidence available is of such poor probative value, or lacking weight, that on the balance of probabilities the conduct did not occur
  • False – finding that the alleged conduct did not occur
  • Not Reportable Conduct – finding that the alleged conduct was not reportable – for example, conduct that was reasonable in the circumstances or accidental. This may also include ‘misconceived’ matters where allegations were made in good faith, however it was based on a misunderstanding of what occurred, and therefore the conduct is not reportable.

The School is required to notify the NSW Ombudsman of the findings of the internal investigation as soon as possible once the internal investigation has been finalised.

Making a Finding of Reportable Conduct

If the School’s internal investigation results in a finding of reportable conduct, following the School’s notification to the NSW Ombudsman, we will conduct a final risk assessment of the conduct, the staff member and the circumstances, and take action to mitigate ongoing risks, including reporting findings of workplace misconduct to the Office of the Children’s Guardian who is responsible for administering Working with Children Checks.

Disclosing Information to the School Community

A parent or carer has a legitimate interest in being told of the process that is being followed to investigate an allegation that their child was a victim of staff misconduct or reportable conduct.

Information can often be provided to the parent, carer or child without the need to consider legal impediments to disclosure. However, legal impediments – real or feared – may discourage the timely and appropriate release of information, particularly in the case of reportable conduct allegations.

The School closely follows the NSW Ombudsman’s guidance on this issue provided in the Providing advice about reportable conduct investigations to children, parents and carers fact sheet.

The School is permitted to disclose information to:

  • the child who was allegedly the subject of the reportable conduct that forms the basis of the reportable allegation
  • any parent of the child
  • if the child is in out-of-home care, any authorised carer of the child.

There are times when it may be appropriate to disclose information about the internal investigation to one of these involved parties but not another, for example, to disclose information to the child’s parent, but not the child.

The School is permitted to disclose the following information to involved parties:

  • information about the progress of an investigation
  • the findings of the investigation
  • any action taken in response to those findings,

however it considers all the circumstances of the complaint/allegation and investigation when determining if information should be disclosed.

Where to Find More Information

The NSW Ombudsman has several informative fact sheets on the topic of reportable conduct and the School’s obligations to report. For more information about the School’s policies and procedures relating to staff misconduct, reportable conduct or complaints handling generally, please contact the Deputy Principal.