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.
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 about child protection-related incidents and concerns that are alleged to have occurred at the School or School events, or to have involved School staff, volunteers or others, are managed pursuant to our Child Safe policy and procedures, in conjunction with any relevant guidelines in this Complaints Handling Policy.
Complaints from students about student behaviour, such as bullying or aggressive behaviour, are managed through the Student Duty of Care policies and procedures including Bullying Prevention and Intervention Policy.
Complaints regarding unlawful discrimination, harassment or bullying between staff are generally addressed in accordance with the School’s Code of Conduct for staff and Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying Statement.
Complaints and allegations of staff misconduct or reportable conduct are managed separately to other complaints. Refer to section 7 of this policy - Complaints and Allegations of Staff Misconduct or Reportable Conduct for more information.
Complaints regarding grievance between staff members about work matters, including work relationships and decisions made by other staff members which impact on their work, are managed separately to other complaints. Refer to section 8 of this policy – Grievance Procedure for more information.
Furthermore, this procedure does not extend to complaints which are whistleblowing disclosures. The procedure for processing whistleblowing complaints are dealt with the School’s Whistleblower Policy.
In summary a whistleblowing disclosure is a disclosure which:
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.
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
All other matters in the Senior School - Director of Senior School
All matters in the Junior School - Head of Junior School
All matters relating to teacher accreditation (TAA) - Deputy Principal
All formal complaints will be managed in accordance with the following procedure.
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 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 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:
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 how 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 below.
The School recognises that staff members may have grievances about matters at work, including about work relationships and decisions made by other staff members which impact on their work. This grievance procedure applies to all employees and contractors across the School and applied to general grievances, If you have a grievance about unlawful discrimination, harassment or bullying please refer to our Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying Statement. This grievance procedure is not a term of any contract, including contract of employment.
If you have a grievance, you should, if it is appropriate, try in the first instance to address the grievance directly with the person involved. If you have a grievance that cannot be resolved directly with the person involved you should:
a) in the first instance, raise it with the Director of Senior School or the Head of Junior School; or
b) if it is not appropriate that it be raised with the Director of Senior School or Head of Junior School, raise your grievance with the Deputy Principal or the Principal.
The School will determine the most appropriate method of dealing with the grievance. This could include (among other methods), requesting further information from you, requesting information from other co-workers or third parties, meeting with you or others involved in the grievance, reviewing and responding to the grievance or arranging for an appropriate person to review and respond to the grievance, or facilitating a meeting between you and the person(s) that the grievance is about.
On receipt of a grievance the School will generally take the following steps:
a) determine the best method of handling the grievance;
b) advise you of the likely steps that will be undertaken by the School in relation to the grievance;
c) advise the person(s) that the grievance is about of the nature of the grievance and seek their response;
d) collect any additional information the School considers necessary to properly review the grievance; and
e) advise both you and the person(s) that the grievance is about of the School’s response to the grievance and if appropriate, any proposed action to be taken.
However, there may be circumstances in which some of the steps outlined above are not appropriate and the School will determine, in its absolute discretion, on a case by case basis the most appropriate method of handling the grievance.
A staff member who raises a grievance and the person(s) that the grievance is about may elect to have an appropriate support person present at any meeting with representatives of the School about the grievance. However, depending on the nature of the grievance it may not be appropriate for the support person to be a work colleague.
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 Office of Children’s Guardian all allegations of reportable conduct made against staff at the School as defined by the Children’s Guardian Act 2019 (the 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.
The School defines “staff misconduct” as conduct by a staff member that:
Section 20 of the Children’s Guardian Act 2019 defines reportable conduct as:
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. The School closely follows the Office of the Children’s Guardian guidance on this issue provided in the Identifying reportable allegations fact sheet.
If you would like to make a formal complaint or allegation of staff misconduct or reportable conduct, you can do so by:
If the Principal is the subject of your complaint or allegation of misconduct or reportable conduct, please contact the Deputy Principal who will immediately report to the Chair of the School Board.
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 Deputy Principal.
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 Office of Children’s Guardian. All investigations uphold the principles of procedural fairness and confidentiality – information is only shared with those who need to know. The School closely follows the Office of the Children’s Guardian guidance on this issue provided in the Recognising and managing conflicts of interest fact sheet.
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.
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 Office of the Children’s Guardian within seven business days after becoming aware of the allegation or conviction. The School also will conduct an initial risk assessment before notifying the Office of the Children’s Guardian to provide information about how risks are being managed.
The School must conduct an internal investigation, led by the Principal or an accredited investigator and provide a finalised report or an interim report on the status of the investigation to the Office of the Children’s Guardian within 30 calendar days. When conducting an internal investigation, the School follows the NSW Reportable Conduct Scheme’s Practice Guide: Planning and Conducting an Investigation.
In cases where a child is at immediate risk of serious harm, the School has a duty to take prompt and decisive action to manage those risks. That may mean taking immediate steps to cease and prevent further contact between the staff member and the child who is the alleged victim of reportable conduct or any other children. It may also involve securing forensic evidence.
If a reportable allegation requires a report to Police, this will be the first step taken after addressing any significant risk to children or the investigation. If Police are conducting inquiries, the School will consult with the police officer in charge about any proposed action, including risk management action.
If a mandatory reporter has reasonable grounds to suspect that a child or children are at risk of significant harm, the School must immediately make a mandatory report to the Child Protection Helpline of the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ).
After making any mandatory repots to Police and DCJ, if the allegation constitutes a reportable allegation, the School is required to notify the Office of the Children’s Guardian within 7 business days of becoming aware of the reportable allegation.
The School is responsible for ensuring that any risk a to a child(ren) is assessed and managed while responding to reportable allegations. This process includes:
When conducting the risk management, the School follows the NSW Reportable Conduct Scheme’s guidance provided in the Risk management following a reportable allegation fact sheet.
The investigation process aims to gather and examine information to establish facts and make findings in relation to reportable allegations. Regardless of the findings about the reportable allegation, the School is required to advise the Office of the Children’s Guardian of the final actions it has taken, or will take, as a result of the investigation and the reasons for taking that action (or taking no action). To this end, the School will clearly document the analysis of how the evidence supports the findings and how the evidence has informed the final risk assessment and decision-making around action. When making a finding, the School must have regard to certain mandatory considerations outlined in the Act and also the principles of procedural fairness.
Once the final decision is made, the staff member will be informed in writing. They will also be informed of any relevant consequences and of any internal review or appeal options available to them.
When making a finding, the School follows the NSW Reportable Conduct Scheme’s guidance provided in the Making a finding of reportable conduct fact sheet.
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 Office of the Children’s Guardian guidance on this issue provided in the Disclosing information to children’ parents and carers fact sheet.
Under section 57 of the Act, the School must disclose relevant information to:
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:
however it considers all the circumstances of the complaint/allegation and investigation when determining if information should be disclosed.
The Office of the Children’s Guardian 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.