Making a complaint for children and young people in out-of-home care (care services)

Children and young people in care services (which was called out-of-home care), unhappy with their care, can make a complaint.
If you're a child or young person in care services (which was called out-of-home care), and you are unhappy with your care, you can make a complaint.

What you can make a complaint about 

We want our services to work for children and young people in care services.

Children and young people in care services have the right to feel safe and secure and to tell someone how they feel, including if they are unhappy or have a concern about their care.

The department's complaints team is here to listen you and help you with your concerns.

Video: You can make a complaint

Are you worried or unhappy?

If you are worried about your safety right now, you should call the police on 000.

It's OK to tell someone.

All children or young people living in care services have rights.

You have the right to:

  • be safe and feel safe
  • say how you feel and be heard
  • tell someone if you are unhappy.

 You might be unhappy with your care or a person who looks after you – or anything else that makes you feel unsafe or unhappy. The department’s complaints team is also here to listen to you and help you with your concerns.

You may be able to seek a review of decisions that relate to your care through your case manager. A lawyer may also help you do this.

What should you do?

Step 1: Talk to a carer or someone you trust that looks after you.

You could talk to your case manager or teacher. They might be able to help you work things out.

You can also ask to speak to your case worker’s manager.

Step 2: You can contact our friendly complaints team by:

We will listen to you and tell you how we can help.

We will also take action to ensure you are safe.

Legal help

If you are unhappy with a decision that has been made about your care or have questions about your child protection order, you can speak to a lawyer.

Lawyers can also help with other legal issues like:

  • Knowing your rights with the police
  • Money you may owe, including fines
  • Relationship problems and family violence
  • A contract or agreement you have signed
  • Decisions about Centrelink, NDIS or a visa

For free legal help you can contact:

Who else can I talk to about complaints?

You may also want to complain to one of these organisations: 

Kids Helpline

Kids Helpline is a free and confidential counselling service for children and young people between 5 and 25 years old.

You can contanct Kids Helpline by:

Disability Services Commissioner

The Disability Services Commissioner works with people with a disability, and disability services to respond to complaints.

You can contact the Disability Services Commissioner to make a complaint by

Health Complaints Commissioner

The Health Complaints Commissioner receives and responds to complaints about your health and health information in Victoria.

You can contact the Health Complaints Commissioner to make a complaint by:

The Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission

The Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission can help you if your complaint is about a public mental health service in Victoria.

Phone: 1800 246 054

Police Conduct Unit – Victoria Police

You can make a complaint about your experience with Victoria Police. This includes concerns about the actions or behaviour of police officers. To make a complaint you can:

Complaints can be made about protective service officers, police custody officers or any other person working for Victoria Police.

Victorian Ombudsman

The Victorian Ombudsman is independent and not part of the department. They can look at complaints about the department or any government organisation. You can make a complaint to the Ombudsman about your worker or how you are treated.

You can make a complaint to the Ombudsman if:

  • you have already told a carer, worker, manager or the department what's wrong but are still unhappy
    or
  • you don’t feel like you can tell a carer, worker, manager or the department what's wrong – for example, if you feel unsafe or worried about what will happen to you if you make a complaint.

The Ombudsman will tell you if they can help you, give you ideas about what to do, or tell you who to speak to. 

You can contact the Victorian Ombudsman by: 

The Victorian Ombudsman also has a conciliation process.

Conciliation is a different way of finding a solution to a complaint or concern. It is a voluntary process.

It requires the people involved to speak together with an independent person or organisation to try and find a solution that everyone would be happy with. 

You can read more about conciliation on the Fact sheet - for public organisations - conciliation by Victorian Ombudsman (PDF).

Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner

The Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner will investigate complaints about a Victorian Government agency or local council’s failure to comply with one or more of the Information Privacy Principles. 

 

More information

If English is not your first language, we can help you with an interpreter. 

We understand that making a complaint can sometimes involve personal issues, and we are here to help you with the process.

You could also ask someone else to lodge a complaint for you. However, they must have your permission to do this.

What happens to the information collected about complaints?

We know your privacy is very important.

We collect information so we can respond to your complaint. This includes the information you tell us on the complaints form. We are legally required to take action to keep you safe.

We will speak with you about actions we can take to respond to your complaint. This might include sharing your information with the people who look after you. This might be your case manager, support worker or other areas within the department.

We might also collect information from an organisation that may look after you. This will help us respond to your complaint. Please let us know if you have any concerns about sharing of your information.

You have the legal right to see your information about you. This is called Freedom of Information (FOI). 

You can learn more from our Freedom of Information Team by phoning 03 9096 8449.

Complaints Team

The Complaints team is responsible for managing your complaint, and listening to feedback, suggestions and compliments.

You can contact the Complaints team by:

We will listen to you and tell you how we can help.

We will also take action to ensure you are safe.

Other resources

Planet Right and Getting It Right

Visit the CREATE website and see two videos to help you understand your rights in out-of-home care.

The Charter for Children in Out-of-Home Care

This Charter for children in out-of-home care lists the rights of children and young people in care services.

Victorian Legal Aid

Do you have a legal problem or want to know more about your rights? poster (Word)

This poster has been created for children and young people about accessing free legal help.

Guide to making a complaint in English, easy English and community languages

You can find the guide to making a complaint in English, easy English and community languages on the Making a complaint page

Fact sheets for community service organisations and carers

A fact sheet has been prepared for carers looking after children and young people in care - Promoting complaints awareness in out-of-home-care (Word)

An easy-to-read fact sheet for children and young people in care - Raising concerns or complaints in care services for children and young people (Word)