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This policy is intended to ensure that The Rural Foundation Ltd (Youthrive Victoria) handles complaints fairly, efficiently and effectively in a timely manner. It provides guidance to staff, volunteers, participants, parents and members of the community on the key principles and concepts of our complaint management system. This will enable them to raise complaints or concerns about issues arising within our organisation, programs or events.


This policy applies to complaints made by staff, volunteers, program participants or their parents/guardians and members of the community to or about The Rural Foundation Ltd (Youthrive Victoria), our programs, events or conduct of our board members, staff, volunteers or people connected to our organisation.

In some limited instances, we may need to refer a complainant to another policy or area if there are different processes in place to manage the issue including:

  • Criminal matters will be referred to Victorian Police
  • Complaints and concerns relating to child abuse will be managed in conjunction with our Child Safety and wellbeing policy.
  • Staff or Volunteer grievances will be managed in conjunction with our Staff Grievances policy.



The Rural Foundation Ltd (Youthrive Victoria) expects staff and volunteers at all levels to be committed to fair, effective and efficient complaint handling. The Rural Foundation Ltd (Youthrive Victoria) provides a safe and effective service to those who wish to make a complaint to or about us regardless of the complaint. The Rural Foundation Ltd (Youthrive Victoria) views complaints as a positive interaction with the communities we serve which gives us the opportunity to improve our services and build better relationships. We value open communication with our community.


Management will

  • Promote a culture that values complaints and their effective resolution
  • Provide adequate support and direction to key staff responsible for handling complaints.
  • Regularly review reports about complaint trends and issues arising from complaints.
  • Encourage all staff to be alert to complaints and assist those responsible for handling complaints to resolve them promptly.
  • Encourage staff to make recommendations for system improvements.
  • Support recommendations for service, staff and complaint handling improvements arising from the analysis of complaint data.


Staff and Volunteers will

  • Treat all people with respect, including people who make complaints.
  • Assist people who wish to make complaints access our complaints process.
  • Comply with our policy and associated procedures.
  • Provide regular feedback to management and/or the governing body on issues arising from complaints.
  • Provide suggestions to management on ways to improve our complaints management system.
  • Implement changes arising from individual complaints and from the analysis of complaint data as directed by management.
  • Be alert to complaints and assist staff handling complaints to resolve matters promptly.



The Rural Foundation Ltd (Youthrive Victoria) acknowledges that issues or concerns can cause stress or worry for young people and impact their wellbeing. The Rural Foundation Ltd (Youthrive Victoria) encourages young people to raise issues or concerns as they arise so that we can work together to resolve them. Young people with a concern or complaint can raise them with a trusted adult within The Rural Foundation Ltd (Youthrive Victoria) , for example, the CEO, the Office Manager or the RYN Co-ordinator. This person will take your concern or complaint seriously and will explain to you what steps we can take to try to resolve the issue and support you. You can also ask your parent, carer or another trusted adult outside of the school, to talk to us about the issue instead. Information about our parent/carer complaints and concerns process is outlined further below.

If you wish to remain anonymous you can use the contact us form on the Rural Youth Network webpage

Further information and resources to support young people to raise issues or concerns are available at:

  • Report Racism Hotline (call 1800 722 476) – this hotline enables students to report concerns relating to racism or religious discrimination
  • Reach Out
  • Headspace
  • Kids Helpline (call 1800 55 1800)
  • Victorian Aboriginal Education Association (VAEAI)



Raising a concern

The Rural Foundation Ltd (Youthrive Victoria) is always happy to discuss with parents, carers and community members any concerns that they may have. Concerns in the first instance should be directed to your usual point of contact. Where possible, volunteers and staff will work with you to ensure that your concerns are appropriately addressed.


Making a complaint

Where concerns cannot be resolved in this way, parents or community members may wish to make a formal complaint to the CEO, noting that formal complaints should be directed to a member of The Rural Foundation Ltd (Youthrive Victoria) leadership team. If you would like to make a formal complaint, in most cases, depending on the nature of the complaint raised, The Rural Foundation Ltd (Youthrive Victoria) will first seek to understand the issues and will then convene a resolution meeting with the aim of resolving the complaint together. The following process will apply:

  1. Complaint received: Please either email, telephone or arrange a meeting through the office manager with the CEO, to outline your complaint so that we can fully understand what the issues are. We can discuss your complaint in a way that is convenient for you, whether in writing, in person or over the phone.
  2. Information gathering: Depending on the issues raised in the complaint, the CEO, or nominee may need to gather further information to properly understand the situation. This process may also involve speaking to others to obtain details about the situation or the concerns raised.
  3. Response: Where possible, a resolution meeting will be arranged with the CEO to discuss the complaint with the objective of reaching a resolution satisfactory to all parties. If after the resolution meeting we are unable to resolve the complaint together, we will work with you to produce a written summary of the complaint in the event you would like to take further action about it. In some circumstances, the CEO may determine that a resolution meeting would not be appropriate. In this situation, a response to the complaint will be provided in writing.
  4. Timelines: The Rural Foundation Ltd (Youthrive Victoria) will acknowledge receipt of your complaint as soon as possible (usually within two business days) and will seek to resolve complaints in a timely manner. Depending on the complexity of the complaint, The Rural Foundation Ltd (Youthrive Victoria) may need some time to gather enough information to fully understand the circumstances of your complaint. We will endeavour to complete any necessary information gathering and hold a resolution meeting where appropriate within 10 working days of the complaint being raised. In situations where further time is required, The Rural Foundation Ltd (Youthrive Victoria) will consult with you and discuss any interim solutions to the dispute that can be put in place. Please note that unreasonable conduct (e.g., vexatious complaints) may need to be managed differently to the procedures in this policy.



People focus:

We are committed to seeking and receiving feedback and complaints about our services, systems, practices, procedures, products and complaint handling. Any concerns raised in feedback or complaints will be dealt with within a reasonable time frame (as in AS/NZ 10002).

People making complaints will be provided with information about our complaint handling process and how to access it, listened to, treated with respect by staff and actively involved in the complaint process where possible and appropriate, and provided with reasons for our decision/s and any options for redress or review.

No detriment to people making complaints.

We will take all reasonable steps to ensure that people making complaints are not adversely affected because a complaint has been made by them or on their behalf.

Anonymous complaints

We accept anonymous complaints if there is a compelling reason to do so and will carry out a confidential investigation of the issues raised where there is enough information provided.


We will ensure that information about how and where complaints may be made to or about us is well publicised, on our website. We will ensure that our systems to manage complaints are easily understood and accessible to everyone, particularly people who may require assistance. If a person prefers or needs another person or organisation to assist or represent them in the making and/ or resolution of their complaint, we will communicate with them through their representative if this is their wish. Anyone may represent a person wishing to make a complaint with their consent (e.g., advocate, family member, legal or community representative, member of Parliament, another organisation).


Early resolution

Where possible, complaints will be resolved at first contact with us. When appropriate we may offer an explanation or apology to the person making the complaint.


We will promptly acknowledge receipt of complaints. We will assess and prioritise complaints in accordance with the urgency and/or seriousness of the issues raised. If a matter concerns an immediate risk to safety or security the response will be immediate and will be escalated appropriately. We are committed to managing people’s expectations, and will inform them as soon as possible, of the following:

●       the complaints process,

●       the expected time frames for our actions,

●       the progress of the complaint and reasons for any delay,

●       their likely involvement in the process,

●       and the possible or likely outcome of their complaint.

The Rural Foundation Ltd (Youthrive Victoria) will advise people as soon as possible when we are unable to deal with any part of their complaint and provide advice about where such issues and/or complaints may be directed (if known and appropriate). We will also advise people as soon as possible when we are unable to meet our time frames for responding to their complaint and the reason for our delay.

Objectivity and fairness

We will address each complaint with integrity and in an equitable, objective and unbiased manner. We will ensure that the person handling a complaint is different from any staff member whose conduct or service is being complained about.

Conflicts of interest, whether actual or perceived, will be managed responsibly. In particular, internal reviews of how a complaint was managed will be conducted by a person other than the original decision maker.


We will protect the identity of people making complaints where this is practical and appropriate. Personal information that identifies individuals will only be disclosed or used by us as permitted under the relevant privacy laws, secrecy provisions and any relevant confidentiality obligations.


Complaints involving multiple agencies

Where a complaint involves multiple organisations, we will work with the other organisation/s where possible, to ensure that communication with the person making a complaint and/or their representative is clear and coordinated. Subject to privacy and confidentiality considerations, communication and information sharing between the parties will also be organised to facilitate a timely response to the complaint. Where our services are contracted out, we expect contracted service providers to have an accessible and comprehensive complaint management system. We take complaints not only about the actions of our staff but also the actions of our service providers.

Empowerment of staff

All staff managing complaints are empowered to implement our complaint management system as relevant to their role and responsibilities. Staff are encouraged to provide feedback on the effectiveness and efficiency of all aspects of our complaint management system.

Managing unreasonable conduct by people making complaints

We are committed to being accessible and responsive to all people who approach us with feedback or complaints. At the same time our success depends on our ability to do our work and perform our functions in the most effective and efficient way possible, the health, safety and security of our staff, and  our ability to allocate our resources fairly across all aspects of The Rural Foundation Ltd (Youthrive Victoria). When people behave unreasonably in their dealings with us, their conduct can significantly affect the progress and efficiency of our work. As a result, we will take proactive and decisive action to manage any conduct that negatively and unreasonably affects us and will support our staff to do the same in accordance with this policy.

Alternative avenues for dealing with complaints We will inform people who make complaints to or about us about any internal or external review options available to them (including any relevant Ombudsman or oversight regulatory bodies).

The three levels of complaint handling

  • Level 1 We aim to resolve complaints at the first level, the frontline. Wherever possible staff will be adequately equipped to respond to complaints, including being given appropriate authority, training and supervision.
  • Level 2 Where this is not possible, we may decide to escalate the complaint to a more senior officer within our organisation. This second level of complaint handling will provide for the following internal mechanisms: assessment and possible investigation of the complaint and decision/s already made, and/or  facilitated resolution (where a person not connected with the complaint reviews the matter and attempts to find an outcome acceptable to the relevant parties).
  • Level 3 Where a person making a complaint is dissatisfied with the outcome of our review of their complaint, they may seek an external review of our decision (by the Australian Charities and Not-forProfits Commission for example)


Analysis and evaluation of complaints:

We will ensure that complaints are recorded in a systematic way so that information can be easily retrieved for reporting and analysis by management and the Board of Directors. We will run regular reports on the number of complaints received, the outcome of complaints, including matters resolved at the frontline  issues arising from complaints, systemic issues identified, and  the number of requests we receive for internal and/or external review of our complaint handling. Regular analysis of these reports will be undertaken to monitor trends, measure the quality of our customer service and make improvements. Both reports and their analysis will be provided to our CEO, senior management and to our governing body for review, at least annually.

Monitoring of the complaint management system

We will continually monitor our complaint management system to ensure its effectiveness in responding to and resolving complaints, identify and correct deficiencies in the operation of the system.

Continuous improvement

We are committed to improving the way our organisation operates, including our management of the effectiveness and efficiency of our complaint management system. To this end, we will support the making and appropriate resolution of complaints, implement best practices in complaint handling, recognise and reward exemplary complaint handling by staff, regularly review the complaint management system and complaint data, and  implement appropriate system changes arising out of our analysis of complaints data.


The Rural Foundation Ltd (Youthrive Victoria) expects all board members, staff and volunteers to take any complaints from Children or from people representing children seriously. All complaints made by children or their representatives must be brought to the attention of the CEO regardless of severity.



The Rural Foundation Ltd (Youthrive Victoria) prides itself on being a welcoming and inclusive workplace. Any staff grievances can be brought to the attention of management as per our Staff Grievances Policy.



Any Alumni Grievance can be brought to the attention of management as per the TRF Alumni Policy and Code of Conduct 2021.



All personal information considered or recorded will respect the privacy of the individuals involved, whether they be staff, volunteers, families or children, unless there is a risk to someone’s safety. Everyone is entitled to know how this information is recorded, what will be done with it and who will have access to it. This is intended to protect reporters and to ensure that all members of The Rural Foundation Ltd are comfortable to disclose any allegations or concerns without repercussions.


To meet legal requirements, The Rural Foundation Ltd (Youthrive Victoria) must keep written records of:

  • Serious, substantial or unusual complaints
  • Complaints relating to the Child Information Sharing Scheme and Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme, to meet regulatory requirements. Complaints of this nature would fall under the record keeping category in the Child Safety and Wellbeing policy

The Rural Foundation Ltd (Youthrive Victoria) also follows our privacy policy to ensure that record-keeping, reporting, privacy and employment law obligations are met when responding to complaints or concerns.


This policy will be communicated to The Rural Foundation Ltd (Youthrive Victoria’s) community in the following ways:

  • Available publicly on the Youthrive and Rural Youth Network websites.
  • Included in staff induction processes
  • Included in our staff handbook/manual
  • Available on the Drive
  • Hard copy available from the Office Manager upon request


This policy will be reviewed every two years and following significant incidents if they occur. We will ensure that families and children have the opportunity to contribute. Where possible we will do our best to work with local Aboriginal communities, culturally and/or linguistically diverse communities and people with a disability.


Any potential breaches of this policy will be investigated and may result in restriction of duties, counselling and/or disciplinary action, which, in the case of employees, may lead to dismissal, or, in the case of volunteers, may lead to the cessation of their engagement.

Any breach of this policy by a contractor may result in cancellation by The Rural Foundation Ltd (Youthrive Victoria)  of the services provided by that contractor.

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