Approaches to making a complaint
If you think you have been discriminated against, or someone has treated you unfairly, the first step to making a complaint is working out how to approach the situation.
In some cases, you may want to talk directly to the person who treated you badly, to tell them how you feel. This can work well if the person is a friend or family member, as it is unlikely they intended to make you feel bad.
If you want to make a complaint about being treated badly at an organisation or service, sometimes it helps to ask to speak to a manager or a senior staff member. This can be done in person or over the phone. You could also send the organisation or service a short email explaining what happened and why you are upset. This could include your suggestions for how the situation could have been handled better and what may need to change.
This can be a good approach in some situations, for example, if a staff member in a shop or restaurant says you cannot come in because you use a wheelchair, or if they say something negative about your disability.
You may want to direct the person to a resource about discrimination, like our page on Disability and Discrimination.
Tip: You can also download the WWDA fact sheet on Discrimination and Making a Complaint.
In cases where making an informal complaint does not work, or is not suitable, you can make a formal complaint through the organisation that treated you badly, or to an external organisation. Formal complaints can be made in person, over the phone, or via a letter or email.
What to include in a complaint
Some organisations, like the Australian Human Rights Commission (external link) have forms you can fill out to make a complaint. Others may not, but you can check with the organisation or look at their website to find out. Some organisations, including the Australian Human Rights Commission can also take complaints over the phone.
When you make a complaint, you should make sure you think about and include all of the following information:
Your details - Provide all the contact details you can, like your phone number, address and email.
Details of your characteristics – Provide information about any characteristics that are relevant to the complaint. This could include your disability, gender or beliefs.
What happened – Detail the events. Explain who did what, where they did it and when. Give a clear description of how you were treated.
What you want to happen next - What do you hope to achieve from your complaint? Would you like a policy change, a payment, an apology or something else? You can ask for other things later, but it is important to have a list of your preferred outcomes.
Tip: Once you have written a draft of your letter, you should ask someone to look over it before you send it. This could be a family member, friend, support person or advocate.
If you need support to make a complaint, you can ask an advocate for help.
Advocates can help you write letters, make phone calls and find out about your rights. You can ask an advocate to help you do things like:
- understand anti-discrimination laws
- write a complaint letter
- talk to someone on your behalf.
Tip: You can find an advocate with the Australian Government Disability Advocacy Finder (external link).
Human rights complaints
If someone discriminates against you or does something that breaches your rights, you can make a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission (external link) or the relevant Commission in your State or Territory.
Australian Human Rights Commission
The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is the national organisation in Australia that protects your rights. If someone discriminates against you or tries to take away your rights, you can complain to the AHRC.
Learn how to make a complaint on the Australian Human Rights Commission website (external site).
Complaints in your State or Territory
You may also choose to make a complaint to a relevant Commission in your State or Territory. They are listed below.
- Australian Capital Territory: ACT Human Rights Commission (external link)
- Queensland: Queensland Human Rights Commission (external link)
- New South Wales: Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW (external link)
- Northern Territory: Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commission (external link)
- South Australia: Equal Opportunity Commission South Australia (external link)
- Tasmania: Equal Opportunity Tasmania (external link)
- Victoria: Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (external link).
- Western Australia: WA Equal Opportunity Commission (external link).
Making a complaint about a service
When you use a service or receive support, you have the right to be treated with respect and to be given an appropriate level of quality care and support. This includes respect for you as an individual, your views and requests, as well as respect for your personal information.
If you think that a particular service or a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provider has discriminated against you, provided inadequate service or misused your personal information, you have the right to make a complaint.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme
To make a complaint about National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) staff or processes you can download a form from the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) website (external link), fill it out and sent it to them by email, post or in person.
If you would like help to make a complaint you can also call the NDIA office on 1800 800 110.
Learn more about making a complaint on the NDIS website (external link).
NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission
If you would like to complain about a service that you receive from a provider that is funded through the NDIS, like a support worker, or service provider, you can raise it directly with the service, or make a complaint to the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission. You can do this by filling out a form on the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission website or by calling the Commission on 1800 035 544.
Note: Anyone can make a complaint to the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission if they witness any form of violence, exploitation, abuse or neglect of a person with disability.
Learn more about making a complaint on the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission website (external link).
Complaints about healthcare
If you would like to complain about a healthcare service, you can:
- talk directly to the service about your concerns
- make a complaint to your State or Territory’s Health Ombudsman (external link)
- submit a complaint to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (external link).
Learn more about making a healthcare complaint on the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency website (external link).
Complaints about Government agencies
If you disagree with a decision made by a government organisation, like the NDIS or Centrelink, you can make a complaint to the Commonwealth Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman can investigate complaints about the actions and decisions of Australian Government agencies to see if they are wrong, unjust, unlawful, discriminatory or unfair.
Learn more on the Commonwealth Ombudsman website (external link).