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Making a Complaint

If someone treats you badly, bullies you or discriminates against you, you have the right to complain.

This page provides information to help you make a complaint about discrimination.

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Tip: Click the subtitles button in the bottom right hand corner of the video to turn closed captions on and off.

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.

Informal complaints

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.

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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.


Formal complaints

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.

Advocacy support

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 Sate or Territory

You may also choose to make a complaint to a relevant Commission in your State or Territory. They are listed below.

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:

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).

Important resources

Guides
Our Site Fact Sheet: Discrimination and Making a Complaint
A fact sheet to help you learn what discrimination is and how to make a complaint if someone discriminates against you.
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Guides
Our Site Fact Sheet: Disability Advocacy
A fact sheet explaining what disability advocacy is.
Apple App Store
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Download Word (accessible)
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Watch Video
Videos
Auslan: Information About Making a Complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission
A video to help you learn how to make a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Apple App Store
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Guides
Our Site Fact Sheet: Standing Up For Your Rights
A fact sheet with information to help you stand up for your rights.
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Where to next

External website
Australian Human Rights Commission
The national organisation in Australia that supports your rights.
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External website
Disability Advocacy Finder
A website that can help you find a disability advocate.
Apple App Store
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Visit Website
Accessible Word File
Download PDF
Listen Now
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Download PDF
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External website
Australian Government: Privacy Complaints
Information on how to make a complaint if you think an organisation has misused your personal information.
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External website
Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability
Information about the Disability Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, including how to make a submission.
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Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (APHRA)
The main organisation that handles complaints about health practitioners across Australia.
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National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS): Feedback and Complaints
A webpage to help you provide feedback to or make a complaint about the NDIS.
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NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission
If you have a problem with a registered NDIS provider, you can make a complaint on this website.
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eSafety Commissioner
A website helping Australians to have safer, more positive experiences online.
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Australian Competition and Consumer Commission SCAM WATCH
A national government website where you can report online scams.
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ACT Human Rights Commission
The main organisation that supports people's rights and deals with complaints in Canberra and across the Australian Capital Territory.
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Equal Opportunity Commission South Australia
The main organisation that supports people's rights and deals with complaints in Adelaide and across South Australia.
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Equal Opportunity Tasmania
The main organisation that supports people's rights and responds to complaints in Hobart and across Tasmania.
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Queensland Human Rights Commission
The main organisation that supports people's rights and deals with complaints in Brisbane and across Queensland.
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Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commission
The main organisation that supports people's rights in Darwin, Alice Springs and across the Northern Territory.
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New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Board
The main organisation that supports people's rights and deals with complaints in Sydney and across NSW.
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Victorian Equal Opportunity Commission
The main organisation that supports people's rights and deals with complaints in Melbourne and across Victoria.
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Western Australia Equal Opportunity Commission
The main organisation that supports people's rights and deals with complaints in Perth and across Western Australia.
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