Complaints handling policy

Policy Number TI-A-134 Effective Date 02 Nov 2011 Review Date 01 April 2014


This policy provides a framework for staff of NSW Trade & Investment (the department) who receive and/or address complaints from external clients. Its objectives are to ensure:

  • complaints are handled in a structured, timely and professional manner which is fair, courteous and respectful of privacy
  • all staff are aware of their responsibilities regarding handling complaints
  • complaints are used to identify problems and to continuously improve the department's services.

NSW Trade & Investment values feedback, including complaints, as a means of identifying problems and enabling improvements to systems and processes to improve its services. Effective complaint handling is an essential part of the department's approach to providing services that are responsive to needs and meet the expectations of clients.


The policy applies to all divisions and authorities within the department. It applies to all permanent employees, temporary/seconded employees and private contractors/consultants who may receive, manage and/or investigate complaints.

The policy applies to complaints made by external clients. Other policies exist for managing concerns raised internally by staff.

Complaints dealt with under this policy do not include:

  • representations which debate or challenge the substance of the department's policies, programs or regulatory powers
  • complaints solely about the activities of third parties.


  1. Clients have a right to know they can complain, and how to go about it. NSW Trade & Investment will publish its complaints policy and will provide straight forward means for clients to raise concerns or make a complaint related to the department's service delivery.
  2. Staff receiving a complaint will aim to resolve it at the earliest opportunity. It is expected the majority of complaints will be addressed and resolved by frontline staff providing further information or explanation at the time the original dissatisfaction is raised. Where the client is not satisfied with the initial response to the complaint, they will be given the option to progress the issue through the formal complaint handling process outlined in the department's complaints handling procedure.
  3. Staff will treat all complaints fairly and impartially, as is their obligation under the Code of Conduct.
  4. All complaints will be acknowledged and complainants kept informed about the progress of their matter, particularly if delays occur.
  5. Complainants will not be subjected to any form of prejudice, lose services or be disadvantaged in any way as a result of having complained.
  6. Complaints will be treated with an appropriate level of confidentiality. Information about complaints will only be shared on a need-to-know basis, both within the agency and externally.
  7. Reasons will be provided for decisions made in relation to complaints received.
  8. The department expects the complainant to:
    • clearly identify the issues of complaint, or ask for help from the department's staff to do this
    • give the department all the available information in support of the complaint in an organised format at the time of making the complaint and not provide any information that is intentionally misleading or knowingly wrong
    • cooperate with the department's inquiries or investigations
    • treat the department's staff with courtesy and respect.

If complainants do not meet these expectations, the department may set limits or conditions on the handling of their complaint. Any abuse, harassment or threats to the safety or welfare of staff will result in discontinuation of the complaint investigation and contact with the complainant will cease. Similarly, if it is found that the complainant has made a frivolous, trivial, knowingly false or vexatious complaint future contact with the complainant may cease.


Roles and responsibilities

All staff
receiving feedback from clients and resolving complaints at the first contact, wherever possible.
Manager Governance and Information Requests
administering the complaints handling process, acting as a point of contact and information for complainants and staff members, maintaining the complaints register, monitoring actions and reporting progress against designated performance standards.
Branch heads
ensuring complaints are thoroughly investigated and reported on, suitable recommendations are implemented and the complainant advised of outcomes within one month of receipt providing support to staff members dealing with difficult clients.
Staff investigating a complaint
gathering the facts and assessing whether the actions and behaviour of NSW Trade & Investment staff and the processes under which they operate were suitable and appropriate in the circumstances.
Deputy Director General, Finance Strategy & Operations
overall responsibility for the operation and management of the complaints handling process, including setting standards and monitoring the consistency and effectiveness of how the process is applied and reviewing the outcomes. A schedule of Branch Heads is attached.
Director General
responsibility for the conduct of investigations concerning complaints referred by the Minister, including ensuring all aspects of the complaint are thoroughly examined and reported upon, suitable recommendations are actioned and responses issued to the complainant.


Deputy Director General, Finance Strategy & Operations.



Related policies

  • Code of conduct
  • Customer service charter
  • Grievances
  • Fraud and corruption
  • Public interest disclosures

Other related documents

  • Australian Standard Complaints Handling AS4269-1995
  • Quality Management ISO 10002 2004 – Customer Satisfaction – Guidelines for Complaints Handling in Organisations
  • NSW Ombudsman publication Factsheet 8 "Handling Complaints" January 2011
  • NSW Ombudsman publication Factsheet 9 "Investigation of Complaints" November 2010
  • NSW Ombudsman publication "The Complaint Handler's Tool Kit" August 2009 including
  • "Effective Complaint Handling Guidelines" 2nd Edition December 2010
  • "Managing Unreasonable Complainant Conduct: Practice Manual" July 2009
  • "Investigating Complaints – a manual for investigators" June 2004
  • NSW Ombudsman publication "Some tips for making a complaint" March 2010


A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction about service or any associated administrative matter provided or the performance of staff in providing that service or associated administrative matter. It does not include representations which debate or challenge the substance of the department's policies, programs or regulatory powers.

Superseded documents

This policy replaces:

  • Handling Complaints – DPI A-056 V1.0 April 2007
  • Complaint Handling Procedures– DSRD V3.1 July 2009
  • Client Feedback: Handling Complaints, Suggestions and Compliments – DSRD V7.1 July 2009
  • Complaints Handling – DWE DP_044 May 2009
  • Feedback and Formal Complaints Procedure – FTO 2009
  • Complaints: Managing unresolved complaints - DPI (procedure)
  • Complaints handling procedure (DWE)
Revision history
Version Date issued Notes By
1.0 April 2012 New policy developed to rationalise duplicate complaint policies within NSW Trade & Investment Manager Governance and Information Requests /Manager Corporate Governance


Director Governance and Information Requests


(02) 9934 0648