Since 18 December 2017 prescribed child protection complaints may be made to Ombudsman SA and will be taken to be complaints under the Ombudsman Act 1972 (SA) [Health and Community Services Complaints Act 2004 (SA) s 28A]. Previously all complaints relating to child protection went to the Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner in the first instance.
The Ombudsman will not usually investigate a complaint unless the person has already lodged a complaint directly with the Department and given them time to respond. The Department's Central Complaints Unit has an online complaints form and can be contacted on 1800 003 305. For more information about when the Ombudsman may refuse to investigate and the time limit that generally applies see Complaints and Complaints about child protection services.
What is a prescribed child protection complaint?
Prescribed child protection complaints are complaints relating to health or community services that:
- are provided to, or for the benefit of, a child who may be or who has been at risk; or
- involve a notification (whether mandatory or otherwise) of a suspicion that a child may be at risk; or
- involve an investigation of a case where a child may be at risk; or
- are provided to, or for the benefit of, a child who is in the custody or guardianship of the Minister or someone else under the Act
and the provision of the service is an administrative act [s 28A(8)(a)]. However, the regulations may declare a particular complaint to be included or excluded from the definition [s 28A(8)(b)].
An administrative act is an act relating to a matter of administration (including a service, activity or omission) by the Department for Child Protection, or by an employee or contractor on their behalf [see Ombudsman Act 1977 (SA) s 3 and 13(5)].
Complaints may relate to things such as:
- action or inaction by the Department in response to notifications
- communication with families or approved carers during an investigation
- the conduct of child protection officers or other Departmental staff during an investigation
- other matters relating to the conduct of an investigation
- the assessment of children and young people or their parents or guardians
- the quality of medical care or other support services
If the complaint is not a prescribed child protection complaint, it may still be a complaint that can be made to the Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner (HCSCC) (see Complaints about child protection services) or a decision reviewable by the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (see Can the Chief Executive’s decisions be reviewed?).
See also the Table of complaints, reviews and appeals.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.