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The Victorian Catholic Education Authority (VCEA) is committed to ensuring positive outcomes in handling grievances and complaints from parents, guardians, carers, and students within Victorian Catholic schools. It is important to note that the VCEA is not responsible for the day-to-day operations of Catholic schools in Victoria.

Any complaints about a Catholic school in Victoria should first be directed to your child’s school. The process for managing complaints is outlined in your school’s complaints policy, which is available on your school’s website.

Schools are responsible for managing complaints across various areas, including enrolment, attendance, school fees, curriculum, student care, safety and welfare, child protection and boarding premises.

If a complaint cannot be resolved satisfactorily at the school level, or if the complaint is about the principal of the school, the complainant may be escalated to the governing authority or school proprietor following the procedures outlined in your school’s complaint policy.

Information regarding specific Catholic schools in Victoria and their respective proprietors can be accessed here.

Role of VCEA in complaints management

Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) and the VCEA, the VCEA is authorised as the Review Body for Catholic Schools.

Under the MoU, VCEA may be able to investigate complaints about Catholic schools and Catholic School Boarding Premises where the complaint relates to compliance with the Minimum Standards and Requirements for School Registration (Minimum Standards).

A complaint must first be raised with your child’s school and if unable to be resolved, the matter should then be escalated to the school governing authority or proprietor. If the matter remains unresolved, the VCEA may become involved if the:

  • VRQA receives a complaint about a Catholic School or Catholic School Boarding Premises and refers the complaint to the VCEA in accordance with the MoU.
  • VRQA requests that the VCEA (as the Review Body) undertake either review, investigation or assessment of the school or school boarding premises’ compliance with the minimum standards.
  • Your complaint relates to the school or school boarding premises compliance with the minimum standards, including the management of your complaint in accordance with the school’s complaints policy, and it has not been resolved by the school and its governing authority or proprietor.

ln relation to complaints or concerns made directly to the VCEA, the VCEA will undertake the following actions:

  • Referral to school or governing authority/proprietor – If the matter has not gone through the complaints management and escalation process as outlined in the school’s complaints policy and procedures, the VCEA will refer the complainant back to the school or school governing authority/proprietor.
  • Notification to VRQA – The VCEA will notify the VRQA of any potential or significant breaches that may have arisen from complaints or concerns related to the care, safety, and welfare of students including Ministerial Order 1359 – Implementing the Child Safe Standards – Managing the risk of child abuse in schools.
  • Initiation of review, assessment or investigation – The VCEA may, as appropriate, commence a review, assessment or investigation in accordance with the VCEA’s complaints policy.
  • The VCEA will not investigate complaints if:
    • the matter does not relate to the minimum standards for school registration or boarding premises (i.e refunds/fees)
    • the complainant has not attempted to resolve the compliant initially through the school and governing authority/proprietor in accordance with the school’s complaints policy and procedures
    • the complaint has already been made to the school, governing authority/proprietor and is in the process of being addressed, or if there has not been a reasonable opportunity for the school or governing authority/proprietor to investigate or resolve the complaint
    • the complaint is more appropriately addressed by another person, body, court, or tribunal, such as matters falling under the jurisdiction of family court or local council
    • the complaint is deemed trivial, vexatious or lacking in substance
    • there are insufficient details provided to enable the VCEA to conduct a thorough investigation into the complaint.

VCEA Complaints process

During the investigation of a complaint, the VCEA may rely on the information provided and will need to contact the complainant for clarification or additional details as necessary. The VCEA may request the following information:

  • complainant name and contact details
  • name of the school, governing authority/proprietor and person complainant has been dealing with regarding the complaint
  • nature of the complaint
  • details of any steps taken to resolve the complaint
  • details of any communications that may be relevant to the complaint
  • copies of any documentation and correspondence supporting the complaint.

The VCEA will record personal information solely for the purpose of addressing the complaint in accordance with the VCEA Privacy Policy. During the initial review or investigation, there may be circumstances where the VCEA needs to clarify certain aspects of the complaint or request additional documentation. In such cases, the VCEA will explain the purpose of seeking clarification or additional documentation and provide feedback on the status of the complaint.

Upon completion of the investigation, the VCEA will inform the complainant in writing of the outcome and any actions taken. Complainants can inquire about the status of a complaint at any time by contacting the VCEA.