If you have a complaint about:
- a decision of local government
- the service your local government provides
you should contact your local government's customer service area, call centre or inquiry counter which may be able to quickly address your concern.
If this does not resolve the matter to your satisfaction, it is recommended you write to the local government and make an official complaint. The local government is required under legislation to respond to complaints about specific actions of local government in a fair and effective manner.
Alternatively, you could lobby your local councillor to have the local government address the issue.
These complaints, which must meet specific criteria, are called 'administrative action complaints'.
A complaint may be made about an administrative action of a local government, which includes local government decisions, actions, proposals and intentions as well as local government recommendations. This also includes failure to make a decision about a matter or failure to provide a written statement for a decision.
Complaints may be made by any 'affected person'. An affected person is someone who is directly affected by the local government action.
To make a complaint, the person must have a direct interest in the decision.
All local governments must have a complaints management process, including written policies and procedures for how they manage and respond to complaints. This process must be publicly available through the local government office and website.
Local governments must record all complaints, whether made verbally, in writing or anonymously, and must report on their complaints management process in their annual report.
Refer to your individual local government for a copy of its complaints management process and to find out more about how to make a complaint.
Local governments must respond to complaints quickly and efficiently and must be fair and impartial in their review of a complaint. The local government must use transparent criteria to decide whether to investigate a complaint.
Unless the complaint was made anonymously, local governments must also inform the complainant about the outcome of the review and the reasons for its decisions.
You should always firstly refer any complaint to your local government to investigate. If you are not satisfied with the local government's response to your complaint, a review body may be able to help.
The Office of the Queensland Ombudsman will impartially investigate complaints against local governments. It considers the administrative action of the local government and determines whether the action was taken in a lawful and reasonable manner. The Ombudsman provides a free and independent service, and may make recommendations back to local governments.
If you have tried to fix your complaint with the local government but are unhappy with their response or decision, you can contact the Queensland Ombudsman with your concerns. However, the Ombudsman should be regarded as an avenue of last resort.
Anti-Discrimination Commission (Queensland)
The commission's role is to ensure the basic right of all people to fair treatment no matter what their circumstances or background. Decisions made by local governments may not use gender, marital status, pregnancy, parental status, breastfeeding, age, race, impairment, religion, political beliefs, trade union activity or lawful sexual activity as the basis for disadvantaging you or treating you differently from the rest of the community.
The court system
There are a range of courts that could be approached for a review of your case. For example, under the Judicial Review Act 1991, you may apply to the Supreme Court to have an administrative decision or action of your council examined. You must obtain a statement of reasons for the action or decision from the local government before applying for a judicial review.
The minister's role
The minister responsible for local government may take action only if the local government has acted unlawfully or corruptly, or if it cannot properly exercise its jurisdiction. The minister does not review individual decisions of local governments on behalf of complainants.