Feedback and Complaints Policy

Commitment to resolve and learn from complaints

Mary MacKillop Today is committed to the timely and fair resolution of complaints. Mary MacKillop Today recognises the value of feedback and complaints as a tool in understanding and responding to stakeholder expectations. Receiving feedback and responding to complaints are important ways for Mary MacKillop Today to improve performance and be accountable.

Complaints may come from donors, beneficiary community members affected by our programs, members of the public, partners and supporters.

Mary MacKillop Today is committed to ensuring that all staff, volunteers, contractors and partners are aware of their responsibility to disclose any possible wrongdoing that they are aware of.

Guiding Principles

Mary MacKillop Today has adopted the following principles effective complaint handling.

  1. Visibility: We will clearly publicise information about how and where to complain.
  2. Accessibility: We will ensure that our complaints handling process is as accessible as we can make it. In particular, we commit to having child friendly processes in place.
  3. Confidentiality: We will observe strict confidentiality in complaint handling.
  4. Ongoing Learning: We will continue to learn from the complaints we receive to inform improvements in our work.
  5. Respect: We will ensure that complainants will be treated respectfully, kept informed and supported in exercising their right to make a complaint without fear of discrimination.
Definition of complaints

A complaint may be:

  • A criticism relating to one of Mary MacKillop Today’s development programs by a community member, partner or government official
  • Concern about the behaviour of staff, volunteers, contractors, suppliers, partners or others
  • Dissatisfaction from a supporter about an aspect of service
  • Criticism about a fundraising action or campaign

A complaint may be made by anyone participating in or affected by Mary MacKillop Today’s programs, a partner, a donor, our staff or volunteers or members of the public.

Scope of Policy

This policy is intended to apply to any complaint regardless of who makes it. We will accept complaints relating to our paid staff, our volunteers, our partners or anyone else acting on Mary MacKillop Today’s behalf.

Publicising our Policy

Mary MacKillop Today will ensure that stakeholders have clear and accessible means to make a complaint. Our full complaints policy is available on our website.

We work with our local offices and partners to ensure this policy is accessible in appropriate formats and different languages including inviting oral expressions of concern where literacy is a constraint. All Mary MacKillop Today representatives visiting a project site are required to inform participants and any other stakeholders of the Feedback and Complaints Policy and outline the procedure for making a complaint. Relevant communications are used to publicise this policy including website and annual report.

This policy is included in the Mary MacKillop Today partnership agreements which are provided and explained to all partners as part of our project planning and orientation process. During monitoring trips MaryMacKillop Today staff are required to provide mentoring to the partners to ensure that they are equipped to implement the policy and to discuss any challenges that have arisen in its implementation.

This policy is included in the Mary MacKillop Today Staff policy manual (for both Australian and overseas based staff) which is provided and explained to all staff as part of the induction process. This policy forms part of ongoing staff monitoring and mentoring to ensure staff are equipped to implement the policy and to discuss any challenges that have arisen in its implementation.

Where and how a complaint can be made

To make a complaint, stakeholders can:

  • email us at [email protected]
  • phone us on +61 2 8912 2777,
  • mail us a letter to PO Box 1646 North Sydney 2059 Australia, or
  • contact our local office or partner.

If any person believes that Mary MacKillop Today has breached the ACFID Code of Conduct a complaint can be lodged directly on the ACFID website to the Code of Conduct Committee at

We acknowledge that beneficiaries may find making a complaint difficult due to cultural, logistical and other challenges therefore additional measures have been integrated into the program cycle to ensure there is adequate space for open and honest feedback from vulnerable communities. As a minimum for all Mary MacKillop Today funded projects this includes communication to beneficiaries of our feedback and complaints mechanisms as part of project planning and during implementation which is monitored through project proposals and reports.

Complaints handling procedure

As general guidance the following procedure should be instigated within 24 hours of a complaint being received with a view to resolving the complaints within 5 working days.

The Mary MacKillop Today representative receiving the complaint should:

  • Ensure that they remain friendly and treat the complainant respectfully at all times
  • Record the following details:
    • The name of the person/s making the complaint
    • The date, time and location the complaint is received
    • A brief description of the complaint
  • Handle the complaint in the first instance if it is within their usual level of authority and they feel able to deal with it. If the complaint is able to be handled in the first instance, the representative receiving the complaint should inform their supervisor or Mary MacKillop Today point of contact (for partner staff) of the complaint within 24 hours of receiving the complaint.
  • If the complaint appears to exceed the employee’s level of authority or they feel unable to deal with it, they should refer the complaint to their supervisor or Mary MacKillop Today point of contact. The supervisor or Mary MacKillop Today point of contact may choose to escalate the complaint on the staff persons behalf if they believe it should be handled by someone with a higher level of authority. The person appointed to handle the complaint should then:
    • Explore options and solutions that may help to resolve the concern
    • Make a brief record of the discussion and any agreed actions to be taken
    • Take follow up action(s) in a timely fashion.
    • Make a brief record of the actions taken and includes copies of any correspondence or other communication
    • Place the file on the complaints file and register of complaints and alert the line manager or Mary MacKillop Today point of contact (for partner organisations) that the complaint has been resolved.


Child Safeguarding and Complaints

If the person making the complaint is a child, special procedures should be followed in line with the Child Safeguarding Policy. These should include; a parent or caregiver should also be present, the child should be supported and reassured that they are safe, and their complaint is confidential, the complaint can be in any form including but not limited to written, verbal and drawn complaints.

Once an allegation about the safety of a child has been made there should be an immediate response that protects the child from further potential abuse or victimisation. Where possible the child should remain in the place of residence or relevant program. Exceptions may be made where the child is deemed to be at risk of victimization by peers as a result of the allegation or because the alleged abuse has occurred in home-based care. If the child is in immediate danger you should make arrangements for the child to go to a safe place.

Distance the alleged perpetrator -The best interest of the child may warrant the standing down of a staff member or volunteer. The manager should recommend the appropriate action in writing to the CEO. Any staff member stood down in this manner continues to receive full pay -this measure recognizes that that the member is entitled to a just process that does not pre-judge guilt or innocence. Any volunteers who are stood down should similarly receive any reasonable reimbursement of costs.

Unresolved complaints

If the complaint is unable to be resolved by the employee or their supervisor an acknowledgement of the complaint is to be sent by email or letter to the complainant within 5 working days of the complaint being received and an approximate timeframe given for the complaint to be fully resolved which ideally should be less than 3 months.

Complaints that have not been resolved by the employee or their supervisor to the satisfaction of the complainant will be referred to the CEO or country manager for review. The CEO or country manager will review the matter and may:

  • Reconsider the original decision and take additional corrective action
  • Overturn previous decisions and institute new measures considered necessary
  • Endorse the action that has already been taken with no further action required.

If the matter is still unresolved and appears to require additional action the CEO has the option to refer the matter to an external mediator or alternative dispute resolution agency if this is considered to be the most appropriate option.

Handling complaints about staff

Complaints that relate to a member of staff or volunteer will be directed to the relevant manager.

Complaints that relate to a member of staff or volunteer in a partner organisation will be directed to the Partnerships and Performance Group Leader.

If the matter involves a complaint against a country manager, it should be referred immediately to the Programs Group Leader.

If the matter involves a senior manager in Australia it should be referred immediately to the CEO.

If the complaint involves the CEO or a member of the Board it should be referred to the Chair of the Board.

Depending on the nature of the complaint, variations to the above procedures may apply.

Learning from complaints

Mary MacKillop Today is committed to learning from complaints received to improve the way we work. Mary MacKillop Today regularly reviews the records and register of complaints and annually with the Board of Directors. Mary MacKillop Today takes corrective actions in response to feedback from complaints.