Spotlight on council complaints

By Jessica Micallef

Residents lodged 142 complaints against Macedon Ranges council in 2018, new data reveals.

Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass surveyed all local governments to determine how councils handled complaints and how many complaints each council received in 2018.

Macedon Ranges council corporate services director John Hausler said the council defined complaints as “relating to resident dissatisfaction with a service provided by council”.

“Residents can make a complaint by following the process outlined in council’s complaint handling policy, which is available on council’s website,” he said.

“If a resident is not satisfied with the outcome, they can request an internal review.”

In the report, the council said it aimed to acknowledge all complaints within 10 business days and resolve complaints within 28 days of it being received. The council does not regularly analyse complaints to identify trends and areas for improvements.

Mr Hausler said complaints made by residents are not made public. He said 0.31 per cent of Macedon Ranges population raised a complaint in 2018.

Hume council reported 782 complaints during 2018, with communications, engagement and advocacy director Sue Haviland saying complaints most commonly related to barking dogs, excessive noise from neighbours and litter bins requiring emptying.

“Council investigates all complaints with a view of identifying and resolving any underlying problems to avoid the issue recurring,” Ms Haviland said.

Ms Glass said many councils were understating the number of complaints they receive, raising concerns about how they deal with dissatisfaction from the community.

“Far too many councils still adopt a narrow definition of complaint or interpret it narrowly in practice,” Ms Glass said.

“Not only is it impossible to compare the councils, those who understate the level of public dissatisfaction may well be failing to deal with it.”


By: Jessica Micallef and Laura Michell