Complaints Procedure: FAQ

Please note, the information on this page is of general nature only and should not be relied on as advice for your specific situation and is not a substitute for seeking independent legal advice.

What matters are covered by the Complaints Procedure?

The National Complaints Procedure is intended to deal with member protection matters such as discrimination, bullying, harassment and abuse in football (other than Child abuse or abuse of an At Risk Adult.  If your complaint relates to the abuse of a Child or Adult at Risk, please refer to Football Australia’s Safeguarding Policy available here.

The Complaints Procedure is not intended to deal with disputes outside Football Australia’s Member Protection Framework, such as whether a player should have been selected for a particular team, an on-field disciplinary matter under the National Disciplinary Regulations, such as a red card for a poor tackle, or a disagreement with how a Competition Administrator has applied its local competition rules.

What informal steps could I take to try and resolve the issue before making a complaint?

If it is safe, reasonable and appropriate to do so, you should attempt to resolve the complaint directly with the other person in the first instance. You may also wish to seek some further information about your rights or support from a local Member Protection Information Officer (MPIO).

What is an MPIO?

An MPIO or “Member Protection Information Officer” is a qualified person who provides information about the complaints process including your rights, responsibilities and options. 

They can also support you through the process.  The MPIO is not an investigator, adviser, advocate or decision maker.  Your local club or association may have an MPIO but, if not, you can contact your state MPIO for information and support. 

Please note that a different person (usually a “Complaint Handler” or “Complaint Officer” – who may be the club secretary or president) will be responsible for dealing with your complaint and making a decision on any next steps, including whether to initiate disciplinary action.

Which body do I direct my complaint to?

Concerns and complaints should always be raised and handled at the lowest level first, wherever possible.  This means club matters be dealt with at the club; district association matters at the association and state matters at your local state Member Federation. 

Only national matters and the most serious state matters should be directed to Football Australia.  Matters that are directed to the wrong body will likely be re-directed to the most appropriate organisation to deal with the matter. 

Depending on the nature of your complaint, you may wish to pursue it through an external body such as an anti-discrimination agency, the Fair Work Commission or a law enforcement agency, such as the local police.  You can contact an external body at any time in the process should you wish.

What information is required to make a complaint?

You should try to provide as much relevant information about the facts as possible and be as specific as you can.  Any supporting documents or evidence can assist.  If you witness an incident, try to take notes of important information such as where and when the incident occurred, what were the physical actions and/or words said, who was responsible or, if unknown, a description in as much detail as possible eg what they were wearing.

Can I remain anonymous?

You may remain anonymous if you choose, however please note that this may limit the steps that a Football Entity can take with the information you provide.  The respondent to a complaint is entitled to procedural fairness in any disciplinary proceedings that may arise from a complaint which includes providing them with a reasonable opportunity to respond to the matters alleged against them.

How do I make a formal complaint?

The best way to make a formal complaint is through Football Australia’s confidential online reporting tool, which is available here.  All matters that occur at a national level should be reported via this tool.  You can remain anonymous if you choose and the report will be directed to the appropriate organisation to handle.  If your matter is not a national matter, you may in the alternative complete the Complaint Form available here and submit it directly to the relevant Football Entity (such as your local club or association).

How will my complaint be handled?

All member protection complaints will be dealt with promptly, seriously and sensitively and in accordance with the Football Australia National Complaints Procedure.  You will be kept informed of the progress of your complaint.  The Complaints Handler may seek to facilitate an informal resolution of the complaint between you and the respondent, if you agree and if that is an appropriate course of action.  It is a matter for the relevant Football Entity to determine whether any disciplinary action (e.g. under the Football Australia National Code of Conduct and Ethics) should be taken against the respondent and you may be asked to provide evidence (such as a written statement) to support that action.  Alternatively, the Football Entity may determine that there is insufficient evidence to support disciplinary action or that the matter is not appropriate to be dealt with under Football’s rules regulations and should be raised with an external agency.

Can I appeal or escalate my matter?

Complaints should aim to be resolved at the lowest level possible.  If you feel that a Football Entity has not handled your complaint in accordance with the Football Australia National Complaints Procedure, you may seek to escalate it within Football. 

However, it is not enough that a complainant disagrees with the outcome.  It must be that the appropriate processes were not followed by the Football Entity in dealing with the complaint. 

In other words, there is no right of appeal from a Football Entity’s discretionary decision not to take disciplinary action against a person, provided the Football Entity has acted in accordance with the Football Australia National Complaints Procedure (which includes the requirement to treat a complaint seriously, promptly and fairly). 

Finally, only matters that occur at the national level or the most serious matters at state level may be escalated to Football Australia.