What happens when you make a complaint
The Commission helps people resolve complaints of discrimination, sexual harassment, vilification and victimisation. Our dispute resolution service is free, impartial and timely. We use a process called conciliation to help both sides discuss what happened, understand the impact it had and find an outcome that they can both agree on.
What is dispute resolution?
Our dispute resolution service aims to help you resolve your complaint as quickly as possible.
It is a voluntary service that tries to bring both sides together to find an outcome that they can agree on.
Our dispute resolution service is a free alternative to taking a complaint to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
You can apply for dispute resolution if the incident or behaviour happened in Victoria and you think you have been:
- discriminated against (which includes bullying you because of a protected characteristic)
- sexually harassed
- vilified because of your race or religion
How do I apply for dispute resolution?
The first step is to contact us. You can:
- fill in our online complaint form
- send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- call us on 1300 292 153 for more information or assistance.
To help us understand your complaint try to give us as much detail as possible, including:
- your contact information
- details of what happened to you, where and when
- information about what kind of discrimination, harassment or vilification you experienced
- details of who the complaint is about – the respondent – and your connection to them (for example, if they are your employer, your university or your sports coach)
You can contact us in any language — we can arrange a free interpreter to help you, including Auslan interpreters. Find out more on our Languages page.
You can also ask someone else to apply for dispute resolution for you, such as a family member, friend, advocate, union or lawyer.
What will you do with my application?
Once we receive your application, we will review it to see if we can offer our dispute resolution service to you.
To make sure we can help, we may need to ask you for more information.
If we can’t help you, we will give you information about other organisations or services that might be able to.
When we have enough information, you will be contacted by a staff member called a conciliator, who will talk to you about your application for dispute resolution. They will ask you what kind of resolution or outcome you are seeking.
What outcomes are available?
People making complaints seek many different outcomes, such as:
- an apology from the respondent
- financial compensation
- being given their job back, a statement of service or a reference
- access to a job opportunity or service that they had been refused access to
- a promise to change or stop behaviour
- new or updated equal opportunity policies
- equal opportunity training for the respondent so they know the behaviour shouldn’t happen again.
The Commission does not have the power to make orders or award compensation. We work with both parties to find an outcome that you can both agree to.
How do I reach the outcome I’m hoping for?
After speaking to you, the conciliator will contact the respondent, talk to them about your complaint and see if they are willing to try to resolve it.
If the respondent agrees we will aim to resolve your complaint through a process called ‘conciliation’.
Conciliation is where our conciliator will work with you – the complainant – and the respondent to explore ways to resolve your complaint.
This can be done by phone, email, or video conferencing between you and the respondent so you can talk about your experience.
What happens at conciliation?
Conciliation meetings are held at our office in Carlton and across regional Victoria.
The conciliator will be impartial, which means they will not take anyone’s side. Their job is to lead a discussion to help you and the respondent understand the law and reach a resolution.
You will have an opportunity to talk about what happened, the impact it had on you and how you want to resolve it.
The respondent will also have a chance to give their side of the story and think about the outcome you are seeking.
Does conciliation work?
Conciliation is often a successful way of resolving complaints.
People who have resolved a complaint through our conciliation process say it’s fair, informal and easy to understand. It also helps them to better understand their rights and responsibilities and come up with good solutions.
If a complaint is not resolved or the respondent decides not to participate in dispute resolution, you may be able to take your complaint to VCAT.
What if you can't help me with my complaint?
There are some types of complaints that we can’t accept.
We don’t handle complaints related to the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities. If your complaint is about a public authority breaching the Charter, you can contact the Victorian Ombudsman.
See our referrals page for a list of other organisations that may be able to help you.