What happens to your complaint?
There are a number of stages in the complaint handling process. See our Complaint Chart below for an overview of the process.
We will try to deal with your complaint as quickly as possible, and to keep you informed of its progress. Some complaints are resolved within weeks, but more complex complaints may take longer. The Office aims to resolve all complaints within 12 months.
This Office is independent and impartial in dealing with your complaint. For more information on what you can expect from the Office, please read our Client Service Charter.
Any information or documents that you provide us may be given to the respondent or anyone else who can assist us in dealing with your complaint. If you do not wish for your information to be passed on, you will need to tell us. However, in fairness to everyone involved in the complaint, if you do not want your information to be passed on, it may mean we are unable to continue to handle your complaint.
Will we investigate your complaint?
We cannot investigate all complaints about your privacy. Your complaint must be about a privacy issue that is covered by the Act. Also, your complaint needs to involve your personal information. 'Personal information' is any information that can reasonably identify an individual. If we do not have the power to investigate your complaint, we will explain why we cannot help you, and will try and direct you to someone who can.
Sometimes we need more information to see whether we can investigate your complaint. If this is the case, we may undertake preliminary inquiries into your complaint. We may contact you, the respondent you are complaining about and third parties to gather more information about your privacy issue. If we can resolve your complaint during this stage, we will attempt to do this. Based on the information and the evidence we gather, we may either move to investigate, resolve, or close your complaint.
Investigating and Resolving your complaint
The Office investigates complaints by writing to the respondent to tell them about your complaint and asking for their side of the story. In some cases we may decide not to investigate your complaint further. For example, the investigation might reveal that your complaint does not amount to a breach of the Act.
If we investigate your complaint, we may try to resolve your complaint through conciliation. In this process we help you and the respondent try and reach an agreement that will resolve your complaint in a fair way. As such, it is important to think about what you would like the respondent to do to resolve your matter. You can read our Possible outcomes section for more information on resolving complaints.
If you and the respondent can agree on an outcome to resolve your complaint, we may close your complaint on the basis that it has been adequately dealt with. If you and the respondent cannot reach an agreement, we may decide to close your complaint, or to make a determination.
If we think the respondent has agreed to a reasonable outcome but you have not accepted it, we can close your complaint on the grounds that the respondent has adequately dealt with the matter, even if you do not agree.
If we do not think that the respondent has agreed to a reasonable outcome, the Privacy Commissioner can make a formal decision about what the respondent needs to do. This is called a determination.
You can find more information about the conciliation process in our Conciliation Information Sheet.
You can choose to withdraw your complaint at any time.
The following complaint chart gives a general overview of our complaints process: