Administrative Action Complaints

An Administrative Action Complaint (complaint) is an expression of dissatisfaction, orally or in writing, by a person who is directly affected by an administrative action of Council or its staff (including contractors and volunteers), including a failure to take action.

Administrative matters relate to the actions or decisions made by council administration, but do not include:

  • Requests for information
  • Requests for service (where you want Council to take action in relation to a service or product provided by Council eg, barking dog, leaking water pipe, pot hole, road maintenance, etc)
  • Suggestions, enquiries or petitions
  • Comments submitted during formal consultation or negotiation processes
  • Councillor conduct

Section 268(2) of the Local Government Act 2009 defines an ‘administrative action complaint’ as a complaint that:
(a) Is about an administrative action of a local government, including the following, for example –
(i) A decision, or a failure to make a decision, including a failure to provide a written statement of reasons for a decision;
(ii) An act, or failure to do an act;
(iii) The formulation of a proposal or intention;
(iv) The making of a recommendation; and
(b) Is made by an affected person.

Read more about Council's Administrative Action Complaints process below, or download our Administrative Action Complaints fact sheet ( PDF, 0.12 MB ).

How do I make an Administrative Action complaint?

There are a number of ways you can lodge a complaint:

  • In Person
    • Spence Street Administration Centre, 119-145 Spence Street Cairns
    • Smithfield Library Council, 70 Cheviot Street Smithfield
    • Gordonvale Library, 88 Norman Street Gordonvale
    • Earlville Library Council Office, Stockland Shopping Centre, Mulgrave Rd, Earlville
    • Babinda Library, 24 Munro Street Babinda

What information will I need to provide?

You will need to provide the following details when you lodge a complaint:

  • The nature of the complaint in as much detail as possible.
  • Detail of any loss or detriment you have suffered.
  • If the incident has been reported to any other agency or authority.
  • The remedy you are seeking.
  • Any supporting information and documentation, including names and contact details of anyone else who is able to support the complaint.
  • Your contact details*.

*You may remain anonymous but please be aware that Council may need to contact you for further details to properly investigate the complaint. Council may refuse to investigate an anonymous complaint if insufficient information is provided.

Do I have to put my complaint in writing?

No, you can lodge your complaint in writing or verbally. If you have a difficult or more serious complaint, we encourage you to lodge it in writing with all details set out. This can be done either by letter, fax, using our complaint form ( PDF, 0.92 MB ), email or by using the online complaint form on our website.

How long will it take for Council to deal with my complaint?

Council aims to resolve complaints as quickly and efficiently as possible. The length of time taken will depend on how complex the matter is. The relevant area in Council will keep you informed of the progress of the investigation.

Will my identity remain confidential?

Yes. It is Council’s policy not to disclose confidential information, including names and addresses, without a person’s consent, to anyone outside Council.

Can I lodge a complaint on behalf of someone else?

Yes, but if you lodge a complaint on behalf of an affected person, we will respond directly to that person affected, not to you as the person acting. If you provide a letter of authority confirming that you are acting on behalf of the affected person, we will respond to you instead.

I need help to make a complaint.

Where necessary, a Council officer may help you by providing information on how to make a complaint, including how it should be documented. The aim is to help clarify your issue and the outcome(s) you seek.

If you need language assistance, please call the National Translating and Interpreting Service (NTIS) on 131 450. Advise the NTIS of your preferred language and ask to speak with Cairns Regional Council Customer Service on 1300 69 22 47.

If you need assistance because of a hearing or speech impairment please contact the National Relay Service on 133 677. If you can speak and hear but sometimes people have trouble understanding you, the number to call at the Relay Service is 1300 555 727.

If I make a complaint, can Council refuse to investigate?

Yes, Council can refuse to investigate a complaint if:

  • The complaint is considered to be trivial, frivolous or vexatious, lacks substance or credibility
  • The complainant does not have sufficient direct interest in the administrative action the subject of the complaint; or
  • It is made using rude, aggressive, abusive or threatening language, or where the complainant is physically harassing or stalking a Council officer(s).
  • The complainant is pursuing the complaint through an alternative review process, or it has already been reviewed through an alternate review process.

Are there any costs associated with lodging a complaint?

No, there is no fee or charge.

What response can I expect when I lodge my complaint?

Council takes complaints seriously. We will acknowledge your complaint within 5 working days from receiving the complaint. After 10 working days, if you have not received an acknowledgement please call Council on 1300 69 22 47.

What if I am not satisfied with the response from my complaint?

If you are dissatisfied with how Council has handled your complaint you can apply for an internal review. An internal review is an impartial review of a decision about a complaint and is completed by an officer that has not had any substantiative dealings with the complaint. The review considers whether the original decision maker:

  • identified and addressed all the relevant issues
  • sought and considered appropriate evidence
  • complied with legislative requirements and our internal policies and procedures
  • made the correct decision
  • adequately explained the original decision to the complainant.

An internal review is not a re-investigation of a complaint.

Requests for an internal review should clearly tell Council why you think the assessment, investigation or decision about your complaint is incorrect, unreasonable or wrong. The request should include:

  • your name, address, email and telephone number
  • complaint reference number (if known)
  • any new information that should be considered in reviewing the matter
  • copies of any relevant letters or other documents that have not previously been provided
  • the outcome that you want from the review.

A request for an internal review must be made no later than three months after the original decision.

One or more of the following outcomes are possible:

  • the original decision was correct and the complaint does not merit further investigation
  • the original decision was wrong and should be amended without further investigation
  • the original investigation should be reopened
  • the decision should be better communicated
  • a policy, procedure or practice may be amended
  • records may be amended
  • an apology or some other remedy may be offered.

Requests for Internal reviews must be submitted in writing via the below channels:


Last updated: 16 June 2020