Unreasonable Complainant Conduct

What is Unreasonable Complainant Conduct

Most complainants act reasonably and responsibly in their interactions with us, even when they are experiencing high levels of distress, frustration, and anger about their complaint. However, despite our best efforts to help them, in a very small number of cases complainants display inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour. They can be aggressive and verbally abusive towards our staff, threaten harm and violence or bombard our offices with unnecessary and excessive phone calls and emails. They may make inappropriate demands on our time and resources or refuse to accept our decisions and recommendations in relation to their complaints. When complainants behave in these ways (and where there are no cultural factors that could reasonably explain their behaviour) we consider their conduct to be ‘unreasonable’. - [Extract from Managing Unreasonable Complainant Conduct – A Model Policy and Procedure. (NSW Ombudsman, 2021)]

Available Resources for Agencies

There are a number of Resources available to provide guidance and practical tips in managing ‘unreasonable’ complainant conduct.

The NSW Ombudsman has developed and published it’s 2021 document Managing Unreasonable Complainant Conduct – A Model Policy and Procedure to attempt to provide a robust, standardised and consistent model policy and procedure that organisations can use to inform and support their own UCC policy development processes. 

For further information click on the following links to the NSW Ombudsman website:

Similarly the Victorian Ombudsman has published its 2018 document - Good Practice Guide to Dealing with Challenging Behaviour withtips for dealing with common situations, and suggestions for complaint handlers when they are dealing with behaviour that they may find challenging.

To download this guide follow the below link to the VIC Ombudsman website: