Making a Complaint – Australian Apprentice and Employer

Procedural guide to making a complaint – Australian Apprentice and Employer or Registered Training Organisation

Complaints Dispute Form MS Word File (92kb)

1. What is a complaint?

The Skills Canberra branch of the Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate (the Directorate) defines a complaint as a dispute, a grievance or an expression of dissatisfaction about the administration, management or operation of training under an ACT funded training initiative such as Australian Apprenticeships or Skilled Capital.  The complaint could be about an employer, a student, or about a Registered Training Organisation (RTO).

2. What is Skills Canberra?

Skills Canberra is the State Training Authority (STA) in the ACT and is responsible for the management of ACT Government funded training initiatives and all ACT training contracts. State Training Aurhorities are government agencies in each state or territory, responsible for the management and administration of the vocational education and training (VET) system (including Australian Apprenticeships) within each jurisdiction.

3. What can Skills Canberra do?

Skills Canberra can:

Tick Box Attempt to resolve disputes about training provided under an ACT Government funded training initiative or an approved training contract between an employer and an Australian Apprentice.

Tick Box Refer the complaint directly to an external organisation for investigation. This may be done in circumstances when a person appears to be at risk (for example if serious safety or bullying issues arise the issue will be referred immediately to WorkSafe ACT by Skills Canberra).

Tick Box Refer you to an external organisation for resolution of a complaint where Skills Canberra is not authorised to resolve, for example:

  • for a complaint about pay or working conditions, Skills Canberra will refer you to the Fair Work Ombudsman for investigation and resolution.
  • a dispute between a student and an RTO must be initiated through the RTOs formal complaint policy and process in its first instance.

Tick Box Provide information and advice to students and employers

Skills Canberra cannot:

Cross BoxResolve a complaint about training where there is no approved training contract or if the training is not funded under an ACT Government funded training initiative such as Skilled Capital.

Cross BoxResolve a complaint about safety, bullying and harassment (you will be referred to WorkSafe ACT).

Cross BoxResolve a complaint about pay or working conditions (you will be referred to Fair Work Ombudsman).

Cross BoxResolve or action a complaint made anonymously without your consent.

Where Skills Canberra is unable to resolve your issue, you will be provided with information about the correct external agency to help you.

4. Making a complaint about training

Skills Canberra will attempt to resolve complaints made by:

  • an Australian Apprentice
  • a parent/guardian of an Australian Apprentice who is under 18 years of age, and
  • an employer of an Australian Apprentice.

Lodging a complaint you can expect to:

  • Be treated respectfully and fairly
  • Receive an acknowledgement of your complaint within five (5) working days
  • Have your complaint managed within a defined timeframe (as per the complaints process below)
  • Be informed of the outcome, and
  • Have your matter treated confidentially.

5. Raising an issue

Any member of the community may raise an issue with Skills Canberra. How such issues will be investigated and actioned by Skills Canberra will be decided on a case-by-case basis, depending on the nature of the issues. Members of the community who raise issues will be advised how their issue is being addressed.

6. Complaint process

6.1 Before you lodge a complaint

In the first instance both parties should attempt to resolve any dispute between one another. All RTOs are required to have procedures in place for handling of complaints.  You are also encouraged to approach your employer/Australian Apprentice in the first instance, as issues can usually be most effectively resolved without the involvement of a third party.

6.2 How to lodge a complaint

You can lodge a complaint with Skills Canberra by completing the complaints form on the Directorate’s website.  If you would prefer to complete a hard copy complaints form, please contact Skills Canberra on (02) 6205 8555 and an officer will assist you.

All complaints will be recorded on a register. To ensure the best outcome, Skills Canberra will require details such as names, contact numbers and details of the other party and the issue. Complaints made anonymously without consent will be recorded for trend analysis, but in most circumstances cannot be investigated due to privacy implications.

Please be aware that any complaint received by Skills Canberra, where a person’s health or safety is believed to be at risk, will immediately be referred by Skills Canberra to the relevant external agency such as WorkSafe ACT. This is in accordance with the Information Privacy Act 2014.

6.3 Resolution at the ‘local level’

Skills Canberra will work with you to clarify the nature of your complaint, the main issues or concerns you would like investigated and the outcome you are seeking.  Where it is determined that Skills Canberra can help you with your issue, Skills Canberra will attempt to resolve your issue at the ‘local level’. This means it may provide you with advice to help you resolve your issue directly with the relevant person or organisation.

6.4 Progression to formal complaint including timeframes

If your issue cannot be resolved at the ‘local level’ an officer from Skills Canberra with your consent will be required to contact the person/organisation you are making the complaint about to inform them of the issue. Other relevant parties may also be contacted for information. Without your consent Skills Canberra cannot progress the matter.

When a complaint is investigated, you must be willing to talk to an officer from Skills Canberra about your complaint, provide Skills Canberra with documents to support your claim (if applicable) and participate in efforts to resolve the complaint such as meetings or mediation with the person or RTO you lodge the complaint about. You are entitled to have a support person attend any discussions related to your complaint.

Skills Canberra must uphold the principles of natural justice (this means that if you make a complaint against a person or organisation, Skills Canberra will inform the person or organisation that you are lodging a complaint about of the issues you have raised). Skills Canberra will provide a summary of the issue/s to the other party and request a response to the matters raised within 10 business days of receiving your complaint.

Skills Canberra will endeavour to resolve formal complaints within 28 days of the complaint being formalised. However, timeframes may need to be extended where there is good reason. In this case, the parties involved will be advised.

7. Review of decision

If you believe that the procedures have not been followed correctly, or the outcome is unreasonable, you can request an internal review of the decision within 10 business days of notification of the outcome. This request for a review must be submitted in writing to the Director, Skills Canberra by emailing or by post to Skills Canberra GPO Box 158 Canberra ACT 2601.

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the internal review, you may apply for an external review of the complaint by contacting:

8. Useful links


The Fair Work Ombudsman assists you to understand your rights and responsibilities at work. If you have a question about workplace entitlements visit their website. They work with employees, employers and the community to educate and encourage compliance with Australia’s workplace laws.


The Fair Work Commission is Australia’s national workplace relations tribunal. It is  an independent body with power to carry out a range of functions, some of which include dealing with applications in relation to unfair dismissal and resolving a range of collective and individual workplace disputes through conciliation, mediation and in some cases public tribunal hearings.


WorkSafe ACT’s role is to enforce the ACT’s health and safety and workers’ compensation laws through a mixture of education and compliance activities. For all information about Worksafe ACT’s services including requests for advice and reporting of workplace accidents and dangerous occurrences, contact the Worksafe ACT office on:



As the national regulator of Australian vocational education and training (VET) providers, ASQA uses information received through student complaints to ensure that those providers are delivering quality training and assessment services.


ACT Wage Advice Service for Australian Apprenticeships

The Canberra Business Chamber, in partnership with the ACT Government, has launched the ACT Wage Advice Service for Australian Apprenticeships.  This telephone and email service provides employers and Australian Apprentices (both current and prospective) with advice on the correct Modern Award salary rate and competency based wage progression for apprentices and trainees working in the ACT.

This advice will be freely available to all apprentices, trainees and employers contemplating or engaged in an Australian Apprenticeship training contract arrangement in the ACT.

The service will facilitate phone and email access to advice and information, including the type of employment arrangements relevant to employers of Australian Apprentices, including modern awards, agreements and national employment standards. The contract number is 1300 278 681.

Wage Advice Line Line Flyer PDF (338KB)