Making a Complaint

Complaint Procedure

The AASW is committed to ensuring its members adhere to the highest standards of ethics and professional conduct. Member social workers are required to deliver safe and ethical services and uphold the principles, responsibilities and standards of conduct outlined in the AASW Code of Ethics.

If you are worried an AASW member social worker has engaged in unethical conduct or breached the AASW Code of Ethics 2020 you can make a complaint to the AASW Ethics Office, who will assess if your concerns can be progressed through the AASW’s Ethics Complaints Management Process.

Complaints can often be resolved informally by talking through your concerns with the member social worker.  Please note this approach is not encouraged when there are allegations of serious misconduct and these matters should be reported to the AASW and or other relevant health complaint bodies and/or police as appropriate.  

When matters cannot be resolved informally, you can consider the following complaint options: 

  • speak to the social worker’s workplace supervisor; or 
  • use the formal complaint process of the social worker’s employer; 
  • lodge a complaint with the healthcare complaints body in your State or Territory (link here to list of relevant agencies); or 
  • make a complaint with the AASW. 

Social work is a self-regulating profession and the AASW is a membership-based organisation.  As such, the AASW can only respond to complaints about member social workers.

Please phone the AASW Ethics Office on 03 9320 1000 to check whether the social worker is a member of the AASW before completing your complaint form.

If the social worker is not a member of the AASW, the AASW cannot accept your complaint, however you may take any of the other actions listed above.

The AASW is only able to accept complaints from the following groups of people:

  • a person who has or is directly receiving social work services from an AASW member and is directly affected by the actions of that member;
  • the representative of someone receiving social work services who does not have the capacity to make the complaint themselves;
  • the supervisor or manager of an AASW member, or
  • another AASW member.

If you do not fall into one of these categories and still have serious concerns about an AASW member, please contact the AASW Ethics Office via email or via telephone on 03 9320 1000 to discuss your concerns.

Everyone is entitled to safe, ethical and responsive social work services.  You can make a complaint about an AASW member if you believe there has been a breach of the AASW Code of Ethics 2020 and or there is evidence of unethical practice or conduct.   

If I make a complaint, what outcomes can I expect? 

Except for serious alleged misconduct, the AASW Ethics Complaints Management Process aims to resolve complaints via dispute resolution: Conciliation and Mediation.  These processes can support parties to develop a shared understanding of the issues and come to agreed outcomes around how the complaint is resolved.   

The AASW responds to allegations of serious misconduct through formal complaint processes as outlined in the AASW By-Laws on Ethics 2019.  There are a range of outcomes available to the AASW should it be found that a member social worker has engaged in serious misconduct.  

More information about the AASWs Ethics Complaints Management Process can be found in the AASW By-Laws on Ethics.

AASW By-Laws on Ethics

If you wish to proceed with a complaint about a member social worker, please complete the form below: 

AASW Ethics Complaints Form

If you require assistance with completing the form, have accessibility issues or any questions about your complaint or the complaints process please contact the AASW Ethics Office via email or via telephone 03 9320 1000