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How to make an ethics complaint

Updated AASW Ethics Complaints Management Process

Effective 07 October 2020, an updated and strengthened AASW Ethics Complaints Management Process (ECMP) will be operational.

The principles and mission of the AASW ECMP remain unchanged, with procedural fairness and respect for members and complainants as guiding philosophies.

The core changes to the revised ECMP include the following:

  • A broader remit to address low and mid-level allegations, as well as allegations of serious professional misconduct
  • Provisions for mediation and early conciliation
  • Strengthened processes to ensure more timely and effective management of complaints, including a newly appointed Ethics Council

For further information:

Making a complaint

Members of the community can use the AASW ECMP to make allegations of professional misconduct by AASW members.

The AASW's ECMP strives to:

  • Protect the public (users of social work services) from harm by determining the minimum acceptable ethical practice standards of social workers (AASW members)
  • Address allegations of professional misconduct with respect to the AASW Code of Ethics, with possible consequences for AASW membership eligibility
  • Educate and support member social workers to ensure that their practice meets, and where possible exceeds, the minimum standard.

How do I know if I can make a complaint?

The AASW recognises that complaints are generally made in good faith, and all complaints are taken seriously and given careful and respectful consideration.

  • The AASW ECMP can only respond to complaints that relate to AASW social work members
  • The AASW ECMP is unable to address complaints related to Family Court or current criminal/civil matters (refer below), or to matters that are concurrently being addressed by other Complaints bodies
  • In some instances, the AASW may refer Complainants to more appropriate bodies depending on the nature or scope of the matter/s being raised (such as a Government Department or employer).

Before making a complaint

Before making a complaint, please read the following documents:

These documents are designed to:

  • Explain the purpose of the AASW ECMP
  • Assist you with the process of making a complaint
  • Ensure that the AASW ECMP is the right process to address your particular concerns
  • Ensure that you have all the required information about the ECMP prior to proceeding.

What if the complaint relates to a Family Court matter?

The AASW is prohibited by law from receiving and responding to complaints that relate to proceedings of the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia. Please read our Information Sheet for more information, and options for resolving your concerns.

Who can I contact to discuss a potential complaint?

The AASW can provide information and guidance about the Ethics Complaints Management Process.

  • The Ethics Complaints team can be contacted at or telephone 03 9320 1044.
  • Explain in brief if you think a person may have acted unethically.
  • We can also provide you with information about other options for addressing your concerns.

To submit a complaint

Please complete and sign the Complaints Form

Please submit your competed form to the AASW via email to

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers