Wyndham council is one of just five Melbourne councils which failed to provide complaints data to a recent Victorian ombudsman’s report.
The ombudsman surveyed all local governments to determine how they define complaints and how many complaints they received in the past calendar year, among other things.
The survey found Wyndham council received 20,491 “requests for service”, but the number of complaints was not supplied because of limitations in its reporting systems.
“We cannot supply accurate data for complaints,” a Wyndham council spokesperson told the ombudsman.
“Some channels are not captured in our database, however a new policy and system configuration will soon provide this.
“We are not confident of current numbers being reported.”
In Wyndham, if complainants are dissatisfied with the outcome of their complaint and request an internal review, the review would be conducted by a senior officer who was not previously involved in the matter.
Victorian ombudsman Deborah Glass said many councils were understating the number of complaints they receive, raising concerns about how they deal with dissatisfaction from the community.
“Far too many councils still adopt a narrow definition of complaint or interpret it narrowly in practice,” Ms Glass said. “Not only is it impossible to compare the councils, those who understate the level of public dissatisfaction may well be failing to deal with it.”
Ms Glass said one of the main causes of complaints about councils to her office was the way councils dealt with complaints.
“All too often complaints are seen as a nuisance, or provoke a defensive, unhelpful, bureaucratic response,” she said.
“Complaints are actually a good thing – they are free feedback.
“Whether about a missed bin, blocked drain, rates notice or parking ticket, they say something about council services.
“Capturing them as complaints allows councils to consider what may be needed to address systemic patterns of dissatisfaction.”