Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

How to deal with challenging behaviour from public

New guidance for the Victorian public sector on how to deal with challenging behaviour, Victorian Ombudsman, 23 May 2018

Victorian government departments, local councils and other agencies dealing with challenging behaviour from members of the public will benefit from a new guide tabled in the Victorian Parliament today.

Tabling her Good Practice Guide to Dealing with Challenging Behaviour, Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass said the guide aimed to help create better understanding between government bodies and the public.

“We are constantly asked for advice from government departments, agencies and local councils on what to do with overly persistent or abusive people,” Ms Glass said. “We also hear from people who complain that an agency won’t deal with them, when they think they have a justified complaint.

“We recognise this difficult balancing act. The public sector exists to serve the public including those who may be demanding. But public sector resources are limited, and agencies need to protect the health and safety of their workforce.”

Ms Glass said the guide recommends a graduated four-stage response, starting with preventing challenging behaviour where possible by dealing with complaints in a fair, prompt and respectful way, through to the last resort of limiting a member of the public’s access to the organisation.

It sets out the steps public bodies should take to ensure their responses to challenging behaviour are compliant with the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act, the Equal Opportunity Act, and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The guide includes tips for dealing with common situations and examples of what does or does not work, based on actual cases.

“I hope the guide helps to de-fuse, de-escalate and de-mystify the behaviours that public servants encounter daily, and that greater understanding leads to fewer complaints,” Ms Glass said.

For more information, read the Good Practice Guide to Dealing with Challenging Behaviour report and guide.

Media contact: Ainslie Gowan, tel 03 9613 6235, mob 0409 936 235, email: ainslie.gowan@ombudsman.vic.gov.au
Further information: tel 03 9613 6222, Regional 1800 806 314, www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au, Follow @VicOmbudsman

Additional notes:
Ms Glass will launch the Good Practice Guide and an accompanying full day training workshop with a Masterclass early next month. Public sector leaders and managers and others who encounter challenging behaviour in the complaint handling context, or manage those who do, are welcome to attend.

Masterclass details:

When: Tuesday 5 June 2018, from 1pm-3pm
Where:  Telstra Conference Centre (242 Exhibition Street, Melbourne)
Panel members:

  • Lynne Coulson Barr (Mental Health Complaints Commissioner)
  • Grant Lester (Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist)
  • Vijaya Vaidyanath (CEO – Yarra Council)
  • Shauna Walton (Director- Disability and NDIS, East Division, Department of Health and Human Services).

Cost: $55 per person
Booking details: website
Emaileducation@ombudsman.vic.gov.au or
Phone: 9613 6100.


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