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Good practice guide to dealing with challenging behaviour: report and guide

23 May 2018

This report introduces the Victorian Ombudsman’s new guide for public sector complaint handlers dealing with challenging behaviour.

The guide responds to demand from government agencies and members of the public.

Every year we get calls and emails from agencies seeking advice about so-called ‘difficult’ people. We hear about people who bombard agencies with complaints, refuse to listen to reasonable advice or pepper their communication with threats and abuse.

We also hear the other side of these stories. Members of the public sometimes complain to the Ombudsman when agencies limit their contact or access to services. They believe their anger is legitimate and their complaints are justified.

Managing these situations can be one of the hardest parts of complaint handling. On the one hand, we expect public sector organisations to be accessible to people from all walks of life. This includes people who communicate in unexpected ways because they are frustrated or distressed about their situation, or because of culture, disability or other personal circumstances. On the other hand, we also expect organisations to protect the interests of the broader public and their staff. Public sector organisations need to use limited resources in the interests of all customers, not just the most demanding. They are also workplaces with obligations to protect the health and safety of their workers.

The guide aims to help public sector complaint handlers navigate these behavioural and legal issues so they can get on with their job – dealing with complaints

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