Make a complaint

If you are involved with a development application, you are entitled to make a complaint about a decision that was made or the conduct of a decision-maker.

The new planning system introduces new complaint handling procedures for assessment panels, accredited professionals or a state authority.

When you can make a complaint

Any person can make a complaint about a decision-maker if they believe they have:

  • failed to comply with the PDI Act or the Regulations
  • not acted in the public interest
  • accepted a benefit from another person to act against a provision of the PDI Act
  • acted in contravention of the Code of Conduct.

You can also make a complaint about a public institution through the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC).

Decision-makers

Assessment panels are a decision-making body established by the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016.

Assessment panels generally make decisions on more complex developments.

All assessment panels members must comply with the Code of Conduct that is established to guide their decision-making.

There are different types of assessment panel:

  • Council Assessment Panel - Appointed by a council to replace the council’s Development Assessment Panel.
  • Regional Assessment Panel - Established by the Minister and comprises parts or all of the areas of two or more councils.
  • Joint Planning Board Assessment Panel - Appointed by a Joint Planning Board, once established.
  • Combined Assessment Panel - Established by the Minister for applications across different legislation, for example planning and mining.
  • Local Assessment Panel - Constituted by the Minister upon recommendation of the Commission following an inquiry into an existing Council Assessment Panel.

Complaints about an assessment panel must be lodged to the State Planning Commission.

Complaints handling procedure for assessment panels (PDF, 283 KB)

Assessment Managers are appointed by a local council as their decision-maker under the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016.

Assessment Managers are planning professionals that hold a Planning Level 1 accreditation. They make decisions on:

  • Deemed-to-satisfy development
  • Performance-assessed development that is not publicly notified
  • Land division consent, including community titles and strata titles

All Assessment Managers must comply with the Code of Conduct that is established to guide their decision-making.

Complaints about an Assessment Manager must be lodged to the assessment panel for the council that appointed them.

Find your local council

Accredited professionals are independent decision-makers established by the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016.

Accredited professionals generally make decisions on simple, straightforward developments including:

All accredited professionals must comply with the Code of Conduct that is established to guide their decision-making.

There are different classes of accredited professional who are able to assess different types of proposals:

  • Planning Level 3 - Deemed-to-satisfy development with minor variations
  • Planning Level 4 - Deemed-to-satisfy developments without minor variations to the criteria
  • Surveyor - Deemed-to-satisfy land divisions (planning consent only)
  • Building Level 1 - Development requiring building consent, with no limitations and Accepted development
  • Building Level 2 - Development requiring building consent, limited to buildings that are no more than three storeys in height or have a floor area of no more than 2,000m2
  • Building Level 3 - Development requiring building consent, limited to Class 1 and Class 10 buildings that are no more than two storeys in height or have a floor area of no more than 500m2

Complaints about an accredited professional must be lodged to the Accreditation Authority by emailing DPTI.APSQueries@sa.gov.au.

Any person may make a complaint to the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC) if they believe they have behaved in a way that is not honest or ethical.

The Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Act 2012 (the ICAC Act) has different rights and obligations for public officers and members of the public.

ICAC is responsible for public integrity across the state and can help facilitate complaints on your behalf.

Complaints from members of the public

Members of the public can make a complaint to the Office of Public Integrity (OPI) anonymously if they wish.

Complaints can be made online or download the complaint form and post or deliver to OPI.

You can also call 8207 1777 and leave a voicemail and OPI will return your call.

Reports from public officers or authorities

Public officers, public authorities and inquiry agencies are obligated to make a report and a unlike a member of the public, a public officer doesn’t have a right to anonymity. They must use the online system to make a report.

Lodging a complaint or report

The online or downloadable form guides the process of reporting corruption, misconduct, or maladministration.

Before you begin you should:

  • be clear about who and what you are making a complaint or report about.
  • gather all the relevant information including if it has been reported anywhere else and any outcome.
  • You need to provide:
  • names and positions of people involved
  • names of people who may have other information
  • details about when and where the conduct happened and when you became aware of it
  • any documented evidence

When your complaint or report is received, it will be registered, and you’ll get a letter or email within a couple of days (if you provided contact details).

Assessment of the complaint or report

All people, agencies and issues raised will be assessed to decide if they are possible instances of:

  • corruption, which may be investigated by the Commissioner or referred to SAPOL for investigation
  • maladministration, or misconduct is usually sent to a public authority or the Ombudsman for investigation. In serious cases the Commissioner will investigate the matters raised.

In some cases, complaints that need some action are referred to the responsible agency even if they aren’t misconduct maladministration or corruption, for instance a customer service issue or a misunderstanding.

Some matters need no further action if:

  • it not in relation to South Australian public administration
  • the matter is considered trivial, vexatious or frivolous
  • it has already been dealt with and there is no need to re-examine the matter

The timeframe for an assessment depends on:

  • the amount of information provided
  • if you are contactable for more information
  • if more information needs to be requested from other places.

What happens next

If you have provided contact details the OPI will let you know the outcome.

If an investigation uncovers evidence of corruption, the Commissioner may refer the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), who will decide if they will prosecute the matter.

The ICAC Act intends the Commissioner refer serious or systemic misconduct and maladministration to an inquiry agency or public authority for investigation. In some circumstances the Commissioner can investigate misconduct and maladministration himself.

How to make a complaint

A complaint can be lodged within six months of when the incident is believed to have occurred.

A person can raise a formal complaint if they believe the decision-maker:

  • failed to comply with the PDI Act or the regulations
  • has not acted in the public interest
  • accepted a benefit from another person to act against a provision of the PDI Act
  • acted in contravention of the Code of Conduct.

Complaints must:

  • be made in writing on the approved form
  • contain details of the allegation in the complaint
  • be verified by a statutory declaration signed before a Justice of the Peace.

Where you lodge your complaint depends on the decision-maker you are making a complaint about.

Investigation procedures

The investigator will review the complaint about the decision-maker once lodged.

They may refuse to investigate or proceed if it appears that:

  • the complainant does not have a sufficient interest in the matter
  • the matter raised by the complaint is trivial
  • the complaint is frivolous or vexatious or not made in good faith
  • it would be more appropriate for proceedings to be initiated in a court, tribunal or other authority
  • there is some other good reason not to proceed with the matter under this regulation.

If the investigator decides to proceed with the investigations process, it may:

  • as a first step, refer the matter to the decision-maker to whom the complaint relates for a response
  • decide not to proceed further
  • appoint a person to investigate the complaint.
  • give the decision-maker a reasonable opportunity to make representations about the complaint.
  • require the decision-maker to provide documents and other information, verified by statutory declaration if required.

If during the investigation other things are found that would warrant a complaint, they may include that for consideration as well even if it had not been raised previously.

At the conclusion of the investigation the investigator must provide a report summarising their findings.

A copy of this report must be provided to the decision-maker.

Final determination

After investigating the complaint, the investigator may decide to:

  • take no further action on the complaint
  • undertake other consultation or further inquiry
  • take action to have the assessment panel member removed from office
  • take such other action as the accreditation authority thinks fit.

The investigator must inform the complainant of the outcome.