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Protecting people who make complaints
In Queensland, all animal welfare complaints are generally validated by obtaining the name, address and phone number of the person making the complaint (the complainant). The investigating inspector or officer will often need to contact the complainant to verify or clarify facts, and determine a course of action.
Where possible, personal information provided by the complainant remains confidential. However, if a matter goes to court and is defended, the court processes may require complainants' names. This is outside the control of Biosecurity Queensland and RSPCA.
Where possible, personal information provided by the complainant remains confidential. However, if required by law in certain circumstances (for example, if a matter goes to court and is defended or the Right To Information Act 2009 is applied) it may require the disclosure of the complainants' details. This is outside the control of Biosecurity Queensland and RSPCA.
Feedback to complainants
Feedback to complainants is usually only provided when requested. In these instances, the complaints coordinator will provide only general feedback to the complainant.
Due to privacy and legal considerations a complainant cannot be given specific outcomes of an investigation, but the compliance coordinator can tell them if the complaint has been investigated and if no offence has been detected.
Under the accountability requirements of the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001, inspectors must have reasonable grounds before they can enter private property to investigate a complaint. This includes getting credible details on the source of the complaint.
However, even if the complaint is made anonymously it may still be forwarded to an inspector to assess the need for action. The inspector will take action only if they believe there is a strong reason to do so.
Vexatious or hoax complaints
On investigation, an inspector may find a complaint to be unsubstantiated. If this is due to a complainant's lack of knowledge, the inspector may contact the complainant and advise that no offence was identified under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001.
Under the Act, it is an offence to give an inspector false and misleading information. If an inspector finds that a complaint is unsubstantiated and the intention of the complaint is clearly vexatious or malicious, they will consider appropriate action.