Managing complaints or conflict

What to do when there’s a problem or you’re not happy with a club decision.

Despite our best efforts to prevent conflict and create a positive club culture, conflicts and complaints do arise.

Below is important information to assist in preventing and managing conflicts and complaints.


Following the True Sport values and creating a fair, safe and inclusive club culture is time well spent in reducing the occurrence of conflicts and complaints within a club. 

Having the following documents in place and promoting these with members prevents conflict:

  • Up-to-date constitution and by-laws
  • Policies such as child safeguarding, member protection, selection (representative teams)
  • Codes of conduct for players, spectators, coaches, officials and committee members

Resolving complaints

In any conflict situation and attempt to resolve complaints it is important at first to try and resolve the issue informally, between the two parties.

To resolve conflicts ensure you:

  • Listen to the other person with intent. Understanding and recognising their point of view is important.
  • Use body language that is non-threatening.
  • Acknowledge the only thing you can control is your reaction and emotions. Remain calm and positive.
  • Ask open ended-questions throughout the discussion (for example who, what, when, where, how).
  • Focus on the solution rather than the problem. Strive for a beneficial outcome for both parties. Avoid placing blame, judgement or making excuses. Rather seek clarity, accept responsibility and act.

Formal complaint management processes

Sporting clubs and associations should have a complaint management process in place and this process should be communicated to members.  

Complaint management processes are usually outlined within the organisations constitution and possibly in by-laws and policies. A copy of the constitution and any relevant policies should be available for download from the club's website. If the club’s constitution is not easily accessible, as a member you have every right to request a copy from the committee.

The organisation and the person(s) making the complaint are required to follow the processes outlined in the above documents.   

Many clubs or associations adopt the complaints management process detailed within the Associations Incorporations Act 2015 model rules (constitution).

The process within the model rules states in other words:

  1. The two parties in conflict should make every reasonable attempt to resolve the issue informally in the first 14 days.
  2. If the conflict is unresolved, then one of the parties may make a formal complaint to the committee. The committee is required to meet within 28 days to discuss and resolve; calling on the accounts of both parties. Complaint handling guidelines are available on the Play by the Rules website.

If the matter can not be resolved at the club level, then the next step is to contact your State Sporting Association.

Page reviewed 08 February 2024