Today’s correspondent is

… a volunteer firefighter in the NSW RFS . I am the subject of a formal complaint and have been stood down.

How do I get a copy of the formal complaint made against me . I note the Service standard requires the complaint to be made in writing and signed.

Service Standard 1.1.2 Discipline says (at [3.4]) ‘A member may make an allegation of a breach of discipline (allegation)…’  Clause [3.5] says:

An allegation must be:

  1. Made in writing; and
  2. Signed by the person making the allegation.

Once the allegation is made, it is to be investigated following the procedures set out in SOP 1.1.2-2.

If the investigating officer determines that there is a case to answer, a report must be made to the appointing officer ([2.6]) that includes:

… the original allegation unless there are special circumstances that justify the identity of the person making the allegation being kept confidential and the withholding of the identity of the person making the allegation does not prejudice the respondent.

It does not follow that the member must receive the initial allegation.  There may be good reasons why that should not happen. And the original allegation may give rise to an investigation that produces evidence of misconduct such that the initial allegation is irrelevant.

Issues of access to the initial complaint were discussed in Speer v NSW State Emergency Service [2018] NSWCATAD 226 and report in my post Accessing information relating to complaints and disciplinary proceedings (September 28, 2018).


The answer to the question is that if the RFS won’t release the original signed allegation, the respondent (my correspondent) should make an application under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW).  If that is unsuccessful then consideration could be given to appealing that decision to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.  In each case one would have to argue that there was actual prejudice in not having access to that document as opposed to the nature and substance of the alleged grounds of misconduct in any other document provided.