Mental health service complaints

This section includes details about:

How to make a complaint and links to an online complaints form

What information is required when lodging a complaint

Who can make a complaint

What can be complained about

Time restrictions

View the HaDSCO Brochure (PDF 279KB) and Helpful tips: raising a complaint information sheet (PDF 398KB).

How to make a complaint

In order to raise a complaint, first read the information on this page. Information supplied here outlines who/what can be complained about and when. Once familiarised with this information, either:

Completing a complaint form

Complaints must be lodged in writing. It is recommended, where possible to utilise the HaDSCO complaints form as it provides an easy to follow structure.

Download a complaint form (PDF)

Complete a form online

It is important to note that work cannot begin on a complaint unless all information and signed authorisation statements are supplied to HaDSCO.

Complaint forms are designed to provide support in lodging a complaint. Each section requires specific information that is important to the resolution of the complaint. Please ensure forms lodged to HaDSCO are completed in full. This will ensure the HaDSCO Assessment Team is equipped with all the information required.

For help completing the form, contact HaDSCO.

HaDSCO, by law, is required to consult with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulatory Agency (AHPRA) when complaints relate to a registered health professional. This will determine which agency is the most appropriate to deal with the complaint. Further information is available within the Memorandum of Understanding between AHPRA and Health Complaint Entities (PDF) (including HaDSCO).

This MoU document outlines:

  • The statutory roles and the relationship between HaDSCO and AHPRA
  • Sections 149 and 150 of National Law
  • Agreed procedures

Preparing a written complaint

If a complaint form cannot be completed, please submit a complaint in writing. Ensure the following information is provided.

  • The name and date of birth of the person who received the service and contact details
  • The name, date of birth and contact details of the person making the complaint if different from above
  • If relevant the relationship between the person who received the service and the person who is lodging the complaint (the person lodging the complaint cannot be paid to make the complaint)
  • The name and contact details of the person or organisation who provided the service
  • The date the service was provided
  • Details of any attempt that has already been made to try and resolve the complaint
  • Details of the complaint
  • The desired outcomes and what is hoped to be achieved by making the complaint

Ensure any complaint submitted to HaDSCO includes the following two authorisation statements. These statements must be signed and dated.

Authorisation to refer. ‘I authorise the Director of the Health and Disability Services Complaints Office to send a copy of my complaint to the health, disability or mental health service provider and/or any other relevant body.'

Signature: _______________________________________ Date:               /           /

Authorisation to access information. ‘I authorise the Director of the Health and Disability Services Complaints Office to access information relating to this complaint.’

Signature: _______________________________________ Date:                /          /

Who can make a complaint

A complaint may be lodged by:

  • The person who received the service
  • A relative, representative or carer
  • A representative of a person who has died
  • A provider, on behalf of the person who received the service from another provider
  • A carer, about a failure to comply with the Carers Charter as set out in the Carers Recognition Act 2004

What can be complained about

Complaints can be made against any individuals or organisations that provide, or claim to provide, a mental health service. These may include:

  • Allied health professionals
  • Community mental health services
  • Mental health nurses
  • Non-governmental organisations that are publicly funded
  • Private hospitals
  • Private psychiatric hostels
  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychologists
  • Public hospitals

Complaints may include allegations that a service provider has acted unreasonably by:

  • Refusing to provide a service
  • The manner a service was provided
  • Providing a service
  • Denying or restricting the user’s access to records
  • Breaching confidentiality
  • Charging an excessive fee
  • Not effectively dealing with a complaint

Time limitations

Mental health service complaints must be made within 24 months of the date the service being complained about was provided. Some discretion exists if there is a good reason for the delay.

HaDSCO is generally unable to assist with complaints that have already been determined by a court, registration board or tribunal.

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