Deciding how to handle complaints

More about how we handle complaints

Our complaints process is:

  • Free - Our services are free and confidential
  • Independent - We do not take sides or advocate for either party and
  • Voluntary - We cannot force participation in the complaints resolution process.

We do not have the power to award compensation. You may find it helpful to seek legal advice about your options for making a claim for damages outside of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission’s (MHWC) process.

When we receive a complaint, we first look at whether the MHWC or another organisation is best suited to deal with it.

If we assess that another organisation is better suited to dealing with some of your concerns, we will provide you with contact information for them.

The Mental Health and Wellbeing Act, 2022 requires our office to resolve complaints in the least formal way possible. In resolving complaints, The MHWC focusses on using the fastest and least formal processes to achieve positive outcomes, including making service improvements. Positive outcomes can be achieved in most complaints through less formal processes as described below.

We have several ways of helping to resolve complaints:

Early resolution: We may ask whether you have already tried speaking with your mental health and wellbeing service provider first (the service provider) as this may be an effective way to resolve your issues. We can offer you support on how to speak with your service provider if you prefer to do so yourself.

If you don’t wish to contact your service provider, we can make an assisted referral and ask that staff from the service contact you to discuss your concerns. As part of the process, we will contact the service to confirm the progress or the outcome of your complaint.

If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you can contact us to discuss your options.

Early resolution is often the quickest way to resolve a complaint. In most cases, we discuss the complaint with both parties over the phone to clarify the problem and identify options for resolution.

We ask you about the outcomes you are seeking, and we promote the 4 As of complaint resolution. These are the positive outcomes that can result from people’s complaints about Victorian public mental health and wellbeing services. The 4As are:

· Acknowledgement of a person’s experience

· Answers or explanations about the complaint issues

· Actions taken because of the complaint

· Apology for the person’s experience.

Read more about what happens when you make complaint with us.

There may be some outcomes that we cannot progress. If this is so, we will let you know, and we usually talk to both parties to understand the problem and find a solution that works for everyone.

If no resolution is reached, we may be unable to assist you further. We can also provide advice to you about other organisations that may be able to assist you.

If we assess that the matters are complex or that there are further steps that can be taken to resolve your concerns, we may progress to formal resolution, or decide to initiate an investigation.

Formal resolution: The formal resolution process involves a series of steps, each of which helps find a solution for your concerns. First, we ask about the outcomes you are seeking and work with you to develop a resolution plan. We may support you in writing down your complaint. There may be some outcomes that we cannot progress. If this is so, we will let you know. We then send the formal description of the complaint to the service provider for a response.

The resolution plan may include requesting meetings with the service provider, and access to sections of medical records, reports and policies and procedures.

If the service provider agrees to make improvements in response to a complaint, these agreements can be put in writing and shared with all parties. We may also make recommendations for service improvements. We may check with the service provider later to confirm whether these improvements have been made or why they have not been made if this is the case.

If no resolution is reached, we may be unable to assist further. The complaint may also be considered for investigation.

Investigation: At any stage, we may choose to investigate a complaint. Investigations can be initiated following our assessment of the issues and possible outcomes. An investigation is a formal detailed and resource-intense examination, often used in handling large or highly complex matters and may take over a year to complete.