Q&A with Commissioner Treasure Jennings

Q&A with the Commissioner

Do you have to be an Australian citizen or permanent resident to make a complaint to the MHCC?

Treas: No, you don’t. MHCC services are free and confidential, and they are available to anybody who uses a Victorian public mental health service regardless of their visa, residency, or citizenship status. It’s also important to note that making a complaint won’t affect your visa status.

Can carers contact the MHCC with their concerns?

Treas: Yes, absolutely, currently around one quarter of our complaints come from carers, support people or family members on behalf of a consumer. In fact, anyone who is concerned about someone’s experience with a public mental health service in Victoria can make a complaint. If your complaint is about someone else’s experience the MHCC usually needs to seek that person’s consent to the complaint. We can still provide you with information and support, so please, do contact us.

Does the MHCC only take complaints in English?

Treas: We can take complaints in your language and can arrange an interpreter at no cost to you. We can also arrange a free appointment or call with a National Relay Service interpreter if carers, consumers, families or advocates have hearing or speech support needs.

Our website also offers resources on making a complaint in different languages, Easy English as well as Auslan.

Can the MHCC help people with their rights?

Treas: At the MHCC we are guided at all times by the Mental Health Act 2014 and its principles as well as the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006, and other relevant standards and guidelines.

We have resources available on our website and social media channels to let you know what your rights are and what you can expect from a mental health service. You can also contact us if you want to talk to somebody about what your rights are. We can help you understand and exercise your rights and how to access support and advocate for yourself. For example, we can provide ideas on how to approach a meeting with your treating team.

Can the MHCC help take someone off a Compulsory Treatment Order?

Treas: Unfortunately, we do not have the power to do that as this is something the Mental Health Tribunal oversees. We do get a lot of calls asking this very question and we then refer callers to the Mental Health Tribunal who can respond to their concerns.

Even if you’re not sure if we can help, you can contact us anyway and we will let you know if we are able to deal with your concerns. If we’re not, we can make suggestions or recommendations that may help point you in the right direction as we know it can be confusing.

Many people believe speaking up about their concerns won’t change anything, what would you say to those people?

Treas: At the MHCC, we drive improvements in the system, every single day, but we can only do this if you come forward with your complaint. This is why, it’s so important to let us know if you have concerns about your treatment, because this is one of the ways that you can improve the system for yourself and others.

When you complain, you’re sharing a valuable lived experience perspective that can help guide us all towards a better system for the people who rely on it. Your complaints are confidential which means that while it would be nice to be able to share more about how complaints are having a positive impact, your privacy comes first.

Many consumers are afraid that complaining might make things worse for them. What would you say to them?

Treas: We know that’s a really common fear, but your right to complain is protected under the current Victorian Mental Health Act. Your complaint should never make things worse for you, but if you feel it has then please contact us and let us know, we’ll look into it.