About the complaints process – providers

The complaint process – from the perspective of providers

In the Australian Capital Territory (the ACT) individuals have a right to make complaints about the provision of disability services. The Disability and Community Services Commissioner, within the ACT Human Rights Commission is an independent statutory authority established to receive and resolve complaints about disability services.

Key features of the complaint process
• It is impartial and confidential. 
• The ACT Human Rights Commission does not charge fees. 
• Participation in the complaints process is voluntary from the perspective of consumers.
• Complaints are resolved through co-operation.
• The Disability and Community Services Commissioner encourages open discussion, with all parties asked to give their point of view.
• It can be an alternative to legal proceedings.
Who can be complained about
A complaint can be made against any service provider who provides a services specifically for people with disability and / or their cares.
What happens when a complaint is made
When the Disability and Community Services Commissioner receives a complaint the first step is to send it to the disability service provider to give them the opportunity to respond. A copy of the response will be sent to the complainant.
Many complaints are resolved through the provision of an explanation, detailed information or an apology where needed. This can be achieved at an early stage without the need for direct intervention by Disability and Community Services Commissioner. Most people who complain to Commissioner want to know what went wrong and why, and they want to know that there have been improvements made to prevent similar incidents in the future.
If the complainant is not satisfied with the response
If the response does not satisfy the complainant’s concerns, the Disability and Community Services Commissioner will identify the unresolved issues. The complainant may be asked to provide information to support their complaint. This can include reports from current treating doctors, copies of hospital records etc.
What happens next
If the complaint remains unresolved, a decision will be made about what should happen next. This will depend on the circumstances of the case and what outcome the complainant is seeking. There are three options:
1. No further action
The Disability and Community Services Commissioner may decide that no further action is needed, and can close the complaint. 
2. Further investigation or consideration
The Disability and Community Services Commissioner may decide that further information is required before proceeding.
3. Referral for conciliation
The complaint may be referred to the Disability and Community Services Commissioner conciliation section for confidential and impartial conciliation. This might happen where there is a claim for damages or remedial treatment, or where there is a need for a meeting between the consumer and the disability service provider. At this point you will receive more information about what conciliation involves. 
Most complaints that are unresolved after the initial assessment phase are either closed or referred for conciliation.
Making a complaint through the Disability and Community Services Commissioner can achieve a number of possible outcomes. These include:
• an explanation of what happened or more detailed information about the treatment or medical condition, 
• an opportunity for the complainant and provider to discuss what happened in a face-to-face meeting, 
• an apology, 
• a change to systems or procedures so a similar incident does not happen again, 
• provision of remedial treatment, 
• payment of compensation.