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Chapter 10 Section D: Complaints organisations

There are several of organisations that have authority to hear your complaints and disputes. For example, depending on your situation, you may wish to complain to the police or specialist organisations that deal with specific types of complaints.

An important first step is understanding which person or organisation you want to complain about, and what type of complaint you have.

Each complaints organisation may need certain information from you, and will have their own process for investigating your complaint. Many of them will contact the person or organisation you are complaining about. This kind of information will be found on their website.

This section provides information about the following organisations that deal with specific types of complaints:

  • Complaints about treatment or contact with a health care professional or health care provider: the Health Care Complaints Commission.
  • Complaints about treatment or conditions in a public mental health facility: the Official Visitor.
  • Complaints about your treatment or conditions if you are on a Community Treatment Order: the Official Visitor.
  • Complaints about private health insurance: the Commonwealth Ombudsman.
  • Complaints about a NSW government department or agency other than one that provides a health service: NSW Ombudsman.
  • Complaints about disability and community services provided in NSW: NSW Ombudsman (Community Services Division).
  • Complaints about Aged Care Facilities: Aged Care Safety and Quality Commission.
  • Complaints about health care provided in an Aged Care Facility: Health Care Complaints Commission.
  • Complaints about abuse and neglect: Australian National Disability Abuse and Neglect Hotline or the Health Care Complaints Commission.
  • Complaints about Australian Government-funded disability employment and advocacy services: the Complaints Resolution and Referral Service.
  • Complaints of discrimination or harassment: the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board or the Australian Human Rights Commission.
  • Complaints about information privacy: Commonwealth Privacy Commissioner and NSW Privacy Commissioner.
  • Complaints about the conduct of the NSW Police Force: NSW Ombudsman.
  • Complaints about banks and other financial services providers including credit unions, insurance companies, stock brokers, superannuation funds, investment advisers, etc: Australian Financial Complaints Authority.
  • Complaints about internet and telephone service providers: Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.
  • Complaints about energy or water service providers in NSW: Energy and Water Ombudsman (NSW).
  • Complaints about NDIS services: The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission
  • Complaints that your human rights have been violated: Australian Human Rights Commission or United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

To find out more about roles and complaint processes directly relevant to people with mental illness in involuntary treatment in NSW, click here.

The Complaints Line is a comprehensive website that sets out the relevant complaints body for a range of areas in all parts of Australia. Click here to go to the Complaints Line website.

If you need an interpreter to communicate with any of the complaints bodies, phone the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 131 450* and give them the details of the organisation you want to speak to. You can also choose whether you would prefer a female or male interpreter. Apart from the local call cost this is a free service.

*Mobile phone calls to local call numbers (numbers starting with 13) are charged to the caller at the usual mobile rate.

10D.1: The Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC)

10D.1.1: Complaints the Health Care Complaints Commission can deal with

The Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) is an independent NSW Government agency responsible for dealing with complaints about health services provided in NSW. It can deal with complaints about any:

  • registered health practitioner (such as a doctor, dentist, or nurse);
  • allied health practitioner (such as massage therapists, naturopaths, counsellors and psychotherapists); and
  • any health service organisation, such as public and private hospitals, day surgeries and medical centres.

The HCCC deals with complaints in relation to the clinical management, care and treatment provided by the health care practitioner or health care service, the professional conduct of health care practitioners, and risks to the health and safety of the public. The HCCC considers standards of care, in particular whether the particular care or treatment that you received was significantly different from accepted standards or reasonably expected of health practitioner with similar qualifications and experience.

If you do not comfortable complaining directly to the health practitioner, you do not have to do this first before complaining to the HCCC.

Patients of mental health care practitioners and mental health services (whether voluntary or involuntary patients) have the same right as any other health care consumer to complain to the HCCC about the quality of the care they have been provided, or about the professional conduct of a health practitioner involved in their care (such as a psychiatrist or mental health nurse).

The HCCC does not have the power to direct a health practitioner or health service to:

  • provide you with a specific service
  • pay you compensation
  • refund the cost of the health service; or
  • change your medical records if you do not agree with their contents.

The HCCC cannot deal with complaints about decisions made by the Mental Health Review Tribunal. For example, you cannot complain to the HCCC about being the decision to be involuntarily detained in a public mental health facility, but you could complain about the standard of treatment you receive in the facility. You cannot complain about being given a Community Treatment Order to the HCCC, but you could complain about the standard of care of the community mental health team.

Your complaint to the HCCC should be in writing and you can complete an online complaint form. You can give consent for a support worker or advocate to help you make the complaint.

After you make a complaint to the HCCC, they will aim assess your complaint within sixty (60) days. Here are the possible outcomes:

  • your complaint process is discontinued, with or without comments to the health practitioner or service
  • your complaint is referred to a more appropriate organisation
  • your complaint goes to a Resolution Service;
  • your complaint is locally resolved by the health service or practitioner with the HCCC’s guidance; or
  • your complaint is investigated, which may lead to disciplinary action or changes in policies and practices.

For more information about how HCCC deals with complaints, click here.

The HCCC Inquiries Officer will be able to provide you with information and advice about making a complaint to the HCCC and help to make a complaint if you find it difficult to do so in writing. They may also be able to provide you with advice about other ways of resolving your complaint or concerns.

To find out more information about the role of the HCCC and what to do if a complaint has been made about you as a mental health or health care provider or professional click here.

Phone: (02) 9219 7444
Freecall: 1800 043 159*
Teletypewriter (TTY): (02) 9219 7555
Fax: (02) 9281 4585
E-mail: hccc@hccc.nsw.gov.au
Website: www.hccc.nsw.gov.au
Office hours: 9.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday
Street address: Level 13, 323 Castlereagh Street (cnr Hay St) SYDNEY NSW 2000
Postal address: Locked Mail Bag 18
STRAWBERRY HILLS NSW 2012

*Mobile phone calls to freecall numbers (numbers starting with 1800) are charged to the caller at the usual mobile rate.

10D.2: The Official Visitor

If you are a patient in a public mental health facility in NSW or are subject to compulsory mental health treatment in the community (under a Community Treatment Order) and you have concerns about the standard of care you are receiving, you can contact the Official Visitor.

Official Visitors are people with experience talking to staff in mental health services. They are independent from NSW Health, which means they do not work for the hospital or community mental health centre they are visiting.

You can ask Official Visitors:

  • to assist you to talk to staff (doctors, nurses, social worker, peer worker)
  • to assist you to make requests and have your voice heard
  • about your rights; and
  • about things that you are worried about.

Official Visitors visit public mental health facilities, private psychiatric hospitals and community mental health services regularly.

Official Visitors have the legal right to inspect every part of the hospital or health care provider and make such enquiries as they think necessary about care and, treatment of voluntary and involuntary patients and people subject to Community Treatment Orders. They have the power to examine all records and registers and to interview any patient, or person subject to a Community Treatment Order. Official Visitors are not able to discharge patients.

10D.2.1: How to contact an Official Visitor

There are four ways you can talk to an Official Visitor

In person – Official Visitors visit all public and private inpatient mental health facilities every month. They also visit public community mental health facilities every six (6) months. You can find out when the next visit is scheduled by asking staff or by calling the Official Visitors on 1800 208 218*

In writing – if you are at a mental health facility, you can leave a written note in the Official Visitors Box. Boxes are locked and only accessed by Official Visitors during their visit to the service. If you would like a response to your note, make sure you leave your contact details.

Or you can write to:
Official Visitors
Locked Bag 5016
GLADESVILLE NSW 1675

By phone – you can call the Official Visitors on 1800 208 218* from 9:00am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday. This number is toll-free if you are calling within NSW. An answering service will take your message and an Official Visitor will call you back within two business days.

By email – you can email the Official Visitors Program any time at OfficialVisitorsProgram@health.nsw.gov.au and you will receive a response during business hours.

*Mobile phone calls to freecall numbers (numbers starting with 1800) are charged to the caller at the usual mobile rate.

10D.2.2: Who can see the Official Visitors?

The following people have the right to see an Official Visitor:

  • Voluntary patients of a public or private mental health facility
  • Involuntary patients of a public mental health facility
  • People under Community Treatment Orders administered by a mental health facility; and
  • Carers and family members of patients in a mental health facility or subject to a Community Treatment Order administered by a mental health facility.

Official Visitors will also talk to relatives, friends and other health care and support workers who have an interest in the care and treatment of a patient.

10D.2.3: What can the Official Visitors do?

Official Visitors must write a report to the Principal Official Visitor after each visit. The reports are confidential and are not given to hospital staff.

Official Visitors can do all or any of the following:

  • Talk to the health care professionals who are treating a person. This can often result in increased communication between concerned people about the treatment and care of that person.
  • Raise concerns about treatment and care with senior hospital staff. Some problems can be solved at this level, especially if they are about particular hospital policies and practices.
  • Accept confidential complaints about hospital care.
  • Review the contents of the medical files of a person (which they can do without the patient’s consent).

If you want your complaint to be confidential and not communicated to hospital staff, you should make this clear to the Official Visitor, preferably in any written message that you give the Official Visitor. Official Visitors can then make their own observations and enquiries about the particular complaint and communicate their views to the Principal Official Visitor and/or the Minister for Health.

You can complain to the Official Visitors about the standards of facilities and services, for example, the quality and nutritional value of food you get and about hygiene or overcrowding.

If you or your family and friends are finding it hard to contact the Official Visitors, you can report the problem to the Principal Official Visitor:

Phone: (02) 8876 6301
Fax: (02) 9817 3945
Website: www.officialvisitorsmh.nsw.gov.au
Postal address: The Official Visitor
Locked Bag 5016
GLADESVILLE NSW 1675

10D.3: Private Health Insurance and the Commonwealth Ombudsman

The Commonwealth Ombudsman protects the interests of private health insurance consumers through:

  • assisting health fund members to resolve complaints through an independent complaint-handling service
  • identifying problems of private health funds or health care providers
  • providing advice to government and industry about issues affecting consumers regarding private health insurance
  • providing advice and recommendations to government and industry about private health insurance, including the performance of the sector and the nature of complaints; and
  • providing a Private Health website with information about private health insurance.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman cannot take complaints about the quality of service or treatment provided by a health professional or a hospital. These complaints should be made to the Health Care Complaints Commission.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman provides services free for people with private health insurance. They are independent and do not represent consumers, insurers, hospitals or health services.

If you have a complaint about private health insurance, you can make a complaint online, or contact the Commonwealth Ombudsman by calling 1300 737 299* from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday.

Website:  www.privatehealth.gov.au

10D.4: NSW Ombudsman

The NSW Ombudsman deals with complaints about your treatment by the NSW Government, including:

  • a NSW Government Department or Agency
  • Correctional Centres and Youth Justice Centres
  • Local councils; and
  • some non-government community and disability organisations funded by the Department of Communities and Justice.

The NSW Ombudsman is an independent and impartial watchdog, which means that they make sure that departments and agencies fulfil their functions properly.

You should first try complaining directly to the department or agency before raising your concerns with the NSW Ombudsman. This way the agency has an opportunity to deal with an issue before the NSW Ombudsman becomes involved.

The NSW Ombudsman has a page on ‘Tips‘ for making complaints.

The NSW Ombudsman does not deal with complaints about health care standards or complaints about the ethical or professional conduct of health care professionals. These complaints should be made to the Health Care Complaints Commission.

To contact the NSW Ombudsman:

Freecall: 1800 451 524*
Phone: (02) 9286 1000
Translating and Interpreter Service (TIS 131 450
Online complaint form
E-mail: nswombo@ombo.nsw.gov.au
Street address: Level 24, 580 George Street, SYDNEY NSW 2000

*Mobile phone calls to freecall numbers (numbers starting with 1800) are charged to the caller at the usual mobile rate.

10D. 4.1: Complaints about Disability and Community Services provided in NSW: NSW Ombudsman

In addition to investigating complaints about NSW Government Departments and Agencies, the NSW Ombudsman’s Community Services Division also handles complaints about a range of human service agencies funded or licensed by the NSW Government (including Assisted Boarding Houses).

You can complain about:

  • the way a disability or community service is provided to someone
  • the failure or refusal of a disability or community service to provide a service to someone
  • a decision of a disability or community service to withdraw or change a service to someone; and/or
  • a disability or community service being provided to someone who should not be getting it, or who does not want it (e.g., a child protection intervention).

The NSW Ombudsman has also developed an online workshop to help people who have complaints about the disability and community services. The online workshop is called The Rights Stuff. This provides tips for solving problems and making complaints.

Disability service providers who provide supported group accommodation and respite services funded by the NSW Department of Communities and Justice and must also report incidents of abuse or neglect of persons with disability in their care to the NSW Ombudsman. This includes allegations of sexual misconduct, sexual harassment and sexual and other physical assault by an employee, deception or fraud by an employee, alleged sexual and other offences committed by one resident on another, breach of an Apprehended Violence Order taken out to protect a person with disability and unexplained serious injuries to persons with disability in care.

10D.5: Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission’s role is to protect and enhance the safety, health, well-being and quality of life of people receiving aged care funded by the Australian Government. They are a single point of contact for complaints, quality and regulation in aged care which will strengthen the focus on consumers, streamline regulation, support better engagement with and between consumers and providers, and promote transparency.

You can submit a complaint through the Online Complaints Form. They will let you know that they have received your complaint within twenty four (24) and forty eight (48) hours on business days.

If your matter is urgent, please free call 1800 951 822* between 9:00am and 5:00pm, Monday to Friday.

If you need an interpreter, you can ask them to arrange one when you call. Alternatively, you can contact one of the services below and ask them to help contact them on 1800 951 822*:

If you are hearing or speech impaired, call the National Relay Service:

  • TTY users: phone 1800 555 677 then ask for the number 1800 951 822*.
  • Speak and Listen users: phone 1800 555 727 then ask for the number 1800 951 822
  • Internet relay users: connect to the National Relay Service and enter 1800 951 822.

Write a letter to:
Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission
GPO Box 9819, in your capital city

Contact them online: www.agedcarequality.gov.au/contact-us

*Mobile phone calls to freecall numbers (numbers starting with 1800) are charged to the caller at the usual mobile rate.

10D.6: National Disability Abuse Hotline

The National Disability Abuse and Neglect Hotline is a free, independent and confidential service for reporting abuse and neglect of people with disability. The Hotline is not a complaints resolution service or an individual advocacy service. It helps callers by providing them with information, support and referring them to the appropriate complaints organisations.

Anyone can contact the Hotline, including family members, friends, service providers or a person with disability.

Abuse and neglect can include physical, sexual, psychological, legal or financial abuse, restraint and restrictive practices,. Abuse and neglect can also include the withholding of care and support that exposes an individual to harm.

Government-funded services used by people with disability include open or supported employment, accommodation, community and respite care services.

The National Disability Abuse and Neglect Hotline can be contacted on:

Phone: 1800 880 052*
Teletypewriter (TTY): 1800 301 130*
National Relay Service: 1800 555 677*
To make a report, contact the Hotline on 1800 880 052*
Website: www.disabilityhotline.net.au

*Mobile phone calls to freecall numbers (numbers starting with 1800) are charged to the caller at the usual mobile rate.

10D.7: The Complaints Resolution and Referral Service (CRRS)

The Complaints Resolution and Referral Service (CRRS) is for people using Australian Government-funded disability employment and advocacy services.

The CRRS deals with complaints about:

  • any problem with a disability employment, vocational rehabilitation, targeted support or advocacy service, such as not getting a service or being unfairly required to leave the service;
  • issues related to the Disability Services Standards; and
  • issues related to occupational health and safety or wages.

The CRRS is open Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 7:00pm. To make a complaint:

  • Call 1800 880 052*
  • Callers who are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment can contact the National Relay Service (NRS) by calling 1800 555 677* then asking for 1800 880 052*
  • Callers from a non-English speaking background can use the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) by calling 13 14 50*
  • Submit your complaint via the Online Complaints Form.

Complaints can be made by clients of services funded by the Department of Social Services under the Disability Services Act (1986). These services include:

  • Disability Employment Services; and
  • Australian Disability Enterprises

*Mobile phone calls to freecall numbers (numbers starting with 1800) are charged to the caller at the usual mobile rate.

10D.8: Anti-Discrimination Organisations

If you have a complaint of discrimination that happened in NSW, there are two organisations that may be able to deal with your complaint:

  • The NSW Anti-Discrimination Board; and
  • The Australian Human Rights Commission.

There are some differences between the processes and outcomes of these two organisations and you should get advice before you decide which to complain to. For information about where to get advice and legal assistance, click here.

10D.8.1: NSW Anti-Discrimination Board (ADB)

The Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW (ADB) is an independent government statutory organisation that strives to eliminate discrimination in NSW by:

  • answering enquiries
  • conciliating complaints
  • raising awareness about discrimination and its impacts
  • granting exemptions to the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW); and
  • advising government about discrimination issues.

If you think you have a complaint or claim under NSW anti-discrimination law, you should contact the ADB.

ADB recommends that you raise your concerns with the person or organisation first to allow them to resolve the complaint directly with you.

Complaints to the ADB should be made within twelve (12) months of the actions that you believe were unlawful discrimination. You should ask the ADB for more information about the time limit that applies for your particular complaint.

Complaints to the ADB must be in writing. Click here to go to the webpage to download the complaint form or you can simply write a letter detailing what happened, etc.

Once the ADB receives your complaint, it reviews it to make sure that it is a complaint of discrimination that is within the ADB’s powers to investigate. If it is, the ADB will then contact the person and/or organisation you have complained about and provide them with a copy of your complaint and ask for their response. That response will be provided to you for your comment.

The ADB can, if necessary, call a meeting with you and the person or organisation you have complained about in order to try to resolve the complaint through discussion and agreement. This is called a conciliation meeting. The person who manages the conciliation (the conciliator) does not decide who is right or wrong or how the complaint should be resolved. The conciliator’s role is to help ensure the process is fair, help both sides talk to each other and help negotiate an agreement. You can ask to have a lawyer or advocate with you at a conciliation meeting.

Generally, if you are not legally represented, the other side should not be.

If ADB does not accept your complaint or if your complaint is not resolved through the conciliation process, you can then decide whether or not you want to have it dealt with by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal. This is a more formal process, and you can click here for more information.

For more information about how to make a complaint to the ADB, click here.

The Anti-Discrimination Board NSW has offices in Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong and can be contacted on:

Website: www.antidiscrimination.lawlink.nsw.gov.au
Sydney Office
Phone: (02) 9268 5555
Freecall: 1800 670 812*

The enquiry telephone service is open Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 1:00pm and 2:00pm to 4:00pm.

If you need an interpreter, call Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450 and ask the interpreter to call Anti-Discrimination NSW.

If you would like to speak to a member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander team, you can make this request when contacting the ADB.

Email: adbcontact@justice.nsw.gov.au
Wollongong Office
Phone: (02) 4224 9960
Freecall: 1800 670 812*

Newcastle Office
Phone: (02) 4926 4300
Freecall: 1800 670 812*

*Mobile phone calls to freecall numbers (numbers starting with 1800) are charged to the caller at the usual mobile rate.

10D.8.2: Australian Human Rights Commission

The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) investigate and resolve complaints of discrimination and breaches of human rights. You can make a complaint no matter where you live in Australia. Their services are free, impartial and informal.

For information about complaining about breaches of human rights to the AHRC, click here.

Complaints to the AHRC must be in writing, but a complaint can be in a language other than English. There are several ways you can make a complaint. You can make your complaint online using the online complaint form. Remember to print yourself a copy of your completed form before you send it.

You can also simply write a letter detailing what happened.

Complaints to the AHRC should be made six (6) months of the actions that you believe were unlawful discrimination. You should ask the AHRC for more information about the time limit that applies for your particular complaint.

After the ARHC receives your complaint, it will consider whether your complaint is about unlawful discrimination. For more information about unlawful discrimination, click here.

If your complaint is considered unlawful discrimination, the AHRC will contact the person or organisation you are complaining about and give them a copy of the complaint for a response.

The AHRC may sometimes also contact other people you have mentioned in your complaint and provide them with information about your complaint.

The AHRC may call a meeting with you and the person or organisation you have complained about in order to try to resolve the complaint through discussion and agreement. This is called a conciliation meeting. The person who manages the conciliation (the conciliator) does not decide who is right or wrong or how the complaint should be resolved. The conciliator’s role is to help ensure the process is fair, help both sides talk to each other and help negotiate an agreement. You can ask to have a lawyer or advocate with you at a conciliation meeting.
Generally, if you are not legally represented, the other side should not be.

In some cases, the President may decide to stop investigating a complaint. If this happens, you will receive an explanation why.

If your complaint is terminated, you may be able to take your complaint to the Federal Circuit Court or the Federal Court of Australia.

Click here for information about complaints to the Australian Human Rights Commission.

You can contact the AHRC on:

Phone: 1300 369 711*
Phone: (02) 9284 9600
Teletypewriter (TTY): 1800 620 241*
Fax: (02) 9284 9611
Address
Level 3, 175 Pitt Street
SYDNEY NSW 2000
GPO Box 5218
SYDNEY NSW 2001
E-mail: complaintsinfo@humanrights.gov.au
Website: www.humanrights.gov.au

*Mobile phone calls to freecall numbers (numbers starting with 1800) are charged to the caller at the usual mobile rate.

10D.9: Commonwealth and NSW Privacy Commissions

There is both a Commonwealth Privacy Commission and the NSW Privacy Commission.

The Commonwealth Commission is called the Office of the Australian Privacy Commissioner (OAPC) deals with complaints about personal information privacy, including health information privacy. They consider whether the Privacy Principles have been breached when dealing with a complaint.

Both Commonwealth and NSW Privacy Principles include a right (with exceptions) that everybody has to access their health records.

If the complaint is about a NSW Government Department or Agency, then it is best to complain to the Information and Privacy Commission NSW (IPC). The Information and Privacy Commission NSW is an independent statutory authority that administers legislation dealing with privacy and access to government held information in NSW.

As part of its function the IPC:

  • promotes and protects privacy and information access rights in NSW and provides information, advice, assistance and training for agencies and individuals on privacy and access matters
  • reviews the performance and decisions of agencies and investigates and conciliates complaints relating to public sector agencies, health service providers (both public and private) and some large organisations that deal with health information.

If the complaint is about a private health care provider, such as a private hospital, a General Practitioner or a medical centre, then you should contact the Office of the Australian Privacy Commission.

10D.9.1: Office of the Australian Privacy Commission (OAIC)

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) is an independent agency within the Attorney General’s portfolio. Their primary functions are privacy, freedom of information and government information policy. Responsibilities include conducting investigations, reviewing decisions, handling complaints, and providing guidance and advice.

The Office of the Australian Privacy Commissioner (OAIC) can be contacted on:

Phone: 1300 363 992*
Teletypewriter (TTY): 1800 620 241*
Fax: (02) 9284 9666
E-mail: enquiries@oaic.gov.au
Postal address: GPO Box 5218
SYDNEY NSW 2001
Website: www.oaic.gov.au

Complaints to the Commonwealth Privacy Commission should be made in writing.

To complete a form online click here

If you need help to make a complaint, call the Enquiries Line on 1300 363 992*.

*Mobile phone calls local call numbers (numbers starting with 13 or 1300) are charged to the caller at the usual mobile rate.

10D.9.2: NSW Information and Privacy Commission (IPC)

The NSW Information Privacy Commission (IPC) can help you understand and exercise your right to access government information and your right to privacy. They can help you understand privacy laws in NSW and give you information on how to protect your personal information.

The IPC can give you information and assistance with accessing government information in NSW and can be contacted on:

Phone: 1800 472 679
Fax: (02) 8688 9660
E-mail: ipcinfo@ipc.nsw.gov.au
Street address: Level 17, 201 Elizabeth Street Sydney 2000
GPO Box 7011, Sydney NSW 2001
Website: www.ipc.nsw.gov.au/about-us

10D.10: Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA)

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) is the dispute resolution scheme for financial services. They consider a wide range of complaints about:

  • credit, finance and loans;
  • insurance;
  • banking deposits and payments;
  • investments and financial advice; and
  • superannuation.

AFCA assists consumers and small businesses to reach agreements with financial firms about how to resolve their complaints. They are independent and do not act for either party to advocate their position. If a complaint does not resolve between the parties, they will decide an appropriate outcome. The AFCA can make a ‘legally binding’ decision if the person making the complaint accepts this decision, which means that the financial firm must comply with AFCA’s decision or there will be consequences. AFCA’s services are free.

AFCA recommends that you raise your concerns with your financial firm first to allow them to resolve the complaint directly with you.

For information about the possible outcomes of making a complaint to AFCA, click here.

Click here to find out how to lodge a complaint with the Service.

To contact the Australian Financial Complaints Authority, call 1800 931 678*.

*Mobile phone calls to freecall numbers (numbers starting with 1800) are charged to the caller at the usual mobile rate.

10D.11: Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO)

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman investigates complaints about telephone and internet services. TIO is a free and independent alternative dispute resolution scheme for consumers in Australia with unresolved complaints about these services. TIO use consider your complaint and decide the most appropriate means to resolve a complaint, from referral to conciliation, investigation and determination.

TIO requires that you raise your concerns with your telecommunications provider first, to allow them to resolve the complaint directly with you.

Click here to visit the website.

Click here to make an online complaint.

Contact the TIO on 1800 062 058*.

*Mobile phone calls to freecall numbers (numbers starting with 1800) are charged to the caller at the usual mobile rate.

10D.12: Energy and Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON)

The Energy and Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON) offers a free service resolving complaints about energy and water suppliers in NSW. They consider and investigate complaints from community workers and advocates, energy and water customers as well as small businesses.
EWON can deal with:

  • disputed accounts, high bills
  • debts, arrears
  • disconnection or restriction of supply
  • actions of a supplier that affect your property
  • reliability of supply
  • quality of supply (including claims for compensation)
  • connection or transfer issues
  • negotiated contracts
  • marketing practices; and
  • poor customer service.

For more information about EWON, click here.

Online complaint form

If you are having problems paying your electricity, gas or water bill, there are options available. Click here for more information.

EWON contact details:

Freecall: 1800 246 545*
Freefax: 1800 812 291
Freepost: Reply Paid 86550 SYDNEY SOUTH 1234
E-mail: omb@ewon.com.au
Address: Level 11, 133 Castlereagh Street SYDNEY
(By appointment -1800 246 545)
Office hours: 9.00 am to 5.00 pm, Monday to Fridays
(not on public holidays)

*Mobile phone calls to freecall numbers (numbers starting with 1800) are charged to the caller at the usual mobile rate.

10D.13: The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Quality and Safeguards Commission is an independent agency established to improve the quality and safety of NDIS supports and services. They work with NDIS participants, service providers, workers and the community to introduce a new nationally consistent approach so participants can access services and supports that promote choice, control and dignity.

Please note: In this Manual there is a Chapter that provides information about the NDIS and guidance making complaints about the NDIS. Click here to look at that section.

The NDIS Commission:

  • responds to concerns, complaints and reportable incidents, including abuse and neglect of NDIS participants
  • promotes the NDIS principles of choice and control, and works to empower participants to exercise their rights to access quality services as informed, protected consumers
  • requires NDIS providers to uphold participants’ rights to be free from harm
  • registers and regulates NDIS providers and oversees the new NDIS Code of Conduct and NDIS Practice Standards
  • provides guidance and best practice information to NDIS providers on how to comply with their registration responsibilities
  • monitors compliance against the NDIS Code of Conduct and NDIS Practice Standards, including undertaking investigations and taking enforcement action
  • monitors the use of restrictive practices within the NDIS with the aim of reducing and eliminating such practices
  • is working in collaboration with states and territories to design and implement nationally consistent NDIS worker screening
  • focuses on education, capacity building and development for people with disability, NDIS providers and workers; and
  • facilitates information sharing with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), state and territory authorities and other Commonwealth regulatory bodies.

The NDIS Commission is independent of the NDIA.

It is important to note that both the NDIS Commission and the NDIA play a part in ensuring the delivery of the NDIS. However, the NDIS Commission does not regulate the NDIA. Complaints about the NDIA or participant plans should be made directly to the NDIA. The NDIA will also detect and investigate allegations of fraud.

10D.13.1: How to make a complaint about a provider

People with disability have the right to complain about the services they receive. Most NDIS providers do their best to provide quality supports and services to people with disability, but issues can occur. If you have a concern about your current NDIS supports or services, it is important that you talk about it.

All registered NDIS providers must have a complaints management and resolution system in place. If the provider is unable to resolve your concern or complaint, then you should seek further support. You may seek support from family, a friend or an advocate in making a complaint.

If you are in NSW, a complaint can be made to the NDIS Quality and Safety Commission, click here:

Complete a complaint contact form.

Freecall: 1800 035 544* or TTY 133 677

Interpreters can be arranged. National Relay Service and ask for 1800 035 544*

*Mobile phone calls to freecall numbers (numbers starting with 1800) are charged to the caller at the usual mobile rate.

The NDIS Commission can take complaints from anyone about:

  • NDIS services or supports that were not provided in a safe and respectful way;
  • NDIS services and supports that were not delivered to an appropriate standard; and
  • how an NDIS provider has managed a complaint about services or supports provided to an NDIS participant.

10D.14: Complaints that your human rights have been violated: Australian Human Rights Commission or United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

If you believe that your human rights have been violated, you may be able to complain to the Australian Human Rights Committee or even to a United Nations Treaty Body through the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. You will be able to complain if the human rights you believe have been violated have been recognised or declared in a human rights treaty that has been ratified by the Australian Government

The Australian Human Rights Commission has the power to inquire into acts or practices of Commonwealth agencies that are inconsistent with or contrary to human rights as this is defined in the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth). This Act defines human rights according to various international laws, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. For more information about different types of human rights, click here.

You cannot complain to the Australian Human Rights Commission about alleged violations of your human rights by the NSW Government or a private sector organisation, or an individual, unless you are somehow able to show that the Commonwealth is responsible for their conduct.

The Australian Human Rights Commission has the power to investigate and, if possible, to conciliate your complaint. However, if the matter cannot be resolved, the Commission will report on your complaint to the Commonwealth Attorney-General who must then provide a copy to the Federal Parliament. There is no way for you to enforce the outcome of the complaint. Any response will be up to the Government.

You can contact the Australian Human Rights Commission on:

Phone: 1300 656 419*
Phone: (02) 9284 9600
Teletypewriter (TTY): 1800 620 241*
Fax: (02) 9284 9611
Website: www.humanrights.gov.au
Make a complaint online
E-mail: complaintsinfo@humanrights.gov.au

*Mobile phone calls to freecall numbers (numbers starting with 1800) are charged to the caller at the usual mobile rate.

You may also be able to make a complaint to a Treaty Body (or independent committee of experts) responsible for international oversight of a human rights treaty that your human rights have been violated. In the case of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability, the Treaty Body is called the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Such a complaint is called a ‘communication’. You should seek legal advice before choosing this option.

Communications are not limited to the conduct of Australian Government agencies. You can also allege violations by a State Government or a non-State ‘actor’, such as a corporation. However, it will be the Australian Government that is responsible for answering the communication.

Before you can make a Communication, you must have first exhausted all reasonably available domestic remedies. For example, if you can take action in an Australian Court to deal with the violation you allege, you have to use this process first before using the international system.

If the Treaty Body decides to deal with your communication, it will ask the Australian to respond to your complaint within six (6) months. At the end of its consideration of your communication, the Treaty Body may adopt a decision which incorporates findings and recommendations relating to your complaint. However, these decisions cannot be enforced under Australian law. Ultimately it will be up to the Australian Government if it will act on the Treaty Body’s findings and recommendations.

You can find out more about the process of making a communication from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights by clicking this link.

Updated January 1, 2021