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Chapter 11 Section B: Key Rights Organisations

Administrative Decisions Tribunal

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) conducts independent merits review of administrative decisions made under Commonwealth laws. They review decisions made by Australian Government Ministers, departments and agencies and, in limited circumstances, decisions made by state government and non-government bodies. For people with mental health conditions and disability, the AAT may review decisions related to:

  • child support;
  • Commonwealth workers’ compensation;
  • family assistance, paid parental leave, social security and student assistance;
  • migration and refugee visas and visa-related decisions;
  • veterans’ entitlements; and
  • applications to the National Disability Scheme.

Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (Commission) protects and enhances the safety, health, well-being and quality of life of people receiving aged care. The Commission is the national regulator of aged care services, and the primary point of contact for consumers and providers in relation to quality and safety. They promote high quality care and services to safeguard everyone receiving Australian Government funded aged care.

The Commission also has responsibility for approving providers and receiving their reporting. They independently accredit, assess and monitor aged care services subsidised by the Australian Government, conduct home care investigations, and determine compliance requirements to be imposed on providers (such as sanctions). They also resolve complaints about these services.

Anti-Discrimination Board

The NSW Government agency responsible for the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW). They work to eliminate discrimination in NSW by resolving enquiries and complaints, raising awareness about discrimination and its impacts, and taking action to influence change.

Asylum Seekers Centre of NSW

The Asylum Seekers Centre provides practical and personal support for people living in the community who are seeking asylum. Services include accommodation, legal advice, financial relief, health care, employment assistance, education, food, material aid and recreational activities. The centre also provides community support to LGBTIQ people seeking asylum.

Australian Centre for Disability Law

The Australian Centre for Disability Law provides free legal information, advice and representation for people with disability and their associates in relation to claims of disability discrimination occurring in NSW. It also undertakes policy and law reform work and provide community legal education in relation to disability discrimination and other disability rights issues.

Australian Human Rights Commission

The Australian Human Rights Commission is an independent statutory organisation, established by an act of Federal Parliament. They protect and promote human rights in Australia and internationally.

The Australian Human Rights Commission conciliates discrimination complaints, hold public inquiries, and develops education resources for schools and workplaces. They also provide legal advice to courts, make submissions to parliaments and governments, and initiate research into human rights and discrimination issues. People who experience discrimination can complain the Commission.

Economic Justice Australia

Economic Justice Australia is the peak organisation for community legal centres providing specialist advice to people on their social security issues and rights. Our vision is a fair social security system.

If you are having problems with a Centrelink payment, EJA members are specialist community legal centres that provide free advice on issues like appealing a Centrelink decision, Centrelink debts, difficulties applying for Disability Support Pension, Compensation Preclusion Periods and more.

Find your nearest specialist legal centre in NSW by clicking this link.

First Peoples Disability Network Australia

First Peoples Disability Network Australia (FPDN) is a national organisation of and for Australia’s First Peoples with disability, their families and communities. Its purpose is to promote respect for human rights, secure social justice, and empower First Peoples with disability to participate in Australian society on an equal basis with others. We are the custodians of the narratives of First Peoples with disability, their families and communities and we recognise this important responsibility.

Health Care Complaints Commission

The Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) acts to protect public health and safety by dealing with complaints about health service practitioners and providers in NSW. These can be complaints against individuals or services, such as hospitals or medical centres.

The Commission is an independent body that was established under the Health Care Complaints Act. The Commission:

  • receives and assesses complaints relating to health service providers in NSW;
  • resolves or assists in the resolution of complaints;
  • investigates serious complaints that raise questions of public health and safety; and
  • prosecutes serious complaints.

The Commission is committed to acting fairly to all parties involved in a complaint. The Commission’s Code of Practice sets out what people can expect from the Commission.

Intellectual Disability Rights Service

The Intellectual Disability Rights Service (IDRS) is a specialised disability advocacy and Community Legal Centre providing free legal advice, casework and professional consultation across a number of areas of law for people with disability.


A free, state-wide telephone service that provide legal information and advice and referrals to legal assistance providers and related organisations. In some situations, they provide advice to people that have a legal problem in NSW.

Legal Aid NSW

Legal Aid NSW is a state-wide organisation providing legal services to socially and economically disadvantaged people across NSW. They deliver legal services in most areas of criminal, family and civil law. Legal Aid NSW delivers legal services in partnership with the private legal profession. They work closely with their partners including: LawAccess NSW, Community Legal Centres and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service NSW/ACT.

Link Up NSW

Link-Up (NSW) assists all Aboriginal people who had been directly affected by past government policies; being separated from their families and culture through forced removal, being fostered, adopted or raised in institutions. Link-Up runs the following programs:

  • Reunification Program – assists eligible First Peoples living in NSW who have been directly affected by past government policies; including being separated from their families and culture through forced removal, being fostered, adopted or raised in institutions.
  • Family Link – Link-Up (NSW) assists children and youth who are at risk of entering or have already entered the Out Of Home Care system, by finding family to provide potential kinship placements and family contact. This program receives referrals from the Department of Communities and Justice for First Peoples children under eighteen (18).
  • Redress Program – staff provide trauma informed support, casework, counselling, information and referral for Aboriginal people who experienced sexual abuse in ‘care’ and institutions, orphanages, children’s homes and foster homes.

Mental Health Advocacy Service

The Mental Health Advocacy Service (MHAS) is part of Legal Aid NSW. They provide free legal information, advice and assistance about mental health law to people living with mental health conditions in relation to mental health law.

Mental Health Review Tribunal

The Mental Health Review Tribunal has wide powers under the Mental Health Act 2007 (NSW) to conduct mental health inquiries, make and review orders, and to hear some appeals, about the treatment and care of people with a mental illness. This includes the treatment of involuntary patients in psychiatric facilities or under involuntary orders in the community, the treatment and discharge of forensic patients and the making of financial management orders.

The Tribunal’s decisions can impact directly on people’s lives, health and liberty. In making its decisions, the Tribunal seeks to balance several sets of often competing rights – the individual’s right to liberty and safety and to freedom from unnecessary intervention, the individual’s right to treatment, protection and care, and the right of the community to safety and protection. Given the importance of these decisions, it is essential that the Tribunal receives the very best evidence available when hearing applications and making its decisions.

Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association

The Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association (MDAA) provides a range of advocacy services and works to improve social inclusion and aims to promote, protect and secure the rights and interests of people with disability, with particular focus on people with disability from Culturally, Linguistically and Diverse backgrounds.

Multicultural Problem Gambling Service for NSW

The Multicultural Problem Gambling Service for NSW is a service that assists those people from culturally and linguistically diverse background living in NSW, who may be at risk of or are negatively affected by their own or other’s gambling. Free and confidential information, assessment, counselling and support is available in a preferred language one-to-one or over the phone.

The National Disability Abuse and Neglect Hotline (the Hotline)

The National Disability Abuse and Neglect Hotline (The Hotline), is a free, independent and confidential service for reporting abuse and neglect of people with disability. Anyone can contact the Hotline, including family members, friends, service providers or a person with disability. Advocacy services can also be arranged for callers with disability who need help to report an allegation.

To make a report, contact the Hotline on 1800 880 052 or send an email to:

The Hotline is not a crisis service. In case of life-threatening situations call 000 for attendance by Ambulance, Fire or Police services. If you think a crime has been committed or is being committed, contact your local police.

NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal

The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) decides a range of civil and administrative cases in New South Wales. NCAT provides a simple, quick, and effective process for resolving disputes and reviewing administrative action

NCAT has many divisions. The Administrative and Equal Opportunity Division reviews administrative decisions made by NSW Government agencies and resolves anti- discrimination matters. NCAT can review administrative decisions made by NSW Government agencies including about: access to information held by government; use of and access to personal information held by government; guardianship and financial management; administrative decisions made in the community services sector.

The Guardianship Division makes decisions about people who have a decision-making disability. The Guardianship Division determines applications about adults who are incapable of making their own decisions and who may require a legally appointed substitute decision maker (for example, a guardian or financial manager).

NSW Communities and Justice

The Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) supports everyone’s right to access justice and other help for people and their families, and to strengthen and foster the promotion of early intervention and inclusion, with benefits for the whole community. DCJ has many responsibilities, including the responsibility for protecting children and young people from risk of significant harm.

NSW Ombudsman

The NSW Ombudsman deals with concerns about any NSW Government Department, agency or community or disability service funded by the NSW Government; other than one that provides a health care service, These services are:

  • agencies delivering public services, including correctional centres and state-owned corporations
  • agencies delivering services to children, including schools and child-care centres
  • agencies delivering community services, including services for people with disabilities, people who are homeless and elderly people.

The NSW Ombudsman does not deal with complaints about health care standards or complaints about the ethical or professional conduct of health care professionals.

NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors

The NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS) is a specialist, non-profit organisation that for over 30 years has provided culturally safe and appropriate psychological treatment and support. They provide community interventions to help people and communities heal the scars of torture and refugee trauma, and rebuild their lives in Australia. STARTTS also fosters a positive recovery environment through the provision of training to services, advocacy and policy work.

NSW Trustee and Guardian

NSW Trustee and Guardian (NSWTG) is a government agency offering a range of trustee services. They can be appointed as a person’s financial manager or guardian by a court or tribunal if the person has a disability that prevents them from managing their own affairs. The NSWTG also manage wills and powers of attorney for the general community.

NSW Official Visitors Program

Official Visitors are appointed by the NSW Minister for Health to visit people in every public mental health inpatient facility in NSW. They also visit all private mental health units, emergency departments and declared community mental health facilities. Their purpose is ensure that mental health care and treatment is always delivered in a humane and dignified way.

You can talk to an Official Visitor in person, in writing, by phone and by email. Official Visitors will also talk to relatives, friends and other health care and welfare professionals. The Principal Official Visitor reports to the Minister for Health on systemic and policy reform issues.

People with Disability Australia

People with Disability Australia (PWDA) is a non-profit independent national disability rights, advocacy and representative organisation that is made up of, led and governed by people with disability. PWDA works across Australia and also represents people with disability at the United Nations, particularly in relation to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

PWDA has a commitment to self-help, mutual support and self-representation for all people with disability, by all people with disability. Its work addresses the discrimination, marginalisation, poverty and human rights abuses to which people with disability are often subject in our community. It does so by empowering people with disability to take control of their own lives by providing information, education and mutual support, by providing personal advocacy support to individuals and groups whose rights have been violated, and by identifying and promoting social change to realise human rights.

Public Guardian

The Public Guardian is part of the NSW Trustee and Guardian. The Public Guardian promotes the rights and interests of people with disabilities through the practice of guardianship, advocacy and education. The Public Guardian is a statutory official appointed by the Guardianship Division of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) or the Supreme Court under the Guardianship Act 1987. The Public Guardian can be appointed as guardian for you if you have a disability.

Refugee Council of Australia

The Refugee Council of Australia is an independent non-profit organisation providing information on and advocacy for refugees and humanitarian entrants in Australia on behalf of its members. The aim of the Council is to promote the adoption of flexible, humane and constructive policies towards refugees, asylum seekers and displaced persons by the Australian and other Governments and their communities

Tenants’ Union of NSW

The Tenants’ Union of NSW is a community legal centre specialising in NSW residential tenancies law providing free legal services to tenants in NSW about their rights and obligations as tenants. They are an independent, not-for-profit membership-based co-operative. The Tenants’ Union works to promote the interests of Aboriginal tenants; boarders, lodgers and other marginalised tenants; private rental tenants; public and community housing tenants; and land lease community (residential parks) residents.

Seniors Right Service

Seniors Rights Service is a community organisation dedicated to protecting and advancing the rights of older people, including those from particularly vulnerable and disadvantaged groups. They provide free and confidential telephone advice, aged care advocacy and support, legal advice and rights-based education forums to seniors across NSW. Aged care advocates assist older people who receive Commonwealth-funded aged care services at home or in residential care, as well as their carers or family members. They help clarify your issues, provide information, inform you of your rights, identify possible outcomes, help you advocate for yourself and, if requested, speak up for you.

They are have a legal team which provides advice to older people, including retirement village residents, on human rights (discrimination, abuse – physical, psychological, financial, other), planning for the future (wills, power of attorney, guardianship), consumer rights (debt management, unfair contracts), accommodation matters (granny flats, strata) and other issues. They also provide advice to residents of retirement villages (self-care units and serviced apartments) on issues arising from disputes with management or interpretation of contracts. Seniors Rights Service prioritises assisting people who are:

  • disadvantaged and vulnerable;
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander;
  • culturally and linguistically diverse;
  • lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, other; and/or
  • in regional, rural and remote locations.

Transcultural Mental Health Centre

The Transcultural Mental Health Centre (TMHC) accepts referrals from health professionals and a range of organisations to protect and enhance the mental health and wellbeing of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities at all stages of life. The TMHC enhances access and equity for CALD communities through its leadership in: service development, planning, evaluation and research; cross-cultural training, education and supervision; transcultural mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention; specialist clinical service delivery and multilingual resource development to support the delivery of culturally responsive and safe services and programs.

Welfare Rights Centre

The Welfare Rights Centre is a community legal centre specialising in social security law and its administration by Centrelink. They provide free advice to people about their social security rights, entitlements and obligations and assist people through the social security review and appeals system. That system includes Centrelink internal review and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. All initial advice is given by phone. The Centre also provides community development, education and training, law reform and lobbying.

Women’s Legal Service

Women’s Legal Service NSW is an independent non-profit organisation which provides a voice for women in NSW, and promotes access to justice, particularly for women who are disadvantaged by their social and economic circumstances. Women’s Legal Service NSW supports women with legal advice and casework, community legal education and law and policy reform.

Updated December 30, 2020