Making a complaint

The complaint resolution process

The Health and Disability Services Complaints Office’s (HaDSCO) complaints resolution service is free, impartial and confidential. It encourages parties to discuss complaints and works towards mutually agreed outcomes. HaDSCO is generally unable to deal with complaints which are more than two years old or have already been determined by a court, registration board or tribunal. In these cases referrals to alternative organisations may be suggested.

In the first instance, HaDSCO encourages complaints to be raised with the service provider. Offering the provider a chance to address the issues, usually results in quicker complaint resolution. A complaint can be lodged by the service user or a nominated representative, for example, a family member, carer or guardian.

If this proves unsatisfactory, complainants should call HaDSCO’s Assessment Team, (08) 6551 7600 or 1800 813 583 to discuss the complaint. The HaDSCO Assessment Team will outline the options, explain the complaints process and organise a complaint form to be sent by post. Alternatively, complaint forms can be completed online or downloaded (PDF) and returned by fax, email or post.

All complaints must be confirmed in writing. Once completed forms are received, HaDSCO determines how best to deal with the complaint and may contact the service provider.

When complaints relate to a registered health professional, HaDSCO, by law, is required to consult with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulatory Agency (AHPRA) (external site). This will determine which agency is the most appropriate to deal with the complaint. Further information is available within the Memorandum of Understanding between AHPRA and Health Complaint Entities (PDF) (including HaDSCO).

This MoU document outlines:

  • The statutory roles and the relationship between HaDSCO and AHPRA
  • Sections 149 and 150 of National Law
  • Agreed procedures

There are two resolution processes: negotiated settlement and conciliation. All information exchanged during these processes is confidential. Read more about confidentiality.

Negotiated settlement involves an exchange of information between parties via a case manager. This may be conducted over the telephone, email or in writing and generally does not involve a face-to-face meeting. The role of the negotiator is to assist in the exchange of information and promote resolution of the complaint. In some circumstances specific information or consumers records may be requested to clarify issues.

Conciliation generally involves all parties engaging voluntarily in a face-to-face meeting to discuss the complaint; this is conducted by a trained conciliator. This process offers both parties the opportunity to openly discuss the complaint. The conciliator will meet individually with each party to discuss and clarify issues that have been raised and ensure everyone is prepared for the conciliation meeting.

Prior to the face to face meeting the conciliator may need to:

  • Gather more details about the complaint
  • Review any medical or procedural documentation
  • Determine any relevant, applicable standards
  • Assist with determining realistic outcomes
  • Discuss the conciliation process with all parties and actively encourage parties to engage in the resolution of the complaint

After the conciliation process a report is prepared and provided to both parties. The report highlights important aspects of the complaint and any outcomes that were agreed.

Click on the relevant link below for more details about making a complaint and complaint forms:

Health service complaints

Disability service complaints

Mental health service complaints

Cosmetic treatment complaints

Carer complaints

Download a complaint form (PDF)

Lodge a complaint online

To get the complaint form Adobe Acrobat Reader is required. Download Adobe Acrobat Reader at no cost.

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