About the review

The Health Complaints Act 2016 (the Act) requires that the Minister for Health conduct a review of the first three years of operation of the Act, to be completed by 1 February 2021. The Department of Health and Human Services is undertaking the review on behalf of the Minister.

The review will examine the operation of the Act since it came into effect in February 2017.

The review will examine the significant new powers to understand if the Act is working as intended so that complaints can be handled and resolved locally where possible and the Health Complaints Commissioner can monitor and enforce health service provider compliance with standards and regulations, as well as identify and act on systemic issues.

Further information about the scope of the review including the guiding principles can be found in the review’s Terms of Reference.

Inputting to the review

A critical component to informing the review will be undertaking targeted consultations with:

  • health service consumers;
  • general health service providers (providers not regulated by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency or registered providers operating outside their area of registration, for example allied health providers, homeopaths, counsellors, psychotherapists, massage therapists, alcohol and drug treatment providers, beauty therapists and others); and
  • health service providers (services provided by a health profession regulated by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (for example hospitals, clinics, day procedure centres and other services where doctors, nurses, dentist, optometrists, pharmacists, podiatrists, chiropractors, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners work).

The department engaged a consultant to undertake a survey of health service consumers and a survey of general health service providers (providers not regulated by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency or registered providers operating outside their area of registration, for example allied health providers, homeopaths, counsellors, psychotherapists, massage therapists, alcohol and drug treatment providers, beauty therapists and others). 

The purpose of the survey of consumers was to identify:

  • where people go when they have a bad experience with a health service
  • whether or not they have made a complaint directly to the service or to the Health Complaints Commissioner
  • people’s experiences with Victoria’s health complaints system
  • whether the health complaints system in Victoria is operating as intended.

The purpose of the survey of general health service providers was to identify:

  • awareness of requirements under the Act and the Code of Conduct that providers must comply with
  • experiences since the Code of Conduct was introduced including whether providers have made changes as a result of the Act and the Code.
  • experiences with Victoria’s health complaints system.

The department also undertook a survey of health service providers (services provided by health professions that are regulated by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (for example hospitals, clinics, day procedure centres and other services where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners, Chinese medicine practitioners, doctors, nurses, dentists, optometrists, pharmacists, podiatrists, chiropractors work).

The purpose of the survey was to identify:

  • awareness of the Act and the complaint handling standards that providers must comply with
  • experiences since the Act was introduced including whether providers have made changes to their practices as a result of the Act and the complaint handling standards
  • experiences with Victoria’s health complaints system.

The surveys are now closed. The department would like to take this opportunity to extend its thanks to those consumers and providers who took the time to complete the survey. Survey responses are being reviewed and considered. Responses to the surveys will contribute to the review and help shape improvements to Victoria’s health complaints system. 

Privacy notice for participants undertaking the surveys

Participation in this consultation is voluntary. The Department of Health and Human Services (the department) is committed to protecting your privacy. The department collects and handles the information you provide in this consultation as part of its review of the Health Complaints Act 2016 (Review).

When you make your submission, you can choose to provide general demographic information about yourself, but you do not need to provide this information. Your answer may be entirely anonymous.

The department will use any information you provide to better understand your feedback and how it relates to other people’s feedback. This information will help to better shape improvements to Victoria’s health complaints system. The survey does not ask you to provide any other personally identifying information or any health information, and you are asked not to include such information in your answers.

In order to analyse and interpret your feedback, the department may share your submission and personal demographic information with an external party, Health Issues Centre. The Health Issues Centre will not publish any personally identifying information or individual submissions.  

All submissions may be subject to Freedom of Information and other laws. For more information on the department’s privacy collection practices, please refer to the department’s privacy policy or visit our website.

The Team conducting the consultation can be contacted by emailing hcareview@dhhs.vic.gov.au or you may contact the department’s Information Sharing and Privacy team by emailing privacy@dhhs.vic.gov.au.