Independent Mental Health Advocacy

I want to make a complaint about my mental health service

All people who access public mental health services have the right to make a complaint and give feedback about their experiences.

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Do I have the right to complain?

Yes. Under the law you can make a complaint about a public mental health service. You can make a complaint directly to the service or to the Mental Health and Wellbeing CommissionExternal Link (MHWC). You can also contact the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation AgencyExternal Link (1300 419 495) for complaints against some individual mental health staff members.

Why would I make a complaint?

Planning can help you to focus your complaint. Some common reasons people make complaints are:

  • your rights – your rights have been breached. Services must follow the law when treating you. This includes the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006. Read our other Know your rights fact sheets or talk to an advocate for more information
  • to be heard and make things right – some people make complaints to communicate their concerns and hear a response from the mental health service
  • to prevent it happening again – you may make a complaint to prevent a distressing experience happening to you or someone else again in the future
  • to improve the service – complaints are an opportunity for the mental health service to improve how they do their work.

Making a complaint to the service

You can make a complaint directly to the service by talking with any staff member – staff members have the responsibility to know about the complaints process and help you follow up. You can also:

  • ask to speak with the service manager
  • ask for a form to make a written complaint.

Making a complaint to the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission

The Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission (MHWC) is an independent, specialist body established under the Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 to safeguard rights, resolve complaints about Victorian public mental health services and recommend improvements. Every public mental health service must have a process to help you speak up and raise your concerns, or you can contact the MHWC.

Who can make a complaint?

People receiving public mental health services, families, carers, advocates, mental health workers and friends – any person who is genuinely concerned about someone’s experience with a public mental health service in Victoria can make a complaint. If your complaint is about someone else’s experience, the MHWC will usually need to seek their consent to the complaint.

What complaints can the MHWC help with?

The MHWC deals with complaints about public mental health services in Victoria, including issues such as access, treatment and care. It can take complaints about the following services:

  • designated mental health services, including hospital-based, community, residential, specialist and forensic services
  • publicly funded mental health community support services if they are not funded by the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme)
  • NDIS services if the complaint is about things that happened before 1 July 2019 or before the service was funded by the NDIS. Otherwise, please contact the NDIS Quality and Safeguards CommissionExternal Link .

If you’re not sure whether the MHWC can help you, please call its resolutions officers on 1800 246 054 (free from landlines) to ask a question, make a complaint or discuss your options. If they can’t help you with your concerns, they will do their best to put you in touch with people who can.

How can the MHWC support you to make a complaint?

When you make a complaint, MHWC staff will listen to you, hear what you’d like to happen and talk to you about the options available for resolving your complaint.

They can:

  • receive complaints in any language
  • arrange an interpreter at no cost to you
  • arrange an appointment or Skype call with a National Relay ServiceExternal Link interpreter if you have hearing or speech support needs, at no cost to you.

See their resources on making a complaint in other languages, Easy English and AuslanExternal Link .

For more information and to access the MHWC’s complaint forms, visit Link

If you want legal advice you can call Victoria Legal AidExternal Link (1300 792 387) or the Mental Health Legal CentreExternal Link (1800 555 887).

Download this fact sheet

This fact sheet is available in IMHA design or First Nations design.

Get help from IMHA

If you are on a compulsory treatment order, our advocates can support you to have your say about your assessment, treatment and recovery. Learn how to get help from IMHA.

Reviewed 05 May 2024


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