I want to make a complaint about my mental health service

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 Complaints Commissioner (MHCC). You can also contact the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (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 Complaints Commissioner

The MHCC is an independent specialist body created under the law to safeguard your rights and resolve your complaints about services. You can make a complaint:

  • by phone – call 1800 246 054 you can make a complaint by phone to the MHCC
  • in writing – You can make a formal complaint to the MHCC by putting it in writing to help@mhcc.vic.gov.au or Mental Health Complaints Commissioner, Level 26, 570 Bourke St, Melbourne VIC 3000. If you require assistance writing a complaint, you can ask the MHCC for help
  • using the online complaint form – www.mhcc.vic.gov.au/complaints/complaint-form   

What should I put in a complaint to the MHCC?

It is your decision what to put in a complaint. It might be good to think about:

  • the issue – what is the specific issue or complaint?
  • your rights – how do your rights and the law relate to you? Read our other webpages on your rights and remember that you can talk to IMHA or the MHCC
  • what happened – here you may write the events down in more detail and how they impacted on you
  • what are you asking for – how would you like the MHCC, mental health service or other organization to help you resolve the issue?

What can I ask for?

You may ask the MHCC if it's possible to have: 

  • a meeting with the service, MHCC and a support person
  • an acknowledgement or apology from the service
  • answers or responses to your concerns from the service
  • actions from the service, such as improvements in how they support and treat people.

The MHCC can also investigate concerns, refer a complaint for conciliation, make recommendations to services, seek formal undertakings from services, and issue compliance notices in appropriate cases.

If you are seeking compensation for harm you have received please seek legal advice.

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

Download this fact sheet

Download our fact sheet I want to make a complaint about my mental health service (pdf, 140.82 KB)

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.