A person, in receipt of NDIS funded services and supports, will have access to existing Commonwealth, State and Territory complaints mechanisms if they wish to make a complaint to an independent government body about a service or support purchased with NDIS funding.

The relevant mechanism will depend on the nature of the complaint. The options to consider include:

Service Complaints

The mechanisms available for independent consideration of complaints about the activities of disability and community service providers vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

Commonwealth

The Complaints Resolution and Referral Service (CRRS)  is available to individuals with complaints about the activities of Australian Government funded disability employment services, Australia Disability Enterprises or advocacy agencies. The CRRS will hear complaints and seek a resolution through discussion, investigate or conciliation. It also makes referrals to support services and advocacy agencies.

Australian Capital Territory

The ACT Disability and Community Services Complaints Commissioner considers complaints about the provision of community and disability services in the ACT. Complaints can be made about a service provider that has failed to provide an appropriate service or is in breach of any of the standards, legislation or principles applicable to disability and community service providers in the ACT.

New South Wales

The NSW Ombudsman handles complaints about community and disability service providers in NSW.  Complaints can be made if a service provider has acted unreasonably in the way they manage a service, denied access to a service, withdrawn and/or changed a service. Complaints about health service providers can be made to the Health Care Complaints Commission.

Northern Territory

Health and Community Services Complaints Commission accepts complaints made about the nature, delivery and administration of a disability service. Complaints need to be lodged within 24 hours of the user becoming aware of the circumstances giving rise to the complaint.

Queensland

Community and Disabilities Complaints Unit handles complaints made about disability services and disability service providers by recipients of Queensland Community Care Services.  Complaints about healthcare services can be made to the Health Quality and Complaints Commission.

South Australia

Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner  handles complaints, less than 2 years old, about community and disability service providers in South Australia when a direct approach to the service provider is either unreasonable, or has not succeeded.

Tasmania

Complaints about disability service providers, that cannot be resolved at the point of service can be directed to the Department of Health and Human Services Community Partnerships Team. Complaints should be sent to the Disability and Community Services area office, which will bring it to the attention of the Community Partnerships Team. This Team is responsible for the administration, investigation and  recording of complaints.

Complaints can also be directed to the Health Complaints Commissioner if the disability service in question relates to the delivery or administration of a health related service.

Victoria

The Disability Services Commissioner handles complaints about Victorian registered, contracted or funded disability service providers. Complaints can be made about how a service has been provided and how a complaint made to a service has been handled.

Complaints about health service providers can be made to the Office of the Health Services Commissioner.

Western Australia

Health and Disability Services Complaints Office provides an impartial resolution service for complaints, less than 2 years old,  relating to health and disability services provided in Western Australia. Complaints can be made about a service provider acting unreasonably managing a service or limiting service access.

Consumer Protection

Australian Consumer Law (ACL) is the law governing consumer protection and fair trading in Australia. It applies at the Commonwealth level and in each state and territory. It operates on a ‘one-law, multiple-regulators‘ model, with a consumer law regulator  in each jurisdiction  enforcing the uniform law.

The ACL creates private rights for consumers of goods and services in the areas of consumer guarantees, product safety, unfair business practices, unfair contract terms and unfair sales practices that consumers can enforce through Commonwealth, State and Territory courts and tribunals.

The Australian Consumer Law website contains information about the ACL, its enforcement and consumer policy in Australia.

The 2010 Commonwealth of Australia Publication “Compliance and Enforcement-How regulators enforce the Australian Consumer Law” provides useful information for Advocates seeking enforcement  of Australian Consumer Law.

Following are the agencies regulating Australian Consumer Law in the Commonwealth, States and Territories and a link to their websites.

Commonwealth

The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) promotes competition and fair trade in markets to benefit consumers, businesses, and the community and takes targeted actions for this purpose. It provides advice to consumers about how to resolve issues but tends not to become involved in resolving individual consumer or small business disputes.

States and Territories

The following State and Territory regulators accept complaints from consumers about breaches of Australian Consumer Law by businesses or traders. The regulators generally require consumers to have first made a reasonable attempt to resolve their issues directly with the business or trader.

Australian Capital Territory

ACT Office of Regulatory Services

New South Wales

Fair Trading NSW

Northern Territory

Northern Territory Consumer Affairs

Queensland

Office of Fair Trading

South Australia

Consumer and Business Services

Tasmania

Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading

Victoria

Consumer Affairs Victoria

Western Australia

Consumer Protection

Human Rights Complaints

Commonwealth

The Australian Human Rights Commission is authorised to investigate complaints made against the Commonwealth, or Commonwealth agencies, regarding alleged breaches of specific international human rights instruments.

These instruments include, but are not limited to, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Complaints must be made to the Commission in writing. However, where required the Commission can provide assistance writing down the complaint and the complaint can be made in the complainant’s preferred language.

Prospective complainants are able to contact the Commission for advice about whether the Commission is authorised to investigate the complaint.

After the Commission has assessed the initial information connected to the complaint, they will initiate a conciliation process to examine the issue further and seek to reach an acceptable resolution to the matter.

If the matter cannot be resolved via conciliation the commission may seek further information or refer the matter to the President of the Commission who will take the necessary steps to determine whether there has been a breach of human rights has occurred.

If a breach is identified the Commission will report the matter and any recommendations to the Attorney General.  These findings must then be tabled in Parliament.

The Human Rights Commission website contains more information about the requirements and procedures involved in bringing a human rights complaint against the Commonwealth.

States and Territory Legislation

The ACT and Victoria are the only state or territory jurisdictions to have formal human rights legislation. Both jurisdictions have procedures to investigate complaints made against the state or territory government, or agencies acting on behalf of the state or territory government, regarding alleged breaches of the jurisdictions’ relevant human rights legislation.

Australian Capital Territory

Proceedings alleging a breach of the Human Rights ACT 2004 (ACT) by the ACT Government, or an agency acting on behalf of the ACT Government may be brought in the ACT Supreme Court. The Court is permitted to grant any relief it considers appropriate with the exception of damages.

The ACT Human Rights Commission can investigate complaints about unlawful discrimination, health services and disability services, and can also provide information about breaches of the Human Rights Act.

Victoria

Complaints about breaches of the Charter Of Human Rights And Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) by the Victorian State Government, or an agency acting on behalf of the Victorian State Government should be directed to the Victorian Ombudsman.

Discrimination Complaints

Anti-discrimination law is enforced through federal and state and territory legislation and case law.

Commonwealth

The Australian Human Rights Commission has the authority to investigate and conciliate complaints of discrimination as defined in the following legislation; Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986, Age Discrimination Act 2004, Disability Discrimination Act 1992, Racial Discrimination Act 1975, Sex Discrimination Act 1984.

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 covers both direct and indirect forms of discrimination against people with a disability.

After a complaint has been lodged and relevant information has been gathered the Commission will initiate a conciliation process to resolve the matter. Although the Commission may investigate and conciliate complaints, it does not have the authority to formally determine whether an act of discrimination is unlawful.

At any stage of the proceedings the President of the Commission may terminate a complaint, after which the complainant can take the complaint to the Federal Court or Federal Magistrates Court. Circumstances that allow the President to terminate a compliant are listed in Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth), s46PH.

The Commission may choose to provide assistance in lodging the complaint with the federal court and the President may provide the Court with a written report on the complaint.  The complaint must be lodged with the Federal Court or Federal Magistrates Court within 60 days of the receiving notice of termination from the Commission.

Complaints must be made to the Commission in writing. Where required, however, the Commission can provide assistance writing down the complaint and complaints can be made in the complainant’s preferred language. Complaints should include details about how the complainant was discriminated against, when and where the action took place and what parties were involved.

More information about the process of lodging a discrimination complaint through the Commission is available from the Human Rights Commission website.

States and Territory Legislation

The States and Territories each have their own legislation to protect people from unlawful discrimination on the basis of disability.

People who believe they have been discriminated against on the basis of disability (or any other criteria that is specified in their state’s relevant discrimination legislation) may chose to have their complaint managed by the relevant authority in the State or Territory where the incident occurred, rather than lodging a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission at the federal level.

Australian Capital Territory

The ACT Human Rights Commission is available to investigate and conciliate complaints of discrimination as defined under the Discrimination Act 1991 (ACT), which provides individuals with legal protection against discrimination on the grounds of a disability.

If the conciliation process is unsuccessful the complainant may be referred to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

New South Wales

The NSW Anti-Discrimination Board is available to investigate and conciliate complaints of discrimination as defined in the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW) pt4A which provides individuals with legal protection against discrimination on the grounds of a disability. If the conciliation process is unsuccessful the complainant may be referred to the Equal Opportunity Division of the Administrative Decisions Tribunal.

Northern Territory

The Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commission is available to investigate and conciliate complaints of discrimination as defined in the Anti-Discrimination Act (NT) which provides individuals with legal protection against discrimination on the grounds of a disability. If the conciliation process is unsuccessful the complaint may then become the subject of a formal hearing by the Commissioner.

Queensland

The Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland is available to investigate and conciliate complaints of discrimination as defined in the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (QLD) which provides individuals with legal protection against discrimination on the grounds of a disability. If the conciliation process is unsuccessful the complainant may be referred to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

South Australia

The South Australian Equal Opportunity Commissioner is available to investigate and conciliate complaints of discrimination as defined in the Equal Opportunities Act 1984 (SA) which provides individuals with legal protection against discrimination on the grounds of a disability. If the conciliation process is unsuccessful the complainant may be referred to the South Australian Equal Opportunity Tribunal.

Tasmania

The Tasmanian Office of the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner is available to investigate and conciliate complaints of discrimination as defined in the Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 (TAS) which provides individuals with legal protection against discrimination on the grounds of a disability. If the conciliation process is unsuccessful the complainant may be referred to the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal.

Victoria

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission is available to investigate and conciliate complaints of discrimination as defined in Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (VIC) which provides individuals with legal protection against discrimination on the grounds of a disability.

Western Australia

Western Australian Equal Opportunities Commission is available to investigate and conciliate complaints of discrimination as defined in the Equal Opportunities Act 1984 (WA) which provides individuals with legal protection against discrimination on the grounds of a disability. If the conciliation process is unsuccessful the complainant may be referred to the Western Australian State Administrative Tribunal.

 


Last Modified: July 9, 2013