You are here: HomeFAQs

FAQs

This page provides answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs). If you’re unable to find the answer to your question here please contact us by email at enquiries@agedcarecomplaints.gov.au

Before a complaint

I have a concern – what do I do?

Some initial research can help you decide who you should contact to resolve your concern. Here are some ideas:

  • The ‘Age Page’ in the White Pages has a list of contacts that may be able to help you
  • You can talk to the aged care provider or a member of the care staff
  • An advocacy service may be able to help you
  • If your concern is about an Australian Government funded aged care service for help at home or in an aged care home we may be able to help.

All service providers are required to have their own complaint management system. We encourage you to try to raise your concern with the service provider before contacting us. Ask the service provider how they can address your complaint. You can arrange to have an advocate with you to support you at this meeting.

Feel free to contact us on 1800 550 552, if:

  • you don’t want to discuss your concern with the service provider
  • the service provider is unable to resolve your complaint
  • you think we can help you with your complaint or
  • you would like information about your options.

You can also find more information about Making a Complaint.

Who can make a complaint?

Anyone can make a complaint, including:

  • people receiving aged care
  • partners, family members, friends, representatives and carers of people receiving aged care
  • advocates
  • aged care staff and volunteers
  • health and medical professionals
If my complaint concerns someone else, should I tell them?

Yes. If you are raising a concern on behalf of someone else, make sure the person (or his or her representative) knows about it. The person receiving aged care has a right to know and a right to be involved.

Why should I raise a concern?

Making a complaint is worthwhile – it will lead to a resolution for the person receiving aged care. Your complaint can also assist service providers to assess and improve the quality of their care and services which will improve care for others.

If you have a concern about the care you or someone else is receiving, it is important that you raise your concern with the service provider in the first instance. If this is not an option, or you are not satisfied with the outcome, you can lodge a complaint with us.

What rights do people receiving aged care have?

You have the right to complain and take steps to sort out any problems.

You also have the right to:

  • complain without fear of retribution
  • your personal privacy – by making a complaint confidentially or anonymously
  • be involved in decisions that affect you
  • be treated with dignity and respect
  • be free from discrimination
  • good quality care that meets your needs
  • full and effective use of your personal, civil, legal and consumers rights and
  • advocacy support.

If you want to learn more about your rights you can read the Charter of Residents Rights and Responsibilities – Residential Care and the Charter of Rights and Responsibilities – Home Care. You can access these through our website or by asking an advocate for a copy.

If I have a concern, should I talk to the service provider?

We encourage you to raise your concern with the service provider, because resolution at the local level can achieve a fast and sustainable outcome. You can arrange for an advocate to support you if you don’t feel comfortable raising a concern on your own.

Complaints give service providers the opportunity to improve the quality of the services they provide to you or your loved one. All service providers must have a complaints process in place and must let people receiving aged care and their representatives know how to access it.

If you don’t want to discuss your concern with the service provider or are unable to resolve your complaint with them, you can lodge a complaint with us.

I want to raise a concern but I’m afraid. What are my options?

Aged care services should provide an environment where you feel safe and supported to raise a concern. However, it is not always easy to raise a concern.

If this doesn’t work for you or you don’t feel comfortable, we can support you to resolve your concern with the service provider. You can submit your complaint to us. It is best to submit your complaint openly; that is, provide your name and contact details. However, you have the right to complain anonymously or confidentially if you wish.

If you choose to remain confidential, your identity and contact details will be known to the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner but will not be passed on to the service provider without your agreement. You will be kept informed about the progress of your complaint, and you will be able to provide more information if required.

If you remain anonymous, your identity and contact details will not be known to us or the service provider. We will be unable to keep you informed about your complaint’s progress or the outcome. You also won’t be able to provide further information and you won’t have review rights.

What is the difference between an open, confidential and anonymous complaint?

If you want to raise your concern with us, you have the right to complain anonymously or confidentially. These options may limit what we can do to resolve your concern. It is best to submit your complaint openly; that is, provide your name and contact details.

Open complaint:

  • we will know your identity and contact details
  • the service provider will know your identity
  • we will keep you informed about the progress of your complaint and you will be able to provide us with more information
  • you will have review rights.

Confidential complaint:

  • we will know your identity and contact details
  • we will endeavour not to disclose your identity to the service provider when we discuss your complaint issues with them
  • we will keep you informed about the progress of your complaint and you will be able to provide us with more information
  • you will have review rights.

Anonymous complaint:

  • we will not know your identity
  • the service provider will not know your identity
  • we will not be able to keep you informed about the complaint’s progress or outcome and you will not be able to provide more information
  • you will not have review rights.

We can talk about the differences between open, anonymous and confidential complaints when you contact us.

Useful Services

What is advocacy and how can it help me?

Advocacy is defined as ‘the process of standing alongside an individual who is disadvantaged and speaking out on their behalf in a way that represents the best interests of that person.’

An advocate is someone who can listen to your concerns, give you information and speak up on behalf of you if you want them to. They work at your direction in a way that represents your expressed wishes.

An advocate can:

  • support you in making decisions that affect your quality of life
  • provide you with information about your rights and responsibilities, and discuss your options for taking action
  • support you when you raise an issue with us or the service provider
  • support you at any stage of the complaints process.

They will always seek your permission before taking action.

How can I access free aged care advocacy services?

A free aged care advocacy service for people receiving aged care and their representatives is provided by the Australian Government. To access a free advocate contact the National Aged Care Advocacy Line on 1800 700 600 or go to their website. With your permission, we can phone a listed advocacy agency on your behalf to explain your concerns and arrange for the advocate to contact you.

What if I am deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment?

You can contact the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner through the National Relay Service.

If you are hearing or speech impaired contact us through the National Relay Service:

  • TTY users: phone 1800 555 677 then ask for our number 1800 550 552
  • Speak and Listen users: phone 1800 555 727 then ask for our number 1800 550 552
  • Internet relay users: connect to the National Relay Service and enter 1800 550 552.

How can the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner help?

What types of services are covered by the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner?

We can examine concerns about aged care services funded by the Australian Government including:

  • residential care or residential respite care
  • Home Care Packages
  • Commonwealth Home Support Programme
  • flexible care, including Transition care, and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Programme.
What complaints can the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner assist with?

We can assist with complaints relating to service providers’ responsibilities under the Aged Care Act 1997 or their funding agreement with the Australian Government.

Some concerns we can assist with include:

  • health care, for example wound care, medication and care assessment
  • personal care assistance, for example showering, dispensing medication, feeding and mobility
  • communication, for example how information is shared with you and how your questions are responded to, including complaints
  • staff roles, for example how they do their job and provide care
  • living environment, for example safety, security, and cleaning
  • some fees and charges in care agreements
  • choice and preferences, for example showering and meal arrangements and tailored activities.
What concerns can’t the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner assist with?

There are some things we are unable to do. For example, we cannot:

  • examine concerns about an aged care service that isn’t funded by the Australian Government
  • examine concerns that are not related to a service provider’s responsibilities under the Aged Care Act 1997 or their funding agreement with the Australian Government
  • say who should make financial, legal or health decisions on behalf of someone receiving aged care
  • comment on the service provider’s employment arrangements such as wages or employment conditions
  • provide legal advice
  • ask service providers to terminate someone’s employment
  • investigate the cause of death; this is the role of the coroner
  • always determine whether or not a specific event occurred, especially if we receive conflicting accounts of the event
  • provide clinical advice about what treatment a person should receive.

Even when a complaint relates to an issue we can look at we may not be able to take action. For example, where the issue is part of legal proceedings or a coronial inquiry, or the person receiving care does not want the complaint to be examined.

If we can’t help you we can refer complaints to other organisations that may be able to address the issue you raised. For example, the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency, professional registration boards or other complaints bodies.

How does the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner help you work with your service provider?

When you first contact us we may be able to resolve your concern quickly with the service provider rather than start a formal complaints process, this is referred to as early resolution.

If early resolution is not an option, we can select one or more of the following approaches to resolve the issues in your complaint: service provider resolution, conciliation, mediation and investigations

How do you contact the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner to make a complaint?

You can contact the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner by phone 1800 550 552, through an online complaint form or in writing. Visit the Lodge a complaint page to learn more.

What if I need an Interpreter or am hearing or speech impaired

interpreter Tell us when you call and we will arrange to use the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS).

Alternatively, you can call the TIS directly on 131 450 and ask them to put you through to the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner on 1800 550 552.

If you are hearing or speech impaired

If you are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment, contact us through the National Relay Service:

  • TTY users: phone 1800 555 677 then ask for 1800 550 552
  • Speak and Listen users: phone 1800 555 727 then ask for 1800 550 552
  • Internet relay users: connect to the National Relay Service and enter 1800 550 552
Can I lodge a complaint online?

Provided you have given us a contact number, we will respond to you during business hours within 24 to 48 hours of receiving your form.

  • your name, address and telephone number, your preferred contact method and time*. By giving us your preferred business hours contact number will assist us to contact you as quickly as possible
  • whether the complaint relates to the care or services you or someone else receives
  • if you have discussed your complaint with the service or anybody else*
  • details of your complaint, including dates of events
  • the name of the aged care home or service and the state or territory where it’s located

*These details are required for an ‘open’ or ‘confidential’ complaint only. Learn more about submitting a complaint as open, confidential or anonymous.

What are you going to do with my personal information?

Australian Government agencies must comply with the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) set out in the Privacy Act 1988. The APPs cover the collection, storage, quality, use and disclosure of personal information about individuals.

See our Privacy Policy and Notice of Collection for more information.

Can I supply photos, audio or video as evidence?

We can accept and review any information relevant to the complaint that the complainant and service provider give to us, such as correspondence, documents, policies, nursing files and photographs. Where photos are provided, we will confirm that the person in the photograph provides their consent.

What happens when I first contact the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner?

Unless you have lodged an anonymous complaint, we will gather as much information as possible about your concern. This helps us to understand the issues and the outcome you are seeking. We will explain how our process works and the options we may use to resolve your concern.

We will assess the complaint individually. We will look at safety, dignity, rights and wishes of the person receiving aged care; the quality of care and services being delivered; and the service provider’s responsiveness to the complaint. We will then decide how quickly to start resolving your complaint and how it can best be resolved.

Please provide as much information as you can, as early as you can, so we understand the issues. Be specific and tell us what outcome you would like to see.

During a complaint

What happens after I lodge a complaint?

We can support you to resolve your concern directly with the service provider. If that approach is not possible, we can assist with your complaint. If so, we will write to you and the service provider to confirm the issues that we will look at.

We will work with you and the service provider to resolve your concern as quickly as possible. We will consult you regularly throughout the process. We will write to you and the service provider at the end to let you know the outcome and any required actions.

What will we do with your complaint?
  • If you have given us your contact details, we will contact you to discuss your complaint.
  • We will gather as much information as possible about your concern. This helps us to understand all the issues and your expectations.
  • We will explain how our process works and the options we may use to resolve your concern.
  • We will assess the complaint on its own merits. We will take into account factors such as safety, dignity, rights and wishes of the person receiving aged care; the quality of care and services being delivered; and the service provider’s responsiveness to the complaint.
What approaches can we use to resolve your complaint?

We can use a range of different tools and techniques to help people to resolve their concerns, and we will talk to you about the different approaches. Our focus is on reaching the best outcome for the person receiving aged care, as quickly as possible. Complex or more formal resolution processes may take longer.

The best result can be achieved when:

  • all parties work cooperatively
  • discussions are open
  • information is provided in a timely way.

We can use one or more of the following approaches to resolve the issues in a concern.

Early resolution: We can support you to manage the concern. We can:

  • make a call to the service provider on your behalf to discuss the issue
  • help you clarify the issues
  • advise you and the service provider of your rights and responsibilities
  • phone an advocacy agency on your behalf.

Service provider resolution: We can ask the service provider to examine the concern within a set timeframe. We encourage concerns to be resolved directly between the complainant and the service provider as this can achieve a faster and more sustainable resolution.

Conciliation: We can help the complainant and service provider to discuss the issues and reach an agreement that resolves the concern. This may involve a few phone calls, informal discussions and/or formal meetings. The Aged Care Complaints Commissioner documents the process and provides written feedback to the person receiving aged care and service provider.

Investigation: We can investigate an issue. Investigations can be simple, for example gathering information and discussing the issues with both parties; or they can be more complex, involving visits to the service, analysing records and conducting interviews.

Feedback is provided to everyone throughout the investigation, unless you remain anonymous. The Aged Care Complaints Commissioner will write to both parties to advise the outcome of the investigation.

Mediation: If we are unable to achieve a suitable outcome, we may suggest that the complainant and service provider work with a mediator. Mediation does have a cost which both parties would need to discuss.

What outcomes can be achieved from making a complaint?

When the complaint is finalised, we will send both parties a letter that outlines the issues, process, information used to come to our decision, and the outcome.

We may be able to achieve any of the following outcomes:

Agreement: The complainant and the service provider both agree that the concerns have been addressed and the issues resolved. We provide written confirmation of this to both parties.

Addressed: We are satisfied that the service provider has addressed the issue. We provide written confirmation of this outcome to both parties.

Direction issued: Where we believe the service provider is not meeting their responsibilities, we can direct them to make changes. A direction requires the service provider to demonstrate how they have met or will meet their responsibilities.

Referred for compliance action We can refer a matter to the Department of Health to consider compliance action. This may be where we are concerned the service provider has not complied with, or is not complying with, its responsibilities or has failed to comply with directions.

No further action: We may not take further action if the matter is subject to legal proceedings or a coronial inquiry, or if the person receiving care does not want the complaint to be examined , or if circumstances do not warrant further action.

What happens when a direction is issued?

Directions may be issued during a complaints resolution process when we are not satisfied that a service provider is meeting their responsibilities under the Act or funding agreement in relation to a complainant’s concerns.

A direction requires the service provider to show us how they have fixed an issue to meet their responsibilities. You can learn more in our factsheet What is a direction?

After a complaint

How can I provide feedback about the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner or the person I was dealing with?

At any stage of the process, you can provide feedback – good or bad. Please call us on 1800 550 552 and ask to speak to the complaints manager.

Anyone who is not satisfied with our service in managing the complaint can complain to us. We are committed to improving our service and welcome your views, even if they are critical.

You can raise your issue with your complaints officer on 1800 550 552*. If you are not comfortable to do so or are dissatisfied after speaking to them, please ask to speak to their manager. If your concern is still not resolved you can contact our internal complaints team.

When your complaint has been finalised, you will receive a satisfaction survey. We encourage you to complete it and send it back to us in the enclosed pre-paid envelope so we can identify what we did well and how we can improve. You can also submit your feedback online.

Can I apply for a review of a decision or the process?

Yes. We encourage you to contact us if you are not satisfied at any stage of the complaint or would like to provide feedback. Call 1800 550 552 and ask to speak to the complaints manager in your state or territory.

If you are not happy with a decision we have made about your complaint, you can ask us to review it. Reviews can help us ensure we achieve the best outcome for the person receiving aged care that the complaint relates to, and for others.

Complainants and service providers can ask for a review of our decision once a complaint is finalised. This may be about our decision to take no further action on a complaint or to end a resolution process. If you want us to review our decision you must ask us to do so within 42 days of receiving our decision letter. Your application must state the reasons for your request. You can request us to review our decision by phoning us on 1800 550 552* or in writing.

More detailed information is outlined in our fact sheet Review rights.

What are the rights of ‘other parties’ involved in a complaint to receiving feedback or requesting a review?

Complaints often involve people other than the complainant and service provider.

The Aged Care Act 1997 and the Complaints Principles 2016 make no explicit reference to ‘other parties’. Find out what is meant by ‘other parties’ and what rights they have to receive feedback or seek a review following a complaint process.

More information

How do I order and download printed resources?

There is a brochure, booklet, poster, DVD and a range of factsheets available. You can view, download and order these using our online order form.

Can I get translated information about the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner?

Some resources have been translated into community and Indigenous languages other than English:

Community languages for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds include, Arabic, Chinese, Croatian, Dutch, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Macedonian, Maltese, Polish, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Tagalog, Turkish and Vietnamese.

Indigenous languages for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people include Torres Strait Islander Creole, Arrernte, Alyawarra, Luritja, Pitjantjatjara, and Walpiri.

You can order these resources using our online order form.

If you need an interpreter you can phone the free Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 131 450 and ask for our phone number 1800 550 552.

Who do I tell about an assault on a person receiving aged care or about a missing resident (compulsory notifications)?

If you work in aged care:

To help protect residents, the law (the Aged Care Act 1997) has compulsory reporting provisions for people in residential aged care homes. This means that aged care staff or their service must:

  • report suspicions or allegations of assaults within 24 hours to local police and the Department of Health. This may be unreasonable use of force or unlawful sexual contact.
  • report missing residents to local police and within 24 hours to the Department of Health in certain circumstances.

To learn more about this refer to the Department of Health’s website or call 1800 081 549.

If you are concerned about the care you or someone you know is receiving:

You can make a complaint by contacting the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner. Service providers must provide a safe environment for people receiving aged care including more vulnerable residents in an aged care home. We can examine a complaint related to a service provider’s responsibilities under the Act or their funding agreement.

Please note that the aged care law seeks to protect vulnerable people receiving aged care, not to restrict their sexual freedoms. Residents have the right to select and maintain personal, intimate and sexual relationships with others without fear, criticism or restriction. This includes residents with a mental or cognitive impairment.