Complaints handled by the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner often involve people other than the complainant and aged care provider.
The Aged Care Act 1997 (the Act) and the Complaints Principles 2015 (the Complaints Principles) make no explicit reference to ‘other parties’. This page aims to clarify who ‘other parties’ are and what rights they have to receive feedback or seek a review following a complaint process.
Who are ‘other parties’?
The Complaints Commissioner classifies ‘other parties’ as people and organisations who we consult with and keep informed about the complaint process, but who are not the complainant or the service provider. Examples may include:
- the person receiving aged care
- an advocate nominated by the person receiving aged care
- a legally appointed representative of the person receiving aged care
- a person with a significant relationship to the person receiving aged care (such as a partner or close relative)
- organisations such as police and hospitals.
We will give ‘other parties’ a fair hearing before a decision is made if their interests are likely to be adversely affected by the decision.
Do other parties have the right to receive feedback from a complaint process?
Under the law, only the person who makes the complaint and the service provider are entitled to receive feedback. The complainant is free to share the feedback they receive with anyone they wish, such as ‘other parties’.
However, the Complaints Commissioner has discretion to give feedback about the resolution process to any other person or organisation that has sufficient interest in the matter, as long as information protected under the Act is not disclosed.
Do ‘other parties’ have review rights following a complaint process?
Only complainants and service providers have review rights. ‘Other parties’ do not have review rights under the Complaints Principles.
Can there be more than one complainant for each complaint?
According to the Complaints Principles, only a ‘person’ may make a complaint. A ‘person’ is an individual, a corporation, or a body politic (such as a state). Two or more individuals are not a ‘person’ and therefore cannot share the rights of a complainant or be considered co-complainants.
Each individual is entitled to lodge a separate complaint to gain the full rights of a complainant. However, this is not necessarily in the best interest of the person receiving aged care or their nominated legal representative as the resolution of the issue could be delayed. In instances where it is appropriate, the Complaints Commissioner will treat additional individuals with a significant interest in the complaint as an ‘other party’.
What if the ‘other party’ is the person receiving aged care or their nominated or legal representative?
Generally the person receiving aged care, or their nominated or legal representative (if not the person making the complaint), is not entitled to feedback or review rights. However the Complaints Commissioner would usually consult the person receiving aged care or their nominated or legal representative before a decision is made that would affect their interests and provide them with feedback about the decision after it is made.
The person receiving aged care or their legal representative may also wish to lodge their own complaint to gain the full rights to feedback and review of a decision regarding a complaint.