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Complaints to other organisations

Information about treatment plans made by an authorised psychiatrist for involuntary patients with a mental illness.

There is a high degree of co-operation between the various bodies that can assist handling complaints that relate to the provision of mental health services in Victoria. If a complaint is made to one body and they believe that the issue would be more appropriately dealt with at another organisation, they may transfer the complaint to that organisation. However, they will need to seek permission from the person who made the complaint before they do this.

The following organisations often get complaints directed to them about mental health services:

Chief Psychiatrist

The role of the Chief Psychiatrist is to support continuous improvement in mental health services. They provide clinical leadership though development of guidelines and training, and promote the rights of people who receive mental health services.

The Chief Psychiatrist may investigate the way a service is providing mental health services, assessing the quality and safety of the service to decide whether the mental health service is following the standards, guidelines, regulations and the law.

They have the power to enter premises at any time and may examine anything: equipment, documents or patients. They can require the service to produce documents and answer questions.

If a complaint is made the office of the chief psychiatrist will refer them to a clinical advisor who has been appointed by the Chief Psychiatrist. People are encouraged to make an initial complaint to the mental health service provider.

The Chief Psychiatrist may pass complaints on to the Mental Health Complaints Commissioner if they believe that the complaint is more appropriately dealt with by the commissioner.

See Office of the Chief Psychiatrist(opens in a new window)

Office of the Public Advocate (OPA)

OPA can advise and assist with complaints about the service, care or treatment of people with a disability, including a psychiatric disability. They also run the community visitors program.

See Office of the Public Advocate (OPA)(opens in a new window)

Community Visitors program

Community visitors are volunteers, empowered under the Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022, who can visit a mental health service at any time, unannounced to ensure that the residents are being treated with dignity and respect. Volunteers can speak with patient and identify issues of concern. The volunteers may try to liaise with the service provider to try to resolve the issues. Alternately they can refer more serious issues to the OPA.

See Office of the Public Advocate (OPA)—Community visitors(opens in a new window)

Ombudsman Victoria

The ombudsman can investigate complaints about government departments such as the Department of Health. It can also investigate the way the chief psychiatrist and the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission handle complaints. The ombudsman has the power to make recommendations and is required to report to parliament.

See Ombudsman Victoria(opens in a new window)

Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council

This service provides non-legal advocacy for mental health consumers. They are particularly useful for early intervention and when a person wants to make a complaint to the Mental Health Commissioner.

See Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council(opens in a new window)

More information

Legislation

Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 (Vic)

  • s. 265—the chief psychiatrist
  • s. 266—the role of the chief psychiatrist
  • s. 267—functions of the chief psychiatrist
  • Chapter 8—community visitors

Updated