Aged Care Complaints Process
By Edward Carlisle
Recipients of aged care services have the right to lodge a complaint and raise concerns about the information, service or care rendered by providers. Although, most of the time, residents of aged care facilities are satisfied with the level of care provided or have a sufficiently positive relationship with their provider to work out any issues, sometimes things can go awry. It is your provider’s responsibility to ensure that appropriate care is delivered in a safe and respectful manner. If you have an issue with care provided to you, it is important that your concerns are raised as early as possible, and with the right body.
Raising Issues Directly with your Provider
Generally, the best way to flag an issue and resolve it without engaging formal bodies is to directly raise the issue with your provider.
If you are comfortable with the staff or management of your service, you should raise your concerns directly with them and work co-operatively towards a suitable resolution. In most cases, your concerns will be heard and addressed. All service providers in Australia are required to have a complaints system in place to ensure a proper quality of care for recipients under the Aged Care Act 1997.
However, your provider might not be willing to cooperate with you, or you may not feel comfortable approaching staff directly. In these circumstances, it may be worthwhile to explore other avenues to voice your concerns.
My Aged Care
One avenue is to get in touch with My Aged Care directly to discuss any concerns you may have.
A complaint may be lodged – by:
(1) calling My Aged Care on 1800 200 422;
(2) going to the online ‘Contact Us’ form located on the website: https://www.myagedcare.gov.au/contact-us
(3) sending a fax to 1800 728 174; or
(4) posting your complaint addressed to ‘My Aged Care Complaints’, PO Box 1237, Runaway Bay, QLD 4216.
If your issue is not resolved, you will receive a reference number. If you are unsatisfied with the result, you may send an email with the details of your complaint and reference number to email@example.com.
Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT)
If you have any concerns about your assessment or do not agree with it, you should contact your ACAT assessor or manager. My Aged Care (Ph: 1800 200 422) can provide the contact details for this organisation and may be of further assistance with assessment concerns.
If you are unable to resolve your assessment issues, you can ask to speak to the state or territory Department of Health manager. Specifically, you can request a review of your assessment decision by writing to the Secretary of the Department within 28 days of receiving your approval letter. If you do not agree with the outcome of the review, you can file a complaint with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, but note that there is a charge.
Regional Assessment Service (RAS)
This body may also be a worthwhile port of call if you are located regionally and have any concerns about your assessment. My Aged Care (Ph: 1800 200 422) can provide the contact details for this organisation and may be of further assistance with related assessment concerns.
If you are unable to resolve your issues with your service provider, you may contact the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (Ph: 1800 951 822). It may also be worth contacting the Commonwealth Ombudsman (Ph: 1300 362 072), the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (Ph: 1300 300 630), or the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (Ph: 1800 228 333), depending on the nature of your concerns.
If you or someone you know needs legal assistance, we encourage you to fill out ALARM’s GetHelp form on our website at www.ALARM.ORG.AU; or contact ALARM on (03) 9016 3248; or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org. You may then select, or, if you wish, we will direct you to, one of our Allied Law Firms for an initial meeting and advice, at no cost to you. Thereafter, you can decide whether to proceed with a formal legal complaint. If you do wish to proceed, costs arrangements, if any, will need to be discussed, and agreed, with the firm.
 Edward Carlisle, Law Student, Monash University, ALARM Inc. Volunteer. The author acknowledges the assistance of Senior ALARM Volunteer Lawyers in the preparation of this article.
 Commonwealth, Department of Health, My Aged Care guide to making a complaint, accessed on 1/07/2021 at < https://www.myagedcare.gov.au/publications/my-aged-care-guide-making-complaint> (‘My Aged Care’).
 Aged Care Guide, What do I do if I have a complaint about my care? Accessed on 1/07/2021 at < https://www.agedcareguide.com.au/information/what-about-complaints> (‘What do I do’).
 See generally My Aged Care (n 2).
 What do I do (n 3).
 See Aged Care Act 1997 (Cth) s 56.4 (1) (a), (b) available at https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2021C00302; C.f. s 17 Quality of Care Principles 2014 (Cth) available at https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2021C00685; The Complaints Principles 2014 (Cth) are no longer in force, available at https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2014L00802
 See generally My Aged Care (n 2).
The views expressed in this article are the author’s. The contents of this article are for general information only and do not constitute legal advice, are not intended to be a substitute for legal advice, and should not be relied upon as such. Legal advice should be sought prior to any action being taken in relation to any of the information. If you are in need of legal advice and assistance about aged care matters, please seek legal advice directly or via ALARM’s ‘GetHelp’ form on its website www.ALARM.org.au.