Department of Health

Key messages

  • Funded alcohol and other drug treatment services in Victoria must comply with the requirements of any relevant accreditations and standards. They must be, or able to be, accredited within generic accreditation frameworks by a certified entity.
  • Funded organisations also must adhere to any quality framework or policy adopted by the Victorian Department of Health.
  • To ensure that funded organisations provide safe and high-quality alcohol and other drug treatment services, they are expected to take into account core quality principles in strategies and approaches to service delivery.
  • Service providers must agree to the department’s procedures for incident reporting as a condition of funding.
  • Under the new Health Complaints Act 2016, the Health Complaints Commissioner has powers to investigate complaints made against alcohol and other drug service providers in Victoria.

Standards and accreditation requirements

Alcohol and other drug treatment services must provide consistently high-quality and safe services, and comply with relevant accreditations and standards. The policy and funding guidelines require organisations that receive funding for the delivery of alcohol and other drug treatment services to adhere to any quality framework or policy initiative adopted by the Department.

It is compulsory for funded providers to comply with the department's requirements regarding accreditation. This involves service providers funded to deliver alcohol and other drug treatment services to be, or able to be, accredited within existing generic accreditation frameworks by an entity that is certified by the International Society for Quality Health Care or the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand.

Providers are required to establish and implement plans to deliver services consistent with the Victorian alcohol and other drug client charter.

For more information, please see the Accreditation requirements factsheet in Downloads.

Safety and quality

The department recognises that safety and quality are critical to the successful delivery of alcohol and other drug treatment. The department expects alcohol and other drug treatment services to take into account the following core quality principles when considering strategies and approaches for the delivery of a safe, quality service. These principles underpin the Australian safety and quality framework for health care and are as follows:

  • principle 1- person-centred
  • principle 2 - driven by information
  • principle 3 - organised for safety and quality.

Incident reporting

Service providers are required to agree to the department's procedures for incident reporting as a condition of funding. Information on these requirements for NGO-funded service providers can be found at incident reportingExternal Link . For public health services, arrangements will be made for reporting that fits within existing systems for those services.

Health Complaints Act 2016

The Health Complaints Act 2016 (the Act) came into effect on 1 February 2017. The Act provides a framework to resolve complaints about health services, investigate and take regulatory action against general health service providers and to contribute to health service quality improvements.

Under the Act, general health service providers are required to comply with a mandatory code of conduct, giving the Health Complaints Commissioner the authority to investigate, take action and ban service providers that breach standards in the code. This regulatory regime is an important safeguard and protects the public, through regulation of health service provision.

Health professions captured under the Act

In Australia, there are health professions that require registration with the Australia Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) in order to practice; these are known as registered health service providers. The following website provides a list of health professions that require registration: Australian Health Practitioner Regulation AgencyExternal Link .

The Health Complaints Commissioner is able to receive complaints about any registered health service provider. Serious matters related to the conduct, competence or health of registered health practitioners will continue to be referred to AHPRA.

The Health Complaints Commissioner will also receive complaints about unregistered health service providers, or general health service providers. General health service providers do not require AHPRA registration.

Under the Act, alcohol and other drug (AOD) service providers are “general health services”. This means complaints can be made about any AOD service provider in Victoria, including:

  • Public (government-funded) and private AOD service providers
  • Registered and unregistered health service practitioners
  • Individual practitioners and health service organisations

Make a complaint to the Health Complaints Commissioner

Anyone can make a complaint about a health service provider, including alcohol and other drug treatment providers. This includes consumers, families and friends as well as health service volunteers and staff, members of the community and professional organisations.

Making a complaint will not lead to disadvantage, dismissal or discipline in any form and the complainant is also protected from any legal action including civil liability or defamation.

Unregistered general health service providers

The Health Complaints Commissioner can prohibit unregistered health service providers from practising as well as warn the public about unregistered services that have breached a code of conduct and pose serious risk to the public. The Act allows the Health Complaints Commissioner to take action against unregistered health service providers who may be impaired, incompetent or unethical and pose a significant risk to the health, safety and welfare of the public. This includes registered practitioners who are operating outside the practice of their health service profession or, in some instances, the organisation that is providing the health service.

The Health Complaints Commissioner will respond to health service provider behaviour that poses significant risks to the health or safety of the public or a member of the public. The Commissioner has the power to undertake investigations and issue interim prohibition orders as well as issuing public warning statements to the public and prohibit some or all service delivery temporarily or permanently.

For further information visit the Health Complaints Commissioner websiteExternal Link .

Reviewed 25 October 2023


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