Department of Health

About the Act

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. The Act also establishes the Health Complaints Commissioner.

The Act repealed the Health Services (Conciliation and Review) Act 1987 after an Expert Review Panel made recommendations following its review into Victoria’s health complaints system.

The Act has streamlines and modernises Victoria's health complaints scheme and has address the Expert Review Panel's recommendations for legislative or practice change to:

  • promote local resolution, expand and clarify the scope of the Act, improve support for complainants, and provide effective and responsive complaints resolution
  • streamline the interface with other agencies
  • safeguard the public through regulation of health service provision
  • contribute to the continuous improvement of the health services system
  • enhance accountability and transparency.

The Act created significant powers for the Commissioner, including conducting Minister and Commissioner-initiated investigations, setting minimum complaint handling standards, and enabling use and timely sharing of critical information and complaints data.

In addition, the Act introduced a regulatory regime for general health service providers, requiring providers to comply with a mandatory code of conduct, and giving the Commissioner powers to investigate and ban service providers who breach standards.

Further information about the Commissioner can be found on the Health Complaints Commissioner's websiteExternal Link .

Review of the Act

The Act required the Minister for Health to review the first three years of the Act’s operation by 1 February 2021. The Department of Health undertook this review on behalf of the Minister and the full report is published on the Victorian Parliament website.

The review examined the operation of the Act and the new powers it introduced to determine if the Act is working as intended.

Findings of the review

Overall, the review found that the Act is operating well and the Commissioner is fulfilling the objectives of the Act. However, the review identified a number of refinements which would better support the Act’s objectives and provide greater clarity around the Commissioner’s functions.

The findings and recommendations of the review are being considered by the department and reforms will be undertaken in the next term of parliament (2022-26).

Reviewed 01 June 2023


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