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. It also established 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The Act repealed the Health Services (Conciliation and Review) Act 1987 after an Expert Review Panel made recommendations following its review into Victoria’s health complaints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 intent of the Act was to streamline and modernise Victoria’s health complaints scheme as well as address the Expert Review Panel’s recommendations for legislative or practice change as follows:
- 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 introduced new 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.
Review of the Act
The Act requires that the Minister for Health conduct a review of the first three years of operation of the Act, to be completed by 1 February 2021. The Department of Health and Human Services is undertaking the review on behalf of the Minister.
Reviewed 12 November 2015