Complaints about community & disability services
What we do
We have a range of responsibilities in relation to complaints about community and disability services:
- we handle complaints, and help service receivers to make complaints
- we review the causes and patterns of complaints and how they are managed by services; and look at ways to improve the handling and outcome of complaints
- we provide information, education, and training relating to the making, handling, and resolution of complaints
- we help services to improve their complaints procedures and systems.
Complaints are positive
Our legislation makes it clear that complaints about community and disability services are positive – they are an important way to improve service delivery and to resolve problems.
The Act also says that the best interests of the service receiver must be the paramount consideration, and that services are to deal with complaints fairly, informally, and quickly, and at a place that is convenient to the complainant.
What services can you complain about?
We handle complaints about most community and disability services in NSW, including:
- Community Services (formerly DoCS)
- Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC)
- non-government services funded, licensed, or authorised by the Minister for Community Services, the Minister for Ageing, or the Minister for Disability Services.
Services include (but are not limited to) child protection, out-of-home care, family support, early intervention, disability accommodation, disability support, licensed boarding houses, Home and Community Care (HACC), and specialist homelessness services.
What issues can you complain about?
You can make a complaint about a community or disability service if you think that the service provider has acted unreasonably:
- in the way it provides or manages a service
- by not providing a service
- by withdrawing or changing a service.
You can complain about the conduct of the service and/or the conduct of its employees.
What happens when you complain?
You can make a complaint by:
- sending an email or fax
- submitting the complaints form on this website
- or by other means that are appropriate for your circumstances.
An Intake Officer will talk with you about your complaint issues, and discuss ways to resolve them.
Depending on your situation, we may encourage you to talk directly to the service provider about your complaint. We can assist you to do this. The service provider will often work with you to resolve the problem without you having to lodge a complaint with us.
We have a range of options for handling complaints about community and disability services. We will discuss with you the outcome you are seeking, and the best option for resolving your complaint. We can:
Refer your complaint to the service provider for resolution
We ask the service provider to work with you to try to resolve the problem, and to report back to us about the outcome.
Conciliate your complaint
We may seek to bring you and the service provider together to try to resolve the complaint (conciliation). We may consider this option if there is a continuing relationship between you and the service provider, and where both parties agree to participate.
Investigate your complaint
If your complaint raises serious concerns about the current care, treatment or safety of a vulnerable service receiver, or raises issues of public interest or public safety, we may decide to conduct an investigation.
Refer your complaint to a service provider or other body for investigation
We can refer a complaint (or any part of a complaint) to a service provider or other body if it appears that the complaint raises issues that may require investigation by them. The service must report to us on the outcome of their investigation.
Decline the complaintWe can decline a complaint if, for example, the events took place more than 12 months ago and there are no current issues; or if the issues have been, or could be, considered by a Tribunal or Court.
In all cases, we will tell you, in writing, what has been decided in relation to your complaint, and the reasons for our decision.
- The Ombudsman's role in community services fact sheet
- Special report to Parliament: More than board and lodging - the need for boarding house reform
- Consultations with families of children with disabilities on access to services and support
- Special report to Parliament: People with disabilities and the closure of residential centres
- Community Services Division Factsheet No 2: Handling complaints
- Complaint handling kit for community services
- Tips for making a complaint
- The Rights Stuff toolkit
- Know your rights as a consumer of community services