Under the Mental Health Act 2014, all public mental health services must provide reports about the complaints they receive to the Mental Health Complaints Commissioner (MHCC). 

We request complaints reports twice-yearly and use the information to analyse and compare services’ complaints data with ours to identify state-wide and service level trends and areas for improvement using this issues taxonomy: 

From this data, we produce individual service provider complaint reports for each service. We also produce publicly available reports comparing complaints received by services and complaints made directly to the MHCC across the state. 

In regular meetings with service staff we then:

  • review individual service provider reports and seek feedback on how we can  improve them
  • aim to build a joint understanding of issues, trends and differences to inform service improvements
  • identify opportunities for improving the collection and use of the data.

In 2018-19 and 2019-20, more complaints were made directly to services than to the MHCC. This is a positive trend that indicates people feel more confident to raise their concerns directly with services.

As with the MHCC, most complaints to services were made by consumers. Concerns about treatment were the most frequently raised issue, followed by communication. Most resulted in acknowledgement of the complaint and action taken.

Reporting individual service-level data

Publicly sharing the complaint data of individual services increases transparency about people’s experiences within the public mental health system. The MHCC has not historically published this data because alone it is not a reliable indicator of service quality. For example, higher numbers of complaints may represent effective reporting processes and/or a positive complaints culture, and lower numbers of complaints may represent the opposite.

From the 2019-20 local complaints reports, we will start to share data comparing complaint rates to individual services with complaints made to the MHCC per 1000 consumers, as well as compliment data that services have provided. Comparing these three data sources gives a sense of the strength of the service’s complaints culture. 

The next step will be sharing more data about complaint themes in individual services – we will work with service staff as well as consumer, family and carer representatives on the best ways to do this. 

Reviewed 22 July 2021

Mental Health Complaints Commissioner (MHCC)

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