The Mental Health Complaints Commissioner’s annual report has now been tabled in parliament.

Key highlights include 184 service improvement actions taken by Victorian public mental health services in 2017–18 as outcomes of complaints, which is more than double the number of actions recorded in 2016–17. 

2017–18 saw our office make 113 formal recommendations for service and system improvements. We also launched our first major strategic project report on ensuring sexual safety in acute mental health inpatient units, The right to be safe. This was part of carrying out our functions under the Act to identify, analyse and review quality, safety and other issues arising from complaints.

Commissioner Lynne Coulson Barr said the findings and recommendations of The right to be safe demonstrate how complaints can provide a vital window into the gravity and impact of people’s experiences and the actions that need to be taken to ensure people’s safety and uphold their rights.

‘The positive responses from the Secretary to the Department of Health and Human Services, the Chief Psychiatrist and mental health services to these and other recommendations made by our office indicate that learnings from complaints are being used to drive positive changes in services and the broader mental health system,’ Commissioner Coulson Barr said. 

In 2017–18 the number of enquiries and complaints made to our office rose to 2,125. This is a 21 per cent increase on last year and almost one and a half times more than in our first year of operation. 

‘This increase demonstrates the value of having an accessible and specialist avenue for people to raise their concerns, and the increase in people’s awareness, confidence and preparedness to make a complaint,’ Commissioner Coulson Barr said. 

In 2017–18, 98 per cent of mental health services provided reports to our office on the number and outcomes of complaints made to their service. There were 1,702 complaints reported at the time our annual report was finalised. We have since received all reports and have been conducting further analysis of the complaints data. This analysis will inform individual service reports that we will distribute to services in 2019.

‘To support this work our office has started meeting regularly with services. These meetings allow for discussion about trends in complaints data and enable information sharing about service improvements and issues relating to best practice in complaints handling.

'Last financial year we also increased our engagement with our Advisory Council, started a process to map and review our engagement with our stakeholders to see where we can improve, and began work on a lived experience framework to inform and drive the MHCC’s work,’ Commissioner Coulson Barr said. 

Other highlights include our team reaching 1,929 people including consumers, families, carers and people working in services through our education and engagement activities. We also made 38 sector contributions through consultations and submissions.

For more information, download your copy of our annual report and highlights document from our Publications web page.