This is a guide to providing feedback or making a complaint to the Mental Health Tribunal.

Purpose

The Mental Health Tribunal welcomes feedback and complaints which provide us with the opportunity to monitor, review and improve our services. 

This policy sets out: 

  • how members of the public can make a complaint or provide feedback to the Tribunal
  • how the Tribunal will investigate and respond to feedback and complaints.

This policy does not include what to do if you disagree with the outcome of a Tribunal hearing. Please refer to that section of our website for information on that process. 

Objectives

This policy aims to:

  • create an open and transparent complaint handling system
  • specify service standards to which we hold ourselves accountable
  • set our timeframes for resolving complaints
  • clarify the roles and responsibilities of Tribunal staff and members in complaint handling
  • ensure complaints are handled fairly and objectively
  • set out how we record and analyse complaint data to identify where we can improve our service, procedures and practices.

Guiding principles

This policy is based on seven principles: 

  1. Commitment - We are committed to resolving complaints and have a culture that recognises an individual’s right to complain. We value complaints and recognise them as being part of our business of serving our communities and improving service delivery.
  2. Accessibility - People with a range of needs can easily complain and staff actively assist them to navigate the complaints process.
  3. Transparency -  We make it clear how to complain, where to complain and how the complaint will be handled. The steps taken to respond to a complaint are recorded and will stand up to scrutiny.
  4. Objectivity and fairness - Complaints are assessed on merit and dealt with courteously, impartially and within established timeframes.
  5. Privacy - Complaint information is handled according to privacy laws and other relevant legislation. We provide clear information about how we handle personal information. Complaint data is de-identified if reported on more widely.
  6. Complaint handling accountability - We are accountable internally and externally for our complaint handling and decision-making performance. We provide explanations and reasons for complaint handling decisions and ensure that our decisions are subject to appropriate review processes.
  7. Continuous improvement - Acting on, learning from and using complaint data helps us identify problems and improve services.

Definitions

Complaint: an expression of dissatisfaction with the quality of an action taken or service provided by an agency or its contractor, or a delay or failure in providing a service, taking an action, or by an agency or its contractor.

Roles and responsibilities of Tribunal staff and members

Frontline staff:    

  • assist members of the public to make complaints
  • receive complaints 
  • clarify the complaint if needed
  • assess who should deal with the complaint. If it is a person within the Tribunal, forward the complaint to the appropriate person. If it is outside of the Tribunal, advise the complainant of the organisation/s who might be able to help.  

Principal Registrar:   

  • handle, consider and respond to complaints about registry services, practices or staff members, depending on the subject matter.

Executive Officer:    

  • handle, consider and respond to complaints about the administration practices and staff of the Tribunal, depending on subject matter
  • record, analyse and report on complaints.

President, Deputy President or Senior Member:    

  • handle, consider and respond to complaints about the conduct of members of the Tribunal.

How to make a complaint

A person can make a complaint by providing us with relevant information in writing, such as: 

  • your name and contact details
  • who the complaint is about 
  • when and where the issue arose  

A complaint can be lodged by:

Mail: Level 30, 570 Bourke St Melbourne, 3000
Email: mht@mht.vic.gov.au 
Fax: (03) 9032 3223 
Internet: using the Contact us form on our website
In person: Level 30, 570 Bourke St Melbourne, 3000

Timeframes for handling feedback and complaints

We will provide written acknowledgement of receipt of feedback and complaints within 7 days of the Tribunal receiving them, when contact details are provided.

With respect to complaints, we will include an outline of what will happen next and an estimate of the timeframe for handling the complaint in the acknowledgement letter. The timeframe will depend on the complexity of the incident or issues raised and the availability of the people who can provide information about them. In most cases, we expect to provide a response to complaints within 28 days.

How we will investigate and respond to complaints

If a complaint is about a member of the Mental Health Tribunal, the complaint will be considered and determined by the President, the Deputy President or a Senior Member of the Tribunal, as appropriate.

If a complaint involves a Tribunal staff member, it may be considered and determined by the President, the Executive Officer or the Principal Registrar depending on the subject matter.

The person investigating your complaint must act reasonably, fairly and objectively and in good faith.

Our process for deciding how to respond to complaints

The person handling a complaint may disclose details of the complaint to:

  • any people involved in the issue raised in the complaint (such as other members of the Tribunal division who sat on the relevant hearing)
  • the individual who is the subject of the complaint.

Disclosing a complaint will include showing the written complaint to the person(s) involved. The person investigating the complaint will also ask these individuals for their response to the complaint. They may also contact the person making the complaint to ask them for further information about the incident or issues they are complaining about. 

Once the person handling the complaint has all the available information, they will prepare a written response to the complaint.

Possible outcomes of complaints

The outcomes of the investigation of complaints may include one or more of the following:

  • an explanation of the issues from the perspective of the Tribunal
  • an explanation of Tribunal policies, processes or procedures
  • an outline of any planned changes to Tribunal policies, processes or procedures based on what has been learnt from investigating a complaint
  • if appropriate, an apology.

Protecting the privacy and confidentiality of feedback and complaints

We are committed to handling all information in connection with feedback and complaints in accordance with the applicable privacy laws and other legislation that sets out how information should be handled. 

Information gathered during the investigation process will only be:

  • used to deal with and resolve complaints or to address any systemic issues that the feedback or complaint raises
  • disclosed in a de-identified format when disclosing data to the public
  • shared with Tribunal members or staff on a need-to-know basis.

Recording complaints

All complaints are recorded by the Executive Officer. We record the following information for each complaint:

  • complainants details
  • when the complaint was received
  • how the complaint was received
  • description of the complaint
  • the Tribunal staff or member responsible for handling the complaint
  • any action taken in response to the complaint.

We analyse our complaint data to identify service improvements. Any queries regarding the recording of the complaint should be directed to the Executive Officer. 

Reporting on performance

We publish high level information on complaints in our quarterly reports, available on the website.