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Australia: No action taken against Victorian mental health services despite more than 12,000 complaints

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After receiving more than 12,000 complaints about Australia's Victorian mental health services, the state’s regulator has not taken compliance action against a single mental healthcare provider in seven years.

This is despite the royal commission into the Victorian mental health sector last year finding systemic breaches of the law and human rights across the system.

Annual reports from Victoria’s mental health complaints commissioner (MHCC) showed that in the seven years since it was first established in July 2014, it received 14,160 inquiries, of which 12,470 were complaints. Yet no compliance notices were issued, despite the MHCC having regulatory powers to compel providers to improve.

The MHCC is an independent body that resolves complaints about Victoria’s public mental health services and makes recommendations for improvements.

The MHCC’s service provider complaint reports, obtained under freedom of information, show that some mental health services do not hand over data on the outcomes of complaints, in breach of the state’s Mental Health Act (2014).

The chief executive of Mind Australia – a community-based mental health provider, Gill Callister, said it was vital people with mental health concerns, their families and carers had access to “information about the performance and approach” of the mental health services they access.

“For a lot of people, a lack of transparency reinforces the view that they’re sitting at the bottom of the pile in terms of priority even when seeking information about their own care,” she said.

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Source: The Guardian, 25 May 2022

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