On receiving a complaint, an advocate from the Nationwide Health and Disability Advocacy Service will make contact with the consumer. If the consumer wishes to progress the complaint, then the advocate will support the consumer to contact you, the provider.
If you know that a complaint has been made to the Advocacy Service about you or your service, you do not need to take any action until you have heard from the advocate.
Communication with you
Following Advocacy Service contact with the consumer, you will receive a formal letter from the consumer and/or the advocate. This letter will advise you of the issues that the consumer is concerned about.
The letter will also contain information about what actions the consumer considers need to be taken to resolve the matter for them. You will also be advised whether they want a written response, and/or to meet with you with or without advocacy support.
All correspondence regarding the complaint should be addressed to the consumer and, if requested by the consumer, a copy may be sent to the advocate. Any communication with you from the advocate will be copied to the consumer.
Consumers usually find it helpful to have an acknowledgement of what happened, as well as an explanation and an apology (if appropriate).
Advocates are happy to discuss the advocacy process with you, but will not discuss any aspect of the complaint unless the consumer is present.
When considered appropriate, an advocate may suggest that the best way to achieve resolution is a face-to-face meeting between the consumer/complainant and the provider of the service or the provider’s representative.
If an advocate requests a meeting with the provider of the service, a letter will be sent outlining what the issues are and the actions the consumer/complainant believes need to be taken for them to consider the matter resolved.
In suggesting a meeting, the advocate believes it is important for the consumer/complainant to be heard and for both parties to gain a shared understanding of the experience.
The advocate will facilitate the meeting in a safe and supportive environment, allowing the parties to focus on communicating in an open and honest way that leads to resolution.
If a meeting has been requested and you agree to meet, the advocate will provide you with an information sheet about what to expect, including an outline of the advocate’s role if the advocate is to attend the meeting.
Download the complaint resolution agreement form (PDF 926kb)
The advocate will be in regular contact with the consumer throughout the resolution process. If your initial response does not satisfy the consumer and they decide they want further action, you will receive further formal communication from the consumer, and/or advocate, about what steps could be taken to achieve resolution.
Once resolution has been reached the advocate will formally advise you of that, and that the advocacy complaint file is closed.
Referral to HDC
In some cases, it may become clear either at the start or during the resolution process, that the complaint requires recommendations and accountability which can only be provided by HDC. In those circumstances the advocate will advise the consumer and the provider that the complaint should be referred to HDC.
In addition, if providers are not supportive and proactive in working towards resolution, then the advocate will usually advise the consumer that the complaint should be forwarded to HDC for management.
Download the advocacy process flowchart (PDF 175kb)
Resolution and satisfaction rates
The Advocacy Service has a resolution rate that is consistently between 90–93% (which includes withdrawn complaints). This high resolution rate is a reflection of the skill of advocates, and the belief and commitment of all parties that the advocacy process will allow people to move forward.
In addition, satisfaction rates with the Advocacy Service process are extremely high for both consumers and providers (in 2018 91% of consumers and 93% of providers who responded to satisfaction surveys said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their contact with the Advocacy Service).