How to make a complaint about a provider
People with disability have the right to complain about the services they receive. Most NDIS providers do their best to provide quality supports and services to people with disability, but issues can occur.
If you have a concern about your current NDIS supports or services, it is important that you talk about it.
Complaints are important—they can help providers improve the quality of services they provide, so your complaint can help other people too.
If you feel comfortable, you are encouraged to raise your concern or complaint with your provider first, as this is often the best way to have your issue resolved quickly. All registered NDIS providers must have a complaints management and resolution system in place.
If the provider is unable to resolve your concern or complaint, then you should seek further support.
You may seek support from family, friend or an independent advocate to support you in making a complaint. For further information see: Disability Advocacy.
If you are in New South Wales or South Australia, a complaint can be made to the NDIS Commission by:
- Phoning: 1800 035 544 (free call from landlines) or TTY 133 677. Interpreters can be arranged.
- National Relay Service and ask for 1800 035 544.
- Completing a complaint contact form.
The NDIS Commission can take complaints about:
- services or supports that were not provided in a safe and respectful way
- services and supports that were not delivered to an appropriate standard
If you are in another state or territory, existing arrangements for making complaints remain in place, until:
- 1 July 2019 for the Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory, Queensland, Tasmania, and Victoria
- 1 July 2020 for Western Australia.
As well as dealing with complaints, the Commission works to educate providers about delivering quality and safe supports, and effectively responding to complaints. If a complaint raises a serious compliance issue, the Commission has powers to take action.
The NDIS Commission collects and uses personal information, including sensitive information, for the purpose of performing functions as set out in the Act. The NDIS Commission is committed to the proper handling of personal information in accordance with the Australian Privacy Principles in the Privacy Act 1988 and the NDIS (Protection and Disclosure of Information) Rules.
What happens after I make a complaint?
Your complaint will be acknowledged and a NDIS Commission complaints resolution officer will arrange a time to talk to you to understand the concerns you are raising. We might ask you:
- for enough information so we can understand the issues involved and any immediate concerns
- if you are making a complaint on behalf of an NDIS participant, whether we can speak to them to seek their input and understand their concerns
- for your permission to speak to the NDIS provider about your complaint, and to seek further information and documents from them
We will send you written confirmation of the issues raised in your complaint, and the outcomes you are seeking. Your consent is required to start the resolution process.
How is my complaint resolved?
Our aim is help you resolve a complaint quickly and simply. To do this, we will review the information provided to us by yourself and the NDIS provider, and talk to everyone involved about this information.
Often, conversations between us, yourself and the NDIS provider can lead to early resolution, where your complaint is handled by the provider to your satisfaction before any formal action is taken. Our involvement can help to clarify issues and bring information to everyone’s attention.
Example: John complained that the provider of his assistive technology hadn’t responded to his request for routine maintenance. We contacted the provider about John’s complaint, and they were able to schedule a maintenance appointment within a week. John was happy with this result.
Conciliation can be used to try to resolve a complaint that could not be resolved through other processes. The most common form of conciliation is a meeting between the person making the complaint, the person with a disability and the provider. Advocates or other support people may also be involved. Participation in a conciliation is an open and voluntary process.
The purpose of a conciliation meeting is to help people understand the concerns being raised and to reach agreement on how a complaint can be resolved. Individual meetings or phone conversations are scheduled ahead of the conciliation meeting to help each person to prepare for the conciliation and plan how they will participate.
We will facilitate the conciliation and help to clarify the issues and encourage discussions between people at the conciliation meeting. We do not advocate for either the person making the complaint or the provider. It is not a public hearing process like a court, or a tribunal.
Each person is given the opportunity to put forward his or her views. Because of this, conciliation may be preferable for some people as this person-centered approach allows the person making the complaint to have their views heard directly by the provider and be involved in finding solutions.
Read more in the fact sheet What to expect in a conciliation.
Example: Anna complained that she had had four new support workers in one week who didn’t understand her support needs. We facilitated a conciliation meeting where Anna met with her provider and discussed her concerns. It was agreed that in future, Anna would be introduced to all new support workers before they started a shift, to discuss her support needs. Anna was happy with this arrangement.
Sometimes, the issues raised in a complaint are better handled through compliance action including investigation. This includes issues where we identify serious concerns and risks to people with disability, such as allegations of abuse, assault or neglect. Unlawful conduct and criminal matters will be referred to the appropriate police authorities in each state, and we will continue to handle the non-criminal elements of the complaint.
Example: Vincent complained that his son Ming had been assaulted by another resident in his specialist disability accommodation home. We referred the assault to the state police department, and conducted an investigation into how the NDIS provider of the accommodation and personal supports could have prevented this incident.
Decision to end a complaint
We can also make the decision to end a complaint resolution process for a variety of reasons including:
- the complaint is better handled by another complaints body
- the information given was not given in good faith
- a person with disability involved in the complaint does not wish to continue
- the complaint is the subject of formal legal proceedings
- the complaint was withdrawn
In deciding to end a complaint, we will always consider the continued health, safety and welfare of any person with disability involved.
Example: Divya complained that her provider hadn’t responded to a complaint she had made. She later decided to withdraw her complaint as she made the choice to change to another provider who was more responsive.
What happens after my complaint is resolved?
Actions for providers
After the resolution of some complaints, the NDIS provider may need to take actions to address issues and concerns raised in the complaint. This might include actions like:
- to make changes to the provider’s complaints management system to make it easier for people to raise concerns
- to ensure that all service users’ behaviour support plans are up-to-date
- to ensure all management staff undertake a particular training program
The NDIS provider may be required to report back to the NDIS Commission on the progress of these actions. If a complaint raises a serious compliance issue, the NDIS Commission has powers to take action.
At the end of the complaint resolution process, we will write to you, any person with disability affected by the complaint, and the NDIS provider. We will include:
- our decision
- the information considered that led to this decision
- any agreed actions for both you and the NDIS provider to address issues and concerns
- your right to have our decision reconsidered.
If you don’t agree with our decision, you can request to have a review, or reconsideration. This request can be made in writing or any other appropriate method, within six weeks of being notified of the decision. You will need to include information about why you want the decision changed. The reconsideration will be done by someone who was not involved in the original decision.
For more information about the reconsideration process, please see our Complaint Management Resolution Guidance.
What if I disagree with the complaints process or a NDIS Commission decision?
If you are concerned about how the NDIS Commission is managing your complaint, we encourage you to contact us at the NDIS Commission to provide feedback.
If your complaint has been finalised and you have reason to believe it should not be finalised, a request can be made for the decision to be reviewed. This is called a reconsideration.
How do I ask for reconsideration?
If you wish to make an application for reconsideration please contact the NDIS Commission Feedback and Complaints Team using the following contact details:
- email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- phone: 1800 035 544
- post: NDIS Commission Feedback, PO Box 210, Penrith NSW 2750
An application to the NDIS Commission for reconsideration should:
- be made within six weeks of the parties being notified of the relevant decision, and
- provide information about why you want the decision changed e.g. what has happened, what are you unhappy about?
If you are not satisfied with the NDIS Commission’s response, you can raise your concerns with the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman.