The office of the Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner, HCSCC, works to improve the safety and quality of South Australian health, community and child protection services through complaints resolution and other activities.
HCSCC can assess complaints about most health and community services, including hospitals, non government organisations and individual workers such as GPs, nurses, counsellors, psychologists and others. There are rules about what complaints HCSCC can accept and what HCSCC can do about complaints received.
From July 2010 to March 2011, HCSCC dealt with 89 complaints from people who identified as having a mental illness. One in three were supported to complain by a family member or support person. People complained about things like the manner in which they were treated, poor discharge planning, use of restraint, fees and sexual misconduct.
Since April, HCSCC has been working on a project focussing on people living with a mental illness. Initially the project will focus on people 18 - 65 years of age in the metropolitan area. HCSCC has identified four priority areas:
Priority 1: Awareness raising among consumers, family members, advocates and communities.
Priority 2: Awareness raising among service providers.
Priority 3: Capacity building.
Priority 4: Reporting actions and outcomes.
HCSCC is keen to hear from people living with a mental illness about:
the quality of services and
complaints and the effectiveness of provider responses to them.
HCSCC is also keen to hear from carers and supporters of people living with a mental illness.
HCSCC wants to engage with mental health service providers to:
raise awareness about the rights of service users and the family members, carers and nominees who act on behalf of service users.
assist providers to build their capacity to respond more effectively to complaints.
If you would like to:
share your experience
learn more about the project or
make a suggestion about how HCSCC can spread the word about this work please contact:
Matthew Dempsey, Complaint & Capacity Development Officer call 8226 8652 or email email@example.com
If you would like to discuss a complaint, please contact the HCSCC Enquiry Service, Monday to Friday 9.00am - 5.00pm on 8226 8666.
South Australian Mental Health Act 2009 and the HCSCC Charter of Health and Community Services Rights
The South Australian Mental Health Act (2009) makes provision for the treatment, care and rehabilitation of persons with serious mental illness, with the goal of:
bringing about their recovery as far as is possible
to provide protections for the freedom and legal rights of mentally ill persons.
(South Australian Mental Health Act 2009, version 29.07.10, p.1. Click here to go to the South Australian Mental Health Act 2009.) The proposed HCSCC Charter of Health and Community Services Rights (the HCSCC
Charter) sets out the rights of adults, young people and children who use most health and community services in South Australia and to the family members, carers and nominees who act on behalf their behalf. Click here to find out more about the HCSCC Charter.
Many of the HCSCC Charter rights are already statutory requirements under the South Australian Mental Health Act 2009. The alignment between the Mental Health Act and the HCSCC Charter rights should help to promote the rights of people living with a mental illness. It should also help mental health services to uphold their rights in practice.
In preparation for the Charter, HCSCC has developed a draft alignment slide - please see last page. If you would like to comment on the draft slide or make suggestions for improvement, please email firstname.lastname@example.org- we value your feedback.
Jason - community treatment order & communication between providers
Jason complained about a Community Mental Health Team’s management of his Community Treatment Order (CTO). Jason complained that while he was on the CTO, the service didn't follow their own policies by not communicating with his GP. This resulted in him receiving two amounts of the same drug – one from the service and one from his GP. Jason believed this caused him to put on weight and develop diabetes.
HCSCC wrote to the service and to Jason’s GP requesting a response. The service agreed that they had not followed their own policies by not communicating with Jason’s GP. HCSCC also asked for an independent medical opinion from an interstate psychiatrist on the link between the medication and Jason’s diabetes. The link was inconclusive because it couldn’t be proven that it was the medication that caused Jason to put on weight and develop diabetes.
HCSCC determined that the service had not met the generally accepted standards because it had breached its own policies. HCSCC invited Jason and the service to try and resolve the complaint by attending a meeting and both parties agreed to take part.
A meeting took place at HCSCC offices. Jason attended with a support person and a senior person attended on behalf of the service. Jason explained the impact on him and his family. He was seeking reassurance that the service had improved its practices.
The service was open and agreed that Jason’s treatment had not been managed well. The service said that despite the error, even with the additional dose, the amount of the medication that Jason had received was still within a safe range.
The service apologised and let Jason know some improvements that had been made since his experience. Jason and the service agreed on a sum to settle the complaint.
After the meeting, HCSCC followed up with the relevant services to reduce the chances of other similar mistakes and to make sure that steps were taken to improve monitoring of the physical health of people living with a mental illness.
Cheryl - Peer Support Worker training & complaint handling
Cheryl contacted HCSCC to make a complaint about a non-government organisation that was running a Peer Support Worker training course. Cheryl had attended the training and was concerned that many of the participants spoke of their personal problems with drugs and alcohol. She felt they were unsuitable to become Peer Support Workers and that this would disadvantage people with a mental illness.
HCSCC asked Cheryl if she had raised her concern with the service provider. Cheryl said that she had spoken to the service but she had not heard back from them about the outcome of her complaint.
HCSCC wrote to the service provider asking for a response. In reply, the non-government organisation said that:
staff conducting the training were well qualified
all staff undergo police checks and course participants are encouraged to do so
the organisation has a committee to manage occupational health and safety issues
they continue to meet strict quality guidelines determined by their funding body.
HCSCC found that the service provider had met the generally accepted standard and that their response was reasonable.
However, HCSCC wanted the non-government organisation to improve the way they dealt with complaints - particularly as they had not kept the complainant informed of the progress of their investigation and the final outcome.
HCSCC recommended that the service:
review their complaints handling policy and procedures
inform and update their staff about the policy and procedure changes
provide training in complaints handling
improve their system for recording and reporting complaints.
The service contacted HCSCC to confirm that they had completed work in response to HCSCC’s recommendations.
Melissa - hospital care & mediation
Daniel rang HCSCC to complain about his friend Melissa’s recent treatment in a hospital mental health unit. Daniel said that Melissa was concerned because during her hospital stay she had lost a personal item which was important to her. Melissa also had concerns about:
the manner in which she was treated by some of the staff
the limited range of activities that were available to help aid recovery.
Daniel said that they had tried to resolve the issues with the hospital during Melissa’s treatment but they were not satisfied with the response.
HCSCC arranged a meeting between Melissa and the hospital. Melissa was encouraged to bring a support person, so Daniel also attended the meeting. HCSCC attended the meeting as an independent observer.
At the meeting Melissa talked about her experience, asked questions and felt heard. The service offered to compensate Melissa for the loss of her personal item. The hospital also agreed to speak with the staff about their manner towards Melissa and how this made her feel.
The hospital explained to Melissa that their service was primarily designed for short-term acute care and for funding reasons, there was a limited range of occupational therapy supplies provided. The hospital said it would consider some of Melissa’s suggestions about low cost activities that could offered.
Melissa was satisfied with the outcome. HCSCC found that the hospital’s response to the complaint was reasonable and took no further action.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
Brochures are available FREE on the hcscc website. If you need multiple copies our online form makes ordering fast and easy. www.hcscc.sa.gov.au
Get RIGHT among the action!! Help promote the rights of people living with a mental illness
The HCSCC Charter of Health and Community Services Rights was developed following consultation with service users, carers and health and community service providers in 2010. The Minister for Health tabled the HCSCC Charter in the South Australian Parliament on 8 March 2011. Debate will resume on the HCSCC Charter on 7 June 2011.
In preparation for the Charter, HCSCC is developing an HCSCC Charter Champions Network.
HCSCC Charter Champions will:
be part of a network to build awareness about HCSCC Charter principles and rights within
their group, work unit or agency work within their group, work unit or agency to bring the HCSCC Charter principles and rights to life.
and some will promote complaints resolution taking into account the HCSCC Charter principles and rights.
An HCSCC Charter Champion will have a strong commitment to upholding the rights of service users. Charter Champions will also recognise that people seeking or receiving care and people providing care, need to work together to ensure safe, high quality services and the best possible outcomes.
An HCSCC Charter Champion may be a person who:
provides a health or community service, for example: a health professional, care worker, case manager, supervisor or chief executive
seeks or uses a health or community service
cares for a service user
advocates on behalf of a service user/s
someone who represents an interest group that wants to help bring the Charter principles and rights to life.
HCSCC Charter Champions will have three key roles – to ASK:
Advocate – spread the message about the HCSCC Charter
Support – act as a local representative about the HCSCC Charter
Knowledge share – linking colleagues to knowledge and information resources about the
HCSCC has received Expressions of Interest from over 100 people interested in becoming an HCSCC Charter Champion, 8 HCSCC Charter Champions with a mental health focus. This is a good start but we need more Champions to bring the HCSCC Charter rights to life for people living with a mental illness.
HCSCC Charter Champions are invited from mental health consumer and / or carer groups and public, private and non-government mental health services.
Get Right among the action and express your interest today!! Help HCSCC promote the rights of people living with a mental illness who are seeking or using health and community services.
Can you help us to reach the bold target of 40 HCSCC Charter Champions for mental health? If you or your group, work unit or agency would like to know more about the HCSCC Charter Champions Network or if you are interested in becoming an HCSCC
Charter Champion, please here to go to the HCSCC website or click here to download an Expression of Interest form.
If you have any enquiries about the HCSCC Charter Champions Network please contact Lisa Firth, Senior Project Officer on 8226 8652.
Health Consumers Alliance of SA Inc
The Health Consumers Alliance (HCA) is the peak body for health consumers in South Australia. The Alliance is the independent voice of health consumers, facilitating and supporting consumer leadership through consumer networks and broad community engagement activities. HCA provides a respected and informed consumer voice to influence the development of safe, quality health services and the achievement of person-centred health care.
Reflecting the consumer perspective, HCA promotes a holistic and integrated approach to health and wellbeing. As a fundamental aspect of health, mental health is a key focus within HCA.
In collaboration with mental health consumers and carers HCA seeks to promote a better understanding of mental illness through a range of community education programs and especially by supporting people with a lived experience of mental illness to share their experiences and advocate for change.
Through our systemic advocacy work HCA aims to:
improve understanding of mental illness
reduce stigma regarding mental illness
improve mental health literacy
HCA promotes the voice of mental health consumers across the SA health care sector, including public, private and non-government service providers. In particular, HCA recruits, inducts, trains and supports consumer advocates for specific consumer representative opportunities or to speak publicly at events and to the media about their lived experience of the health system.
For example, in 2009 HCA enabled 14 mental health consumers as a result of grant from the Mental Health Council of Australia (MHCA) to complete “Speaking with Confidence” training. David Griggs, a professional actor and speech coach provided two half-days of training to equip participants with the confidence to speak with others, overcome anxiety and develop their own unique and natural communication style.
At the request of the Guardianship Board, HCA co-ordinated and supported three mental health consumers to speak at the Rights, Responsibilities and Rhetoric Conference in October 2009 during Mental Health Week. The consumers presented in a plenary session on “Consumer perspectives of the mental health tribunal system in SA” and their presentations made a significant impact on delegates.
In September 2010, HCA submitted a report to the Minister of Health Engaging Mental Health consumers, carers and community in the South East: Lived Experience of Mental Health Services, which outlined consumer and carers concerns about their mental health services and made recommendations for consideration by Country Health SA.
HCA is about to embark upon a consumer-led campaign to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. The campaign will be designed and implemented in collaboration with mental health consumers and carers. The project will involve providing training to consumers in public speaking, including the media, developing a campaign, identifying speaking opportunities and producing printed resource materials. The project will culminate in activities during mental health week.
HCA works in partnership to involve consumers in policy development and health care decision making, organises forums on relevant health topics, supports consumers to develop skills in advocacy and representation, and communicates systemic advocacy concerns of consumers to health planners and decision makers.
Membership of the Alliance is open to health consumers and health consumer organisations.
Level 1, 12 Pirie Street
Adelaide SA 5000
Postal address: GPO Box 2248
Adelaide SA 5001
Ph: 8231 4169
Website: Click here to go to Health Consumers Alliance of SA Inc
Carers SA Caring for Carers of a Person living with a Mental Illness
Carers SA provides a range of services for carers affected by mental illness, including carers caring for someone with a mental illness and carers who themselves, are at risk of developing mental illness due to their caring role. These services are offered statewide through regional offices in Western Adelaide, Eyre and the Far West, the Far North, the River Murray Mallee and the Limestone Coast.
Carers SA provides a resource and advice service, education and training, support networks, mentoring and community awareness.
Current services include:
A monthly support group for family and friends of a person with a mental illness which includes information sessions, activities and events. This is known as ARAFMI (Assisting Family and Friends of People with Mental Illness).
Workshops for people who work with carers and consumers to understand their roles and responsibilities. Information sessions on the new Mental Health Act 2009 were held across the five Carer Support regions of Carers SA for family Carers and consumers.
A Voice for Carers through the Carers SA Mental Health Carers Task Group. The Task Group provides networks and information links and advocates for changes to the mental health system for Carers.
A statewide Carer Advisory and Counselling Service. It is understood that 30% of carers who received counselling in the last 6 months were carers of a person with mental illness.
Upcoming workshops include:
Carers One of Your Greatest Resources: A one day course offered to employees of SA Health and non-government organisations working in the mental health sector. Details: Adelaide, 27 June 2011. To register call the Mental Health Learning Centre on 8303 1351.
Partners in Depression: A six week group program to address the information and support needs of those who live with or love someone experiencing depression. Details: Murray Bridge, 7 July to 11 August 2011. To register call Anna Schmidt on 8291 5600.
Carers SA has been working on identifying respite service delivery gaps for carers of people with mental illness and working with related organisations to address the gaps.
For more information on Carers SA mental health services please call 8291 5600 or email email@example.com.
World Mental Health Day
World Mental Health Day (WMHD) is held on 10 October every year as part of World Mental Health Week. World Mental Health Week (WMHW) is an annual national awareness event held in October every year around WMHD. The aim is to raise awareness of the importance of mental health and wellbeing in the wider community, to increase community awareness and education about mental health issues and to encourage participation in life enhancing lifestyles.
This year's theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health is The Great Push: Investing in Mental Health. For further information about World Mental Health Day, please click either of the links below:
World Federation for Mental Health
Mental Health Council of Australia Seeking help? Contact…
Lifeline 13 11 14
Kids Help Line 1800 551 800
Mensline 1300 78 9978
Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service 1800 011 046
Links to some key strategic documents about Mental Health Services...
Stepping Up: A Social Inclusion Action Plan for Mental Health Reform 2007-2012 This
report by the Social Inclusion Board lays out a detailed five-year action plan to reform the
mental health system in South Australia and to provide better, more responsive services
and an integrated system of care. The Social Inclusion Board believes this will give much
needed hope and deliver increased wellbeing for many South Australians.
National action plan on mental health (2006 - 2011) was endorsed by Council of Australian
Governments’ (COAG) in July 2006. Under the plan, the Commonwealth is implementing
17 measures over five years to improve services for people living with a mental illness,
their families and carers, through:
increasing clinical and health services available in the community and providing new team work arrangements for psychiatrists, general practitioners, psychologists and mental health nurses
providing new non-clinical and respite services for people with mental illness and their families and carers
increasing the mental health workforce
providing new programs for community awareness
Mental Health Complaints Review Project 2009 is a report on the management of
complaints processes within selected mental health services in Victoria. The project
highlighted examples of good practice and many areas that require improvement.
Significantly, the report identified that many consumers and carers felt that making a
complaint would adversely impact on their care and treatment.
The National Standards for Mental Health Services (2010). This document outlines a
revised set of mental health service standards which can be applied to all mental health
services, including government, non-government and private sectors across Australia.
Summary Report: Statewide Aboriginal Mental Health Consultation 2010 was produced by
SA Health. This report documents the perceptions, beliefs, insights and concerns of
Aboriginal people in South Australia about mental health and well being issues. The report
is the outcome of a consultative process which involved a number of forums held with
Aboriginal communities across the State.
National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum (NMHCCF)
The National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum (NMHCCF) is the combined national voice for consumers and carers participating in the development of mental health policy and sector development in Australia.
Through its membership, the NMHCCF gives mental health consumers and carers the opportunity to meet, form partnerships and be involved in the development and implementation of mental health reform.
To utilise our lived experience and unique expertise in mental health to identify what does and does not work in the mental health sector.
To identify important and innovative ways to bring about positive change within the mental health system.
To be a powerful, respected, combined national voice for mental health consumers and carers.
If you would like to be in contact with mental health consumers and carers throughout Australia to discuss your experiences click here to go to the National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum.
Links for people living with mental illness, their families & carers Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing: Mental Health and
Wellbeing provides information on the Australian Government's role and contributions to
mental health reform activities in Australia. Click on this link to go to the Australian
Government Department of Health and Ageing: Mental Health and Wellbeing.
Australian Infant, Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health Association
(AICAFMHA) promotes mental health and wellbeing of Australian infants, children,
adolescents and their families / carers. Click on this link to go to the Australian Infant,
Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health Association.
beyondblue is a national, independent, not-for-profit organisation working to address
issues associated with depression, anxiety and related disorders in Australia. Click on this
link to go to beyondblue. The Black Dog Institute is a not-for-profit, educational, research, clinical and community-
oriented facility offering specialist expertise in depression and bipolar disorder. Click on
this link to go to the Black Dog Institute Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) South Australia provides a
range of programs for children, young people and their families who are experiencing
emotional, behavioural or psychiatric problems. Click on this link to go to Northern CAMHS
or click on this link to go to Southern CAMHS.
Directory of Mental Health Services (SA) is a useful guide to government mental health
units in South Australia. The list is divided into regions or specialities, within which the
individual locations and teams are listed. Click on this link to go to the Directory of Mental
Health Services (South Australia). Headroom is a project within the Centre for Health Promotion of Children, Youth and
Women’s Health Service (CYWHS). The project aims to develop ways to promote mental
health and wellbeing among young people aged 6 - 18 years of age. Click on this link to
go to Headroom. Life is For Everyone (LIFE) is a world class suicide and self-harm prevention resource
funded by the Australian Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing. Click on this
link to go to Life is For Everyone. Men’s Line Australia is a dedicated telephone helpline service for men with relationship
and family concerns, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Click on this link to go to Men’s Line
Mental Illness Fellowship of South Australia (MIFSA) provides a range of programs
and services for people affected by mental illness, carers and the community. Click on this
link to go to Mental Illness Fellowship of South Australia. Multicultural Mental Health Australia has the latest information on resources, services
and research, conferences and events relating to multicultural mental health and suicide
prevention for Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities.
Click on this link to go to Multicultural Mental Health Australia. Private Mental Health Consumer Carer Network (Australia) is dedicated to effective
consumer and carer participation as the driving force in all elements of change in private
sector mental health services. Click on this link to go to the Private Mental Health
Consumer Carer Network. Reach Out! provides information to young people experiencing distressing or complicated
situations. Click on this link to go to Reach Out!
Some mental health statistics... Mental Health in Australia:
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (2007)National Survey of Mental Health & Wellbeing found that one in five (20%) Australian adults experience a mental illness in any year. One in four of these people experience more than one mental illness.
Almost half of the Australian population (45.5%) experience mental illness at some point in their lifetime.
Mental health care in Australia is provided by a combination of specialised public mental health services primarily managed by the states and territories, private sector services delivered by psychiatrists and hospitals, and primary health care services, represented principally by general practitioners.
One in three (34.9%) people with a mental illness used health services for mental health problems in the previous 12 months.
Click here for further mental health statistics from the Australian Government – Mental health and well being site.
Between July 2010 - March 2011 HCSCC:
received 89 complaints from people who identified as having a mental illness, about 10% of the total number of complaints received by HCSCC during this time.
one in three people living with a mental illness were supported to complain by a family member, carer, advocate or friend.
the main services complained about were:
individual practitioners (nearly 30%)
community mental health teams (17%)
non-government organisations (7.7%)
child protection services (6.6%)
New South Australian Community Visitor Scheme
The Mental Health Act 2009 establishes the Community Visitor Scheme (CVS) in South Australia.
The purpose of the Community Visitor Scheme is to provide further protection of the rights of people with a mental illness who are admitted to mental health care treatment centres in South Australia.
Community Visitors have the right to visit and inspect treatment centres and other incorporated or private hospitals and consult with consumers, carers and staff to ensure that people with serious mental illness are receiving appropriate care and treatment.
The Community Visitor Scheme is an independent statutory body that operates independently of health services, with a direct reporting line to the Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse. Click here to go to SA Health for further details or email: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Need help to make a complaint to hcscc?
call the hcscc Enquiry Service Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm phone 8226 8666
Country SA from a landline phone 1800 232 007
write to hcscc at PO Box 199, Rundle Mall, SA, 5000
visit the hcscc website and fill out a complaint form on-line at www.hcscc.sa.gov.au or email direct email@example.com
South Australian Mental Health Act (2009) aligned to proposed HCSCC Charter…
South Australian Mental Health Act (2009) Rights of the consumer to…
Proposed HCSCC Charter
• appropriately limited powers to make orders for community treatment, or detention and treatment of such
persons when required
• deals with powers relating to persons who have or appear to have a mental illness
Guiding principles – Decision making capacity and Authority
1. ACCESS – Right to access health and community services
• further protections for persons with a mental illness
• neglect or ill treatment of persons with a mental illness attracts fines and / or imprisonment
• implementation of Community Visitors Scheme
2. SAFETY – Right to be safe and free from abuse
• ensures persons with serious mental illness receive comprehensive range of services of the highest standard
• services should be designed to bring about the best therapeutic outcomes for patients
• implementation of Community Visitors Scheme
3. QUALITY – Right to quality service
• to ensure that persons with serious mental illness retain their freedom, rights, dignity and self-respect
• medication, mechanical body restraints and seclusion should be used for therapeutic safety reasons and not
as punishment or for the convenience of others
• assistance of interpreters
4. RESPECT – Right to be treated with respect
• patients, their family or other carers or supporters should be provided with comprehensive information about
their illness, any orders that apply, treatments, legal rights and what alternatives are available