The HCC can handle complaints about health services provided by any organisation or person in Victoria, including both registered and non-registered providers.
Non-registered providers are those who are not legally required to be registered under national health practitioner regulation law. They are also known as general health service providers. The many types of practitioners in this category include audiologists, naturopaths, dieticians, speech pathologists, homeopaths, counsellors, massage therapists, alternative therapists and other providers of general health services.
In Australia, 14 health professions do require registration in order to practice. These are known as registered practitioners and are regulated under a national scheme by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).
Code of Conduct
The national Code of Conduct sets standards for non-registered providers, who are not regulated under the national scheme by AHPRA. It also applies to registered practitioners operating outside their area of registration, for example a physiotherapist providing reiki therapy.
The code became Victorian law on 1 February 2017. Any possible breach of this code by a non-registered provider may be grounds for a complaint to, or investigation by, the HCC.
In summary, the Code of Conduct says that practitioners must:
- Provide services in a safe and ethical manner
- Obtain consent from their clients
- Display appropriate conduct when giving treatment advice
- Report concerns about treatment or care provided by other health care workers
- Take appropriate action in response to adverse events
- Adopt standard precautions for infection control
- Practice safely if diagnosed with infectious medical conditions
- Not make claims to cure certain serious illnesses
- Not misinform their clients
- Not practice under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Modify or stop practicing if they have certain mental or physical impairments
- Not financially exploit clients
- Not engage in sexual misconduct
- Comply with relevant privacy laws
- Keep appropriate records
- Be covered by appropriate insurance
- Display information about this code and how to make a complaint.
(Practitioners should refer to the full text of the Code of Conduct to understand their responsibilities)
Non-registered providers must make a copy of the Code of Conduct, as well as information about how to lodge a complaint with us, easily accessible to clients. The resources below can help you with this.
Compliance with the code should not mean extra work for those already operating safely and ethically, but it does provide grounds for us to take action against those who are not. We may accept a complaint about or investigate any possible breach of this code by a non-registered provider in Victoria.
At any time during an investigation into a non-registered provider we may issue an interim order prohibiting delivery of a service, or part of a service, by that provider. A final prohibition order may then be issued following investigation, if it is necessary to do so. Prohibition orders in force in other states and territories will be recognised in Victoria.
Following an investigation into a registered or non-registered practitioner, we may issue a public warning statement to alert people to serious risks to their health, life, safety or welfare.
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If you are not satisfied with our service, please contact us. We take complaints seriously and aim to resolve them quickly and fairly.
If you remain dissatisfied with our response, you may contact the Health Complaints Commissioner (HCC). The HCC responds to complaints about health services and the handling of health information in Victoria. Their service is free, confidential and impartial. To lodge a complaint with the HCC:
- Fill out a complaint form online at hcc.vic.gov.au or
- Phone 1300 582 113 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday to discuss your complaint.