26 Sep 2019

Closure of the No Brace Centre – Frequently Asked Questions

Melbourne dental clinic No Brace Centre closed on Friday 30 August 2019 without prior notice. Clients of the clinic have been unable to directly resolve enquiries or complaints about outstanding treatment, prepaid fees or access to their health records.

The office of the Health Complaints Commissioner (HCC) is an independent and impartial statutory body that resolves complaints about the provision of health services and the handling of health information in Victoria.

The HCC has received almost 200 enquiries and complaints from clients of the No Brace Centre following its closure.

On 4 September 2019, the Supreme Court of Victoria appointed Justin Howlett of SMB Advisory as liquidator of the No Brace Centre, taking control of the business and its finances. For information about contacting the liquidator, see below.

The HCC administers the Health Records Act 2001 which sets out the legal framework for the handling of health information in Victoria. The HCC is presently seeking to determine how clients of the No Brace Centre can access their health records.

The HCC will provide an update on the progress of its endeavours once more information becomes available. To make a complaint about the No Brace Centre please use the online complaint form or call the HCC on 1300 5820113.

For information about what the HCC may be able to assist you with, please see below.

I have pre-paid for treatment at No Brace Centre, which was not completed. How can I get a refund?

Court-appointed liquidator Justin Howlett, of SMB Advisory, has advised that anyone with outstanding, pre-paid dental work can complete an internal claim form and return it to SMB at [email protected]. Documents verifying the claim should be included with the form. The form can be accessed by clicking on the below pdf link. Do not send the form to the HCC.

SMB Advisory has advised that clients with outstanding pre-paid dental treatment are classed as ‘unsecured creditors’ of the No Brace Centre and can only receive a refund if SMB Advisory makes ‘sufficient realisations’ to enable a dividend to be paid to unsecured creditors.

Can the HCC help me to get a refund for unfinished treatment?

The HCC is an independent and impartial statutory body that resolves complaints about the provision of health services and the handling of health information in Victoria.

The HCC offers a free alternative to legal proceedings through a voluntary complaint resolution process. We cannot force providers to participate in the complaint resolution process.

As the No Brace Centre is in the process of being liquidated, there is no reasonable prospect of complaints about refunds being resolved through the HCC’s complaint resolution process. The HCC will not be able to deal with complaints about refunds by the No Brace Centre for unfinished treatment.

Questions or concerns regarding refunds should be directed to the liquidator, SMB Advisory, on 03 9600 2100.

How do I access my health records from the No Brace Centre?

The HCC is presently seeking to determine how clients of the No Brace Centre can access their health records. The HCC will provide an update on this when more information becomes available.

If you wish to make a complaint about access to your health records with the No Brace Centre, please use our complaint form.

I’ve contacted the HCC about accessing my health records from No Brace Centre. How long will it take to receive these records?

The HCC is presently seeking to determine how clients of the No Brace Centre can access their health records. It is not possible to advise at this point whether, or how quickly, access to the No Brace Centre's health records might become available. The HCC will provide an update on this when more information becomes available.

The HCC has received almost 200 complaints and enquiries regarding No Brace Centre since its closure on 31 August. Due to the high volume of complaints we ask for your patience as we seek to facilitate a resolution where possible.

The HCC will contact all complainants to update them on this process as information becomes available.

How do I make a complaint about dental treatment that I received from the No Brace Centre? What are the likely outcomes of a complaint?

The HCC is an independent and impartial statutory body that resolves complaints about the provision of health services and the handling of health information in Victoria.

The HCC offers a free alternative to legal proceedings through a voluntary complaint resolution process. Participation in the complaints process is voluntary for patients/clients and health service providers.

If you wish to make a complaint about dental treatment you or another person received from the No Brace Centre, use our complaint form or call the HCC on 1300 582 113.

Complaints must be made within 12 months of the health service being completed. The HCC will endeavour to assist parties to resolve their complaints if it is possible to do so, in accordance with the Health Complaints Act 2016.

The HCC has powers to investigate health service providers. Will the HCC investigate No Brace Centre?

The HCC may conduct an investigation if the Commissioner reasonably believes that the complaint should be investigated and certain other criteria under the Health Complaints Act 2016 are met.

In deciding whether to conduct an investigation the Commissioner will have regard to all relevant considerations, including any risk to the health, safety or welfare of the public and whether an investigation is likely to result in recommendations that may lead to better outcomes for consumers of health services.

As the No Brace Centre is in the process of being liquidated and is no longer providing a health service, the Commissioner does not intend to conduct an investigation.

Is Ari Masters, the owner of the No Brace Centre, still able to practise as a dentist in Australia?

No. Ari Masters is no longer registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Registration Agency (AHPRA).

I’d like more information about my legal options. Who should I contact?

The HCC is an independent and impartial statutory body that resolves complaints about the provision of health services and the handling of health information in Victoria.

The HCC offers a free alternative to legal proceedings through a voluntary complaint resolution process. Participation in the complaints process is voluntary for patients/clients and health service providers.

For more information about your legal options visit the Federation of Community Legal Centre’s website at www.fclc.org.au to find your nearest community legal centre, or contact the Law Institute of Victoria to access its legal referral service https://www.liv.asn.au/find-a-lawyer