Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the inquiry about?
A: On 19 March 2019 the Victorian Government announced that it had referred a matter to the Health Complaints Commissioner (HCC) in relation to Assisted Reproductive Treatment (ART) and In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) health services.
The Health Complaints Commissioner will conduct an inquiry into these services and, at the end of the inquiry, will deliver a report to the government, which may make recommendations to the Minister for Health.

Q: Has the inquiry commenced?
A: The inquiry will commence with a discussion paper, which is currently being developed and will be published on the HCC’s website at hcc.vic.gov.au.
The discussion paper will address a series of questions about the inquiry and will invite submissions from ART and IVF clients (including third-party submissions from family members or friends) and from service providers.
It’s important that we gather information from both people who have utilised these services as well as providers themselves. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous may do so.

Q: How long will the inquiry take?
A:
The inquiry is expected to be completed and a report delivered to government by the end of 2019.

Q: Can I make a submission to the inquiry?
A:
Yes. The HCC will call for submissions to the inquiry through a discussion paper, which is currently being developed. The call for submissions and the timeframe for making a submission will be posted on our website.
In the meantime, you can register your interest in the inquiry here.

Q: I have previously made a complaint to the HSC/HCC about my ART/IVF experience. Will my complaint be considered in the inquiry?
A:
Yes, information from past complaints will be reviewed as part of the inquiry (the names of complainants will be kept confidential). However, you may wish to also make a submission to the inquiry addressing the specific questions in the discussion paper. We won’t be reconsidering your past complaint. If you would like to make a submission to the inquiry please contact us on 1300 582 113 or by registering your interest here.

Q: Can I make an anonymous submission to the inquiry?
A:
Yes. All relevant information will be considered. It will assist the inquiry to have as much information as possible, including information provided anonymously.

Q: Can I complain about my past experience with ART/IVF treatment?
A:
Yes. However, complaints to the HCC must be made within 12 months of when the health service was last provided or sought. The HCC may deal with some complaints after more than 12 months on a discretionary basis but the longer the delay between the treatment and the complaint, the less likely it is that we will deal with it.
New contacts with information about ART/IVF treatment provided or sought before 1 February 2017 (commencement of the HCC) will be considered as part of the inquiry.
Information from all current complaints will also be reviewed as part of the inquiry - the names of complainants will be kept confidential.
If we are currently dealing with your complaint through our complaints resolution process, you may also wish to make a separate submission to the inquiry. The inquiry will not be attempting to resolve individual complaints, but we do want to hear from as many people as possible.

Q: I want to make a complaint about an ART/IVF service that someone else received. Can I do that?
A:
Yes, however, it is best to make a complaint with the knowledge and authority of the person who received the treatment. The HCC may not be able to deal with the complaint through our normal complaints resolution process if we have no authority to discuss the complaint with the person who made it. If we cannot deal with a complaint about an ART/IVF service through our complaints resolution process, we may treat the information provided as a submission to the inquiry.
If you would like to make a submission to the inquiry please contact us on 1300 582 113 or by registering your interest here.

Q: How can I tell if my ART/IVF provider is engaging in unscrupulous or unethical conduct?
A:
If you are concerned about the conduct of your IVF or ART provider you can make a complaint to the HCC.
If your concern relates to a registered practitioner, for example, a medical practitioner or a nurse, you can notify the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). The HCC shares with AHPRA all complaints it receives about registered practitioners. AHPRA has the power to investigate professional conduct of registered practitioners.
While our complaint resolution process is separate to the inquiry if, as a result of submissions to the inquiry, the Commissioner forms a reasonable belief that an investigation of an individual ART/IVF provider is warranted, then that may occur separately to the inquiry. One outcome of an investigation may be a finding that a health service provider has failed to act in a safe or ethical manner.

Q: Will you share submissions made to the Inquiry with AHPRA?
A:
No, there is no obligation to share with AHPRA submissions received in response to an inquiry. However, the HCC is required by law to share with AHPRA complaints received about registered practitioners. If you are concerned about the professional conduct of a registered practitioner, you may also notify AHPRA directly. A notification form is available on AHPRA’s website at www.ahrpa.gov.au.

Q: I am about to start ART/IVF treatment. Have you received any complaints about my provider?
A:
We do not report on individual complaints. If you have any concerns about the conduct of the provider, you are welcome to lodge a complaint with our office, or notify AHPRA if the conduct relates to a registered practitioner.
You may also wish to contact the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority (VARTA), which is the statutory agency responsible for the registration of ART clinics in Victoria, among other things. VARTA can be contacted at www.varta.org.au.
Restrictions or conditions imposed by AHPRA on registered practitioners are published on the AHPRA register available on its website at www.ahrpa.gov.au.

Q: Will the inquiry result in cheaper ART/IVF treatment costs in Victoria?
A:
The HCC cannot prescribe the amounts ART/IVF providers, or any other health service providers, charge for treatment.

Q: Will any ART/IVF providers be banned as a result of this inquiry?
A:
There are no powers to ‘ban’ providers following an inquiry. At the conclusion of the inquiry, the HCC may make recommendations to the Minister for Health. If unsafe or unethical practices are identified during the inquiry, the HCC may decide to conduct an investigation of the unsafe and unethical ART/IVF provider. However, this will be at the discretion of the HCC and on a case-by-case basis.

Q: I provide ART/IVF treatment. Can I make a submission to the inquiry?
A:
Yes. We’re currently developing a discussion paper that will address a series of questions about the inquiry and invite submissions from ART and IVF clients (including third-party submissions from family members or friends) and from service providers.
It’s important that we gather information from both people who have utilised these services as well as providers themselves. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous may do so.
The discussion paper will be available on our website at hcc.vic.gov.au.
If you would like to make a submission to the inquiry please contact us on 1300 582 113 or by registering your interest here.

Q: I am an ART/IVF treatment provider. How will the inquiry ensure that providers are treated fairly?
A:
The HCC is an impartial and independent statutory agency, and we do not advocate for one party or another.
IVF providers will have an opportunity to make submissions to the HCC under the inquiry.
In addition, as part of the inquiry, the HCC may seek specific submissions or information from individual providers. The inquiry will not publish the names of individuals who make submissions without consent.
If the HCC decides to conduct an investigation into a provider as a result of information obtained through the inquiry, the parties involved in the investigation will be afforded natural justice. The HCC will meet all legal requirements in the conduct of the investigation, including procedural fairness and the principles of natural justice.

Q: I work for an ART/IVF provider. Will I be protected if I make a submission to the Inquiry?
A:
Yes. The success of the inquiry will rely on having as much information as possible, and that includes information made anonymously. You can make an anonymous submission or request that your identity is kept confidential. It may help us to ask you further questions, so we would encourage you to provide your contact details and agree to let us contact you, even if you tell us that you wish to remain anonymous.