Health Complaints Act 2016 (review)
This page provides general information and shouldn't be considered legal advice. Seek legal advice if you're unsure about your legal rights. Be aware that the law can change.
VCAT can review certain decisions made by the Health Complaints Commissioner under the Health Complaints Act 2016. The Commissioner resolves complaints about health services and related matters in Victoria.
Cases we can hear
VCAT can review decisions about interim prohibition orders and prohibition orders made by the Commissioner as part of an investigation into a general health service provider (a provider of a health service that is not part of a health profession regulated under the Health Practitioner National Law).
These orders can prohibit a general health service provider from providing health services, or impose conditions on providing health services. An interim prohibition order can last up to 12 weeks, and a prohibition order can be permanent or be for any period set by the Commissioner.
For complaints about health information records, see Health records complaints.
Cases we can't help with
We can’t accept some cases where one party lives in another state or is a Commonwealth government organisation.
Legislation that gives VCAT the power to hear these applications
Section 101 of the Health Complaints Act 2016
Documents you need to apply
Attach a decision letter from the Health Complaints Commissioner to your application.
You must make your application within 28 days of the decision.
Otherwise, you can apply within 28 days from the date you received a statement of reasons or are notified you will not receive a statement of reasons.
If you apply outside of the time limit, VCAT may extend the time for making an application. You must ask for an extension of time by indicating this on the ‘extension of time’ question of the application form and briefly explaining why your application was late.
VCAT will ask the decision-maker if they agree to any extension. If the decision-maker does not agree, VCAT may hold a preliminary hearing before deciding whether to grant an extension.
Putting the original decision on hold
In most cases, applying for a review does not put the original decision on hold and that decision stands until VCAT makes its decision.
If you want the original decision put on hold, you must ask for this by indicating you want a ‘stay’ on the application form and briefly explaining why you are seeking a stay.
A stay of an interim prohibition order only applies to that order and does not stay any subsequent order made by the Commissioner during or after its investigation.
VCAT will ask the decision-maker if they agree to any stay. If the decision-maker doesn't agree, VCAT may hold a preliminary hearing before deciding whether to grant a stay.
What can VCAT order?
Unless the Act gives us different powers, VCAT can:
- affirm the original decision, in which case it will stand
- vary the decision
- set aside the decision and substitute our own decision
- set aside the decision and send back the matter for reconsideration by the decision maker giving directions or recommendations
- invite the decision maker to reconsider their decision at any time during the case.
We can explain the application process and what the form is asking you for. Contact us to get support.
We can't give you legal advice. This means we can't tell you what to write in your application or recommend how to get the outcome you want.
Seek legal help if you're unsure about your options or need advice about your claim.
Do I need a lawyer or professional representative?
You don't need to have legal or other professional representation to appear at VCAT. If you want to be represented by a lawyer or a professional advocate, usually you must ask for VCAT's permission.
Be aware that the regulatory body in most cases uses legal representation.
Find legal services that may be able to assist you.
Access and privacy
VCAT hearings and files are usually public.
VCAT has limited authority to restrict who can access cases and files but, in certain circumstances, you can apply for confidentiality.