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Care Opinion and formal complaints


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Important Information

Sharing your story is not a formal complaint process or part of a complaint process. Names, dates of care and other identifying information are removed from stories before they are published. 

Care Opinion is not a regulator and cannot take any action about individual registered practitioners.

Posting on Care Opinion is not a way to reopen your complaint or reach a different outcome.

The importance of feedback

Feedback plays an important role in improving the quality and safety of care delivered by health, aged and community care service providers. It enables service providers to make things better for others.

Here are some things to think about when deciding whether to post feedback here, before, during or after a formal complaint process.


Consumer rights

Patients, consumers, carers and families all have rights, including the right to raise issues about the care they have received. This means that making a complaint doesn't have to be a negative thing but instead, is a way to make the decision-makers in an organisation know that something hasn't gone the way you feel it should. Remember, if a service provider doesn't know there is a problem, they can't do anything about it.

There are many different ways to make a complaint.You can share it on Care Opinion Australia, tell the staff looking after you, share it with the service provider's feedback team or go to a regulator or independent complaints organisation. 

You can read about your rights at:

Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights (external site)

Charter of Aged Care Rights (external site)


How is posting on Care Opinion different to making a formal complaint?

The table below summarises some of the differences between Care Opinion and making a formal complaint. 

Care OpinionFormal complaint
Informal and onlineFormal and usually on paper
Outside the organisationInside the organisation
You remain de-identified in the public domain and most of the time,
anonymous to the service provider
You do not remain anonymous
Public: everyone can read itPrivate: only you and the organisation can see it
You may not get a responseYou should always get a response
Multiple organisations may respondA single organisation responds
Story/response statistics are not monitoredComplaint statistics are monitored nationally
No power to force or change specific outcomesMay result in a clear action plan
Focus on learning and improvementFocus on root cause not a fault or blame


Federal, State and Territory Complaints Organisations

You can find your state or territory health complaints organisation at (external site).

If you believe a health practitioner's behaviour is placing people at risk, you may wish to consider reporting your concerns to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). AHPRA takes complaints when a person has concerns about the clinical care, treatment or behaviour of a registered health practitioner in several states and territories in Australia. Read more at (external site).

If you are receiving an aged care service and you have a concern or complaint that you have not been able to resolve by talking with your service provider, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (the Commission) can help you to resolve your concern or complaint. Read more at (external site).


If you are planning to make a complaint or have an ongoing complaint about your care

If you are planning to make a complaint, or have already made a complaint, to a health or care service, you can still share a story about that experience (about the care, or about the complaint process itself) on Care Opinion.

  • When you post on Care Opinion, you are likely to be identifiable to the staff who are looking into your complaint.
  • Your story is highly likely to be responded to by the same person managing your formal complaint.
  • You should think carefully about whether a public story on Care Opinion might affect how complaint handlers and other staff feel about your complaint, or how they respond to it.

To avoid having two different communications in progress with the same organisation at the same time (a formal complaint and informal online feedback), it might be wise to wait until your complaint process is completed. Then you can decide whether you want to share feedback about your care, or the complaint process, on Care Opinion.

If you want to go ahead, let our moderator know. Your story will then be moderated in line with our standard process.


If a complaint about your care is completed

If your complaint process is completed, sharing your experience on Care Opinion will normally not cause you a problem.

If you have been unhappy with the complaint process, you may be planning to escalate your case to an independent complaints agency. If so, you should check whether posting on Care Opinion (or receiving a response from the care provider on Care Opinion) could cause a delay or prevent them from accepting your case.

If you want to go ahead, let our moderator know. Your story will then be moderated in line with our standard process.


How does Care Opinion moderate a story about a formal complaint?

Care Opinion moderates stories about the experience of complaint just like other stories, in line with our moderation policy and values.

Where it is clear that a formal complaint is planned or is ongoing, or the story is very serious, we pause moderation and ask the author to consider the issues on this page. If the author confirms they wish to go ahead, we resume moderation of the story.


Why does Care Opinion have this policy?

Care Opinion’s mission is for “people to be able to share their experiences of health and care in ways which are safe, simple, and lead to learning and change”. Experiences of health, aged and community care may include a wide range of experiences, such as clinical, administrative or relational experiences, and may also include the experience of a formal complaint process.

In principle, we believe that Care Opinion should publish both experiences of care which lead to complaints, and experiences of the complaints process itself. We believe wider public benefits follow from this policy.

For story authors: Research suggests that important motivations for authors posting care experiences online include “informing other patients” and “improving standards of care”. There is much evidence of authors achieving these goals when they post their feedback, but they can’t achieve them in relation to the complaints process if Care Opinion rejects feedback about that process.

For service providers and the wider system: It is acknowledged that there is much variation in the quality of provider complaint handling. Formal channels for feedback about complaints processes exist, and Care Opinion adds an informal channel alongside these, just as it does for care more generally.