The Victorian Disability Act is a set of laws passed by the state government in 2006. Amongst other things this provided for the set up of a disability services commissioner (DSC)
One of the functions of the DSC’s office is to receive enquiries and complaints about disability services people receive or wish to access. The DSC has no real power to make providers do anything and can generally only conciliate. This means talking about the problem and trying to get a solution.
The commissioner is an ex-DHS employee and some consumers have expressed dissatisfaction with the amount of ex-DHS people in the DSC organization. Additionally they have had teething problems with communication and systems.
The DCS is required to produce an annual report and the 2009-10 report can be viewed on their web site www.odsc.vic.gov.au
. This sets out a very detailed analysis of the enquiries and complaints made to the Office of the Disability Services Commissioner (ODSC) as well as the statistics reported by service providers about complaints made directly to them - known as annual complaints reporting (ACR).
In summary the amount of enquiries and complaints reported as being made to the ODSC and to providers has increased by about one third each year and about one third of all complaints involved supported accommodation.
For 2009-10 the ODSC received 571 enquiries of which 157 resulted in a complaint and 63 of these were resolved. Service providers reported having received 1364 complaints.
The ODSC web site encourages complaints – “Its OK to complain” – and does some work in publicity and training to assist people speaking up. But many consumers do not have family or other support, do not know what service quality they should be receiving, do not know their rights, and may be intimidated by the support system that they are so reliant upon. Additionally issues of fear of retribution, language or cultural diversity, and frustration of trying to deal with seemingly huge government departments and service providers suggests that the level of reported complaints is probably only a fraction of the real level of justified dissatisfaction.
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