This state government department provides a large percentage of direct care services throughout the state, funds most of the non government direct care services and controls almost all placements throughout the state, through the DSR (Disability Support Register) – The waiting list for all services funded by the DHS – which is almost all of them.
The department considers the relatively few complaints it receives, in comparison to the number of services it provides, shows it must be doing it right.
It does not consider that any complaint, demonstrates it is not getting it right. The level of complaints is low for the reasons detailed by the ODSC:-
- fear of being victimised for making a complaint
- fear of having the service withdrawn
- being branded as a trouble maker or appearing ungrateful to the service provider
- lack of confidence that any real or lasting change will eventuate from the complaints process
- costs that may be associated with pursuing a complaint.
These fears, combined with high levels of unmet need and a lack of alternative service options, are often a strong motivation for people with a disability and their families to put up with a poor service rather than complain. This is further complicated in regional Victoria, where there may be only one disability service provider in an area.
The following factors affecting frequency of complaints also need to be considered by providers when developing, putting into practice and assessing their complaints process and management:
- Complainants may not be aware of the process
- The complaints process may not be readily accessible
- If a complainant has had a negative experience in the past, they may fear unpleasant or unfavourable treatment by the service provider when lodging a current complaint.
Whilst disability service providers may believe that they have sound complaints management systems in place it is important to ascertain the views of service users in order to confirm that this is the case.
Although DHS policy state this should occur, it does not consider complaints as tools to service improvement.
Its management is reactive, not pro-active. Consumers with service level and quality concerns have to repeatedly raise their concerns against department opposition and denial.
Department management frequently state, ‘complaints are the complainants opinion’. Inferring, the complainant is wrong from the outset.
They never come to consumers who have concerns - like good business in the market place who want to enhance their customer relations
It does not consider that 90% of solving a problem, is admitting you have one. The department spends more resources supporting its in-denial strategies, than it would have fixing its strategic problems.
It has no reason to solve customer concerns, as it has a captive market, and consumers can go to no other service which takes funding from the DHS, unless the DHS agree, as the DHS controls the DSR state wide
It cannot solve customer concerns caused directly or indirectly by staff lore, as its management cannot man-manage staff lore.
Staff with secure, public service employment, can claim bullying, intimidation and interference under work cover legislation.