Centre for Mental Health Learning VICTORIA

The Mental Health Complaints Commissioner (MHCC)

In this newsletter:
This newsletter has been prepared by the Mental Health Complaints Commissioner (MHCC) and includes links and information regarding key MHCC documents and work.

What does the Mental Health Complaints Commissioner do?

The Mental Health Complaints Commissioner (MHCC) deals with complaints about public mental health services in Victoria. We also provide information, education and advice to services about effective responses to complaints and make recommendations for service and system improvements.

Lived Experience Framework

In Mental Health Week October 2020, Treasure Jennings, the Mental Health Complaints Commissioner, launched the MHCC’s new Driven by lived experience framework and strategy. The launch video and document can be found here.

Consumer, family and carer perspectives have shaped the MHCC since its beginnings. However, in 2018 the former Commissioner, Dr Lynne Coulson Barr, made an even stronger commitment: that the MHCC would be driven by lived experience in everything we do.

The Driven by lived experience framework and strategy includes:

·       a new Driven by lived experience principle developed to complement the MHCC’s five existing principles - we are driven by the voice and collective experience and wisdom of consumers, families and carers. We honour and respect lived experience in all our work.

·       a Driven by lived experience tree which shows what the principle means in practice, visually representing the experiences we would like people to have when they engage with the MHCC.

·       a set of ‘action’ statements that describe the practical approaches we are taking in each of the MHCC’s work areas to achieve the tree’s aspirations

·       clear, measurable objectives and actions for 2020 to 2023.

The Driven by lived experience framework and strategy represents the MHCC’s strong commitment to being driven by lived experience in everything we do. For the MHCC, seeking out, listening to and embedding the voices of lived experiences in our practices is first and foremost about how we recognise people’s inherent dignity and right to have a say about the things that affect them.

We invite feedback and will continue to build on our history, evaluate our progress and grow our approach in the future.

Mental Health Week 2020: Launch of MHCC's Driven by Lived Experience Framework and Strategy

Invitation to collaborate on a complaint process
self-assessment tool for services

One of the actions in the MHCC’s Driven by lived experience strategy is to work with services to develop a complaints process and culture self-assessment tool to support public mental health services to review and improve their approach to complaints. The tool will also inform the planning and delivery of MHCC’s training and education for services.
We are therefore seeking interest, particularly from lived experience staff and representatives in services, quality coordinators and clinicians responding to complaints, to contribute to and/or trial this tool.
We’d like to know please:
  • what format would be helpful
  • what is important to include
  • your ideas for, and examples of, great complaints practice - including where lived experience staff are involved in the feedback process or reporting of feedback data to consumers, carers and staff.
We are keen to work together with and learn from services what is working well with complaints and share this information.
Please email to indicate your interest, and one of our project team will be in touch!

MHCC Advisory Council:
Expressions of Interest are open

We formed an Advisory Council in 2016 to bring the voice of people with lived experience to the forefront of the MHCC’s work. Our Advisory Council helps us to work in partnership with people with a lived experience as consumers, families and carers, and people with experience of working in services.
We have up to five positions available on the Advisory Council and are looking for consumers, families, carers and individuals working in mental health services. The term of membership is four years.
The MHCC aims for our Advisory Council to represent the views and experiences of our whole community. We therefore welcome and encourage applications from people with diverse life experiences.
If you are interested in applying, please click the button below.
The closing date is Wednesday, 6 January 2021.
For more information or to receive the expression of interest form in a different format, please contact or visit our website.  
Complete Advisory Council EOI

Annual Report Published

The MHCC’s annual report for 2019-20 was recently tabled in parliament. More people contacted the MHCC to raise concerns or queries about their experiences in 2019–20 than in any previous year. In total we received 2,221 new complaints, an increase of approximately eight per cent from 2018–19.
In 2019-20 the most commonly raised issue was treatment, including where people disagreed with compulsory assessment or treatment and where people felt their views and preferences weren’t heard. The next most commonly raised issues were communication, conduct and behaviour (often about staff manner), and medication. 
COVID-19 impacted on consumers, families and carers, and this was reflected in some treatment issues raised with the MHCC. These concerns included:
 – consumers being discharged from acute inpatient treatment when they were still too unwell to understand COVID-19 risks and restrictions
 – restrictions on visitors to services
 – risk of infection in acute inpatient units or residential services
 – approaches to infection control, including consumers being expected to stay in their own rooms and not access communal areas
– availability of community-based treatment and administration of medication
 – suspension of leave from inpatient units, including leave for smoking.
The MHCC met regularly with representatives of DHHS to share these themes from complaints to the MHCC, which were used to progressively inform the DHHS’s mental health COVID-19 responses.
Our report and a summary document are available in the publications section of our website.

Centre for Mental Health Learning

Our vision is to be the centrepiece for mental health learning in Victoria; leading and driving innovation that strengthens and sustains a flexible, curious, knowledgeable and recovery-focused workforce.

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