Mental Health Act – Complaints

Second Opinion Policy

The right to request a second opinion about a patient’s treatment and care is part of the clinical governance in an authorised mental health service (AMHS) and ensures there is accountability and oversight for the clinical judgement of authorised doctors. The right to request a second opinion also aims to strengthen the confidence that patients and patients’ support persons have in the quality of mental health services.

Reference:  CPPolicy: Requesting a Second Opinion

If the person has concerns about the health care and treatment they are receiving, they also have a right to complain.

Concerns about Treatment and Care (including limited community treatment/leave)

The role of the Tribunal is to review the status of a person’s involuntary authority or order. Save for limited circumstances regarding the approval of electroconvulsive therapy or non-ablative neurosurgical procedures, the Tribunal is not involved in decisions relating to a person’s treatment and care.

Each AHMS will also be able to provide the person with assistance through an Independent Patients’ Rights Advisor (IPRA). The role of an IPRA is to assist patients and support persons in understanding their rights under the Mental Health Act 2016. Contact the relevant AMHS and ask for their IPRA.


In the first instance, any concerns regarding the treatment and care received by a person from their treating Authorised Mental Health Service (AMHS), should be discussed directly with the treating team. If the person does not reach a satisfactory outcome, they can request a second opinion which must be obtained within 7 days of the request.

The second practitioner must be independent of the treating team.

The second practitioner must document their assessment and discuss with the treating team, the patient and/or interested person.

If the second opinion suggests different treatment or care, the second practitioner and treating team must endeavour to resolve concerns. The clinical director may assist.

If no resolution possible, the concerns can be escalated to the Chief Psychiatrist.

CPPolicy Management of Complaints
  1. To Office of Chief Psychiatrist (OCP)

If concerns regarding treatment and care cannot be resolved directly with the AMHS, it may be appropriate to raise the concern with:

Queensland Health, via the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist
Phone: 1800 989 451
Post: PO Box 2368, Fortitude Valley BC, Qld 4006

Or the hospital and health service (HHS) directly:
  1. To OHO and the Queensland Human Rights Commission (QHRC)

If the person is still unsatisfied with the response, they can complain about a health service provider to the Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO) and the Queensland Human Rights Commission (QHRC).

The Office of the Health Ombudsman (Queensland Health's service complaints agency)
Website: Office of the Health Ombudsman
Complaint page:
Phone: 133 646
Email: or
Post: PO Box 13281 George Street, Brisbane, Qld 4003

Everyone has the right to make a complaint about a service provided by a health service provider. To make a complaint, contact the Office of the Health Ombudsman. They are an independent authority and the one place Queenslanders should go if they have a health service complaint.

How to make a health service complaint to OHO

A person can make a complaint to the Office of the Health Ombudsman by: Before making a complaint, try talking with the health service provider—this is often the quickest and easiest way to address concerns or fix a problem. Here are some tips on talking with the provider. If not satisfied with their response, or feel uncomfortable talking with the provider directly, contact OHO.

If you decide to make a complaint, you will need to provide us with as much information as possible, including:
  • name and contact details
  • information about the health service provider being complained about
  • the details of the issue, including when it happened
  • any supporting documentation
  • information on the steps already taken to resolve the complaint
  • what outcome is being sought by lodging the complaint.
In addition, OHO may ask for more information during their analysis of the complaint to help OHO make a decision. If this occurs, it is important to respond within the nominated timeframe. If OHI do not receive the requested information, the Health Ombudsman may decide to take no further action on the complaint.

While the process of making a formal complaint may seem daunting, OHO will work with the person to make the process as simple as possible, staying in touch every step of the way.

Speaking with OHO

When making a complaint, OHO will listen to the concerns and explain how they can help and what the person needs to do. OHO staff understand that when a person is not satisfied with a health service and wishes to make a complaint, that the person may be feeling upset or frustrated. However, it is important for the person speak respectfully to our staff and listen to what they have to say. If we are subjected to rude or abusive behaviour, we may end an interview or phone call, or we may choose to deal with the person by correspondence only.

Remember, OHO is not a health consumer advocacy agency. OHO act impartially in dealing with complaints. This means that we do not represent either the complainant or the practitioner/health service provider. While we will always take the person’s views into account, we make independent decisions about how the complaint is handled.


4. Queensland Human Rights Commission

The Queensland Human Rights Commission (QHRC) has the power to receive and conciliate human rights complaints.

If the person is not happy with the response from the agency they complained to, they may complain to the QHRC.

On 1 July 2019 the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland was renamed the Queensland Human Rights Commission. Contact QHRC on 1300 130 670 or email:
Qld Mental Health Commission –
Contact List for Complaints 

Human Rights Act Qld

The Act requires government to consider human rights in all decision-making and action, and only limit human rights in certain circumstances and after careful consideration.

The Human Rights Act 2019  forms part of the administrative law obligations and oversight mechanisms that hold government decision makers to account.

The main objects of the Act are to:
  • protect and promote human rights
  • help build a culture in the Queensland public sector that respects and promotes human rights
  • help promote a dialogue about the nature, meaning and scope of human rights.

Protected Human Rights

The Act protects 23 fundamental human rights drawn from international human rights law:
  • Recognition and equality before the law
  • Right to life
  • Protection from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
  • Freedom from forced work
  • Freedom of movement
  • Freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief
  • Freedom of expression
  • Peaceful assembly and freedom of association
  • Taking part in public life
  • Property rights
  • Privacy and reputation
  • Protection of families and children
  • Cultural rights—generally
  • Cultural rights—Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • Right to liberty and security of person
  • Humane treatment when deprived of liberty
  • Fair hearing
  • Rights in criminal proceedings
  • Children in the criminal process
  • Right not to be tried or punished more than once
  • Retrospective criminal laws
  • Right to education
  • Right to health services.
The human rights protected under the Act are not absolute. This means that the rights must be balanced against the rights of others and public policy issues of significance.

These rights are recognised in international covenants on human rights including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Obligations Under the Human Rights Act

Government departments and public service employees will have a responsibility to respect, protect and promote the human rights of individuals. They must act in a way that is compatible with human rights obligations when delivering services and interacting with the community.

Making a complaint

Government actions and decisions can impact human rights of individuals, sometimes in a positive way and sometimes in a negative way. There will be a complaints process if you have been affected by a government action or decision.
Follow this link to make an online complaint:
Queensland Human Rights Commission – Lodge a Complaint

Does the Person Need Legal Advice?

The person may need legal advice if:
  • they’ve been referred for an involuntary assessment
  • they’ve been placed under a treatment authority
  • they’re preparing to appear at the Mental Health Review Tribunal
  • they’ve been charged with a criminal offence and are going to the Mental Health Court or they want to be referred to the Mental Health Court.

How to get legal advice

Legal Aid does not give advice about general mental health matters. Contact a mental health or counselling service near you for help and advice.

Legal Aid may give legal advice if the person’s been charged with an offence  while diagnosed with a mental illness.

Legal Aid may be able to provide representation:
  • if the person is appearing in the Mental Health Court
  • if the person is appearing in the Mental Health Review Tribunal for matters including:
    • electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) applications
    • all hearings involving minors
    • hearings of a person’s fitness for trial
    • when the Attorney-General is represented.
Legal Aid also may be able to give advice on appeals from matters in the Mental Health Review Tribunal to the Mental Health Court.

The following organisations may also give the person legal advice

Mental Health Legal Service (Queensland Advocacy Incorporated) provides legal advice and casework services for people who have matters before the Mental Health Review Tribunal, including treatment authorities, orders, reviews of forensic orders, fitness for trial and more.

LawRight Mental Health Law Practice gives legal information and advice about treatment authorities, the Mental Health Review Tribunal and other associated civil law issues arising as a result of a person's mental health problem (eg housing or credit or debt law issues). The service also gives help and advocacy services to clients a treatment authority and ECT hearings in the Mental Health Review Tribunal.

Community legal centres give legal advice on a range of topics. Contact them to find out if they can help with your matter.

Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private lawyer for advice or representation.

Reference and to find out more visit Legal Aid website
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Qld Mental Health Commission Contact List for Complaints

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