Summary

  • When looking after the financial and legal affairs of someone with a life-limiting illness, you may need to make a complaint about services being provided.
  • Most service providers have complaints processes for you to follow
  • It is a good idea to make your complaint as soon as possible, either in person or in writing.
  • If your complaint isn’t resolved, you can there are regulatory bodies in Victoria that can help you.
 

When looking after the financial and legal affairs of someone with a life-limiting illness, you may need to make a complaint about people and organisations when their services do not meet agreed expectations. 

Most service providers have complaints processes in place for you to follow..

Deciding to speak up

One of the challenges of managing your loved one’s legal and financial affairs is knowing when to speak up about the services being provided. It is okay to speak up and make a complaint if you think something is wrong with the service being provided.

Writing it down

It is a good idea to write down your concerns. Making notes and keeping track of dates, times and the people involved is helpful. It is useful to have that information on hand when you need to make a complaint. 

Making a complaint

It is a good idea to make your complaint as soon as possible, either in person or writing. The longer you wait, the harder it could be to establish the facts and resolve any issues. 

Step 1. Speak directly with the service professional

As a first step, speak with the person involved. It might be a misunderstanding or something that a 
simple apology could resolve.

Step 2. Speak with someone representing the service provider

Service providers often welcome feedback so they can improve their service. Sometimes it highlights a bigger a problem that they need to address. Many professional service providers have processes for hearing and dealing with complaints within their organisation.

The service provider may be able to give you an immediate solution, or will try to address it as soon as possible through its complaints process. They should keep you updated on their progress in addressing your complaint. 

Step 3. Lodge your complaint with a regulatory body or authority

If you are unhappy with the responses from the service professional involved and the organisation they represent, you can make a formal complaint to a regulatory body or authority responsible.

Getting advice from a regulatory body

There are regulatory bodies in Victoria that have formal complaint processes in place to address unresolved concerns you may have with professional services you have received.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) provides step-by-step guides and advice to consumers about problem resolution and how to make a complaint, including how to write a complaint letter.

For more information see the Complaints and enquiries and Make a consumer complaint pages on the ACCC website, or call 1300 302 502.

Legal services

For unresolved issues with legal services about costs or where it is alleged that financial losses happended due to the actions of a lawyer, you can contact the Legal Services Commissioner to try and resolve the dispute. 

As a first step, speak with the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner’s staff before putting your complaint in writing. The law requires you to make a reasonable attempt to resolve your issues with the legal service concerned before you involve the Commissioner.

The Legal Services Commissioner will assess each complaint on its merits and will determine how best to handle it. The Commissioner provides detailed information regarding their complaints handling process.

For more information see the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner - what to do when a problem arises page on their website, or call the Victorian Legal Services Board and Commissioner on 1300 796 344.

Funeral providers

All funeral providers in Victoria are governed by the Funerals Act 2006 and are regulated by Consumer Affairs Victoria.

Before you enter into a contract with a funeral provider, they must first provide you with an itemised statement of costs, service fees, disbursements and their complaint handling procedure.

All funeral directors who are members of the Australian Funeral Directors Association (AFDA) must follow a code of professional conduct. They have an ethical obligation to take the utmost care of the person who has died and pay them the highest respect and dignity.

If you need to make a complaint about a funeral provider, it should be promptly acknowledged in writing or by telephone by the provider concerned. You should make sure you give the provider a reasonable amount of time to investigate the complaint and respond to you.

If you are not satisfied with their response, you can refer the complaint to Consumer Affairs Victoria and the AFDA.

Both organisations have formal complaints processes to follow when unresolved issues arise between funeral providers and their clients.

For more information see: 

Financial services

The Financial Ombudsman Service Australia provides a dispute resolution service between consumers and their member financial services providers.

Many complaints can be fixed quickly once you have contacted them directly. Before the ombudsman can address a dispute, the financial services provider must have been given the opportunity to resolve the dispute with you.

You can only contact the Financial Ombudsman Service for disputes with their members. For disputes with non-members, you will need to contact the Credit and Investments Ombudsmen service.

Services are free to consumers.

For more information see:

Discrimination

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission provides a free dispute resolution service to hear complaints about discrimination, sexual harassment, victimisation, and vilification. 

Your loved one may have been discriminated against on the basis of their political beliefs, physical features, gender identity or other personal characteristic.

If you cannot resolve your complaint with the organisation concerned, you can submit a complaint to the Commission.

For more information see the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission – Make a complaint, or call 1300 292 153.

Where to get help 

  • Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, call 1300 302 502
  • Victorian Legal Services Board and Commissioner, call 1300 796 344
  • Australian Funeral Directors Association, National Office, call (03) 9859 9966
  • Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, call 1300 292 153
  • Financial Ombudsman Service Australia, call 1800 367 287
  • Credit and Investments Ombudsman, call 1800 138 422

More information

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This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by: Palliative Care, Health Service Policy and Commissioning, Department of Health & Human Services

Last updated: February 2017

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