Providers contacted by the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner should not automatically assume the Commissioner has jurisdiction to investigate every complaint.

The Commissioner’s jurisdiction is defined by the Complaints Principles 2015 which allows the Commissioner to investigate “an issue or issues about an approved provider’s responsibilities under the Act or under the principles made under section 96-1 of the Act.” In other words, the only thing the Commissioner can investigate is whether the provider is meeting its responsibilities under the Act.

Indeed on its own Fact Sheet, the Commissioner states:

“We cannot examine concerns that are not related to a service provider’s responsibilities under the Aged Care Act 1997 or their funding agreement with the Australian Government”

As broad as the responsibilities in the Act may be, they are not unlimited.

Some examples of matters that do not fall within the Commissioner’s jurisdiction are:

  • The way a provider handles a resident’s belongings after they have died; and
  • What charges the provider imposes for storing a resident’s belongings.

There is no provision in the Aged Care Act that regulates how a provider handles a resident’s belongings after death or the way in which they are commemorated after death.

It is obviously good practice to treat deceased residents’ belongings and their families with respect and sensitivity. However, there is nothing in the legislation which regulates the way in which a provider treats the family of a deceased resident and as such, these types of issues fall outside matters the Commissioner is able to investigate.

Providers dealing with complaints should be mindful to ensure the Commissioner is able to identify the alleged breach of the Act before they devote time and resources to engaging in a resolution process. While it is good practice to engage constructively with the regulators, providers should be mindful of not unnecessarily devoting time and effort to resolving complaints which are outside the Commissioner’s jurisdiction, particularly when doing so may compromise the provider’s position.