Information Session - August 5 2014

Office of the Disability Services Commissioner

Understanding the role of the Disability Services Commissioner (DSC) and the way in which it operates is important to people with a disability, their families and carers, and disability providers. 

Bayley House hosted an information session on the ODSC on August 5. The session was presented by Clare  Walker who has more than 20 years experience in the disability sector. She has worked for the ODSC for the past 3 years and, like all staff in the office, is a trained and registered mediator.

All the feedback indicated that everyone thought it was an fabulous presentation and Clare’s style, topic knowledge and the way in which she answered all the questions was excellent.

Two quotes written on the feedback sheets say it all:

“Every family should hear this”

And “I feel I would have more confidence now if I needed to complain”

Clare has spoken to staff and clients at Bayley House and was delighted to be speaking to parents and carers. As the session was deemed so valuable by those parents who attended we will be repeating the session again sometime next year.

The information that Clare presented was of great value and something that is relevant if you have a grievance or wish to make a complaint about any disability service provider, whether they provide a day service, supported accommodation, respite or recreation activities. Clare discussed what type of complaints they heard and what they didn’t hear. She explained the powers of the ODSC and that their role was mostly conciliatory. Their aim is to get individuals and providers together to discuss the issues at hand.

The ODSC was formed as part of one of the requirements of the Disability Act 2006 and it is an independent body answerable only to the Parliament. It hears complaints made by clients, families and staff (on behalf of clients of the service or another service).  From commencement in July 2007 until June 2103 they have received 3,600 complaints and enquiries which is a very low percentage of the number of people who access disability services. Service providers by law are required to submit annual reports of complaints to the ODSC that outline the number and type of complaints they receive. Collection of this data enables them to compile statistics related to the type of complaints and provides them with information they can forward to legislators etc to make improvements etc. They have provided a lot of information to the NDIA (agency implementing the NDIS) and are currently lobbying for the formation of a similar independent body to be implemented once the NDIS is fully introduced. 

Clare emphasised that it is ‘OK to complain’, and that in doing so, people mostly want 4 things:

1. Acknowledgement

2. Answers - what happened, why etc

3. Actions - what is the organisation doing

4. Apology - if needed, this is mostly what people want to hear

Many of the complaints the office receives are the result of mis-communication or misunderstandings related to activities / events / situations, thus are quickly resolved when the ODSC gets the two parties together. 

Overall, it was an excellent session. Click here for the presentation slides.  For further information on the ODSC, you can visit www.odsc.vic.gov.au and download their information brochures.