Complaints Regarding ANZACATA Members

ANZACATA members are bound by a Code of Ethics and Standards.  If you believe an ANZACATA creative arts therapist has violated this code you can lodge a formal complaint with ANZACATA.

If you are dissatisfied with a service you have received from an ANZACATA creative arts therapist we encourage you to first raise this with the therapist.  Complaints are often more easily and quickly resolved informally.

If the informal approach has not worked or you do not feel comfortable approaching the ANZACATA member then you can lodge a written complaint for ANZACATA to investigate.

ANZACATA is committed to investigating all complaints regarding its members in a fair and impartial manner. Our approach is one of conflict resolution and remedial action where possible.  We will only investigate formal, written complaints received on the appropriate form. We can only investigate complaints made against ANZACATA members (we have no jurisdiction over arts therapists who are not members).

Important considerations before making a complaint
  • All formal complaints must be in writing and cannot be anonymous. Although you can ask that your identity not be disclosed to the subject of the complaint, this may limit our ability to take action. 
  • A complaint can be made on behalf of a minor or vulnerable adult by a legal guardian or other authorised person. In addition, complaints can also be initiated by another creative arts therapist if they become aware of a violation of our Code of Ethics and Standards.
  • You must have sufficient detail of the circumstances to proceed (see section "How to make a complaint")
  • The complaint must ordinarily be lodged within 12 months of the incident.

If your complaint is upheld, ANZACATA can issue sanctions against a practising member including further training or mentoring, temporary suspension from ANZACATA or removal from the organisation altogether. For more detail please see the sanctions section below under "What happens when ANZACATA receives your complaint?".

ANZACATA expects that supervisors of ANZACATA members will take their role as supervisors very seriously and they may advise ANZACATA (through this complaints process) of any concerns they have regarding the actions, skills or capacities of any members they supervise.

ANZACATA cannot stop a person practising as a creative arts therapist in Australia or elsewhere or mandate that damages, of any kind, are paid.

If the member who is the subject of a complaint has insurance purchased through ANZACATA, we will direct the member to consider their insurance Financial Services Guide in detail and if the complaint is related specifically to insurance coverage, we will notify BMS, the ANZACATA insurance broker.

Other avenues to complain

Making a complaint to ANZACATA does not prohibit you from making a complaint to the government body in your jurisdiction that oversees health practitioners that are not government regulated.  You may do that at the same time as you make a complaint to ANZACATA if you choose. For a list of government bodies click on "Other avenues of complaint" below.

How to make a complaint
  1. Fill out the complaint form
  2. To fill out the complaint form you will need to:
    • check our Ethics and Standards page to be clear about what ethical standard that the therapist has violated
    • have a clear account of what happened and what went wrong
    • have the date/s of the incident and name of the therapist and the organisation the therapist works in (if applicable)
    • decide if you are prepared for your identity to be known to the subject of the complaint, understanding that withholding your identity may limit the actions we can take.  It is also important to understand that even if you do not wish your identity to be disclosed, the nature of the complaint may mean the therapist will be able to determine your identity anyway.
  3. Email your completed form to: executive.officer@anzacata.org
What happens when ANZACATA receives your complaint?

On receipt of the completed complaints form, the Executive Officer will acknowledge receipt of your complaint within 5 working days.

The Executive Officer will then verify that the subject of the complaint is an ANZACATA member/applicant AND that the incident being reported is a breach of our Ethics and Standards Policy.

If the subject of the complaint is not an ANZACATA member/applicant OR the matter is not a breach of our Ethics and Standards Policy, you will be notified of this outcome and the case will be closed. ANZACATA can do no more, however, you can still complain to other government bodies.

If your complaint can be investigated, the Executive Officer will discuss the complaint with the Board Chairperson and then email you again to:

  • inform you that ANZACATA will investigate the matter
  • provide an estimate of the timeframe for the complaint to be responded to
  • advise you of your rights if you are not satisfied with ANZACATA's response.

At this stage only you, the Executive Officer and the Board Chair know the complaint details. Next, the ANZACATA member against whom the complaint has been made will be contacted in writing by the Executive Officer. They will receive a summary of the complaint made against them and the name of the person making the complaint. They will have up to 28 days in which to prepare a written reply to the complaint. This must be emailed to the Executive Officer.

The Executive Officer and the Board Chair will together consider both your complaint and the response from the member. If the matter is clear they will make a determination for action or sanctions within 28 days. If the matter is complex/unclear, they may seek further information from both parties and/or they may refer the matter to the full Board for its consideration.

If the matter goes before the full Board the names of both the ANZACATA member and the person complaining will be excised from any documentation. Thus, the complaint is still only shared between the accused member, the complainant and the Executive Officer and the Chair of the Board. The decision of the Board will be final, and you will be notified of the outcome usually within 90 days of our receipt of your complaint.

If your complaint is upheld – sanctions that may be applied

If your case is investigated by ANZACATA and upheld we will email you a report of your complaint, outlining the investigations, conclusions and remedial actions that were applied.
Remedial actions may include but are not limited to:

  • Censure of the member
  • Advising the member to stop the activity that breaches the Code of Ethics and Standards
  • Further training required to be undertaken by the member (at their own expense)
  • Targeted supervision required to be undertaken by the member (at their own expense)
  • Temporary suspension of the member from ANZACATA for a certain period of time
  • Removal of the member from ANZACATA.

If your complaint is not upheld

If your case is investigated by ANZACATA  but not upheld, the Executive Officer will email you with an outline of your complaint, the investigations we undertook and the reason why it was not upheld. 

Any member who is the subject of a complaint which proceeds to the investigation stage, will be notified, given access to any material ANZACATA has in relation to the complaint, and given the opportunity to respond to the complaint.

Our general approach, when a complaint is upheld is to help members who are the subject of a complaint to improve their knowledge, training, skills and practice.

Complaints arising from lack of skills, knowledge, or awareness

When a complaint seems to have arisen from a lack skills or knowledge, ANZACATA will work with the member to rectify the issue, specifically to require additional training and/or additional supervision.  The subject of the complaint will need to undertake this at their own expense.  We will follow up to ensure the work has been completed satisfactorily, for instance, by requiring a report from the supervisor or a certificate of completion if additional training is required.

However, if the subject of the complaint in these situations refuses or fails to comply with our recommendations, we will either temporarily suspend or terminate the therapist's ANZACATA membership.

Complaints involving inappropriate relationships

When a complaint involves an inappropriate relationship with a client, ANZACATA will recommend suspension or termination of membership if the complaint is upheld.

An inappropriate sexual relationship would usually automatically invoke termination of membership. For having dual relationships of a non-sexual nature or where the boundaries broken are not clear-cut we retain the possibility of extra compulsory supervision or suspension for a specified length of time.

If we terminate membership, all mention of ANZACATA must be removed from the former member's written, web or social media based material within one month.

Upheld complaints

All complaints that are upheld will be recorded in the member's file.  The same confidentiality as is provided with a written complaint is kept in relation to the filing of the complaint. The Board may, at its discretion, impose more stringent requirements upon members or applicants previously found to be in violation of the Code of Ethics and Standards (in the case where this is not the first offence).

Australian members please be aware that any complaint that is upheld and related to NDIS clients will be reported to the NDIA. New Zealand members, please also be aware that any complaint that is upheld and related to ACC matters will need to be reported to the ACC.

Other avenues of complaint

Each State and Territory in Australia has its own Health Complaint Entity / Commissioner with independent legal authority to investigate consumer complaints against healthcare practitioners, including creative arts therapists. The following is a list of Health Complaints Entities/Commissioners in each Australian State and Territory.

In Australia there is a National Code of Conduct for health care workers which sets minimum standards of conduct and practice for all unregistered health care workers who provide a health service. Under this code, you can complain about incompetent or impaired health care workers, or those behaving in exploitative, predatory or illegal ways.

Similar bodies in NZ and Asia are listed below.

ACT
The ACT Human Rights Commission
www.hrc.act.gov.au/health/
T: 02 6205 2222

NSW
The Health Care Complaints Commission
www.hccc.nsw.gov.au
T: 02 9219 7444
1800 043 159

Northern Territory
Health and Community Services Complaints Commission
www.hcscc.nt.gov.au
T: 08 8999 1969
1800 004 474

Queensland
Office of the Health Ombudsman
www.oho.qld.gov.au
T: 133 646

South Australia
Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner
www.hcscc.sa.gov.au/making-a-complaint
T: 08 8226 8666
1800 232 007amt complaints policy

Tasmania
Health Complaints Commissioner
www.healthcomplaints.tas.gov.au
T: 1800 001 170

Victoria
Office of the Health Services Commissioner
www.health.vic.gov.au/hsc
T: 03 8601 5200
1800 136 066

Western Australia
Health and Disability Services Complaints Office
www.hadsco.wa.gov.au
T: 08 6551 7600
1800 813 583

New Zealand
Health and Disability Commissioner
www.hdc.org.nz/making-a-complaint
National Freephone:
0800 11 22 33

Singapore
www.healthprofessionals.gov.sg/ahpc/information-for-registered-allied-health-professionals/code-of-professional-conduct
Allied Health Professions Council (AHPC)
www.healthprofessionals.gov.sg/ahpc/lodging-a-complaint

Last updated: 30 August 2022

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