Carers’ Legal Rights
There are Federal, State and Territory laws and policies that provide legal protection for you and the person you provide care for.
As an unpaid Carer, it is important to know your legal rights. The Australian Government has created an Act to raise awareness and recognition of Carers. Most States and Territories also have legislation that defines your rights as a Carer.
Recognition and Rights
As an unpaid carer you have rights that are recognised by State and Federal laws. You have the right to complain about services. Anti-discrimination laws are also in place to protect you and the person you care for, and there are also National, State and Territory laws.
Carers have the right to:
- Confidentiality and privacy
- To be recognised by Health Professionals as a contributor to the health and wellbeing of the person being cared for
- Work outside the home and be supported by employers
- Be heard and treated with respect
- Use public spaces and businesses without discrimination
- Complain about provided services
- Appeal against unfavourable decisions
Unpaid carers are supported by the Carer Recognition Act 2010.
The Carer Recognition Act is a guide for government agencies and funded organisations. There are 10 principles about delivery of services to Carers and the people in their care.
Right to complain
The Disability Discrimination Act is designed to protect the rights of family, friends and carers of people with a disability. It also includes the right of complaint.
The right of complaint includes social services and public health. It also includes the right to full and proper service when you use businesses.
State and Territory Ombudsmen can assist you with complaints about State Government services.
The Commonwealth Ombudsman can assist you with complaints against Commonwealth Government and private services.
More information about your rights as a Carer can be found here:
- The Carer Recognition Act 2010 (ComLaw, Australian Government)
- A quick guide to Anti-discrimination Laws (Australian Human Rights Commission)
- State and Territory Ombudsmen (Commonwealth Ombudsman)
Making a complaint
Sometimes the needs of the person in your care might not be met in a professional manner by others. If this happens, you can make a complaint on behalf of the person you care for.
Types of complaint
Complaints can be either external or internal –
- An external complaint is made to a Government agency or authority. External complaints are usually formal complaints.
- An internal complaint is made to a service provider. It can be either formal or informal.
An informal complaint can often resolve issues easily and quickly, and often involves a conversation with the service provider involved. It could be in writing by an email, letter or a feedback form.
Sometimes it may be necessary to make a formal internal complaint to the service provider, and they must have processes for receiving formal complaints. If you make an enquiry as to how to make a formal complaint, they should tell you.
However, the issue might not be resolved through an internal complaints process. In those circumstances, you have the right to make an external formal complaint through the relevant Government agency.
The agencies listed below have information to help you.
Deciding what type of complaint to make
Lodging a formal complaint can be time stressful and time consuming. It is better to trying and resolve the issue through an informal complaint as the first course of action.
Assert your rights and stress the needs and rights of the person you are caring for.
Tips on resolving issues
Here are some points that may help:
- Know the full rights of the person in your care
- Compile accurate information about the incident or issue
- Decide the most effective way to approach the service provider…in person, email, phone call or letter
- Listen carefully to responses and take accurate notes
- If the resolution is not satisfactory, ask for it to be reviewed
- Remember that you have the right to then lodge an external complaint
Use the links below to find information about internal and external complaints processes on the following websites –
- What options are available if my care or Service needs are not met? (My Aged Care)
- Protecting consumer rights (My Aged Care)
- How are complaints and concerns managed? (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency – AHPRA)
- Making a complaint (Commonwealth Ombudsman)
- Complaint information (Australian Human Rights Commission).
If you need respite, Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres may be able to organise either short-term or emergency respite services.