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What is the Complaints Resolution and Referral Service?

The Complaint Resolution Referral Service, also known as CRRS, is a free service for people with disability who are users of Disability Employment Services, Australian Disability Enterprises and advocacy services. It exists for people with disability to discuss any problem they might have with any of these Australian government funded services.

But the CRRS is not just an avenue to discuss issues you may have with these services. Crucially, it’s an avenue to make a complaint about those services.

“So, the CRRS can assist service users with different types of complaints,” Tammy Cesana, the Client Support Manager of the Complaints Resolution and Referral Service told Inform. “But what we focus on is if the service has breached the national standards for Disability Services.”

Tammy says that there are a range of reasons why you might want or need to make a complaint.

“So, it can be if they’re not getting a service or support that they should be provided with. If they’re not being allowed to make a complaint, or if the service has ignored their complaint.”

Other reasons may include:

  • Instances of abuse, neglect, or mistreatment within a service
  • Being unfairly exited from a service
  • Not getting the right pay
  • Not receiving the support needed to find, keep, or do a new job whilst registered with a Disability Employment Service
  • Unsafe or poor employment conditions while working in an Australian Disability Enterprise

Mediator and investigator

The CRRS can act as a mediator between you and the service you’ve made a complaint against. But they can also investigate complaints.

“So, we have different ways of resolving complaints,” Tammy explains. “Sometimes a service user might come to us and say that they’ve tried to lodge a complaint internally with the service, but no one’s responded to them. There hasn’t been a follow up. They don’t know what’s happened. And so, then we kind of will work as a mediator between both parties to try and figure out what’s going on and try and resolve it.”

“Or we would undertake an investigation where we’d contact the service and find out what happened. And we’d kind of be the ones that talk to the service all throughout the whole process, and then just give the feedback to the complainant.”

In the process of investigating a complaint, the CRRS can request copies of file notes, job plans, emails, or any evidence that can assist with their investigation.

“The service providers are required to meet the national standards for Disability Services. So that’s how we determine if there has been a breach or not.”

How to make a complaint to the CRRS

If you use a government funded Disability Employment Service or Disability Advocacy Service or work at an Australian Disability Enterprises, you can lodge a complaint about those services directly with CRRS.

Your family members, advocates, guardians, carers or friends can also lodge a complaint on your behalf. However, if they do the CRRS will need to obtain your consent to contact the service.

Tammy says the first step to making a complaint is to contact the CRRS by phone or email. The CRRS do not record their calls, but they do take notes to ensure the information they have is accurate.

“We would [then] do an intake. So, we would gather as much information as possible, dates of incidents, employment consultant or advocates’ details, as much information as possible. And we would obviously document all that.”

After the initial conversation, the CRRS will send out a consent form. That gives them the ok to contact the service on your behalf. The CRRS then go directly to the service and ask them to look into the complaint and provide a response.

“And then based on the outcome of the investigation, we might offer that service improvement suggestion. So, it not only benefits those involved with the complaint, but it also helps with the service delivery improvement generally,” Tammy said.

The CRRS is an impartial service

The CRRS takes an outcome focused approach to resolve complaints. Tammy’s says that means the CRRS is focused “on the individual and their desired outcome”.

“The CRRS doesn’t take sides. We don’t advocate on anyone’s behalf. Instead, we work with both parties to identify the appropriate resolution or outcome. We ensure that the individuals who use the service are listened to and treated with respect and understanding.”

If you’re considering making a complaint about a Disability Employment Service, Australian Disability Enterprise or advocacy service, Tammy says it’s worth taking the time to pull together as much information as possible but also to think about the outcome you’d like.

“When lodging a complaint with us, it’s important that callers provide clear and accurate information so we can offer the most suitable advice and support. As the CRRS takes an outcome focused approach we do encourage callers to think beforehand about a practical outcome they’d like to achieve through the complaint process.”

“The more information we have, the better. If there [are] dates of incidents, employment consultants or advocate names, any information that can help us put the complaint together and take it to the service and really have them investigated. That makes it a lot easier and makes the process a lot smoother.”

Finally, the CRRS also provide information and referrals. So if you’re not quite sure if your problem is something that CRRS would investigate, you can still call them.

“We can go through any concerns that they might have and then we can also refer them to another service that might be able to help them,” Tammy explains.

To make a complaint

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