Australian Government - Department of Health - Office of Hearing Services
Hearing Services Program

Service Charter for Clients

This Service Charter sets out the service you can expect from The Department of Health (the Department), which manages the Australian Government Hearing Services Program (the program). On behalf of the Government, the program funds high quality hearing services from within the hearing industry to be delivered to clients.

Our goal

To reduce the consequences of hearing loss for eligible clients and the incidence of hearing loss in the broader community.

Our customer service standards

When you contact us we aim to

  • answer your call as quickly as possible, or if in writing, respond no later than 28 business days (from the date of receipt)
  • give you accurate, helpful and timely information, and wherever possible fully answer the questions or issues you have
  • treat you with courtesy and respect.

When we make a decision that affects you, we will tell you

  • the reason for that decision and
  • what entitlements or other options may be available to you.

When you send us an application for hearing services through the program

  • in most cases, your application will be processed in almost real-time if you apply online or through a service provider
  • however, if you post or email or your application to the program we aim to send your welcome pack, or notification of ineligibility, within 3-4 weeks of having received your correctly completed application
  • if you are eligible, we will advise you of the location of service providers in your area, and information about the hearing services available to you.

We ensure the services you receive are of high quality by

  • making contracts with service providers, which set the standard of service you receive and the rules of conduct by which service providers must abide
  • giving you a choice of service providers
  • giving you information about the hearing services you can expect to receive
  • assessing the standard of that service against the program’s requirements, and
  • dealing with feedback you may have about the services you received.

Your confidentiality and privacy

We collect information about you so that you can access the services you need. We abide by the Privacy Act 1988 and the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct. If you think we have breached the Privacy Act 1988, you have the right to appeal to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).

You can call the OAIC on 1300 363 992 or email enquiries@oaic.gov.au. Further information is available on their website, www.oaic.gov.au.

How you can help us to help you

  • talk to your service provider about any concerns you have with your hearing loss, hearing devices, or hearing services
  • tell your service provider as soon as possible if you are no longer eligible for the program or if other important personal details change
  • make sure information you give us is accurate and complete
  • take care of your hearing devices to avoid loss or damage
  • after receiving services, make sure you read the claim for payment form before you sign it. By signing this form you agree you have received the service described, or have begun a maintenance agreement
  • do not sign a blank or incomplete claim for payment form
  • when making a complaint provide as much detailed information as possible
  • treat our staff respectfully and give us reasonable time to respond to you
  • provide us with feedback about our performance or the quality of your services.

How to make a suggestion or complaint

We aim to improve our service by listening to suggestions about how to improve service delivery and by resolving complaints, where possible. We believe our clients have a right to comment or complain about services they have received, and have that comment or complaint handled professionally within a reasonable time frame.

Complaints often result from a breakdown in communication, when there is a discord between a person’s expectations and the service delivered. If you have a complaint about your services you should raise this with your service provider in the first instance.

If this does not resolve the issue, or you are not comfortable talking to your service provider, you may raise your complaint with the Department.  We aim to resolve most complaints within 28 business days, although more complex matters may require additional time.

Ways to make a suggestion or complaint

  • talk to your service provider, as they are best placed to help you
  • contact us (see ‘How to contact us’).

We may not be able to investigate your complaint if the subject of your complaint does not fall within the program’s legislation, or if your complaint would be better managed by another organisation (such as your service provider or another government agency).

In these instances we may refer your complaint to another organisation for them to resolve the matter. Alternatively, we will provide you with information about where else you can raise your complaint.

Other avenues to raise a complaint

Other ways to lodge a complaint about your hearing services or devices include

  • contacting your hearing practitioner’s professional body (ask your hearing practitioner, or their employer, which professional body they belong to)
  • lodging a complaint with your state or territory’s consumer protection agency, as most products and services bought in Australia are covered by consumer guarantees which can include the right to repairs, replacement, refunds or compensation for damages and loss, or issues with services. Visit www.consumerlaw.gov.au or www.accc.gov.au for more information
  • contacting your state or territory’s health care complaints commission.

Reviews

If you are not satisfied with the management of your complaint by the Department and would like a review, you can write to the Assistant Secretary of the program (see ‘How to contact us’).

Request for reconsideration

A request for reconsideration means making an application for a decision you are affected by and dissatisfied with, to be looked at again within the Department of Health.

For example, if the Department refuses to issue you with a voucher to receive hearing services because you are considered to be ineligible and you think that decision is wrong, you may apply for a reconsideration of that decision.

If you are affected by and dissatisfied with a decision and you wish to request reconsideration, you should submit an application for reconsideration as soon as possible. An application for reconsideration must be made within 28 days of the original decision.

Information about the reconsideration process (including the form to submit an application) can be found on our website, or alternatively, you can email hearing@health.gov.au or call 1800 500 726 for assistance.

External appeals

If you are not satisfied with a review by the Assistant Secretary, or are dissatisfied with a reconsideration decision, you may be able to appeal the decision through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) or take your complaint to the Commonwealth Ombudsman. Note that decisions about clinical matters cannot be appealed externally. Appeals should be lodged within 28 days of written notification from the Department.

The AAT can be contacted by telephone on 1800 228 333, and further information can be found at www.aat.gov.au.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman can be contacted by telephone on 1300 362 072 and further information can be found at http//www.ombudsman.gov.au.  You can also

Commonwealth Ombudsman
GPO Box 442
Canberra ACT 2601

How to contact us

  • email hearing@health.gov.au
  • phone 1800 500 726 (8.30am-5.00pm AEST and AEDT on standard business days) or (NRS on 1800 555 727)
  • write to

Hearing Services Program

Department of Health

GPO Box 9848 Mail Drop Point 113

Canberra ACT 2601

Service Charter for Clients (PDF 83 KB)

Client rights and responsibilities

Feedback and complaints

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