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Fee to lodge a complaint

In most cases, you will need to pay a fee when you make a complaint to the Commissioner.

Section 72(2) of the Act provides as follows:

The Commissioner may—

  1. with the approval of the Attorney-General, fix, and require the payment of, fees in connection with the performance of functions of the Commissioner under this Act; and
  2. waive the payment of, or refund, the whole or part of a fee fixed under paragraph (a).

The Attorney-General has approved the Commissioner fixing a fee of up to $110 (including GST) for the making of a complaint, and requiring the payment of any fee before he considers that complaint.

If a complainant complains about more than one practitioner, then the fee will be payable in relation to each practitioner unless the Commissioner decides otherwise.

In some circumstances, the Commissioner may decide to reduce or waive the payment of any such fee.

Reduced fee

The Commissioner has a discretion to reduce the fee payable in a particular case.

On application, the Commissioner may reduce the fee to be paid to $55 (including GST) if the complainant provides:

  • one of the following valid concession cards:
    • Pensioner Concession Card;
    • Health Care Card;
    • Commonwealth Seniors Health Card;
    • Department of Veterans Affairs Gold Card;
    • Student identification card (full-time students only);
  • evidence that they:
    • have been granted legal aid within the last 3 months and was not required to make more than the minimum contribution of $30.

The Commissioner may also consider other applications by a complainant to reduce or waive the fee payable due to financial hardship or special circumstances. To consider an application as to financial hardship, the complainant will need to provide at least one (and ideally more) of the following supporting information and documentation as relevant:

  • information and evidence of assets and liabilities;
  • the last four weeks of bank statements, either hard copy or electronic, relating to all of the complainant’s bank accounts in sole or joint names;
  • for individuals receiving Centrelink benefits – Centrelink income and assets statement;
  • payslips for the last four weeks (if the complainant is employed);
  • tax return for the previous financial year;
  • any other financial information that the complainant considers relevant, such as outstanding bills.

To consider an application as to special circumstances, the complainant will need to explain briefly what those circumstances are and if necessary provide evidence in support. Particular examples of special circumstances may include that the complainant is under 18 years of age or is in prison or detention.

If the Commissioner does not approve a reduction in or waiver of the fee, the complainant must pay the fee in full before the Commissioner will consider the complaint.

Fee refund

The Commissioner will refund any fee that a complainant has paid if:

  • in the case of a complaint about a practitioner’s conduct, he ultimately finds that the practitioner complained about has engaged in misconduct; and
  • in the case of a complaint of overcharging, he ultimately finds that there has been overcharging, or if there is a recommendation, order or agreement that the practitioner reduces a charge or refunds an amount.

The Commissioner also has a complete discretion to refund any fee that has been paid in any other circumstances.