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Making a Complaint


If you or your partner or child has suffered injury through birth trauma, you may need support and guidance from a range of different professionals to work through what has happened. Potentially, this could include health professionals (midwife, doctor, nurse, physiotherapist, psychologist, etc), counsellors, as well as legal advisors.

Some steps you may wish to consider undertaking are mentioned below.

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Accessing Health Records

Most States and Territories have laws in place which give patients a right to access their own health records. The procedures and entitlements differ depending on where you had the treatment, and whether the provider was a public or private health service. You would usually not need a lawyer to access these records.
You may be able to place a direct request for a copy of the records with the provider, or ask your GP to do so on your behalf. If you are having difficulty getting the records from the provider, you can also seek information from the relevant state health commission or similar government bodies. For example, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner provides guidance about patient rights to health information on its website and deals with complaints under the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth). In New Zealand, the Ministry of Health website should be your first port of call for information about accessing health records.

MAKING A COMPLAINT about a Health professional

You can raise a complaint about how you have been treated directly to the professional or provider. Most bigger health services, including hospitals, have a process for talking through adverse outcomes with patients. You may prefer to have a support person present for these conversations.

You may also wish to contact a regulatory body to make a complaint or raise a concern about a health professional.


You should contact the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority (AHPRA) if you are concerned that:
  • a health professional’s behaviour is placing the public at risk;
  • a health professional is practising their profession in an unsafe way; or
  • a professional’s ability to make safe judgements about their patients might be impaired.
Each State and Territory has a commissioner or health complaints organisation dedicated to receiving healthcare complaints. AHPRA publishes a list of these bodies on its website. If you are unsure whether you should make a complaint and/or to whom you should make it, you can contact AHPRA on 1300 419 495 to talk it through. Their contact details are published on their website.

New Zealand

In New Zealand, contact the Health and Disability Commissioner on (0800) 112 233, or their website. You can also contact the Nationwide Health and Disability Advocacy Service for advice. They will be able to talk you through how to raise your concerns, including the possibility of making a complaint to the relevant professional council.

legal advice

If you choose to seek legal advice, the following links may assist you.

New Zealand has a no-fault compensation scheme. See the Accident Compensation Corporation on their website for more information.

In Australia, you can check the Law Society websites for your relevant State or Territory to identify a law firm practising in the area:

  • Law Society of the ACT
  • Law Society of NSW
  • Law Society Northern Territory
  • Law Society of South Australia
  • Law Society of Tasmania
  • Law Institute of Victoria
  • Law Society of WA

The Australasian Birth Trauma Association does not endorse or recommend specific law firms.

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