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Investigating deaths in disability services FAQs

Information for service providers:

Information for family and next of kin:

If you would like to print or distribute this information, you can download information sheets in PDF or RTF formats.

Information for service providers

What is DSC investigating and why?

DSC is examining the provision of disability services to persons who were receiving these services at the time of their death. Such investigations occur for expected and unexpected deaths.

The goals are to identify any issues in the provision of services to the deceased person, inform improvements across the sector and to highlight good practice.

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How is DSC notified of service provision to be investigated?

DSC is routinely notified by DHHS and the State Coroner about the death of a person who was receiving disability services at the time of their death.

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When will DSC conduct investigations?

DSC has commenced these investigations. Investigations apply to both expected and unexpected deaths occurring from 24 July 2017 to 30 June 2019.

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Does my disability service organisation fall within this investigation process?

This investigation process applies to any disability service provider who meets the definition of ‘disability service provider’ or ‘regulated service provider’ in the Disability Act 2006.

This means that disability services provided by the Secretary of DHHS, persons and bodies registered on the register of disability service providers, contracted service providers, funded service providers and prescribed service providers will fall within this investigation process.Back to top

How will I know if DSC investigates my service?

Once notified by DHHS or the State Coroner, DSC will send a letter to the service provider notifying them of the commencement of an investigation.
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What is the investigation process?

Investigations are conducted across two phases. Not all investigations proceed to the second phase.

Phase one routinely involves the DSC requesting the service provider to complete and return a questionnaire and relevant documents about the provision of disability services to the person who has died. DSC will review this information and documentation. If DSC identifies issues of concern about the adequacy of services provided to the deceased person, or if there is information to indicate the likelihood of abuse or neglect, DSC will progress the investigation to a more comprehensive (phase two) approach. A phase two investigation may include further requests for documents, interviews, site visits or hearings. DSC will communicate with the affected service providers about the further investigation and what may be required of them during this process.

General information about investigations is available here.

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What happens after an investigation?

After the completion of the investigation (whether at phase one or phase two), DSC will prepare a report for the Minister and the Secretary to DHHS.

If the report makes adverse comments or findings, the service provider or individual will have an opportunity to respond to these comments and findings before DSC finalises the report. These reports are not publicly available.

In some cases, a Notice to Take Action may be issued to a service provider if issues of concern are identified. DSC may also decide to conduct a follow-up investigation into actions taken by a service provider in response to the Notice to Take Action.

Each year, DSC will also provide a comprehensive report of the deaths reviewed as part of its Annual Report. This report will outline issues that have been identified from our reviews of disability service provision to people who have died and highlight good practice. This report will be publicly available but will not include any information that identifies an individual or an entity.

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Information for family and next of kin

The Disability Services Commissioner (DSC) routinely reviews disability services provided to a person who was receiving such services at the time of their death. Hearing from families is an important part of our learning. Participating is optional and we will work with you to learn about your experiences.

What is the review process and when will families be contacted by DSC?

Reviews are conducted over two phases. Phase one involves reviewing information and documentation received from the service provider about disability services provided to the deceased person.

If DSC identifies potential concerns about service provision during phase one, DSC will move to a more comprehensive phase two investigation. It is at this stage that families will be contacted and invited to provide their input. Participation is entirely optional.

Families can make contact with DSC at any stage if they wish to do so.

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Are family or next of kin required to participate?

No. Participation is voluntary and entirely up to you. If you wish to share your experiences with us, we can meet in person or speak by phone, or you can share your thoughts by writing to us. If you decide to meet with us, you are welcome to bring a support person along.

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Will any personal information be publicly disclosed?

No. Your privacy will be respected. DSC’s Annual Report will include an annual review of practice and the systemic issues surrounding disability service provision, but we will not include any information that can identify you or your family or next of kin. Illustrative case studies may be used to highlight practice issues. Case studies will be based on a composite of facts and themes arising from our investigations.

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Information sheets on these subjects are also available for download.

Level 20, 570 Bourke Street,

Melbourne, Victoria, 3000 Australia

Call for enquiries or complaints - 1800 677 342

Email for enquiries or complaints - complaints@odsc.vic.gov.au