The functions of the Commissioner are to investigate complaints regarding action/s by the Chief Executive Officer of the NHMRC or NHMRC Research Committee in relation to a funding application.

Publication Data

Current

The Commissioner of Complaints (the Commissioner) is a position established under Part 8 of the National Health and Medical Research Council Act 1992 (the Act).

The functions of the Commissioner are to investigate complaints concerning action taken by the Chief Executive Officer of the NHMRC (CEO) or the NHMRC Research Committee in relation to an application for funding made on or after 24 June 1993.

NHMRC Commissioner of Complaints

Mr Chris Reid was appointed Commissioner of Complaints in February 2017. Mr Reid has had a long-standing career as a solicitor and government lawyer and brings considerable experience and expertise in investigation and administrative law to the role of Commissioner.

Making a complaint to the Commissioner

Before complaints are investigated by the Commissioner, they are considered by the CEO and her staff. Complaints regarding a decision made in relation to funding should therefore be addressed in the first instance to:

The Chief Executive Officer National Health and Medical Research Council GPO Box 1421 CANBERRA ACT 2601

Or sent electronically to complaints@nhmrc.gov.au

Following consideration of the complaint by the NHMRC, complainants will receive a response. If dissatisfied with the response, Complainants have the right to resubmit the complaint for assessment by the Commissioner. Complaints to the Commissioner should be lodged at the following address:

NHMRC Commissioner of Complaints GPO Box 1421 CANBERRA ACT 2601

In order for a complaint to be considered, it must be in writing, be signed by the complainant, describe the action complained about and the grounds for the complaint (see below).

Grounds for Complaints

Section 58 of the NHMRC Act lists the grounds for making a complaint to the Commissioner. These are:

  1. that the action involved a breach of the rules of natural justice;
  2. that the action was induced or affected by fraud;
  3. that there was no evidence or other material to justify the action;
  4. that an irrelevant consideration was taken into account in relation to the action;
  5. that a relevant consideration was not taken into account in relation to the action;
  6. that in the course of the action a discretionary power was exercised for a purpose other than the purpose for which the power is conferred;
  7. that the action involved the exercise of a discretionary power in bad faith;
  8. that, in the course of the action, a personal discretionary power was exercised at the direction of another person;
  9. that the action involved the exercise of a discretionary power in accordance with a rule or policy without regard to the merits of the particular case;
  10. that the action involved any other exercise of a power in a way that constitutes abuse of the power.

How the complaint is handled by the Commissioner

Once the Commissioner receives a complaint he will gather the necessary information to enable an investigation to be undertaken. The Commissioner must conduct the investigation in private and in a manner that he thinks fit.

Outcomes of complaints to the Commissioner

There are four possible outcomes once a complaint is sent to the Commissioner:

  1. The Commissioner may decide not to investigate the complaint- This may occur if:
    • more than 12 months has elapsed between the time that the complainant became aware of the complaint and the time when the complaint was made; 
    • the Commissioner believes that further investigation is not justified; or 
    • the complainant has not firstly had the complaint considered by the CEO.
  2. The complaint is transferred to the Privacy Commissioner
  3. The complaint is upheld
  4. The complaint is unsuccessful

If the complaint is upheld, the Commissioner will provide a recommendation to the CEO and to the NHMRC.

Further information

If you require any further information on the complaint process please refer to the NHMRC Complaint Form and Policy or contact the NHMRC  on 02 6217 9333 or 1800 646726.