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Many complaints about veterinarians often result from a breakdown in communication between the veterinarian and the customer.

If you believe that the treatment you or your animal has received from your veterinarian is unsatisfactory, or if you have a concern regarding your veterinarian's behaviour, you are encouraged to address the matter with the veterinarian or the practice manager in the first instance. The Veterinary Surgeons Board is not empowered to investigate complaints that relate to the setting of fees or the costs imposed by veterinary surgeons or veterinary practices in the ACT. Complaints of this nature should be raised with the Office of Fair Trading through Access Canberra.

If you feel that you cannot discuss your concern with the veterinarian and you still wish to submit a complaint to the Board, then the following information may be of assistance.

This information only applies to veterinary surgeons registered in the ACT and where the alleged contravention occurred in the ACT. Complaints received by the Board are managed in accordance with the Veterinary Surgeons Act 2015.

Who can make a complaint?

A person who believes on reasonable grounds that a veterinarian has contravened or is contravening the required standards of practice or does not satisfy the suitability requirements to practise as a veterinary surgeon in the ACT, may report the veterinarian to the Board.

How do I make a complaint?

For the Board to accept a complaint against a veterinarian, the complaint must be in writing and be signed by the complainant. Complaints should contain the following information:

  • the name and address of the complainant
  • the name and address of the veterinarian and veterinary practice
  • details about the animal i.e. type, age, sex etc
  • specific details of the complaint providing sufficient information for the Board to assess the merits of the complaint
  • the complainant's permission to release the complaint to a third party which includes the named veterinarian.

Please find the attached Complaint Form for use (PDF 93KB) Word version (437KB).

Note: complaints received by email will be deemed to be signed by the complainant.

How are complaints assessed?

Complaints received by the Board will be passed to the named veterinarian for a response. The complaint together with the response will be reviewed by the Board. In deciding on an appropriate course of action, the Board will consult with the ACT Human Rights Commission (Health Services Commissioner).

Is the named veterinary told of who made the complaint?

If you have provided permission to release your complaint, the named veterinarian will be provided with a full copy of the complaint and any associated documents you provide with your complaint.  Providing a full copy of the complaint allows the named veterinarian to fully respond to each element of the complaint.

If you do not wish your name to be passed to the named veterinarian, then this should be clearly outlined in your complaint. Where permission to release the name of the complainant (or the complaint) is not provided, the named veterinarian will only receive a general outline of the complaint. Under these circumstances it may be difficult for the named veterinarian to provide a full response to the complaint and for the Board to assess the merits of the complaint.

What actions can the Board take?

Options available to the Board in determining what action to take include:

  • establishing a panel of peers to investigate the complaint
  • referring the complaint to the Human Rights Commission for review under the Human Rights Act 2005
  • applying to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) to seek suspension or cancellation of registration or an emergency order in relation to the veterinarian
  • refusing to investigate the complaint

How long does it take to process a complaint?

Persons wishing to lodge a complaint with the Board should be aware that the process for complaints is often defined by timeframes imposed by legislation. The Board sits once each month (except December) and will consider complaints ready for review at this time. It is not uncommon for complaints to remain active for a number of months to allow relevant parties to respond and for all documentation to be reviewed.

How can I find out where my complaint is up to?

You can contact the Board Secretariat (details below) who can provide advice on the status of your complaint. The Board Secretariat's advice is restricted to the complaint process only and cannot provide details about Board deliberations relating to a complaint.

What happens if I am not satisfied with the Board's response?

You may seek your own independent legal advice if you remain unsatisfied with the Board's response to your complaint.

Where do I forward my complaint?

A complaint can be forwarded to:

Executive Officer
ACT Veterinary Surgeons Board
GPO Box 158


Telephone: 02 6207 0012

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