Independent review of the Marketing in Australia of Infant Formulas (MAIF) Complaints Handling Process

In 2017, the Department of Health (the Department) engaged Nous Group (Nous) to undertake an independent review of the complaints handling process under the Marketing in Australia of Infant Formulas: Manufacturers and Importers Agreement 1992 (MAIF Agreement).

Page last updated: 25 June 2018

The review aimed to inform Australia’s current and future commitment to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (WHO Code), and ensure best practice in the complaints handling process.

The objectives of the review were to:

  • assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the existing arrangements, including their scope and coverage;
  • understand stakeholder awareness and perception of the MAIF Agreement and Tribunal arrangements;
  • identify areas for improvement in the complaints process.
The review found some unsatisfactory aspects of the process including low awareness and visibility of the process; poor timeliness from lodgement to determination and reporting; and lack of transparency of the process and the need for more frequent real-time reporting.

The review also found there were some challenges to the arrangement of the complaints handling system and the number of partners involved including inconsistency in reporting; dissipation of corporate knowledge across four entities; no shared understanding between the Department of Health and MAIF Complaints Tribunal about their respective responsibilities for determining in and out of scope complaints; a lack of certainty as to who has responsibility for maintaining and updating guidelines; an absence of a mechanism to facilitate collaboration; and a lack of institutional sustainability of the third party.

Four possible to improve the complaints handling process were presented.
  1. Continue the current split of responsibilities between the MAIF Complaints Tribunal and the Department of Health.
  2. Move all responsibilities to the MAIF Complaints Tribunal (or other body determined by industry).
  3. Move all responsibilities to the Australian Government who would appoint a Tribunal (or similar) and establish a Secretariat.
  4. Negotiate with New Zealand to set up a Trans-Tasman complaints process, supported by both Governments.
The Department of Health is currently considering these options.

A report of this review and a summary of the consultation undertaken for the review are both available at the following web address
Independent review of the MAIF Complaints Handling Process - Review Report (PDF 1245 KB)
Independent review of the MAIF Complaints Handling Process - Review Report (Word 1496 KB)
Independent review of the Marketing in Australia of Infant Formula (MAIF) Complaints Handling Process– Consultation Summary (PDF 1258 KB)
Independent review of the Marketing in Australia of Infant Formula (MAIF) Complaints Handling Process– Consultation Summary (Word 995 KB)

Related Documents
Review of the effectiveness and validity of the operations of the MAIF Agreement: Research Paper (PDF 3744 KB)
Review of the effectiveness and validity of the operations of the MAIF Agreement: Research Paper (HTML)