Australian and New Zealand Ombudsman Association

News archives

Highlighting aspects of the work of the offices of ANZOA members

The Ombudsman (ANZOA newsletter): November 2018

Fairness of process and outcome

Ensuring procedural fairness

Public transport accessibility: an issue of fairness

Putting fairness into action though an outreach program

Transparency and fairness for people in places of detention
Fairness of outcome through dealing with systemic issues

read it here

The Ombudsman (ANZOA newsletter): March 2018

Checks and balances - the Ombudsman's role

Casting an eye to our horizons

Independent review

Under scrutiny - the operation of infringements notices provisions

Reportable conduct scheme for employment-based child protection

Small steps towards a big goal

Supporting Queenslanders in remote communities

Gaining local knowledge helps to understand and resolve disputes

read it here

The Ombudsman (ANZOA newsletter): June 2017

The Ombudsman and systemic issues

Treatment of systemic issues by the NSW Ombudsman

A whole of office approach to consumer issues and complaint reduction

Exceptional decision-making

Strengthening trust

Agency apology for wrongful conduct

Inaugural Aboriginal Action Plan

read it here

The Ombudsman (ANZOA newsletter): December 2016

Ombudsmen – we're here to help

Better complaint handling for NSW

Being upfront about integrity

Improving public administration through education

Crimes of Torture Act – the use of mechanical restraints in New Zealand prisons – overview

Advocating regulatory reform for debt management firms

Family violence

FOS Australia visits Darwin and the Tiwi Islands

An abuse reporting function for the Defence Force Ombudsman

It’s OK to complain, we’re here to help

2015-16 annual reports

read it here


The Ombudsman (ANZOA newsletter): June 2016

The Ombudsman in Australia: One model; many applications

Keeping an eye on international developments

The expectations of our users

Natural justice and the notion of a 'fair go'

Intersecting roles and responsibilities

Skilling staff and builiding a profession

Technology opportunities and challenges

Measures of performance

The rights of the vulnerable

Access for Indigenous communities

Ombudsman - made to last

Latest Ombudsman reports and guidance

read it here


The Ombudsman (ANZOA newsletter): December 2015

Using the term Ombudsman

Strengthening government safeguarding policy - South Australian Ombudsman

Building public awareness- Victorian Ombudsman

Reflecting on 20 years - Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman New Zealand

Accessibility: it's not always so easy - Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria

Homeless Connect -  Ombudsman Western Australia

read it here


The Ombudsman (ANZOA newsletter): March 2015

Public interest disclosure scheme - Commonwealth Ombudsman
Affordability report - Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria)

A strategic response to tackling energy affordability - Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW

Developing and testing a resource kit for intermediaries in remote Indigenous communities - Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman

Working on a number of projects to make it easier for people to access our services - Victorian Ombudsman

Raising the bar for an effective complaint management system with a new standard - Electricity and Gas Complaints Commissioner New Zealand

Protecting children and preventing family and domestic violence is best undertaken as both a multi-disciplinary and multi-agency endeavour - Ombudsman Western Australia

read it here

News archives

Australia: New Small Business Team

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman - March 2019

From 1 April 2019, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman will have a team to deal with complaints from small businesses. In announcing the Small Business Team, Ombudsman Judi Jones said, ''Small businesses are relying more than ever before on phone and internet services to be accessible, be informed, and to do business. It is critical they are able to rely on the phone and internet services they sign up for, and to have access to a free, independent, and effective complaint resolution service when their complaint is unresolved.''


Australia: Affordability Report

Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria) - March 2019

Spotlight on customers who can't afford to pay for energy and water

New Zealand: Auckland South Corrections Facility let down by its staffing issues

Office of the Ombudsman – February 2019

Chief Ombudsman, Peter Boshier, has released his first inspection report into the treatment and conditions of prisoners at Auckland South Corrections Facility (also known as Kohuora).


Australia: Annual Report
South Australian Ombudsman - February 2019
2017-18 saw complaints to the South Australian Ombudsman continue to grow, with an increase of 6.5% representing more than 4200 complaints. The Ombudsman issued 69 final investigation reports, completed 35 ICAC referrals and undertook 160 FOI external reviews. The Ombudsman’s investigations resulted in 66 formal recommendations being made to agencies, many of which recommended significant policy change.

Australia: Systemic Spotlight - Reducing fraudsters' theft of mobile numbers

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman - February 2019
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) receives complaints from consumers whose mobile numbers have been stolen by a fraudulent third party. This new Systemic Spotlight explores the issue and how the TIO has worked with service providers to improve security and protect consumers.


Australia: Enquiry into how local councils handle complaints from the public

Victorian Ombudsman – February 2019

All of Victoria’s 79 local councils will be surveyed on how they handle complaints from the public as part of an enquiry undertaken by Victorian Ombudsman, Deborah Glass. The enquiry will assess the practices councils follow when handling complaints, including whether they make it easy for people to complain, take action to resolve complaints and analyse their own complaint data to improve services.


Australia: Preventing the immigration detention of Australian citizens

Commonwealth Ombudsman - Dec 2018

A report into the Department of Home Affairs’ (the department) implementation of the recommendations made in Dr Vivienne Thom's independent review of the detention of two Australian citizens in 2017 (the Thom Review). The Thom Review made four recommendations in relation to the department’s strategies it had in place to prevent an Australian citizen from being detained. The department accepted all recommendations made by Dr Thom.
media release and report

Australia: Local government collection of overdue rates for people in situations of vulnerability - Good Practice Guidance

Western Australian Ombudsman - Dec 2018

Designed to assist local governments to consider their own policies and practices for the collection of rates and overdue rates in respect to people in situations of vulnerability and to identify any aspects of these policies and practices that may present opportunities for improvement to ensure that the process is efficient and effective for local governments and is fair and equitable for all ratepayers

media release and report

Australia: Overview of nine investigations in 2018

Victorian Ombudsman - Dec 2018

Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass investigates government bodies. This video provides an overview of the nine investigations she tabled in Parliament in 2018. Her reports examined human rights abuse, misconduct by public officials, how authorities dealt with child sex abuse historically, local council matters, and more.


New Zealand: Fraud awareness campaign

Banking Ombudsman Scheme - Dec 2018

The Banking Ombudsman Scheme New Zealand launched a fraud awareness multi-media campaign at the end of 2018 centred on two television commercials.

Phone scam commercial

Email scam commercial


2018 annual reports


Commonwealth Ombudsman

Northern Territory Ombudsman

Ombudsman Western Australia

Victorian Ombudsman

NSW Ombudsman

Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria)

Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW

Energy and Water Ombudsman South Australia

Energy and Water Ombudsman Queensland

Financial Ombudsman Service

Public Transport Ombudsman Victoria

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman
Credit and Investments Ombudsman


New Zealand

Office of the Ombudsman

Utilities Disputes Ltd

Banking Ombudsman Scheme

Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman Scheme

Financial Services Complaints Ltd

Australia: New small business ombudsman

Australian Financial Complaints Authority - Nov 2018

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) opens to complaints and announces the appointment of a dedicated small business lead ombudsman.

Australia: Report on abuse of vulnerable adults

NSW Ombudsman - Nov 2018

A special report to Parliament on the Ombudsman's inquiry into the abuse and neglect of adults with disability in community settings, such as their family home.

Australia: Consumer Safeguards Review

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman - Nov 2018

The Board of the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) and the Ombudsman are pleased that the report on Part A of the Government's Consumer Safeguards Review (Complaints handling and consumer redress) recognises the importance and strength of the work of the TIO in resolving complaints.

Australia: Report on errors in transitioning a child between foster carers
South Australian Ombudsman - Nov 2018

Ombudsman's final report on a complaint concerning the determination of the Department for Child Protection to transfer care of the complainant’s former foster child to another foster carer, as well as various actions of the department surrounding and following that determination.

Australia: Deaths of children by drowning

Ombudsman Western Australia - Nov 2018

Follow-up report on giving effect to the recommendations arising from the Ombudsman’s 2017 major own-motion investigation, Investigation into ways to prevent or reduce deaths of children by drowning.
New Zealand: Tackling dementia – Protecting the rights of detained people

Office of the Ombudsman – Oct 2018

Chief Ombudsman's presentation to the Alzheimers New Zealand conference on 25 October 2018 outlined how the OPCAT provides an international platform for effecting national change to protect the human rights of some of our most vulnerable people: those with dementia who are detained in facilities.


Australia: ADR Innovation of the Year Award

Public Transport Ombudsman (PTO) – Oct 2018

This myki pilot helps couch surfing teens with their public transport costs and makes it easier to attend school. The pilot program was developed by PTO and WEstjustice Community Legal Service following consultation with public transport operators and government.


New Zealand: Chief Ombudsman calls for Whanganui Prison to urgently address inmate violence and intimidation
Office of the Ombudsman New Zealand - Sept 2018

The Chief Ombudsman's report  tabled in Parliament after his inspectors made a full, unannounced inspection of Whanganui Prison in February.


Australia: Affordability Report

Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria) - Sept 2018

Spotlight on affordability for large households

Australia: Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA)

From 1 November 2018, the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) will provide free, fast and binding dispute resolution to consumers and small businesses.
AFCA website

Australia: In memoriam, Norman Geschke, Victorian Ombudsman (1980-1994)

Victorian Ombudsman - Aug 2018
Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass's tribute to her predecessor Norman Gescke, who passed away on 23 July 2018.

Australia: OIC joins the Ombudsman's Office
Northern Territory Ombudsman - Aug 2018

Following on from the recommendations in the Martin Report (which led to the establishment of the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption), the Freedom of Information and Privacy functions of the Office of the Information Commissioner have been transferred to the Ombudsman.


Australia: Free and independent complaint handling key to addressing telco consumer dissatisfaction

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman - Aug 2018
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) and Board have welcomed the opportunity to contribute to the review of the Consumer Safeguards. The TIO's submission to the Consumer Safeguards Review focuses on the need for all parties in the telecommunications sector to address underlying consumer dissatisfaction with telecommunications services.


Australia: Resolving complaints to the Ombudsman early
Victorian Ombudsman - July 2018

Ombudsman Deborah Glass says about 40,000 Victorians contacted her office each year with complaints about government bodies. While her office is well known for its investigations, Ms Glass says most complaints could be resolved informally, taking less time and resources than an investigation.
Australia: Investigation into the actions and decisions of DVA in relation to Mr A

Commonwealth Ombudsman – July 2018

Commonwealth Ombudsman Michael Manthorpe has released a report on the investigation of the actions and decisions of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) in relation to a complaint made by a veteran with over 30 years of service to Australia, and the difficulties he faced in accessing his correct entitlements … Mr Manthorpe emphasises that the negative impact of Mr A’s dealings with DVA cannot be overstated. As well as considerable financial pressures, his health has suffered and his relationships have been strained. ‘There are currently around 300,000 veterans who access benefits and payments through DVA. They rely on efficient and effective administration to ensure they receive regular payments and entitlements as well as access to essential health services. They put their trust in the hands of the Commonwealth and have every right to expect that the Commonwealth will, in turn, provide best practice service’ Mr Manthorpe says.

media release and link to report

Australia: Resolving complaints to the Ombudsman early
Victorian Ombudsman - July 2018

Ombudsman Deborah Glass has tabled in the Victorian Parliament her second biennial report on the implementation of her investigations’ recommendations. Her report covers the 125 recommendations she made to state and local government bodies between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2018. Ms Glass said her 14 public reports over the two years covered a wide range of issues and agencies, in some cases exposing poor behaviour, with wider lessons for the public sector.  “The strongest theme emerging from my reports is one of social justice for the most marginalised in our society, and the impact on all of us when it is not realised,” Ms Glass said.

New Zealand: Auckland Council’s processing of a request for official information

Office of the Ombudsman – July 2018

Investigation of an Ombudsmen Act (OA) complaint by Radio New Zealand (RNZ) about the way in which Auckland Council processed its request for information under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act (LGOIMA). The Chief Ombudsman formed the opinion that the Council’s processing of RNZ’s LGOIMA request was unreasonable and, in some respects, appears to have been contrary to law.


Australia: Failure to amend record of gender

Ombudsman South Australia – June 2018

As a result of an investigation, the Ombudsman has formed the view that the Department for

Correctional Services failed to amend a transgender prisoner’s gender on its records, and to

identify her at all times by her chosen name.

media release

New Zealand: Ombudsman’s Office to take role in monitoring private aged care facilities/court cells

Office of the Ombudsman – June 2018

The Office of the Ombudsman will soon be monitoring the treatment of patients in privately run aged care facilities and detainees in court cells, which amounts to a major expansion of the Office's work and mandate.

full story

Australia: Affordability Report

Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria) – June 2018

Providing up-to-date information on affordability case data

Australia: CAIN Update

Northern Territory Ombudsman – June 2018

Items of interest for the Complaints, Accountability, Integrity Network

Australia: Bupa Health Insurance Hospital Policy Changes

Commonwealth Ombudsman – June 2018

Commonwealth Ombudsman Michael Manthorpe has released a report into Bupa Health Insurance (Bupa) Hospital Policy Changes, which were announced in February 2018. Some changes affect consumers holding basic and mid-level hospital policies from 1 July 2018, while changes to its medical gap scheme affect all Bupa hospital policyholders from 1 August 2018. In March 2018 the Minister for Health, the Hon. Greg Hunt MP sought the views of the Commonwealth Ombudsman on the impact on consumers of Bupa’s announced changes.

media release and link to report

Australia: EWON Expanded Jurisdiction Final Report
Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW June 2018

EWON engaged KPMG to support the development of revised funding and membership models, and present an assessment of options associated with the expansion in EWON’s jurisdiction – namely the requirement that exempt networks and retailers will be required to become members of EWON.
final report

Australia: An assessment of state agencies’ complaints management systems

Ombudsman South Australia – June 2018

This report documents the progress made by 13 key state government departments in developing their complaint management systems (CMS). It identifies some improvements as well as some deficiencies in the CMS.  Three recommendations were made: the renewal of the DPC Circular PC039 – Complaint Management in the South Australian Public Sector (including adherence to the Australian Standard on complaint management), improved complaint management and access for disadvantaged and vulnerable people, and the development of departmental Strategic Planning goals to deliver service improvements linked to complaints.


Australia: Investigation into child sex offender’s involvement with Puffing Billy and other railway bodies

Victorian Ombudsman - June 2018

People in positions of authority at Puffing Billy and other Victorian railway groups protected the reputation of their organisations at the expense of children who were sexually abused, the Victorian Ombudsman has found ... Ombudsman Deborah Glass says the failures of people in authority were monumental.


Australia: Child mortality rates decline for NSW, but variation still seen across areas

NSW Ombudsman - April 2018

The NSW Ombudsman and Convenor of the NSW Child Death Review Team, Michael Barnes, has tabled a report in the NSW Parliament on the ‘Spatial analysis of child deaths in New South Wales’. The report, prepared by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare for the NSW Child Death Review Team, focuses on two key issues - the geographic distribution of child deaths across NSW, and how the risk of death varies by area-level characteristics.

read it here

Australia: Report into Australia Post complaints

Commonwealth Ombudsman - April 2018

Commonwealth Ombudsman Michael Manthorpe has released a report into Australia Post complaints regarding carding, Safe Drop and compensation. The report reviews the actions taken by Australia Post since the release of three earlier Ombudsman reports concerning these matters. The report seeks to determine why complaints about delivery issues persist despite Australia Post’s reported service and product improvements.

read it here

New Zealand: Final Opinion on New Zealand Defence Force information

Office of the Ombudsman - April 2018

The Chief Ombudsman has released his Final Opinion concerning information requests to the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) about Operation Burnham in Afghanistan in 2010, and possible civilian and insurgent casualties. The Chief Ombudsman upheld most of NZDF’s withholding of information, but has recommended some information be released concerning the identities of the insurgents killed.

media statement and final opinion

Australia: Why phone and internet providers should care about complaints

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman - April 2018

Speech by Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, Judi Jones, exploring the nature of complaints about phone and internet – including the positive reasons why phone and internet providers should care about complaints.


Australia: Central Adelaide Local Health Network

Ombudsman South Australia - March 2018

The applicant sought access to contracts between the agency and St Andrews Hospital in relation to the use of the Da Vinci surgical robot located at St Andrews. The agency’s principal officer made a determination to extend the time for dealing with the application beyond the 30 day deadline on the basis that consultation with interested parties was required.

read it here

Australia: Department for Education and Child Development – Removal from Family Day Care register

Ombudsman South Australia - March 2018

The Ombudsman received a complaint from an educator who had been removed from the Department for Education and Child Development’s Family Day Care register.  The educator complained that the decision had been unreasonable and that procedural fairness had not been afforded.

read it here

Australia: Kangaroo Island Council

Ombudsman South Australia - March 2018

The complaint alleged that media comments made by the Mayor of Kangaroo Island Council constituted breaches of clauses  of the Code of Conduct for Council Members (the Code of Conduct).

read it here

Australia: Misuse of Parliamentary staff budget entitlements in 2014

Victorian Ombudsman - March 2018

Ombudsman Deborah Glass has found 21 ALP Members of Victorian Parliament - including 11 serving and 10 former MPs - breached Parliament’s Members’ Guide by certifying payments to electorate officers used for party political campaigning.


New Zealand: Utilities Disputes Limited - Independent Review Report
Utilities Disputes Limited - February 2018

The review was completed in July 2017, by Dr Gavin McBurnie and Dr Chris Gill of Queen Margaret University's Consumer Dispute Resolution Centre. The review was discussed with the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs in January 2018. The Utilities Disputes Board is considering the recommendations in the review. Consultation with stakeholders will begin soon.


Australia: Ombudsman warns of danger posed to people with disabilities left in vehicles

NSW Ombudsman - January 2018

The public should be alert to vulnerable people with disabilities being left in cars in heat waves, NSW Ombudsman Michael Barnes said today, ahead of extreme temperatures predicted for the weekend.

media release

Australia: TIO Independent Review released

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) - December 2017

The Independent Review into the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman recommends the organisation strengthens its role investigating systemic issues within the telecommunications sector. ... [It] also reflects the current environment of dynamic change in policy, technology, consumer engagement and the social sphere of the telecommunications industry. It acknowledges the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman has built a high level of awareness, accessibility and credibility with residential consumers, small businesses and phone and internet providers, as well as government and agencies within the telecommunications sector.

report and TIO response to the report

Australia: Citizenship own motion report

Commonwealth Ombudsman - December 2017
Immigration: Delays in processing of applications for Australian Citizenship by conferral Commonwealth Ombudsman: Investigation into the Department of Immigrations and Border Protection's administration of a cohort or applicants requiring enhanced integrity and identity checks.

read it here

New Zealand: Chief Ombudsman releases opinion on second seclusion complaint

Office of the Ombudsman - December 2017

Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier's Final Opinion on a complaint about seclusion of a child at Miramar Central School.

read it here

Australia: Investigation into the financial support provided to kinship carers

Victorian Ombudsman - December 2017

The Victorian Ombudsman has tabled an investigation into the financial support provided to kinship carers, finding that the Department of Health and Human Services failed to act in the best interests of some of Victoria's most disadvantaged children by neglecting kinship carers.

read it here
Australia: Report about women's prison inspection

Victorian Ombudsman - November 2017

Female prisoners in Victoria's main women's prison are being routinely strip searched, in what Ombudsman Deborah Glass has described as a 'humiliating, degrading and undignified practice'. The Ombudsman conducted an independent inspection of the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre over seven days in July. Ombudsman staff assessed the prison's conditions and practices against the rigorous standards that will be required when Australia ratifies the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) in December.

read it here

Australia: Investigation: Management & protection of disability group home residents by DHHS & Autism Plus

Victorian Ombudsman - September 2017
The Victorian Ombudsman has tabled an Investigation into the management and protection of disability group home residents by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Autism Plus. The report found that disability services provider Autism Plus and DHHS put clients at risk by failing to move a group home resident who was accused of sexually assaulting vulnerable housemates. Ombudsman Deborah Glass said the events raised serious concerns about the suitability of Autism Plus to provide programs and care for DHHS clients. The for-profit provider received more than $260,000 in 2014 to provide Edward with one-on-one staff to client care. The report also raises questions about action and inaction by DHHS officials, in particular the role of Child Protection, and poor co-ordination between Child Protection and Disability Services.

read it here

Australia: Deal with addiction to reduce reoffending

Victorian Ombudsman - September 2017

Report into the Ombudsman's Enquiry into the provision of alcohol and drug rehabilitation services following contact with the criminal justice system confirms that access to rehabilitation services remains the dominant concern for prisoners and former prisoners struggling with addiction. They are highly vulnerable to relapse and more likely to reoffend if they are unable to access timely, consistent and targeted support services, both within prison and upon release. The problem is of particular concern in rural and regional Victoria, and is exacerbated by lack of access to secure and affordable housing.

read it here

New Zealand: Advice on the effectiveness of benefit reductions

Office of the Ombudsman - September 2017

The Ministry of Social Development refused a request for copies of official advice regarding the effectiveness of benefit reductions for sole parents who do not name the other parent. Ombudsman Leo Donnelly formed the provisional opinion the request should not have been refused, and the Ministry agreed to release the information.

read the case note here

Australia: Women in Prison II - Investigation Report

Northern Territory Ombudsman – August 2017

An Ombudsman investigation report relating to the conditions faced by women in the Alice Springs Women's Correctional Facility has been tabled today in the Legislative Assembly.

read it here

Australia: Complaints in Context

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman - August 2017

A quarterly report jointly published by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman and Communications Alliance.

read it here

Australia: Report about asbestos

NSW Ombudsman - April 2017

The Acting Ombudsman, Professor John McMillan, urges the Government to properly fund initiatives to protect the NSW public from the dangers of asbestos. Those particularly at risk are DIY home renovators and some regional Aboriginal communities.

read it here

Australia: Apology Report
Victorian Ombudsman - April 2017

‘Sorry’ seems to be the hardest word: Victorian Ombudsman calls for apology law reform. The Victorian Government should consider amending the law to allow public agencies to apologise for mistakes without fear of legal repercussions, according to a new report by the Victorian Ombudsman.

read it here

Australia: Six-monthly public transport complaints

Public Transport Ombudsman Victoria - April 2017

Case studies, major issues

read it here
New Zealand: A question of restraint

Office of the Ombudsman - March 2017

The Chief Ombudsman's report into the management of prisoners at risk of suicide and self harm finds that the use of restraints on five prisoners amounted to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment under the Convention Against Torture.

read it here
Australia: Roxby Council – Maladministration in public administration

Ombudsman South Australia - March 2017

The Ombudsman found that the council and the former Administrator committed maladministration in that various direct engagements resulted in substantial mismanagement of public resources.

read it here
Australia: Items of interest for the Complaints, Accountability, Integrity Network

Northern Territory - March 2017

CAIN Update (March 2017) - Articles and reports from around Australia and overseas

read it here
Australia: Report on youth justice

Victorian Ombudsman - February 2017

The Victorian Ombudsman has tabled a report on the state’s youth justice facilities to give Parliament and the public an insight into recent events and to illustrate how the relevant oversight agencies are holding government to account.

read it here

New Zealand: Unfair terms in insurance contract changed

Financial Services Complaints Ltd - 2017

A complaint to FSCL has resulted in an insurer changing unfair contract terms – but not for the reason complained about.

read it here

Australia: Changes to the ICAC and Ombudsman Acts

Ombudsman South Australia - January 2017

The Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (Miscellaneous) Amendment Act 2016 came into operation on 16 December 2016, although the commencement of some of the provisions has been suspended until a subsequent proclamation or delayed until 1 April 2017. The amending Act achieves a number of changes. Of relevance to this Office is that it has changed the way the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC) refers to the Ombudsman matters raising a potential issue of misconduct or maladministration in public administration and changed how the Ombudsman must deal with a referral.

read it here
New Zealand: First release of OIA statistics

Office of the Ombudsman - January 2017

The Chief Ombudsman has today published comprehensive data about Official Information Act (OIA)  complaints. This first release covers the six months to December 2016 and future releases will happen every six months.

read it here

Australia: Report into the processing of asylum seekers who arrived in 2013 on a suspected illegal vessel

Commonwealth Ombudsman - January 2017

Own motion report into the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s processing of asylum seekers who arrived on the suspected illegal entry vessel Lambeth in 2013.

read it here

Australia: Two investigation reports relating to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection

Commonwealth Ombudsman - January 2017

Two own motion reports into the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. The first report relates to the administration of section 501 of the Migration Act 1958 and the second report outlines an investigation into Bridging E visas being cancelled following criminal charges.

read it here

Australia: Consumer news (financial services)

Credit & Investments Ombudsman - December 2016

Topics: financial counsellors conferences; FSPs filing police reports; systemic issues; recent case studies; withdrawn complaints, quarterly statistics, and more

read it here

Australia: Measures to improve access to Indigenous language interpreters

Commonwealth Ombudsman - December 2016

A report into the accessibility and use of Indigenous language interpreters following a major own motion investigation that spanned 47 government agencies. The investigation considered the performance of government agencies against the recommendations of our Talking in Language: Indigenous language interpreters and government communication 05/2011 report. While the Ombudsman was pleased there had been some progress since 2011, he was concerned with this report’s conclusions, that there continues to be barriers to accessing Indigenous language interpreters for communications between government and Indigenous non-English speakers.

read it here

Australia: Ombudsman's Report on Operation Prospect

NSW Ombudsman - December 2016

The Acting NSW Ombudsman, Professor John McMillan AO, has tabled his Operation Prospect report. The Operation Prospect investigation comprehensively examined complaints and allegations about conduct of officers of the NSW Police Force, the NSW Crime Commission and the Police Integrity Commission. Operation Prospect is the largest single investigation ever undertaken by an Ombudsman in Australia. It started in October 2012, when the NSW Government asked the Ombudsman to conduct a thorough, independent investigation of the disputed events that make up the controversy surrounding the work of the Mascot Task Force.

read it here

Australia: Local government transparency a postcode lottery
Victorian Ombudsman - December 2016

Victorians should not be subjected to a ‘postcode lottery’ when it comes to local government transparency, says Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass.Tabling the Investigation into the transparency of local government decision making, Ms Glass said transparency is a random matter across the state where some councils have embraced innovations such as live web-streaming council meetings, while others have moved to restrict public access.
read it here

Australia: Guidance through Ombudsman position statements

Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria) - November 2016

The Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria) (EWOV) has published on its website a series of position statements that detail EWOV's general approach to seeking resolutions between customers and companies across common complaint issues.

read it here
New Zealand: Electricity & Gas Complaints Commissioner now Utilities Disputes Ltd

Utilities Disputes Ltd - November 2016
On 1 November 2016, the Office of the Electricity and Gas Complaints Commissioner (EGCC) became Utilities Disputes Ltd. The new name reflects underlying change in the utilities sector. The Utilities Disputes FAQ explains why EGCC was replaced by Utilities Disputes. The FAQ defines "utilities" and how the name change came about.

read it here
Australia: 2015-16 comparative tables for financial services providers

Financial Ombudsman Service - October 2016

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) Australia has published 2015-16 Comparative Tables, which provide dispute statistics about financial services providers (FSPs) which are members of FOS. The tables cover 18 product groups and can be used by consumers and FSPs to compare dispute data for particular FSPs and financial products. For the broader dispute statistics in 2015-16, see FOS's latest Annual Review.

read it here

Australia: Whole-of-government complaint handling improvement program

NSW Ombudsman - October 2016

The NSW Ombudsman has partnered with the Customer Service Commissioner and the NSW Department of Finance, Services and Innovation to develop a whole-of-government complaint handling improvement program (CHIP) as part of Premier’s Priority 12 to improve government services. In 2015 the Customer Service Commission conducted a survey around whole-of-government customer satisfaction. The results highlighted the importance of improving the complaint handling experience for customers across government. The survey showed that customers who had their complaint handled well gave a higher than average satisfaction rating. However, less than half of those surveyed thought their complaint was handled well and half thought it was too difficult to make a complaint.

read it here
Australia: Ombudsman launches new Public Sector Education program

Victorian Ombudsman - October 2016

Victorian public sector agencies seeking to improve the way they deal with complaints and improve their overall administration are encouraged to engage with the Victorian Ombudsman’s new Public Sector Education program. Launching on Thursday 27 October with a Masterclass: The Value of Complaints, the Victorian Ombudsman Public Sector Education program comprises interactive workshops on: Good complaint handling; Dealing with conflict of interest; Making good administrative decisions; Managing unreasonable behaviour

read it here
Australia: Report of Compliance by Northern Territory Police Force

Northern Territory Ombudsman – October 2016

First report to the Minister detailing Compliance by Northern Territory Police Force with Part 2 of the Police (Special Investigative and other Powers) Act which came into force on the 1 July 2015. This report covers the period from the 1st July 2015 to 15th June 2016.

read it here

Australia: Why the public sector must learn to love complaints

Victorian Ombudsman - September 2016

Victorian public sector agencies should welcome complaints from members of the public as free feedback that can help them improve their service, Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass said today. Tabling the Complaints: Good Practice Guide for Public Sector Agencies in the Victorian Parliament, Ms Glass said that public sector agencies should avoid adopting a defensive posture towards complaints from the public, which can lead to a corrosive loss of faith in government services by citizens.

read it here

New Zealand: The Ombudsman and the Official Information Act: A free and frank appraisal

Office of the Ombudsman New Zealand - August 2016

On 19 August New Zealand's Chief Ombudsman gave an address to the Lawyers in Government Conference. Judge Boshier discussed what is and is not working well, both with the Ombudsman's Office and the application of the OIA, as well as outlining his future plans. He also gave his read out on when officials' and legal advice can be withheld. "The Ombudsman and the Official Information Act: A Free and Frank Appraisal"
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Australia: FOS welcomes formal terms of reference into Australia's financial system EDR

Financial Ombudsman Service - August 2016

The Financial Ombudsman Service Australia (FOS) has welcomed the release of Terms of Reference (the terms) for the review of the dispute resolution (EDR) and complaint framework for the financial system. The terms were released today by Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, the Hon Ms Kelly O’Dwyer, MP.

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Australia: Ombudsman investigates Office of Housing management of maintenance debts

Victorian Ombudsman - August 2016

The Victorian Ombudsman has commenced an 'own motion' investigation into the Office of Housing's processes for determining and pursuing maintenance debts against public housing tenants, reflecting a number of complaints on the issue and wider community concern.

The investigation will examine how the Office of Housing (OoH) raises and pursues debts against current and former tenants particularly where there is evidence to suggest the tenant is not entirely liable for the works carried out.

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Australia: Addressing the abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability forum

NSW Ombudsman – August 2016

Announcement of community forum: ''Join us as we take a close look at what it takes to address abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability in both disability service and community settings. This forum provides an important opportunity to consider the safeguards that currently exist in NSW, any gaps, and what needs to be put in place in NSW and nationally, by the end of the NDIS transition. This is an open forum, and anyone with an interest in promoting the rights of people with disability are encouraged to attend. Register early as places are limited. Thursday 24 November 2016, Sydney''

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Australia: Adelaide City Council - Removal of tree

Ombudsman South Australia - August 2016

The Ombudsman investigated a complaint about the council’s decision to remove a tree and a subsequent section 270 review undertaken by the council. The council in undertaking the section 270 review determined that the purpose of the review was to only deal with procedural matters relating to the decision to remove the tree. It was found that the council acted in a manner that was wrong with the meaning of section 25(1) of the Ombudsman Act by failing to consider the merits of the decision to remove the tree.

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New Zealand: Chief Ombudsman's speech to Transparency International Leaders Integrity Forum

Office of the Ombudsman - July 2016

In this speech, the Chief Ombudsman talks about the Ombudsman's role in monitoring integrity systems. He discusses the OIA - its purposes and principles, and what is or isn't working well, both in terms of how the Act is applied, and how that application is reviewed by the Ombudsman. He explains the future direction of the Ombudsman, and what this means for public sector leaders.

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Australia: Year-on-year results improve, quarterly figures increase

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman – July 2016

Telco complaints as a proportion of services in operation (SIO) increased 3.2 per cent in April-June 2016, but dropped 1.5 per cent from the same time last year. The results were released in the Complaints in Context report by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) and Communications Alliance.

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Australia: Report on progress of recommendations to government

Victorian Ombudsman - June 2016

The recommendations made by Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass in her first two years in office blended strong calls for a fairer and more effective public service with practicality in achieving positive outcomes for Victorians. Tabling the Report on recommendations, the Ombudsman said that those made in the course of her investigations were aimed at improving public administration for all Victorians, and that all 61 recommendations made in the eleven reports have been accepted, although some are yet to be implemented.

Media release  Report

Australia: Investigation into Council's Special Charge Scheme
Victorian Ombudsman: June 2016

Ratepayers hit with extra interest charges in a decision made in a closed meeting were the victims of an unfair process

Media release  Report

Australia: Consorting law report tabled in NSW Parliament

NSW Ombudsman - June 2016

Acting Ombudsman, Professor John McMillan's review of the operation of the NSW consorting law over a three-year period from its commencement in April 2012 has been tabled in the NSW Parliament. The Ombudsman’s report recommends the adoption of a statutory and policyframework to ensure police apply the consorting law in a way that is focused on serious crime, closely linked to crime prevention, and is not used in relation to minor offending.

Media release  Report

Australia: Complaint Management Framework
Ombudsman Northern Territory – June 2016

In recognition of the importance of promoting robust internal complaint handling systems in NT public sector agencies, the Office of the Ombudsman undertook a joint project with the Power and Water Corporation, Jacana Energy and the Department of Business to develop the Complaint Management Framework and related Model Policy designed to provide guidance to public sector officers involved in development or review of their agency's complaint management systems. This is one of two documents that should be read together. This Complaint Management Framework discusses the types of issues that have to be dealt with in the development and implementation of a policy and procedures for complaint management and the related Model Policy sets out a template for the agency's policy development. More here

New Zealand: Three new Ombudsman opinions

Office of the Ombudsman New Zealand - June 2016

On the investigation of limited access to Ministry of Health influenza vaccine adverse reaction reports read

On a request for information about complaints received by HDC against a health practitioner read

On a complaint about a prisoner’s right to exercise at Auckland Prison read

Australia: Investigation into the misuse of council resources

Victorian Ombudsman - June 2016

‘Perk of the job’ culture among councils

Report Media release

Australia: Fostering Economic Development for Aboriginal people in NSW

NSW Ombudsman - May 2016

Special report to the NSW Parliament, which recommends recommended measures to ensure that Government’s efforts to foster economic development for Aboriginal people in NSW are successful.

Report   Media release

Australia: City of Victor Harbor – Breach of council member code of conduct

Ombudsman South Australia - May 2016

Investigation into whether a council member committed misconduct in public administration by revealing information the council ordered to keep confidential to a local newspaper journalist, who printed the information


New Zealand: Businesses vulnerable to email hackers

Banking Ombudsman Scheme New Zealand - November 2015

The Banking Ombudsman receives complaints every year from businesses and their customers who have been tricked into transferring money to hackers by following instructions in fraudulent emails. “Businesses and their customers are as vulnerable to email hackers as anybody else and need to have processes in place to avoid being ripped off, says Banking Ombudsman Nicola Sladden whose office is helping promote Fraud Awareness Week (15-21 November). “Unfortunately for the people with the complaint, our investigations often reveal that the bank has acted appropriately as they are usually following the instructions of their duped customers.
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New Zealand: After 20 years, ISO Scheme becomes IFSO Scheme

Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman - November 2015

“Financial Services” has officially been added to the name of the consumer dispute resolution scheme which resolves insurance and financial services complaints. “When the Insurance & Savings Ombudsman Scheme reached its 20th anniversary, it was time to make this change and become the Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman Scheme,” says Karen Stevens, Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman. “This more accurately reflects our expanded membership and the range of complaints we now resolve.” Originally established by the insurance industry as an independent dispute resolution scheme for its customers, the IFSO Scheme now has over 4,000 Participants from across the financial services sector and resolves complaints about: insurance, investments, loans and credit, superannuation, financial advice and foreign exchange.

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Australia: Communications issues in regional Australia

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman – October 2015

Performance standards for landline connections and repairs should be retained for consumers in regional and remote Australia, the TIO has recommended to the 2015 Regional Telecommunications Review. Our submission focused on the different experiences consumers in regional and remote Australia have with telco services. Complaints in regional and remote Australia: Since the last Regional Telecommunications Review in 2011 (the Sinclair Review), we have seen decreases in TIO new complaints from regional and remote Australia, consistent with overall decreases in all TIO new complaints. These decreases are across all service types, with mobile new complaints reducing by more than half over this timeframe. Complaints from regional and remote Australia make up about a fifth of all new complaints received by the TIO. Our complaints data shows that the issues consumers from regional and remote areas report to us are similar to those raised in metro areas. However, consumers in regional and remote areas say having no or poor quality services can have serious effects on their lives, livelihood and safety.

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Australia: 'Let there be light' - an Ombudsman NT Investigation Report

Ombudsman Northern Territory - September 2015

A report on an investigation into the responses of the Department of Housing and the Power and Water Corporation to widespread incidents of criminal damage to electricity meters and other electrical fixtures and fittings for houses in the remote indigenous community of Wadeye. Between June and December 2013, 43 houses in Wadeye had power disconnected because of damage to meters and/or associated property. The power to 20 households remained disconnected for more than 10 days, with 12 disconnected for over 20 days.

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Investigation into the rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners in Victoria
Victorian Ombudsman - September 2015

What is the correctional system doing to rehabilitate offenders – to improve public safety and reduce the number of repeat offenders? Plainly, not enough. It is captured in a spiral of rising crime rates and increasing prisoner numbers, resulting in more and more victims and exponential budget growth simply to hold the line. Building more prisons is not making us safer as a community. For such enormous public investment, we should be seeing much better returns.

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Ombudsman follows up on Centrelink recommendations

Commonwealth Ombudsman - September 2015

This report into service delivery complaints about the Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Centrelink program follows the Commonwealth Ombudsman's report in April last year, which was sparked by complaints from people dissatisfied with the Centrelink program’s service delivery arrangements. The new report has found that while the department had made significant progress against a number of the recommendations, other areas still required improvement.

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Updated Financial Services Compensation scheme proposal

Financial Ombudsman Service - June 2015

The Financial Ombudsman Service Australia (FOS) has been a longstanding proponent for a financial services compensation scheme of last resort, and has supported this approach various submissions to Government. We consider the lack of such a scheme is the missing element in current reform efforts to improve the financial advice and planning industries.

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Financial abuse of the elderly

Banking Ombudsman New Zealand - June 2015

We sometimes receive complaints involving the financial affairs and wishes of older family members.

With advancing years, some people become increasingly dependent on others to help them manage their personal and financial affairs. Sadly, this increasing reliance can put them at greater risk of financial abuse – and often from the people they trust most: relatives and caregivers. Financial abuse often takes the form of misuse of, or theft from, bank accounts, so banks have a stake in ensuring their customers are protected from such risks. But individuals, too, have a responsibility to protect themselves – and their loved ones – from the possibility of financial abuse.

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Updated Complaints and Enquiries Guide
Ombudsman Northern Territory - June 2015
For members of the public whose complaints or enquiries are not within the jurisdiction of the NT Ombudsman to investigate, the office endeavours to direct people to an appropriate body that is able to deal with their specific concerns. This document lists some of the organisations where you can make complaints or enquiries.

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100,000 complaints and counting
Energy and Water Ombudsman Queensland - August 2015
The Office of the Energy and Water Ombudsman Queensland (EWOQ) has received its 100,000th

complaint since the office first opened on 1 July 2007. First established as the Energy Ombudsman

Queensland, EWOQ resolves electricity and gas complaints throughout Queensland, and water complaints in south-east Queensland, for residential and small business customers. “Since the office first opened in 2007 we have provided a free, fair and independent dispute resolution service and achieved significant outcomes for customers who are in dispute with their energy or water provider” the Ombudsman, Forbes Smith said. “In this time, we’ve helped more than 600 customers access hardship programs, negotiated payment plans for more than 2000 customers and resolved 2500 billing complaints resulting in over $2 million in billing adjustments,” said Mr Smith.
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Res Online: Smart Meters – sharing our experience
Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria) - August 2015

With the Victorian rollout of some 2.8 million Smart Meters and almost 21,000 related EWOV cases behind us, we've certainly learnt a thing or two about how the introduction of Smart Meters generates customer complaints — pre-installation, during installation and post-installation. Our feature article draws on EWOV's experience to make what we hope is an insightful and useful contribution to the planning — by industry, government, other energy ombudsman schemes, and consumers and their representatives — for Smart Meter rollouts in other states.

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Oversight system failing to protect people with disability says Ombudsman
Victorian Ombudsman - June 2015

Victoria must establish a single independent body to oversee reports of abuse in the disability sector, which could also form the bedrock of any new safeguarding framework under the National Disability Insurance Scheme. This is one of the key recommendations in a report tabled in Parliament today by the Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass into reporting and investigation of allegations of abuse in the disability sector. The investigation was launched in December 2014, prompted by broad concern about the oversight systems currently in place. It was informed by 78 submissions from a range of respondents including individuals, community organisations, academics and professionals.

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Ombudsman makes submission to Human Rights Charter review
Victorian Ombudsman - June 2015

The Victorian Ombudsman has made a formal submission to the government's review of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities. The review is being led by Michael Brett Young and will be delivered to the government by September, before being tabled in Parliament before 1 October 2015. The submission makes clear the Victorian Ombudsman's ongoing commitment to human rights, as set out in the Ombudsman Act.

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Updated financial services compensation scheme proposal
Financial Ombudsman Service, Australia – June 2015

The Financial Ombudsman Service Australia has released an updated proposal to establish a financial services compensation scheme. Chief Ombudsman, Shane Tregillis, said there appeared to be broad industry and community acceptance that this clear gap in the consumer protection framework needed to be addressed, giving consumers the confidence that if things go wrong, they will be compensated when a decision is made in their favour. “In our view, it is in the interests of all financial system participants to find a solution to the problem of unpaid compensation, to enhance consumer trust in financial services,” Mr Tregillis said.
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Law change creates a new climate for borrowing
Banking Ombudsman New Zealand – June 2015

Changes to the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003 (Act), which kick in on 6 June 2015, introduce key lender responsibility principles designed to give better consumer protection. All lenders, including banks, must now comply with "responsibility principles" set by the Act.
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New case note: compensation for passport processing error
Office of the Ombudsman, New Zealand – June 2015

The Ombudsman has released a new case note about compensation for a passport processing error by Customs.  The complainant had incurred costs of $1143 after Customs made a mistake processing his passport, which caused him to miss a flight. He had been offered only $200 in compensation.  Customs accepted the Ombudsman's opinion that it should only pay the full costs incurred by the complainant.
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Police investigation report tabled
Ombudsman Northern Territory – June 2015

The Chief Minister has tabled the Ombudsman’s report into matters arising from allegations of inappropriate conduct by a former Commissioner of Police and another police officer.
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Financial hardship complaints – the EWOV approach
Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria) – May 2015

With energy and water affordability in the spotlight, in the most recent issue of EWOV's quarterly newsletter, Res Online, the Ombudsman revisits the policy and procedures that underpin the independent approach EWOV takes to identifying and handling financial hardship complaints. Starting with our assessment of the complexity of the complaint, we move through a structured process of information gathering, questioning, analysis, testing and negotiation. It’s an approach with three fundamental aims—consistency of complaint handling, timely Investigation, and an outcome that’s sustainable for both the customer and their energy or water company.
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