Ombudsmen – Tasmania and Commonwealth
Thanks to Greg Vines for the following summary of an Ombudsman Review.
“The Ombudsman is an office of last resort and the Ombudsman requires that before a complainant contacts the Ombudsman they first make every effort to attempt to resolve their complaint with the department or authority concerned. The Ombudsman investigates complaints in private and with as little formality as possible. In the resolution of a complaint, the Ombudsman’s goal is to ensure that action taken by an authority is fair and reasonable and that the principles of natural justice are upheld.”
To make a complaint the Office of the Tasmanian Ombudsman, a person can write, call, submit a complaint online, or email. See the Contacts section for full contact details.
The Office of the Tasmanian Ombudsman has a very clear mandate about what it can and can’t deal with. The Ombudsman cannot deal with:
- Actions of the Federal Government, this is for the Commonwealth Ombudsman
- Banks & financial institutions
- Conduct of legal practitioners
- Conduct of real estate agents
- Enforcement of private legal rights
- Misleading conduct in trade or commerce
- Magistrates Court
- Telephone & internet services
- Radio, TV, internet content
- Retailers and traders
- Supreme Court
- Unlawful discrimination
- The Attorney-General, the Solicitor-General or the Director of Public Prosecutions
- The Tasmanian Audit Office
- Judges, associate judges, magistrates or courts
- The actions of public authorities with respect to court proceedings in which they are involved
- Actions taken by a tribunal or its members in the performance of its decision-making functions
- The Tasmanian Ombudsman can investigate complaints about:
- Tasmanian Government Departments
- Tasmania Police
- The Tasmanian Prison Service
- Local Councils and Water and Sewerage Corporations
- Government Business Enterprises
- State-owned companies
- The University of Tasmania
- the holder of a statutory office
- any body created under an Act for a public purpose
- any body whose members (or most of whose members) are appointed by the Governor or a Minister
The time limit for the Tasmanian Ombudsman is a 2 year time limit – if you have known about the issue for more than 2 years and have done nothing about it, the Ombudsman will not usually investigate the complaint.
If you are unhappy with a decision by the Office of the Ombudsman, there is a review process within the Office where the decision will go on to a senior staff member for review. See the Ombudsman section for more detail.
What types of decisions can be investigated?
As the website of the Commonwealth Ombudsman states, the Office has the jurisdiction to investigate complaints from people who believe they have been treated unfairly by commonwealth agencies, such as the Australian Tax Office, Australia Post, the Department of Home Affairs, Centrelink and Child Support.
What bodies’ decisions can the Ombudsman investigate?
The ombudsman can investigate the decisions of any Australian government body. This goes beyond administrative complaints, and can concern systemic issues, such as policy and procedure issues that may result in discrimination.
What is the process?
The Ombudsman website can provide you with a step by step process for filing a complaint. The website even provides you with alternative mechanisms for complaints when you weren’t sure where to take them! There is an online complaint form. There is no “average” time for a complaint to be dealt with, as complaints will vary in nature. Bear in mind that in the 2012-2013 period the Commonwealth Ombudsman received 26,474 complaints and approaches (including phone calls). Making a Complaint
Who investigates my case?
A staff member who exercises a delegated power of the ombudsman will investigate your case.
What outcomes are there?
The Ombudsman cannot substitute a decision of a decision maker, but if the complaint is found to be valid, a number of possible outcomes may eventuate, including reconsideration of the decision, or a restructuring of the decision making process. The Office of the ombudsman can make recommendations for changes to improve the integrity, professionalism and impartiality of decision making bodies.
Page last updated 03/08/2022