Defence Force

Defence Force Ombudsman

The Commonwealth Ombudsman is also the Defence Force Ombudsman (DFO). The DFO is an independent complaints mechanism for serving and former Defence members. We are external to Defence.

We can investigate complaints about administrative and employment-related matters which have not been resolved by Defence.

From 1 December 2016 our role expanded to include an abuse reporting function for serving and former Defence members, and civilians deployed on operations. This provides a confidential mechanism to report sexual abuse, serious physical abuse and serious bullying and harassment within Defence, for those who feel unable to access Defence’s internal mechanisms.

The Federal Government recently announced that this expanded function will include a reparation payment.

Further details on eligibility for the payment will be announced by the Federal Government in due course. Those who have already reported serious abuse to the DFO since 1 December 2016 will be assessed against those eligibility criteria, once they are finalised.

Serving members

We can investigate complaints about administrative actions taken by Defence relating to or arising from present or past service. If you have a complaint about a promotion, demotion, discharge, postings, housing, allowances or other matters affecting your service, always try to talk to your supervisor, commander or manager and use your Redress of Grievance (ROG) process first, unless you are making a report of abuse that has occurred during your period of service.

If you are not satisfied with the outcome, have not been informed about the progress of your complaint, or are dissatisfied with the time taken to resolve the ROG, you can complain to us.

We are not able to investigate complaints about individual honours and awards, Defence discipline matters or decisions of Ministers, members of parliament, courts and some tribunals.

From 1 December 2016 you can make a report of abuse to the DFO. If you are making a report of abuse there is no requirement to have reported the matter to Defence before coming to us.

Former members

If your complaint is about Veterans’ Affairs benefits, compensation, Defence Service Home Loans, or the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Scheme, you should try to resolve the problem with the relevant agency before approaching us. If you are not satisfied with the outcome you can complain to us.

From 1 December 2016 you can make a report of abuse to the DFO that occurred during your period of service. If you are making a report of abuse there is no requirement to have reported the matter to Defence before coming to us.

Families of members

Complaints can be made by serving members or former members of the Australian Defence Force, as well as spouses and dependants of members. Other people can make complaints on behalf of a member if they have the member’s permission.

Civilians

Complaints received from members of the public about Defence agencies or Australian Defence Force related matters can be investigated by the Commonwealth Ombudsman. Contact the agency’s complaint-handling area first to try to solve the problem. If you are not satisfied with the agency’s response, contact us.

What the DFO can't do

We can’t investigate complaints from serving members who have not first sought a Redress of Grievance from Defence, unless you are making a report of abuse.

We are not able to investigate complaints about individual honours and awards, Defence discipline matters or decisions of Ministers, members of parliament, courts and some tribunals.

What does it cost?

The DFO’s services are free.

How do I make a complaint or contact the DFO?

Remember, you should try to resolve the matter with the agency first, unless you are reporting abuse, in which case you may report to us directly.

If you are a serving member, not making a report about abuse, you must use the Redress of Grievance process first. If this has not resolved the issue, you may complain to us.

By phone: call 1300 395 776 between 9am and 5pm (AEDT) Monday to Friday. (Calls from mobile phones at mobile phone rates)

Online: Online Form

By email: ombudsman@ombudsman.gov.au

In writing: GPO Box 442, Canberra ACT 2601

Statistics

Approaches1 to the Defence Force Ombudsman

Approaches received

Department of DefenceAirforceArmyNavyDepartment of Veterans' AffairsDefence Housing AustraliaOtherTotal
July 2016141103112344
August 201612532165043
September 201619174124148
October 20161615253133
November 2016171114211156
December 20161814375139
January 20171017494136
February  20172273794557
March 2017337164184385
April 201716698148364
May 2017167106213063
June 201722186109157
July 201715784155256
Cumulative total23046101571715823686

1 An approach is contact with the Defence Force Ombudsman about a matter. Not all approaches may be investigated.

2 Numbers received may differ from previously published statistics due to data merges or change to agency, date and jurisdiction fields.