Defence Force

Defence Force Ombudsman

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


We can investigate complaints about administrative matters which have not been resolved by Defence or Defence agencies. Defence agencies include the Australian Defence Force, the Department of Defence, Department of Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Housing Australia.


We can also receive reports of serious abuse within Defence. This provides a confidential mechanism to report serious abuse for those who feel unable, for whatever reason, to access Defence’s internal mechanisms. More information about our reporting abuse function can be found here.

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, you should try to resolve the matter with your supervisor, commander or manager or by using your Redress of Grievance (ROG) process before coming to us.


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.


If you are making a report of abuse that has occurred during your period of service, 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 matter with the relevant agency before coming to us. If you are not satisfied with the outcome you can complain to us.


You can make a report of abuse 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.

You will need to complete our Permission for another person to act on my behalf form, which can be accessed on our website.

Civilians

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

What we 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?

Our services are free.

How to make a complaint or contact us

Remember, you should try to resolve the matter with the agency first, unless you are reporting abuse, in which case there is no requirement to have reported the matter to Defence before coming to us.

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

You can make a complaint by telephone, in person, in writing, by fax, or using our online complaint form. Someone else can make a complaint on your behalf, but you will need to complete our Permission for another person to act on my behalf form.

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

Online: online complaint form

By email: ombudsman@ombudsman.gov.au

In writing: GPO Box 442, Canberra ACT 2601

Fax: (02) 6276 0123

Statistics

Approaches1 to the Defence Force Ombudsman

Approaches received

Department of DefenceAirforceArmyNavyDepartment of Veterans' AffairsDefence Housing AustraliaOtherTotal
2016 - 172153993531535220625
July 201715784155256
August 2017123510143350
September 2017124135212259
October 201718363143047
November 2017292133133265
December 20172117080441
January 20181449393143
February 201819175202155
Total 2017 - 18 (to date)21402568331142115416

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