What we do
We consider and investigate complaints from people who believe they have been treated unfairly or unreasonably by an Australian Government department or agency, including the Australian Taxation Office, Australia Post, Centrelink, Child Support Agency, and Department of Immigration and Citizenship. The Commonwealth Ombudsman is also the ACT Ombudsman.
Our aim is to resolve complaints impartially, informally and quickly. If we cannot assist with a particular complaint, we will explain why, and suggest other avenues for resolving the matter.
We cannot override the decisions of the agencies we deal with, nor issue directions to their staff. Instead, we resolve disputes through consultation and negotiation, and if necessary, by making formal recommendations to the most senior levels of government. Since the inception of the Commonwealth Ombudsman's office in 1977, we have assisted in resolving many thousands of individual complaints, and brought about significant improvements in the quality of government administration.
Our annual reports provide details of the numbers and types of complaints we deal with, and the ways in which they are resolved. Our strategic plan and portfolio budget statements (The Commonwealth Ombudsman is part of the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet portfolio. This is a link to their website.) explain our goals and priorities, and how our agency's operations are organised and funded.
- Administrative action by Australian Government agencies is fair and accountable.
The office safeguards the community in its dealings with Australian Government agencies by:
- correcting administrative deficiencies through independent review of complaints about Australian Government administrative action
- fostering good public administration that is accountable, lawful, fair, transparent and responsive
- assisting people to resolve complaints about government administrative action
- developing policies and principles for accountability
- reviewing statutory compliance by agencies.
- team work.
- Investigate complaints about Australian Government agencies and make recommendations for resolving complaints
- Implement a Postal Industry Ombudsman function applying to public and private sector postal operators
- Foster good complaint handling in Australian Government agencies
- Highlight problems in public administration through complaint handling, own motion investigations and reporting
- Contribute to public discussion on administrative law and public administration
- Focus attention on the adverse impact government administration can have on individuals
- Promote open government
- Inspect the accuracy and comprehensiveness of records on selected law enforcement activities
- Assess the appropriateness of immigration detention arrangements in individual cases
- Conduct inquiries as requested by government
- Collaborate with State, Territory and Industry Ombudsmen
- Collaborate with Ombudsman offices in the Asia - Pacific region.
How we carry out our responsibilities
- Professional, high-quality and well-trained staff
- Delivery of our services in accordance with professional standards
- Efficient and effective information systems
- Being responsive to criticism of our own performance.
How the Ombudsman can help you
If you think you have been unfairly treated by an Australian Government agency you can complain to the Ombudsman's office. We can investigate complaints about:
This includes Australian Government agencies responsible for services such as pension and child support payments, immigration matters and postal services.
We can investigate services delivered by most private contractors for the Australian Government, such as the Job Network, Welfare to Work and immigration detention centres..
Freedom of information
Freedom of information (FOI) including delays in processing FOI requests and complaints about FOI charges
Australian Federal Police
We oversee complaint investigations conducted by the AFP to ensure proper and adequate action and if necessary investigate further.
The Ombudsman is also the Defence Force Ombudsman and investigates complaints from serving and former members of the Australian Defence Force.
The Ombudsman is also the Immigration Ombudsman with responsibility for reviewing the cases of long-term detainees.
The Ombudsman is also the Taxation Ombudsman in relation to complaints about the Australian Taxation Office.
We cannot investigate complaints about the actions of government ministers or politicians; private individuals; state or local governments and some government business enterprises; or private businesses (except for some Australian Government contractors); decisions of courts and tribunals; and public service employment disputes (except in the Australian Defence Force).