History and establishment
The office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman commenced operation on 1 July 1977. Since then, seven Commonwealth Ombudsmen have been in office.
The office was established by the Ombudsman Act 1976 (Ombudsman Act), as part of a new and distinctive system of administrative law in Australia. The office is in the portfolio administered by the Prime Minister.
Over time the responsibilities of the Ombudsman have expanded to cover:
- complaints about the Australian Federal Police (AFP)—1981
- complaints about freedom of information—1982
- Defence Force Ombudsman role—1983
- compliance auditing of AFP and National Crime Authority (now Australian Crime Commission (ACC)) telecommunication intercept records—1988, with added responsibilities of monitoring controlled operations in 2001 and auditing of surveillance device records in 2004
- Australian Capital Territory Ombudsman—1989
- Taxation Ombudsman—1995
- assessing and reporting on the detention of long term (two years or more) immigration detainees—2005
- Immigration Ombudsman role—2005
- Commonwealth service providers—2005
- Postal Industry Ombudsman role—2006
- compliance auditing of access to stored communications by the AFP, ACC, Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) and other enforcement agencies (such as the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and the Australian Customs Service), and the use of surveillance devices by state
law enforcement agencies under Commonwealth legislation—2006
- Law Enforcement Ombudsman role, with
a specific responsibility to review the adequacy and comprehensiveness of the AFP complaint-handling system—2006.
Chapter 8—Thirty years ... thirty changes describes some of the major developments in the office over the past thirty years.
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