- July 2011: DEEWR - Administration of the National School Chaplaincy Program
A Commonwealth Ombudsman’s report has found the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations needs to improve how it runs the National School Chaplaincy Program.
Releasing the findings of his investigation into the Department’s administration of the Chaplaincy Program, Ombudsman Allan Asher pointed out that although the program may be complex to administer, the Department must improve its management and oversight of the program.
- April 2011: Talking in Language: Indigenous language interpreters and government communication
Complaints to the Ombudsman’s office – as well as the observations and experience of this office during outreach visits to remote NT communities – indicate that Indigenous language interpreters are not always used when they should be. They can also be difficult to obtain. As a result the Ombudsman commenced an own motion investigation to examine six agencies’ awareness of the need to make use of Indigenous language interpreters
- March 2011: Centrelink: Right to review–having choices, making choices
A Commonwealth Ombudsman’s report has identified ‘systemic weaknesses’ in Centrelink’s review processes, including lack of transparency and insufficient education about available options to customers, often leading to delays and inaction – and that the complexity of Centrelink’s review model contributes to administrative drift and breakdown.
- Feb 2011: DIAC - Proper processing for challenging a tribunal decision
A refusal to grant a partner visa by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship has been overturned following an Ombudsman investigation. The resulting report examines what it calls a ‘flawed decision’ from DIAC to refuse a visa application which contradicted a Migration Review Tribunal ruling stating that relationship requirements had been met. We found that a policy intended to benefit those in long term relationships had been misapplied and there’d been a protracted delay in implementing a Migration Review Tribunal decision
- Feb 2011: Christmas Island immigration detention facilities
There are too many people being detained at the Christmas Island immigration detention facilities and the current scale of operations on the geographically remote island are not sustainable. This is the underlying message in the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s report based on observations during two years of periodic inspection visits, examination by this office of the Refugee Status Assessment (RSA) processes and investigation of complaints received from detainees on Christmas Island. When Ombudsman staff first visited the Christmas Island immigration detention facilities in October 2008, 32 people were detained there out of a nominal operational capacity of 744. By the time this report was finalised and eight Ombudsman inspection visits later, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) advised there were some 2757 people awaiting processing of claims, two thousand more than the facilities were designed to accommodate. This is being managed through measures such as the use of marquee dormitories to increase ‘contingency accommodation capacity’ up to 2584 beds.
- 2011 State of the Health Funds Report
Private Health Insurance:
Provides comparative information on the performance and service delivery of health funds
- Jan 2011: DAFF Biosecurity Services Group: Compliance and investigations activities of the Biosecurity Services Group
The report examines the activities of the Biosecurity Services Group of DAFF, and in particular, assesses whether investigations have been conducted appropriately in NSW
- Dec 2010: Administration of funding agreements with regional and remote indigenous organisations—16|2010
Complex reporting requirements for grants increase the risk that some Indigenous organisations will fail even when programs are being delivered successfully. The Ombudsman’s report is on the administration of funding agreements with Indigenous organisations in remote and regional Australia. The report details five principles for the effective administration these types of agreements which address training, simplifying reporting regimes, planning for the longer term, resolving disputes, giving clear explanations of funding conditions and communicating better. The report also recommends that the Office for the Arts refer the report to the independent review panel currently undertaking a national review of the Indigenous broadcasting and media sector. The Office for the Arts acknowledged the principles and accepted the recommendation.
- Dec 2010: Australian Customs and Border Protection Service: Administration of coercive powers in passenger processing—15|2010
The Ombudsman today released a report on the administration of coercive powers at Australian international airports by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (Customs). Using the Administrative Review Council’s best practice principles as a guide, the investigation considered how Customs officers exercise the powers to question passengers, to examine goods in their possession and to copy documents. Our investigation has identified that Customs’ policies and training are generally consistent with legislation and principles of good administration. However, we made recommendations for improvement in relation to: the relevance of questions asked and documents copied, the timeliness of return of items after forensic examination, record keeping and publication of information about the powers used by Customs. Customs accepted fully seven out of the 10 recommendations, partially accepted two other recommendations and rejected one.
- Nov 2010: Department of Human Services, Child Support Agency: Unreasonable Customer Conduct and ‘Write Only’ policy, November 2010—14|2010
Unreasonable or difficult behaviour should not mean inadequate service from government agencies. The report examines the Child Support Agency’s ‘write only’ policy which restricts certain customers to written contact only, as a result of ‘unreasonable behaviour’, which might include threats or abuse or unnecessary persistence. The Commonwealth Ombudsman urges all agencies to develop a consistent approach in managing unreasonable customer conduct.
- Sept 2010: — Falling through the cracks—Centrelink, DEEWR and FaHSCIA: Engaging with customers with a mental illness in the social security system - 13|2010
The Ombudsman’s report, Falling through the cracks examines the difficulties people with a mental illness have when they interact with our social security system. In particular it examines interactions with Centrelink, DEEWR and FaHCSIA. It makes 11 recommendations to improve policy and procedures.
- Sep 2010: Australian Taxation Office: Resolving Tax File Number compromise - 12|2010
Commonwealth Ombudsman; Taxation Ombudsman:
The Ombudsman’s report expresses concerns about how the Australian Tax Office has handled complaints about compromised Tax File Numbers (TFNs). It examines eight case studies where taxpayers’ TFNs had been compromised or incorrectly linked to another person’s TFN
- Aug 2010: Child Support Agency, Department of Human Services: Investigation of a parent’s ‘capacity to pay’ - 11|2010
The report looks into the CSA’s power to go beyond a parent’s taxable income to assess child support obligations. The CSA does this through its ‘Capacity to pay’ (CTP) investigations which typically target parents who are self-employed or run a business through a corporate structure. The even-handedness of Child Support Agency (CSA) investigations into whether parents are paying and receiving the right amount, according to this report must target both the paying and receiving parents in a fair and even handed manner.
- Aug 2010: Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Centrelink: Review rights for Income managed people in the Northern Territory - 10|2010
The report concerns an investigation into a failure to provide rights of review to the Social Security Appeals Tribunal (SSAT) and Administrative Appeals Tribunal for individuals subject to Income Management as part of the government’s intervention in the Northern Territory. It was prompted by a complaint from a husband and wife who sought exemption from the scheme and were unable to access rights of review.
- June 2010: Fair Work Ombudsman: exercise of coercive information-gathering powers - 09|2010
The Commonwealth Ombudsman’s office has an interest in the exercise of powers that can have an impact on the rights of the public, and the Office of the Fair Work Ombudsman has certain powers that allow it to obtain information and documents when investigating employers or employees for compliance with the Fair Work Act 2009. We reviewed the Fair Work Ombudsman’s internal processes for use of its coercive information-gathering powers during an investigation, the outcomes of which are discussed in this report.