Working with the Indigenous Community

Acknowledgement of Country

The Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman (the Office) acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, culture and community. We pay our respect to elders past, present and emerging.

What we do

We help people sort out problems with Australian Government agencies. This includes programs that are for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, such as the Community Development Program.

You can tell us about problems you have with Australian Government programs. We welcome complaints from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.  Your story matters to the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

Access for Indigenous people

You can reach us on our dedicated Indigenous number 1800 060 789 or tell us by lodging an on-line complaint at ombudsman.gov.au/making-a-complaint

Please let us know if you are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander so we can give you the best possible service to suit your needs.

If you prefer to use an Indigenous language interpreter to talk to government, we can make arrangements to contact you with the assistance of an interpreter.

If you would like support to make a complaint, let us know and we will do our best to help you. Support needs may include:

  • talking to us about a call back time that is suitable for you
  • asking for extra time to make your complaint, or
  • making arrangements for somebody else, for example an advocate, friend or family member, to help with making your complaint.

Read Your Story Matters to explain our services and how to make a complaint.

Making complaints to agencies

If you think an Australian Government agency has been unfair or has done something wrong, we usually ask you to make a complaint to the agency before you contact our Office. Agencies are expected to have good complaint systems. They should also give you information about how to make a complaint.

Some Australian Government agencies ask people to use online complaint forms. If you don’t feel comfortable using an online form, you can ask agency staff to record your complaint for you.

Some of the most common Indigenous complaints to the office are about:

When to come to us

You should try to resolve the complaint with the agency before contacting us. Click here for more information about what to do before making a complaint.

If an agency doesn’t resolve your problem or is taking too long, you can complain to our Office. We will:

  • listen to your complaint, and
  • decide whether we can help you.

If we are not able to help, we may be able to give you a better explanation about the agency’s processes, procedures or decisions.

We can give you information on who else to approach with your complaint.

You also can ask to talk with a member of our Indigenous Strategy Team

Reconciliation Action Plan

We acknowledge, value, respect and affirm the history and cultural richness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in all that we do. Our Reconciliation Action Plan includes practical steps to build relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities, and to continually improve access to our services.