The Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman (the Office) holds a specialist role overseeing the immigration functions of the Department of Home Affairs.


What we can help you with:

We can investigate complaints about the administrative actions taken by the Department of Home Affairs or the Australian Border Force. These can include:

We can also explore systemic issues that can arise from complaints.

For more information, click here to read our frequently asked questions.

What we cannot help you with:

We cannot help with complaints about:

  • decisions made by the Minister for the Department of Home Affairs
  • the Government’s immigration policy
  • visa refusal decisions

When we receive a complaint, we will assess it to decide what action to take. We may decide not to investigate a complaint if:

  • the matter complained about is more than 12 months old
  • you have not yet complained to the department, or
  • there is no prospect of obtaining a remedy to the complaint.

We will tell you the outcome of our assessment of your complaint. We will explain the investigation process and what to do if you disagree with our decision.

Click here for more information about making a complaint to our Office.

Inspect immigration detention facilities

Since 2004 the Office has visited immigration detention facilities as part of our function as the Immigration Ombudsman.  We will continue to oversee immigration detention as part of our role as the Commonwealth National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT).

For more information about this function please see Monitoring places of detention – OPCAT - Commonwealth Ombudsman

Reporting on people held in immigration detention:

When a person has been in immigration detention for two years, and then every six months if they remain in immigration detention, the Secretary of the Department of Home Affairs must give the Ombudsman a report about the circumstances of the person's detention.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman has a statutory role under section 486O of the Migration Act 1958 to give the Minister for the Department of Home Affairs an assessment of the appropriateness of the arrangements for the person’s detention.

For more information about this function please see the reporting on people held in immigration detention page.