Our role

The Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman (the Office) does not make a fresh decision, rather we consider the way a decision was made and make recommendations on how the decision or process could be improved.

It is often in the best interests of the complainant to contact the agency, provider or organisation in question first, before contacting the Office. They are often able to address your complaint in a timely manner, and this also gives them an opportunity to review their decision, or make a decision if one has not already been made.

The Ombudsman is the oversight body for your complaint. We can assist to resolve your complaint by investigating the process if the agency, provider or organisation does not change their decision or offer a better explanation of the decision.

We can help you to make a complaint to the agency, provider or organisation the complaint is about.

In each case, we will advise you that you can come back to us with your complaint if you are not satisfied with the result.

We also receive complaints we do not have the power to assist with. In these instances, we will refer you to the right complaint-handling body to hear your complaint.

We make sure the actions of agencies are fair and responsible by:

  • handling complaints
  • conducting investigations
  • performing audits and inspections
  • encouraging good administration.

We have the following specialist roles:

We are also responsible for:

We have an International program that promotes:

  • best practice in complaint-handling
  • good government administration within our region.

We also have two specialist roles since the Australian Government ratified the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT):