Immigration complaints


What we can help you with:

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

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
  • we are unlikely to obtain a better outcome for you.

The Office will tell you the outcome of our assessment of your complaint. You will receive an explanation of 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 its function as the Immigration Ombudsman.  We 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:

Under section 486N of the Migration Act 1958 , the Secretary of the Department of Home Affairs must give the Commonwealth Ombudsman a report relating to the circumstances of a person’s detention.

The Department of Home Affairs must provide this report within 21 days of a person having been in detention for 2 years, and then every 6 months for as long as they remain in immigration detention.

Under section 486O of the Migration Act 1958, the Commonwealth Ombudsman is required, as soon as practicable, to prepare an assessment on the appropriateness of the arrangements for people who have been in immigration detention for two years, and then every 6 months, for as long as they remain in detention.

The Ombudsman provides these assessments to the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs (the Minister).

The Minister must table the Ombudsman’s assessments (de‑identified versions) within 15 sitting days after the Minister receives the assessment.

For more information about this function please see the immigration information on the Publications, Resources and FAQ page.