• Part 1: Review by the Ombudsman
  • Part 2: Overview of the Office
    • Our purpose
    • Ombudsman Roles and functions
    • Our outcome and programs
    • Accountable authority
    • Organisational structure
    • Senior leadership group
  • Part 3: Report on performance
    • Statement of preparation
    • 2020–21 Performance Analysis
    • Results
    • Financial reporting
  • Part 4: Public Interest Disclosures Scheme
    • Public Interest Disclosure Scheme
  • Part 5: Specific Ombudsman roles and annual reports
    • Introduction
    • Defence Force Ombudsman
    • Postal Industry Ombudsman
    • Overseas Students Ombudsman
    • Private Health Insurance Ombudsman
    • VET Student Loans Ombudsman
  • Part 6: Management and accountability
    • Corporate Governance
    • Corporate Governance Practices
    • External scrutiny
    • Management of Human Resources
    • Purchasing
    • Consultancy contracts
    • Advertising campaigns
    • Exempt contracts
    • Compliance reporting
    • Asset management
    • Disability Reporting
  • Part 7: Appendices
    • Appendix 1—All public contacts
    • Appendix 2—Financial statements
    • Appendix 3—Information Publication Scheme
    • Appendix 4—Management of Human Resources
    • Appendix 5—Entity Resources Statement
    • Appendix 6—Ecologically sustainable development and environmental performance
    • Appendix 7—Correction of material errors in the previous annual report
    • Appendix 8—Public Interest Disclosure
  • Part 8: References
    • Glossary
    • List of Abbreviations
    • List of Tables and Figures
    • List of requirements

Reader’s guide

This report provides information on the activities, achievements and performance of the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman (the Office) for the 2020–21 financial year.

Download PDF

  • Part 1—Review by the Ombudsman
    • This part contains a review of the past financial year by the Commonwealth Ombudsman, Michael Manthorpe and the acting Commonwealth Ombudsman, Penny McKay. It contains a summary of significant challenges for the Office, an overview of our performance results, financial results and an outlook for the next reporting period, 2021–22.
  • Part 2—Overview of the Office
    • This part provides an overview of our purpose, outcome and programs and the roles, functions and organisational structure of the Office.
  • Part 3—Report on performance
  • Part 4—Public Interest Disclosures
    • This part comprises our annual report on the operation of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013.
  • Part 5—Specific Ombudsman roles and annual reports
    • The Commonwealth Ombudsman performs 5 specific Ombudsman roles pursuant to the Ombudsman Act 1976 (the Act). The Act requires an annual report on each role. We report publicly on each role throughout the year. The 5 annual reports, combined with the content in this report, constitute the annual reports required.
  • Part 6—Management and accountability
    • This part outlines the Office’s governance and accountability arrangements, including external scrutiny, human resources management, procurement and asset management.
  • Part 7—Appendices
    • This part includes statistics on the number of contacts and complaints received by the Office, financial statements, a report on compliance with the Information Publication Scheme (IPS), entity resource statement, ecologically sustainable development and environmental performance for the Office and the correction of material errors in the previous annual report.
  • Part 8—References
    • This part includes a glossary, a compliance index and an alphabetical index.


For enquiries about this report, email the Commonwealth Ombudsman at the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman at

If you would like to make a complaint or obtain further information about the Commonwealth Ombudsman, contact us:

online at

by phone at 1300 362 072 between 10:30 am to 3:00 pm Monday to Friday. Note that this is not a toll-free number and calls from mobile phones are charged at mobile phone rates.
If you are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, you can contact us on our Indigenous Line 1800 060 789.

in writing to GPO Box 442, Canberra ACT 2601.

Services available to help you

If you are a non-English speaking person, we can help you through the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) – phone 131 450.

If you are hearing, sight or speech impaired, a teletypewriter (TTY) Service is available through the National Relay Service – phone 133 677.


Date of publication: October 2021

Publisher: Commonwealth Ombudsman, Canberra Australia
© Commonwealth of Australia 2021
The Commonwealth owns the copyright in all material produced by the Ombudsman.

With the exception of the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s logo, any material protected by a trademark, and where otherwise noted, all material presented in this publication is provided under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence.

The details of the relevant licence conditions are available on the Creative Commons website ( as is the full legal code for the CC BY 4.0 licence.

The Commonwealth’s preference is that you attribute this report and any material sourced from it using the following wording:

Source: Licensed from the Commonwealth Ombudsman under a Creative Commons 4.0 licence. This report is available from the Commonwealth Ombudsman website at

Use of the Coat of Arms
The terms under which the Coat of Arms can be used are set out on the It’s an Honour website

Contact us

Inquiries regarding the licence and any use of this report are welcome at:

Commonwealth Ombudsman

GPO Box 442, Canberra ACT 2601

Tel: 1300 362 072


Transmittal Letter

29 September 2021

Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash
Attorney-General for Australia
Parliament House

Dear Attorney-General,

I am pleased to present the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s (the Office) Annual Report for 2020–21.

The report has been prepared for the purposes of s 46 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act), which requires that I prepare an annual report for you to table in the Australian Parliament.

The report includes the Office’s annual performance statements and audited financial statements as required under s 39(1) and s 43(4) of the PGPA Act. In my opinion, the annual performance statements accurately reflect the Office's performance for the 2020–21 period and comply with s 39(2) of the PGPA Act.

The report reflects the matters dealt with and legislation administered by the Office under the Ombudsman Act 1976.

As required under s 10 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014, I certify:

  • The Office has prepared fraud risk assessments and fraud control plans.
  • The Office has in place appropriate fraud prevention, detection, investigation and reporting mechanisms that meet its specific needs.
  • I have taken all reasonable measures to deal with fraud relating to the Office appropriately.

Yours sincerely,

Signature of Michael Manthorpe

Penny McKay
Acting Commonwealth Ombudsman

CC: Senator the Hon Amanda Stoker, Assistant Minister to the Attorney-General