The Commonwealth Ombudsman investigates complaints about the actions or decisions of Australian Government Agencies. As a Commonwealth Agency, the actions and decisions of the Agency are subject to the scrutiny of the Commonwealth Ombudsman.
If a person believes the Agency has acted in a manner that is wrong, unjust, unlawful, discriminatory or unfair, he or she can make a complaint to the Ombudsman.
There is no need for the action to fall into the category of ‘reviewable decision‘.
The Commonwealth Ombudsman has considerable discretion as whether or not to investigate complaints. The Ombudsman may decide to investigate a complaint, or decide to cease investigating a complaint for a variety of reasons outlined in the Ombudsman Act 1976 (Cth).
Whether a complaint has been made directly to the Agency and the adequacy of the Agency response will be considered relevant.
Except in exceptional circumstances the Ombudsman will not investigate or will cease to investigate an action that is being reviewed by another court or tribunal. Therefore, an application to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal will limit the likelihood of the Ombudsman investigating that complaint.
Making a complaint
Complaints can be lodged either verbally or in writing. The Ombudsman, however, may request that verbal complaints be transferred to a written form at a later stage.
There is no fee and complaints can be made in writing, by phone, online or in person at the relevant state or territory office. Relevant details and evidence should be included.
If desired by a participant, consent can be given for another person to complain on one’s behalf, if no arrangement of guardianship or legal representation exists to authorise this.
Responses may be swift or take some time.
Explanation should be provided if the Ombudsman decides not to investigate the complaint.