News & Events

Raising awareness and accessibility in the Gascoyne Region,
June 2017

Now in its eighth year, the Regional Awareness and Accessibility Program is intended to ensure awareness and accessibility to the services of the office of the Western Australian Ombudsman to regional and Aboriginal Western Australians.

The Program is coordinated with the Western Australian Energy and Water Ombudsman and was conducted in Carnarvon on 22 - 23 June 2017. The offices of the Commonwealth Ombudsman and Health and Disability Services Complaints Office participated in the visit.

The Program included complaints clinics where  members of the public could bring their concerns to us (that had not been able to be resolved directly with public authorities or providers of energy and water services), meetings with Aboriginal community members, and visits to, and liaison with, public authorities and community groups. To find out more about the Ombudsman's visit to the Gascoyne region:

Read more about the Regional Awareness and Accessibility Program.
View the Gascoyne Visit Media Release.
View the Gascoyne Regional Visit Complaints Clinic Poster

A report on giving effect to the recommendations arising from the Investigation into issues associated with violence restraining orders and their relationship with family and domestic violence fatalities, November 2016

On 10 November 2016, the Western Australian Ombudsman, Chris Field, tabled in Parliament a report on giving effect to recommendations arising from the Investigation into issues associated with violence restraining orders and their relationship with family and domestic violence fatalities.

The Ombudsman undertakes an important responsibility to review family and domestic violence fatalities. Arising from this work, the Ombudsman identified the need to undertake a major own motion investigation into issues associated with violence restraining orders and their relationship with family and domestic violence fatalities. On 19 November 2015, the investigation report was tabled in the Western Australian Parliament. The report made 54 recommendations to four government agencies about ways to prevent or reduce family and domestic violence fatalities, each of which was agreed to by the agencies.

“Importantly, I also indicated that my office would actively monitor the implementation of these recommendations and report to Parliament on the results of this monitoring,” said Mr Field. “Accordingly, I am now pleased to provide Parliament with ‘A report on giving effect to the recommendations arising from the Investigation into issues associated with violence restraining orders and their relationship with family and domestic violence fatalities’.”

This follow-up report found that the relevant state government agencies have taken steps, or propose to take steps, to give effect to all of the recommendations. “It is particularly pleasing that, in giving effect to the recommendations, important improvements have been achieved” said Mr Field.

“The work of my office in ensuring that the recommendations of the investigation are given effect does not end with the tabling of this report,” said Mr Field. “My office will continue to monitor whether steps continue to be taken by the relevant agencies, and the next report will be provided in my office’s 2016-17 Annual Report.”

Read more about the report on giving effect to the recommendations arising from the Investigation into issues associated with violence restraining orders and their relationship with family and domestic violence fatalities.

Ombudsman releases 2015-16 Annual Report, September 2016

The Western Australian Ombudsman has tabled his 2015-16 annual report in Parliament. The report outlines the work of the Office for the year, including:

  • We received 11,663 contacts, comprised of:
    - 9,700 enquiries; and
    - 1,963 complaints. 

  • We finalised 95% of complaints within three months.

  • Since 2007, we have:
    - Decreased the age of complaints from 173 days to 27 days; and
    - Reduced the cost of resolving complaints by 36 per cent. 

  • Public authorities accepted 100% of our recommendations.

  • We received:
    - 41 investigable child deaths; and
    - 22 reviewable family and domestic violence fatalities. 

  • We tabled in Parliament the report of a major own motion investigation, Investigation into issues associated with violence restraining orders and their relationship with family and domestic violence fatalities, that contained 54 recommendations about ways to prevent or reduce family and domestic violence fatalities, all of which were accepted by the relevant agencies.

  • Significant work was undertaken on a major own motion investigation into ways to prevent or reduce child deaths by drowning.

  • Significant work was undertaken in relation to our role to monitor the Infringement Notices provisions of The Criminal Code.

  • We enhanced regional awareness and access to the Office through visits to the Indian Ocean Territories, the Pilbara and the Kimberley.

  • We enhanced awareness and access to the Office for children and young people through a range of mechanisms, including a new visiting program to vulnerable groups of children in the child protection system, a new youth space on our website and youth-friendly publications.
Ombudsman raises awareness and accessibility about its services for children and young people, August 2016

“It’s OK to complain. We’re here to help” is the message of Western Australian Ombudsman, Chris Field, to children and young people. The Ombudsman has over the last 12 months been significantly enhancing systems to improve access to the office for children and young people.

In November 2015, the Ombudsman’s office conducted a youth focus group to listen directly to young people and their representatives, in collaboration with the office of the Commissioner for Children and Young People. The focus group provided an opportunity for young people to be heard on ways the Ombudsman can enhance awareness and accessibility for children and young people.

Following from this youth focus group, and a range of other consultation, the office has developed a new, dedicated youth space on the Ombudsman Western Australia website with information about the office specifically tailored for children and young people, as well as information for non-government organisations and government agencies that assist children and young people, and a suite of promotional materials targeted at, and tailored for, children and young people. This year, the office has commenced a major new visiting program to vulnerable groups of children and young people in the child protection system. This included visits to:

  • The Kath French Secure Care Centre in February 2016;
  • Two residential group homes in the Perth metropolitan area in May 2016;
  • Two residential group homes and one family group home in the Pilbara region in June 2016; and
  • One residential group home in the Kimberley region in June 2016.

The Ombudsman has also increased regular visits to the Banksia Hill Detention Centre and engagement with the community sector in the metropolitan area and regional Western Australia under the Ombudsman’s Regional Awareness and Accessibility Program.

The children and young people section of the Ombudsman’s website can be found at www.ombudsman.wa.gov.au/youth.

Raising awareness and accessibility in the Pilbara and Kimberley Regions, June 2016
Now in its eighth year, the Regional Awareness and Accessibility Program is intended to ensure awareness and accessibility to the services of the office of the Western Australian Ombudsman to regional and Aboriginal Western Australians. The Program is coordinated with the Western Australian Energy and Water Ombudsman and will be conducted in Karratha, Roebourne and South Hedland from 20 – 24 June 2016 and Broome from 29 June – 1 July 2016. The Program includes complaints clinics where members of the public can bring their concerns to us (that have not been able to be resolved directly with public authorities or providers of energy and water services), meetings with Aboriginal community members, and visits to, and liaison with, public authorities and community groups. To find out more about the Ombudsman's visit to the Pilbara and Kimberley regions:
Read more about the Regional Awareness and Accessibility Program
View the Pilbara and Kimberley Visit Media Release
View the Pilbara Regional Visit Complaints Clinic Poster
View the Kimberley Regional Visit Complaints Clinic Poster
Starter Kit for new ombudsmen and developing or expanding offices, May 2016
On 3 May 2016, Mr Chris Field, International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) Treasurer and Western Australian Ombudsman, launched a Starter kit for new ombudsmen and developing or expanding offices (Starter Kit) at the 2016 Australasian and Pacific Ombudsman Region (APOR) Conference held in Melbourne.

The Starter Kit is a project funded by the IOI through its regional subventions project, and jointly undertaken by the offices of the Western Australian Ombudsman and New South Wales Ombudsman.

The objective of the project was to provide a highly accessible, web-based induction tool for newly appointed Ombudsmen utilising the knowledge and experience of existing Ombudsmen, and a resource for those offices who are undergoing an expansion of functions or dealing with novel or challenging issues.

The Starter Kit is an online collection of information and documents on a range of topics relevant to Ombudsman offices. Topics covered by the Starter Kit fall into four broad areas: Core Principles for an Ombudsman Institution; Governance and Office Management; Complaints and Investigations; and Stakeholder Engagement.

“We proposed to create a comprehensive resource for new Ombudsmen or developing or expanding Ombudsman offices that would draw upon the collective expertise and experience of APOR Members,” said Mr Field.

“I am delighted to be able to launch a project that provides a rich library of very helpful information in one central place that I believe will be a valuable ongoing and living resource for all APOR Members and their offices.”

In launching the Starter Kit, Mr Field observed that “I am also pleased, and excited, that the Starter Kit will be made available to all IOI members – further enhancing the value of the Starter Kit and the assistance that is able to be provided to new Ombudsmen taking office all around the world and those who are considering the expansion of functions for their offices.”

Changes to the Starter Kit are coordinated by the office of the Western Australian Ombudsman.

APOR Members can access the Starter Kit through the member area of the IOI website: www.theioi.org/member-area.
Visit to the Indian Ocean Territories, May 2016
As part of the Regional Accessibility Program,  staff from the office of the Western Australian Ombudsman and the Commonwealth Ombudsman travelled to the Indian Ocean Territories (IOT) in May 2016, visiting both the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island.

Under an arrangement with the Commonwealth Government, the Western Australian Ombudsman handles complaints from people in the IOT about Western Australian public authorities which are within the Western Australian Ombudsman’s jurisdiction and operate in the IOT.

The visit aimed to raise awareness of, and access to, Ombudsman services for people living and working in the IOT.

Read more about the Regional Awareness and Accessibility Program.
Ombudsman releases Consultation Paper on the infringement notices provisions of The Criminal Code, May 2016
The Western Australian Ombudsman, Chris Field, has released a Consultation Paper as part of his important function to keep under scrutiny Criminal Code infringement notices.

Authorised police officers can issue Criminal Code infringement notices with a modified penalty of $500 for the prescribed offences of (1) behaving in a disorderly manner in a public place or in sight or hearing of any person in a public place or in a police lock-up or, (2) stealing anything capable of being stolen up to and including the value of $500. Criminal Code infringement notices can only be issued to persons 17 years of age or older on the date on which the alleged offence is believed to have been committed.

The Ombudsman is undertaking a wide range of work and activities as part of this monitoring role, including critically, a wide range of consultative activities regarding the operation of Criminal Code infringement notices. An important part of these consultative activities is that the Ombudsman is seeking to consult members of the community who have had experience with the operation of the Criminal Code infringement notices.

“In particular, I am seeking to consult Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community on the impact of the operation of Criminal Code infringement notices on communities”, said Mr Field.

The Consultation Paper is available on the Ombudsman’s website at www.ombudsman.wa.gov.au/CCINs. Responses should be sent to the office of the Ombudsman by Friday 20 May 2016.
Ombudsman Western Australia Strategic Plan 2016-2018, March 2016
Ombudsman Western Australia has published its Strategic Plan for 2016-2018. The Strategic Plan sets out the Vision, Mission, Stakeholders, Values, Strategic Direction and Key Measures of Success of the Office.

Read the Ombudsman Western Australia Strategic Plan
Ombudsman presents at Legal Aid WA Summer Series Civil Law Day, March 2016

In March 2016, Western Australian Ombudsman, Chris Field,gave a presentation on The Role of the Western Australian Ombudsman at the Legal Aid WA Summer Series Civil Law Day. The presentation considered the Ombudsman’s role in relation to:

  • Investigation of complaints;
  • Deaths of certain children;
  • Reviews of family and domestic violence fatalities;
  • Own motion investigations;
  • Other functions;
  • Access to justice;
  • Integrity; and
  • The rule of law and democracy.

Legal Aid WA is focused on providing legal solutions for high-risk, low-income clients across the whole of Western Australia. The Legal Aid WA Summer Series Conference brought together private practitioners who take grants of aid, and the community sector, notably community legal services and the Aboriginal Legal Service in Western Australia.

The Summer Series Civil Law Day featured a number of presentations from leading Australians including:

  • The Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, the Hon Robert French AC;
  • President of the State Administrative Tribunal, Justice Jeremy Curthoys; and
  • Deputy President of the Commonwealth Administrative Appeals Tribunal, Dr Christopher Kendall.


Read the Ombudsman's presentation

Ombudsman co-presents UWA Government Accountability: Law and Practice Short Course, February 2016

In February 2016, the Western Australian Ombudsman and Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Western Australia, Chris Field, co-presented with Professor Simon Young, USQ School of Law and Justice, and Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Western Australia a short course Government Accountability: Law and Practice.

The short course explored:

  • Theories of society, government, rulemaking, accountability and integrity;
  • Advanced Administrative Law;
  • Integrity in government and its agencies;
  • A law and economics analysis of governance accountability;
  • Contemporary issues in government accountability; and
  • Keeping accountability agencies accountable.

The short course featured presentations from a number of prominent Western Australians both as guest presenters and as members of an interactive closing panel. Guest presentations were given by:

  • Mal Wauchope, Public Sector Commissioner;
  • The Hon John McKechnie, Corruption and Crime Commissioner;
  • Colin Murphy, Auditor General; and
  • Sven Bluemmel, Information Commissioner.

The panellists were:

  • Sue Murphy, Chief Executive Officer, Water Corporation;
  • Sharyn O’Neill, Director General, Department of Education; and
  • Lyndon Rowe, Chairman, Synergy.

Ombudsman hosts delegation from Ombudsman Republik Indonesia, September 2015
The Office of the Western Australian Ombudsman has been involved with the Indonesian/Australian Ombudsman Linkages and Strengthening Program (the Program) since 2005 in collaboration with the Commonwealth Ombudsman and the New South Wales Ombudsman. As part of the Program, on Monday 7 and Tuesday 8 September, the Office hosted a senior delegation from the office of the Ombudsman Republik Indonesia. During their visit, the delegates met with the Ombudsman, Deputy Ombudsman, Assistant Ombudsman Complaint Resolution and the heads of divisions. They also attended meetings with the:

- Public Sector Commission;
- Corruption and Crime Commission;
- Office of the Information Commissioner;
- Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services; and
- Health and Disability Services Complaints Office.

The Office also supports the Program by hosting interns from the office of the Ombudsman Republik Indonesia.  Following the successful internship program in December 2014, the Office once again hosted two staff from the office of the Ombudsman Republik Indonesia for a one week internship in December 2015. The interns met with senior Ombudsman staff and received training in the Office’s complaint handling processes.

Indonesia Program 2015

Above: Staff from the Ombudsman Republik Indonesia join the Office of the Western Australian Ombudsman in November-December 2015 for a one week internship.

Ombudsman tables Report in Parliament on own motion investigation into issues associated with violence restraining orders and their relationship with family and domestic violence fatalities, 19 November 2015
The Western Australian Ombudsman undertakes an important responsibility to review family and domestic violence fatalities. Arising from this work, the Ombudsman identified the need to undertake a major own motion investigation into issues associated with violence restraining orders (VROs) and their relationship with family and domestic violence fatalities.

To undertake the investigation, in addition to an extensive literature review and stakeholder engagement, the office of the Ombudsman collected and analysed a comprehensive set of deidentified state-wide data relevant to family and domestic violence and examined 30 family and domestic violence fatalities notified to the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman has found that a range of work has been undertaken by state government departments and authorities to administer their relevant legislative responsibilities, including their responsibilities arising from the Restraining Orders Act 1997. The Ombudsman has found, however, that there is important further work that should be done. This work, detailed in the findings of this report, includes a range of important opportunities for improvement for state government departments and authorities, working individually and collectively, across all stages of the VRO process. The Ombudsman has also found that Aboriginal Western Australians are significantly overrepresented as victims of family violence, yet underrepresented in the use of VROs. Following from this, the Ombudsman identified that a separate strategy, specifically tailored to preventing and reducing Aboriginal family violence, should be developed. This strategy should actively invite and encourage the full involvement of Aboriginal people in its development and be comprehensively informed by Aboriginal culture.

Furthermore, this investigation has identified nine key principles for state government departments and authorities to apply when responding to family and domestic violence and in administering the Restraining Orders Act 1997. Applying these principles will enable state government departments and authorities to have the greatest impact on preventing and reducing family and domestic violence and related fatalities.

Arising from the findings of the investigation, the Ombudsman has made 54 recommendations to four government agencies about ways to prevent or reduce family and domestic violence fatalities.  The Ombudsman is very pleased that each agency has agreed to these recommendations and has, more generally, been highly co-operative, responsive and positively engaged with the Ombudsman’s investigation.

Importantly, the office of the Ombudsman will actively monitor the implementation of these recommendations and report to Parliament the results of this monitoring.

In undertaking this investigation, the Ombudsman acknowledges the employees of state government departments and authorities, including police officers and child protection workers, as well as non-government organisations, who, on a day to day basis, work to keep victims safe and hold perpetrators accountable.

Finally, the Ombudsman acknowledges, and expresses deepest sympathy to, the families and communities who have been affected by family and domestic violence fatalities in Western Australia. Throughout this report the Ombudsman has sought to ensure that the victims of family and domestic violence are heard, including through a number of case studies titled ‘A victim’s voice’.

Read more about the Report on Investigation into issues associated with violence restraining orders and their relationship with family and domestic violence fatalities.
Disability Access and Inclusion Plan 2015-2020, June 2015
We are very pleased to announce the publication of our Disability Access and Inclusion Plan 2015-2020.

Accessibility and inclusion is absolutely central to the institution of the Ombudsman.

Critically, our office is committed to providing optimum access and service to people with a disability, their families and carers. The Disability Access and Inclusion Plan 2015-2020 embodies our strategies to realise this commitment.

Read more about the Disability Access and Inclusion Plan.
Draft Disability Access and Inclusion Plan 2015-2020, May 2015
The Ombudsman Western Australia called for consultation from members of the community on our proposed Disability Access and Inclusion Plan 2015-2020.

The Ombudsman's draft Disability Access and Inclusion Plan 2015-2020 outlined the ways in which our Office will ensure that all people in Western Australia have equitable and inclusive access to out services, faclities and information.

The public consultation period closed on 15 June 2015.

Read more about the Disability Access and Inclusion Plan.
Raising awareness and accessibility in the Wheatbelt Region, May 2015
Now in its seventh year, the Regional Awareness and Accessibility Program seeks to ensure that the office of the Western Australian Ombudsman and Energy and Water Ombudsman Western Australia is accessible to people living and working in regional Western Australia as well as Aboriginal communities. From 21 to 22 May 2015, the Program was conducted in Northam. The Program included complaints clinics for members of the public and an information session with Aboriginal communities as part of our initiative to improve access to our services for Aboriginal Western Australians. To find out more about the Ombudsman's visit to the Wheatbelt region, read the Wheatbelt Media Release. Read more about the Regional Awareness and Accessibility Program.
4th Australasian Conference on Child Death Inquiries and Reviews,
6-7 November, 2014
The office of the Western Australian Ombudsman and the Department for Child Protection and Family Support co-hosted the 4th Australasian Conference on Child Death Inquiries and Reviews in Perth on 6 and 7 November 2014. The Conference provided an opportunity for delegates to share innovations that have strengthened child protection services and child death review practices through achieving outcomes that make a difference. The two day conference covered a range of timely and important topics relevant to child death reviews and family and domestic violence fatality reviews through key note addresses, presentations and panel discussions. The conference featured an official opening address by the Honourable Helen Morton, MLC, Minister for Mental Health; Disability Services; and Child Protection, an introductory address by Chris Field, Western Australian Ombudsman and closing address by Emma White, Director General, Department for Child Protection and Family Support.

Read the Conference Program

Conference Presentations

Day 1

Professor Donna Chung

Panel Discussion 1 - Child Death Review: Achieving Outcomes That Make a Difference

Terry Murphy

Jayne Forsdike

Panel Discussion 2 - Prevention of Youth Suicide

Day 2

Victoria Hovane

Panel Discussion 3 - Issues and Challenges for Family and Domestic Violence Fatality Review Jurisdictions and Child Protection Agencies
Raising awareness and accessibility in the Goldfields-Esperance Region, July 2014
Now in its sixth year, the Regional Awareness and Accessibility Program seeks to ensure that the office of the Ombudsman is accessible to people living and working in regional Western Australia as well as Indigenous communities. From 30 July to 1 August 2014, the Program was conducted in Kalgoorlie. Representatives from the office of the Ombudsman were joined by the Information Commissioner, Commissioner for Victims of Crime and staff from the Commonwealth Ombudsman's Office and Health and Disability Services Complaints Office. The Program included an information session with Aboriginal communities as part of our initiative to improve access to our services for Aboriginal Western Australians. To find out more about the Ombudsman's visit to the Goldfields region, read the Goldfields Regional Visit Media Release and the Goldfields Regional Visit Brochure. Read more about the Regional Awareness and Accessibility Program.
Ombudsman tables Report in Parliament on investigation into ways that State government departments and authorities can prevent or reduce suicide by young people, 9 April 2014
The Western Australian Ombudsman reviews certain child deaths, identifies patterns and trends arising from these reviews and makes recommendations about ways that State government departments and authorities can prevent or reduce further child deaths.

As part of the Ombudsman’s responsibility to review certain child deaths, the Ombudsman identified a need to undertake a major own motion investigation into ways that State government departments and authorities can prevent or reduce suicide by young people.

The Ombudsman’s investigation has found that State government departments and authorities have already undertaken a significant amount of work that aims to prevent and reduce suicide by young people in Western Australia, however, there is still more work to be done. The Ombudsman has found that this work includes practical opportunities for individual agencies to enhance their provision of services to young people. Critically, as the reasons for suicide by young people are multi-factorial and cross a range of government agencies, the Ombudsman has also found that this work includes the development of a collaborative, inter-agency approach to preventing suicide by young people. In addition to the findings and recommendations, the comprehensive level of data and analysis contained in this report will, the Ombudsman believes, be a valuable new resource for government departments and authorities to inform their planning and work with young people. In particular, the analysis suggests this planning and work target four groups of young people that have been identified.

The findings of the investigation and the 22 recommendations for improvement are detailed in the Ombudsman’s report Investigation into ways that State government departments and authorities can prevent or reduce suicide by young people.

Read more about the Report on Investigation into ways that State government departments and authorities can prevent or reduce suicide by young people
New Deputy Ombudsman appointed, 1 April 2014
The Western Australian Ombudsman Chris Field is very pleased to announce the appointment of Mary White to the position of Deputy Ombudsman.

Appointed for a term of five years by His Excellency Malcolm McCusker, AC CVO QC, Governor of Western Australia, Ms White will also be the Deputy Energy and Water Ombudsman.

Ms White’s most recent role was the Principal Assistant Ombudsman and she has been employed at the office of the Ombudsman since August 2006.  Prior to this, she held a number of senior positions in the (then) Office of the Public Sector Standards Commissioner. 

Chris Field said that Ms White is a highly qualified appointment, “Ms White has over 25 years of public sector experience, primarily in strategic and corporate leadership roles.  Over the last eight years, most recently as Principal Assistant Ombudsman, she has made an outstanding contribution to the work of the office of the Ombudsman”.

“I look forward to continuing to work with Ms White in her new role.”

Ms White has a Bachelor of Science, a Diploma in Education and a Post Graduate Diploma in Arts (Policy).
Ombudsman commences own motion investigation into family and domestic violence fatalities
The office of the Ombudsman undertakes an important function to review family and domestic violence fatalities. Arising from the work of the office in undertaking this function, the Ombudsman has decided to undertake an own motion investigation into issues associated with Violence Restraining Orders (VROs) and their relationship with family and domestic violence fatalities..

Read more about the Ombudsman's own motion investigations.
New water services jurisdiction from 1 January 2014
Following the passage of the Water Services Act 2012, the existing Energy Ombudsman Western Australia has become the Energy and Water Ombudsman Western Australia.

The Energy and Water Ombudsman investigates and resolves complaints concerning the provision of services by electricity, gas and water services providers.

Read more in the Information Sheet
Raising awareness and accessibility in the East Kimberley, November 2013
Now in its fifth year, the Regional Awareness and Accessibility Program seeks to ensure that the office of the Ombudsman is accessible to people living and working in regional Western Australia as well as Indigenous communities. From 6 to 8 November 2013, the Program was conducted in the East Kimberley region, including Kununurra and Wyndham. Representatives from the office of the Ombudsman and Energy Ombudsman were joined by the Information Commissioner, Commissioner for Victims of Crime and staff from the Commonwealth Ombudsman's Office and Health and Disability Services Complaints Office. The Program included an information session with Aboriginal communities as part of our initiative to improve access to our services for Aboriginal Western Australians. To find out more about the Ombudsman's visit to the East Kimberley region, read the East Kimberley Regional Visit Brochure. Read more about the Regional Awareness and Accessibility Program..
Ombudsman participates in collaborative leadership program with Ombudsman Republik Indonesia, July 2013

Ombudsman, Chris Field recently travelled to Jakarta, Indonesia between 3 and 4 July as part of a collaborative leadership program. 

The Ombudsman, together with New South Wales Ombudsman, Bruce Barbour, Commonwealth Ombudsman, Colin Neave and Chief Ombudsman of the Ombudsman Republik Indonesia, Danang Girindrawardana, participated in a leadership dialogue and training program over two days with Ombudsmen and senior staff of the Ombudsman Republik Indonesia.

Mr Field gave two presentations as part of the program, titled:

  • Challenges and opportunities in expansion; and
  • Opportunities in working with other integrity agencies

The Ombudsman also met with Mr Greg Moriarty, the Australian Ambassador to Indonesia on the visit.

“Western Australia has vital economic, social and governance links with the Asia Pacific Region. As Western Australian Ombudsman, and President of the Australasian and Pacific Ombudsman Region, I place great importance on our relationship with our Asia Pacific Ombudsmen colleagues,” said Mr Field.

“This was a unique oppportunity to work with the Chief Ombudsman, Ombudsmen and senior staff of the Ombudsman Republik Indonesia.”

This visit was part of a wider program of collaboration between the Commonwealth Ombudsman, New South Wales Ombudsman, Western Australian Ombudsman and the Ombudsman Republik Indonesia, commenced in 2005.  

The overall aim of the program is to provide greater access across a larger portion of Indonesia to more effective and sustainable complaint management services.

Integrity Coordinating Group Forum, June 2013

TThe Integrity Coordinating Group’s (ICG) annual Forum was held on Tuesday 2 July 2013 at the Duxton Hotel, Perth.

The ICG is comprised of the Public Sector Commissioner, Auditor General, Corruption and Crime Commissioner, Ombudsman and Information Commissioner.

ICG members discussed a series of hypotheticals around the offer, acceptance and provision of gifts, benefits and hospitality, and responded to questions from attendees.

The ICG also launched its new integrity product, Gifts, benefits and hospitality: A guide to good practice at the Forum.

The Forum was attended by 280 public sector, local government and university leaders.

For more information on the work of the ICG, visit www.icg.wa.gov.au.

Raising awareness and accessibility in the South West, March 2013

Now in its fifth year, the Regional Awareness and Accessibility Program seeks to ensure that the office of the Ombudsman is accessible to people living and working in regional Western Australia as well as Indigenous communities.

From 19 to 21 March 2013, the Program was conducted in the South West region, including Bunbury, Collie and Harvey.

The Ombudsman, Energy Ombudsman, Information Commissioner and Health and Disability Services Complaints Office Director were joined by members of their staff.

The Program included a series of liaison sessions with Indigenous communities as part of our initiative to improve access to our services for Indigenous Western Australians.

To find out more about the Ombudsman's visit to the South West region, read the South West Regional Visit Brochure. Read more about the Regional Awareness and Accessibility Program..

Ombudsman elected President of the Australasian and Pacific Ombudsman Region, November 2012

Western Australian Ombudsman Chris Field was recently elected President of the Australasian & Pacific Ombudsman Region and a Director of the Board of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI). The Australasian and Pacific Ombudsman Region consists of Australia, China/Hong Kong, Cook Islands, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Taiwan, Tonga and Vanuatu. Mr Field will be joined on the Board of the IOI by Ombudsmen drawn from around the world, including the Chief Ombudsman of New Zealand, the National Ombudsman of the Netherlands, the Parliamentary Ombudsman of Sweden, the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, United Kingdom and the Ombudsman for Namibia.

At the recent International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) World Conference, the Ombudsman delivered an address titled, The Western Australian Integrity Coordinating Group. Read the Ombudsman’s Address.

To read more about the work of the IOI, go to http://www.theioi.org.

Raising awareness and accessibility in the Pilbara, August 2012

The Office’s Regional Awareness and Accessibility Program was held in the Pilbara on 27-31 August 2012. The Office visited Marble Bar, South Hedland, Karratha and Roebourne. The visit included:

    • A seminar for agencies and a meeting with community group members (involving the Ombudsman and the Information Commissioner);
    • An interview with the Ombudsman on ABC Radio Karratha;
    • Complaint clinics in South Hedland and Karratha; and
    • Indigenous liaison and complaint clinics in four locations.

Read more about the Regional Awareness and Accessibility Program.

Ombudsman reappointed for further five year term, May 2012

In March 2012, the Ombudsman, Chris Field, was reappointed for a further five year term, having commenced office in March 2007.

It is a great privilege to have been reappointed for a further term of five years and to continue to lead my outstanding team of staff.”

“The Ombudsman is an accessible source of administrative justice for Western Australians and also contributes to improving public administration through recommendations that arise from resolving complaints and from undertaking major own-motion investigations about matters of public importance.”

Chris Field said the office of the Ombudsman is recognised as one of the key integrity and accountability agencies in government. 

“We also have an important role in protecting and promoting the rule of law,” he said.

 “We are committed to ensuring that our office continues to provide services to the Parliament and the people of Western Australia that are of the highest quality,” said Mr Field.

New home for the office of the Ombudsman, March 2012

The Office of the Ombudsman has relocated to Albert Facey House, adjacent to the GPO building in Forrest Place. Albert Facey House co-locates the following independent agencies: the Ombudsman, the Auditor General, the Economic Regulation Authority, the Information Commissioner, the Health and Disability Services Complaints Office and the Inspector of Custodial Services.

Our new contact details are available on the Contact Us page.

Planning for children in care report tabled in Parliament, 29 November 2011

The Western Australian Ombudsman reviews investigable child deaths, identifies patterns and trends arising from these reviews and makes recommendations for improvement designed to prevent or reduce investigable child deaths.

In undertaking this role, the Ombudsman identified a need to undertake an investigation of planning for children in the care of the Chief Executive Officer of the Department for Child Protection – a particularly vulnerable group of children in the community.

The investigation involved the Department for Child Protection, the Department of Health and the Department of Education and considered, among other things, the relevant provisions of the Children and Community Services Act 2004, the internal policies of each of these departments and the recommendations arising from the Review of the Department for Community Development undertaken by Ms Prudence Ford.

In the five years since the introduction of the Children and Community Services Act 2004, these three agencies have worked cooperatively to operationalise the requirements of the Act. In short, the investigation found significant and pleasing progress on improved planning for children in care had been achieved, however, there was still work to be done.

The findings of the investigation and the 23 recommendations for improvement are detailed in the Ombudsman’s report Planning for children in care: An Ombudsman’s own motion investigation into the administration of the planning provisions of the Children and Community Services Act 2004.

Planning for Children in Care Report - Executive Summary

Planning for Children in Care Report

Planning for Children in Care Report - Media Information Sheet

Integrity in decision making - Integrity Coordinating Group Forum, 16 June 2011

Integrity in decision making was the theme of the Integrity Coordinating Group (ICG) Forum 2011 held on 16 June. The Forum was a joint initiative of the ICG, a group of independent officers who collaborate to promote and strengthen integrity in Western Australian public bodies. The ICG is comprised of the Public Sector Commissioner, the Auditor General, the Corruption and Crime Commissioner, the Western Australian Ombudsman and the Information Commissioner.

Around 200 Chief Executive Officers, senior executive staff and those involved with promoting integrity in public bodies had the opportunity to listen to the ICG members’ perspectives on integrity in decision making, and to discuss integrity issues more generally with the member bodies and each other. The ICG also launched its new suite of publications, Integrity in Decision Making.

Read the ICG Chair's speech

Read the Ombudsman's speech

Go to the Integrity in Decision Making publications on Public Sector Commission website

Visit to the Indian Ocean Territories, April 2011

Officers from the Western Australian Ombudsman’s office ventured further afield in the latest regional visit as part of the Regional Accessibility Program, travelling to the Indian Ocean Territories (IOT) in April 2011. Along with staff from the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s office and the Health and Disability Services Complaints Office, the officers spent time on both the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and on Christmas Island.

Under an arrangement with the Commonwealth Government, the Western Australian Ombudsman handles complaints from people in the IOT about Western Australian public authorities which are within the Western Australian Ombudsman’s jurisdiction and operate in the IOT.

The visit aimed to raise awareness of, and access to, the services of the accountability and complaint resolution agencies for people living and working in the IOT.

Read more about the Regional Awareness and Accessibility Program.

Ombudsman's Report The Management of Personal Information - good practice and opportunities for improvement, 28 March 2011

The Ombudsman’s own motion investigation report, The management of personal information – good practice and opportunities for improvement (the Report), was released on 28 March 2011.

The management of personal information investigation considered how selected Western Australian State Government agencies that deal with large amounts of personal information collect, disclose and share that information. This topic was selected for an own motion investigation as alleged inaccuracy and inappropriate use of personal information by public authorities has been an ongoing source of complaints to the Ombudsman.

The investigation aimed to determine how effectively selected agencies were managing personal information, and to identify good practices and learning opportunities that would benefit the public sector as a whole. A series of agreed good practice principles were used to assess the way in which selected agencies were managing the personal information they collect and hold. These principles were based on national and state legislative requirements, agency-specific legislation and internationally accepted good practice.

Read more about the Ombudsman's Report on the Management of Personal Information.

Ombudsman addresses Australasian and Pacific Ombudsman’s Conference, March 2011

In March 2011, the Ombudsman addressed the 26th Australasian and Pacific Ombudsman Region (APOR) Conference in Taipei, Taiwan. This was also an important opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with Ombudsmen from other countries in the region.

The Conference theme was ‘The Ombudsman and Human Rights: Protecting Human Rights and Promoting Good Governance.’ The Ombudsman presented a paper titled, The Ombudsman and the Constitution of Liberty that discussed the importance of liberty, the role of the Ombudsman in safeguarding liberty, the office of the Ombudsman and the rule of law and the need to consider the relationship between liberty and personal responsibility in the work of the office of the Ombudsman.

Read the Ombudsman's speech - The Ombudsman and the Constitution of Liberty.

'Ask the Ombudsman' on 6PR Nightline

Every three-four months, the Ombudsman appears on 6PR radio's Nightline program to take listeners calls about concerns about Western Australian public authorities and energy providers.

The Ombudsman talks to callers who have concerns about any Western Australian public authority including State Government departments, agencies and boards; government services such as hospitals, prisons, schools and technical colleges; public universities; and local governments.

Details of the Ombudsman's next appearance on Nightline will be available soon.

Ombudsman's Report 2009-10 Survey of Complaint Handling Practices in the Western Australian State and Local Government Sectors, 30 June 2010

The effective administration of complaint handling systems in state and local government organisations was identified as key area of public interest and timely for investigation by the Ombudsman's Administrative Improvement Team.

In November 2009, the Ombudsman’s office surveyed all organisations within its jurisdiction regarding their complaint handling practices. This was the third such survey conducted by our office, the last being in 2001.

The findings of the survey are detailed in the Ombudsman's Report 2009-10 Survey of Complaint Handling Practices in the Western Australian State and Local Government Sectors published on 30 June 2010.

Read more about the Ombudsman's Report on the 2009-10 Survey of Complaint Handling Practices

Ombudsman's regional visit to Kalgoorlie and Geraldton, 19 June 2009

The Ombudsman visited Kalgoorlie from 4 - 6 May and Geraldton on 30 June, 1 and 2 July 2009 as part of the Regional Awareness and Accessibility Program.

The Program aims to significantly enhance awareness of, and accessibility to the Ombudsman’s services for regional Western Australians. The visits were organised with the Commissioner for Public Sector Standards, Office of Health Review, Freedom of Information Commission and Commonwealth Ombudsman who joined the Ombudsman’s office on the visit.

Events that were held as part of the visits included seminars and issues clincs for public sector agencies and local governments, a seminar for community groups, an Indigenous workshop and complaints clincs for the general public. Accountability agencies also met with regional stakeholders individually.

Read more about the Regional Awareness and Accessibility Program

New Strategic Plan released for 2009-2011, 19 June 2009

The Ombudsman is very pleased to announce the new Ombudsman Western Australia Strategic Plan for 2009-2011. The development of the plan involved significant consultation and comes after considerable improvements in the way the office carries out its work.

The Ombudsman Western Australia Strategic Plan 2009-2011 defines the vision, mission and values of our office and guides the direction of our activities and initiatives for the next three years.

Read more about the Ombudsman Western Australia Strategic Plan 2009-2011

Eliminating aged complaints, 19 February 2009

Our strong focus on the consistency, efficiency and timeliness of our complaint handling process is proving very successful with significant achievements over the last six months. Since October 2008, the office has closed a further nine of our oldest cases, with these recent closures reducing the number of cases older than 18 months by 75%.

In 2009, our Consistent, Efficient and Effective Complaint Handling (CEECH) project will optimise resources to ensure these improvements are sustained in future years. Development and implementation of the CEECH project will introduce a framework and supporting systems to achieve:

  • more consistent, efficient and effective complaint handling;
  • provide staff with a number of new resources and tools to assist them to further improve the timeliness and quality of our complaint handling function; and
  • manage complaint handling risks.

The CEECH project will also ensure that the best value for all Western Australians is achieved from the costs associated with our complaints handling.

2009 Administrative Improvement Program, 19 February 2009

The Western Australian Ombudsman has two core functions:

  • Investigating and resolving complaints; and
  • Improving the standard of public administration over time.

To reinvigorate this second aspect of our work, in late 2008 the office established a new Administrative Improvement Team. The Team is led by Kim Lazenby, Assistant Ombudsman, and comprises two principal analysts, as well as other internal resources on a project by project basis.
In 2009, the Team will focus on four main areas:

  • A number of major projects, including own motion investigations (those initiated by the Ombudsman) into selected areas of public administration;
  • Establishing a three year forward program of major projects;
  • The selected review of internal investigations undertaken by agencies into matters of public administration; and
  • Continuous improvement of processes for inspecting recording keeping and reporting relating to telecommunications intercepts.

Topics for major projects and own motion investigations will be selected according to a number of criteria including:

  • Complaints received;
  • Number of people directly affected and level of public interest;
  • That the project builds on, and does not duplicate, the work of other agencies;
  • That the project represents the best and most efficient use of the office’s resources;
  • There is potential to improve public administration across the public sector; and
  • That the project will deliver a practical result that is achievable by agencies examined and, taking into account the regulatory costs of the proposed improvements, provides a net benefit for the Western Australian public.

Through all of these activities, the Team is developing an approach to its work which is rigorous, fair, clear, consistent, efficient, responsive to Parliament and the community, and which delivers benefits to all Western Australians.

Read more about Helping Improve Public Administration

New Deputy Ombudsman appointed, 30 December 2008

The office is very pleased to welcome Dr Peter Wilkins to our team as Deputy Ombudsman. Peter brings extensive public sector experience to the office of the Ombudsman and significant expertise in the operation of independent accountability agencies.  Prior to joining our team, Peter was Assistant Auditor General, Performance Review at the Western Australian Office of the Auditor General, a position he held since February 2006. Prior to this he held a number of senior positions in the Office of the Auditor General and has over twenty years experience as a public sector manager. Peter holds a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering, a Master of Science and a PhD.

On commencing in the role on February 3, Peter said “I am very pleased to have the opportunity to work with the Ombudsman and his staff in a collective effort serving people throughout the State.  It is a vibrant organisation which has made major improvements in the handling of complaints and has launched an administrative improvement initiative, the combined effect being that Western Australians are being better served by a more accountable public sector.”

Key responsibilities for the Deputy Ombudsman in 2008-09 will include the ongoing improvements in our complaint resolution and improving public administration through the identification and investigation of concerns affecting broader sections of the community.