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Chris Field is the Western Australian Ombudsman. In 2020 he was elected President of the International Ombudsman Institute (the IOI). It is the first time in the 42-year history of the IOI that an Australian has been elected President.
The IOI, established in 1978, is the global organisation for the cooperation of 205 independent Ombudsman institutions from more than 100 countries worldwide. The IOI is organised in six regional chapters - Africa, Asia, Australasian and Pacific, Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America and North America.
His appointment also marks the first time that a President has been elected by IOI members. Historically, Presidents were elected by the IOI World Board. A new voting system, applicable for the first time in the 2020 election, provided the opportunity for every IOI member globally to vote for the position of President.
Chris will commence his four-year term as President at the rescheduled 12th World Conference and General Assembly of the IOI in Dublin, Ireland.
Chris is currently Australia’s longest serving ombudsman and has previously served on the IOI World Board as Second Vice President between 2016 and 2020, Treasurer between 2014 and 2016 and President of the Australasian and Pacific Ombudsman Region between 2012 and 2014.
In addition to his role as Ombudsman, he concurrently holds the roles of Energy and Water Ombudsman, Chair, State Records Commission and Chair, Accountability Agencies Collaborative Forum (a forum comprised of: the Ombudsman; Chief Psychiatrist; Information Commissioner; Commissioner for Equal Opportunity; Inspector of Custodial Services; Commissioner for Children and Young People; Director, Health and Disability Services Complaints Office; Director, State Records Office; Director of Equal Opportunity in Public Employment; Chief Mental Health Advocate; and the Commissioner for Victims of Crime).
Chris has a particularly strong theoretical and practising interest in administrative law. He has for the last fourteen years been an Adjunct Professor in the School of Law at the University of Western Australia where he teaches the advanced administrative law unit Government Accountability – Law and Practice, a course he founded with Professor Simon Young (co-author of the university textbook Lane and Young, Administrative Law in Australia). Chris is also the author of a range of publications on the ombudsman and administrative law.
His role as Ombudsman, and now IOI President, builds on a foundation of long-term legal practice and work as an economic regulator. He commenced his career as a lawyer at one of Australia’s leading commercial law firms, Arthur Robinson and Hedderwicks (now Allens Linklaters), having been articled to Professor Bob Baxt AO (among other things, a former Chair of the Trade Practices Commission, the forerunner to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission). A strong interest in trade practices and consumer law led him to the position of Executive Director of the Consumer Law Centre Victoria (a non-government consumer advocacy organisation with a legal practice for vulnerable consumers) and Chair of the Australian Consumers’ Association (publisher of Choice magazine). After seven years, he left his position as Executive Director to commence as an inaugural Member of the Economic Regulation Authority, Western Australia’s independent economic regulator of electricity, gas, water and rail.
Chris holds Arts and Law (Honours) degrees.