Australia | Increase in complaints shows continuing relevance of Ombudsman office to Victorians

Complaints to the Victorian Ombudsman increased by 14% over the past year, while the number of protected disclosure (whistleblower) matters looked into has tripled since 2015.

Tabling her 2018-19 Annual Report in Parliament today, Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass said she continued to use the powers of her office to ensure fairness for Victorians in their dealings with government organisations.

Her office’s 2018-19 work was in keeping with Ms Glass’s priority of staying relevant to the issues affecting Victorians, for example:

  • dealing with systemic issues and improvements needed at Fines Victoria, VicRoads and Ambulance Victoria
  • exposing major failings at State Trustees, resulting in an overhaul of the agency’s operations
  • identifying a spike in complaints about the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages and Solar Victoria, and encouraging those agencies to address them promptly.

In 2018-19, 89 protected disclosure (whistleblower complaints) were referred by IBAC to the Ombudsman for investigation, up 300% since 2015.

“Human rights also continue to be at the forefront of my work to support the implementation of the UN’s Optical Protocol to the Convention Against Torture. We worked with both government and non-government partners to investigate the experience of children and young people in solitary confinement within the Victorian justice system.”

Ms Glass also welcomed the new functions bestowed on her office early this year, including the modernisation of her Act and budget independence from July 2020. She warned however that an independent office needs to be appropriately funded.

A snapshot of the Ombudsman’s 2018-19 work reveals:

  • 17,324 complaints (matters that we had the jurisdiction to deal with) were received, up 14% on last year.
  • Overall, 43,246 approaches were made to the office, up 9%. Where we don’t have the jurisdiction to deal with a matter, we refer people to the relevant authority.
  • The top three ‘most complained’ about authorities continued to be: Corrections, Justice and Regulation (which includes prisons and Fines Victoria); Local Government; and Health and Human Services.

The Annual Report includes 17 case studies, providing a sample of the complaints Victorians raised with our office, covering local government, human rights, youth justice and more.

Read the report here: Annual Report 2019

Source: Victorian Ombudsman, Australia


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