The National Ombudsman of the Netherlands, the Ombudsman for Children and the Ombudsman for Veterans have just published a joint Annual Report 2018. The report includes a number of case studies which illustrate the work of the National Ombudsman, the Ombudsman for Children and the Ombudsman for Veterans. It includess examples of how the citizen’s contact with government and other authorities, what can go awry, and stories of how difficult social participation can sometimes be.
The report mentions that all too often, the Dutch Ombudsman institutions hear from children who are unable to access the help and support they need. The report tells the story of Rosa, a girl of 13 who was sleeping rough in a rubbish skip. She had run away from home, where she had been neglected and abused by her drug-addicted parents. No one had taken action, even though the family was well known to social services. “My mother could tell a good story,” she explained. If social services had taken time to talk to Rosa herself, making her feel safe, she would have been able to tell them about the abuse and neglect. But they didn’t and she saw running away from home as her only escape. The report concluded that if children are to be helped effectively, it is essential to know their situation, their concerns, and what they see as the best solution.
Moreover, also the story of some veterans that experience psychiatric or other problems as a result of their service in conflict zones is highlighted in the report. Unfortunately, the report states, they cannot always rely on adequate support from the government.
The Ombudsmen state that they act on behalf of individuals who are unable to claim their social entitlements: children denied the help they need, citizens bogged down by bureaucracy, or veterans who are ‘passed from pillar to post’. “In the Netherlands, we often assume that everything is well organized. And, to be fair, that is often the case. Thousands of civil servants and other professionals devote their working lives to helping the public. Police officers, youth welfare workers and the staff of various municipal departments: each and every one is a dedicated and committed professional who strives to do his or her work to everyone’s satisfaction. Nevertheless, there are still rather too many occasions on which public sector organizations fail the people they exist to serve”, the Ombudsmen say.
In the report they furthermore express that the Netherlands has policy of complete social inclusion and that they want everyone to be able to play a full role in society. This would also require input at a political level and from every organization that works on behalf of the public.
Source: National Ombudsman of the Netherlands