Australian and New Zealand Ombudsman Association

News archives

Highlighting aspects of the work of the offices of ANZOA members

The Ombudsman (ANZOA newsletter): June 2016

The Ombudsman in Australia: One model; many applications

Keeping an eye on international developments

The expectations of our users

Natural justice and the notion of a 'fair go'

Intersecting roles and responsibilities

Skilling staff and builiding a profession

Technology opportunities and challenges

Measures of performance

The rights of the vulnerable

Access for Indigenous communities

Ombudsman - made to last

Latest Ombudsman reports and guidance

read it here


The Ombudsman (ANZOA newsletter): December 2015

Using the term Ombudsman

Strengthening government safeguarding policy - South Australian Ombudsman

Building public awareness- Victorian Ombudsman

Reflecting on 20 years - Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman New Zealand

Accessibility: it's not always so easy - Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria

Homeless Connect -  Ombudsman Western Australia

read it here


The Ombudsman (ANZOA newsletter): March 2015

Public interest disclosure scheme - Commonwealth Ombudsman
Affordability report - Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria)

A strategic response to tackling energy affordability - Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW

Developing and testing a resource kit for intermediaries in remote Indigenous communities - Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman

Working on a number of projects to make it easier for people to access our services - Victorian Ombudsman

Raising the bar for an effective complaint management system with a new standard - Electricity and Gas Complaints Commissioner New Zealand

Protecting children and preventing family and domestic violence is best undertaken as both a multi-disciplinary and multi-agency endeavour - Ombudsman Western Australia

read it here

Making news


2016-17 annual reports

New Zealand
Banking Ombudsman New Zealand

Financial Services Complaints Ltd

Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman

Office of the Ombudsman New Zealand

Utilities Disputes Ltd (as the Electricity & Gas Complaints Commissioner Scheme)

Commonwealth Ombudsman

Credit & Investments Ombudsman

Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria)

Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW

Energy and Water Ombudsman Queensland
Energy & Water Ombudsman South Australia

Financial Ombudsman Service
NSW Ombudsman

Ombudsman Northern Territory

Ombudsman South Australia

Ombudsman Tasmania

Ombudsman Western Australia

Public Transport Ombudsman Victoria

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman

Victorian Ombudsman


Australia: Guidance through Ombudsman position statements

Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria) - November 2016

The Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria) (EWOV) has published on its website a series of position statements that detail EWOV's general approach to seeking resolutions between customers and companies across common complaint issues.

read it here

New Zealand: Electricity & Gas Complaints Commissioner now Utilities Disputes Ltd
Utilities Disputes Ltd - November 2016
On 1 November 2016, the Office of the Electricity and Gas Complaints Commissioner (EGCC) became Utilities Disputes Ltd. The new name reflects underlying change in the utilities sector. The Utilities Disputes FAQ explains why EGCC was replaced by Utilities Disputes. The FAQ defines "utilities" and how the name change came about.

read it here

Australia: 2015-16 comparative tables for financial services providers

Financial Ombudsman Service - October 2016

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) Australia has published 2015-16 Comparative Tables, which provide dispute statistics about financial services providers (FSPs) which are members of FOS. The tables cover 18 product groups and can be used by consumers and FSPs to compare dispute data for particular FSPs and financial products. For the broader dispute statistics in 2015-16, see FOS's latest Annual Review.

read it here


Australia: Whole-of-government complaint handling improvement program

NSW Ombudsman - October 2016

The NSW Ombudsman has partnered with the Customer Service Commissioner and the NSW Department of Finance, Services and Innovation to develop a whole-of-government complaint handling improvement program (CHIP) as part of Premier’s Priority 12 to improve government services. In 2015 the Customer Service Commission conducted a survey around whole-of-government customer satisfaction. The results highlighted the importance of improving the complaint handling experience for customers across government. The survey showed that customers who had their complaint handled well gave a higher than average satisfaction rating. However, less than half of those surveyed thought their complaint was handled well and half thought it was too difficult to make a complaint.

read it here

Australia: Ombudsman launches new Public Sector Education program

Victorian Ombudsman - October 2016

Victorian public sector agencies seeking to improve the way they deal with complaints and improve their overall administration are encouraged to engage with the Victorian Ombudsman’s new Public Sector Education program. Launching on Thursday 27 October with a Masterclass: The Value of Complaints, the Victorian Ombudsman Public Sector Education program comprises interactive workshops on:

• Good complaint handling

• Dealing with conflict of interest

• Making good administrative decisions

• Managing unreasonable behaviour

read it here

Australia: Report of Compliance by Northern Territory Police Force with Part 2 of the Police (Special Investigative and other Powers) Act

Northern Territory Ombudsman – October 2016

First report to the Minister detailing Compliance by Northern Territory Police Force with Part 2 of the Police (Special Investigative and other Powers) Act which came into force on the 1 July 2015. This report covers the period from the 1st July 2015 to 15th June 2016.

read it here


Australia: Why the public sector must learn to love complaints

Victorian Ombudsman - September 2016

Victorian public sector agencies should welcome complaints from members of the public as free feedback that can help them improve their service, Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass said today. Tabling the Complaints: Good Practice Guide for Public Sector Agencies in the Victorian Parliament, Ms Glass said that public sector agencies should avoid adopting a defensive posture towards complaints from the public, which can lead to a corrosive loss of faith in government services by citizens.

read it here


New Zealand: The Ombudsman and the Official Information Act: A free and frank appraisal

Office of the Ombudsman New Zealand - August 2016

On 19 August New Zealand's Chief Ombudsman gave an address to the Lawyers in Government Conference. Judge Boshier discussed what is and is not working well, both with the Ombudsman's Office and the application of the OIA, as well as outlining his future plans. He also gave his read out on when officials' and legal advice can be withheld. "The Ombudsman and the Official Information Act: A Free and Frank Appraisal"
read it here

Australia: FOS welcomes formal terms of reference into Australia's financial system external dispute resolution

Financial Ombudsman Service - August 2016

The Financial Ombudsman Service Australia (FOS) has welcomed the release of Terms of Reference (the terms) for the review of the dispute resolution (EDR) and complaint framework for the financial system. The terms were released today by Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, the Hon Ms Kelly O’Dwyer, MP.

read it here

Australia: Ombudsman investigates Office of Housing management of maintenance debts

Victorian Ombudsman - August 2016

The Victorian Ombudsman has commenced an 'own motion' investigation into the Office of Housing's processes for determining and pursuing maintenance debts against public housing tenants, reflecting a number of complaints on the issue and wider community concern.

The investigation will examine how the Office of Housing (OoH) raises and pursues debts against current and former tenants particularly where there is evidence to suggest the tenant is not entirely liable for the works carried out.

read it here


Australia: Addressing the abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability forum

NSW Ombudsman – August 2016

Announcement of community forum: ''Join us as we take a close look at what it takes to address abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability in both disability service and community settings. This forum provides an important opportunity to consider the safeguards that currently exist in NSW, any gaps, and what needs to be put in place in NSW and nationally, by the end of the NDIS transition. This is an open forum, and anyone with an interest in promoting the rights of people with disability are encouraged to attend. Register early as places are limited. Thursday 24 November 2016, Sydney''

read it here


Australia: Adelaide City Council - Removal of tree

Ombudsman South Australia - August 2016

The Ombudsman investigated a complaint about the council’s decision to remove a tree and a subsequent section 270 review undertaken by the council. The council in undertaking the section 270 review determined that the purpose of the review was to only deal with procedural matters relating to the decision to remove the tree. It was found that the council acted in a manner that was wrong with the meaning of section 25(1) of the Ombudsman Act by failing to consider the merits of the decision to remove the tree.

read it here


New Zealand: Chief Ombudsman's speech to Transparency International Leaders Integrity Forum

Office of the Ombudsman - July 2016

In this speech, the Chief Ombudsman talks about the Ombudsman's role in monitoring integrity systems. He discusses the OIA - its purposes and principles, and what is or isn't working well, both in terms of how the Act is applied, and how that application is reviewed by the Ombudsman. He explains the future direction of the Ombudsman, and what this means for public sector leaders.

read it here


Year-on-year results improve, quarterly figures increase

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman – July 2016

Telco complaints as a proportion of services in operation (SIO) increased 3.2 per cent in April-June 2016, but dropped 1.5 per cent from the same time last year. The results were released in the Complaints in Context report by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) and Communications Alliance.

read it here


Australia: Report on progress of recommendations to government

Victorian Ombudsman - June 2016

The recommendations made by Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass in her first two years in office blended strong calls for a fairer and more effective public service with practicality in achieving positive outcomes for Victorians. Tabling the Report on recommendations, the Ombudsman said that those made in the course of her investigations were aimed at improving public administration for all Victorians, and that all 61 recommendations made in the eleven reports have been accepted, although some are yet to be implemented.

Media release  Report


Australia: Investigation into Council's Special Charge Scheme
Victorian Ombudsman: June 2016

Ratepayers hit with extra interest charges in a decision made in a closed meeting were the victims of an unfair process

Media release  Report


Australia: Consorting law report tabled in NSW Parliament

NSW Ombudsman - June 2016

Acting Ombudsman, Professor John McMillan's review of the operation of the NSW consorting law over a three-year period from its commencement in April 2012 has been tabled in the NSW Parliament. The Ombudsman’s report recommends the adoption of a statutory and policyframework to ensure police apply the consorting law in a way that is focused on serious crime, closely linked to crime prevention, and is not used in relation to minor offending.

Media release  Report


Australia: Complaint Management Framework
Ombudsman Northern Territory – June 2016

In recognition of the importance of promoting robust internal complaint handling systems in NT public sector agencies, the Office of the Ombudsman undertook a joint project with the Power and Water Corporation, Jacana Energy and the Department of Business to develop the Complaint Management Framework and related Model Policy designed to provide guidance to public sector officers involved in development or review of their agency's complaint management systems. This is one of two documents that should be read together. This Complaint Management Framework discusses the types of issues that have to be dealt with in the development and implementation of a policy and procedures for complaint management and the related Model Policy sets out a template for the agency's policy development. More here


New Zealand: Three new Ombudsman opinions

Office of the Ombudsman New Zealand - June 2016

On the investigation of limited access to Ministry of Health influenza vaccine adverse reaction reports read

On a request for information about complaints received by HDC against a health practitioner read

On a complaint about a prisoner’s right to exercise at Auckland Prison read


Australia: Investigation into the misuse of council resources

Victorian Ombudsman - June 2016

‘Perk of the job’ culture among councils

Report Media release


Australia: Fostering Economic Development for Aboriginal people in NSW

NSW Ombudsman - May 2016

Special report to the NSW Parliament, which recommends recommended measures to ensure that Government’s efforts to foster economic development for Aboriginal people in NSW are successful.

Report   Media release


Australia: Affordability Report

Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria) - May 2016

Quarterly trends in cases about affordability, payment plans and supply disconnection/restriction

Available here


City of Victor Harbor – Breach of council member code of conduct

Ombudsman South Australia - May 2016

Investigation into whether a council member committed misconduct in public administration by revealing information the council ordered to keep confidential to a local newspaper journalist, who printed the information



Businesses vulnerable to email hackers

Banking Ombudsman Scheme New Zealand - November 2015

The Banking Ombudsman receives complaints every year from businesses and their customers who have been tricked into transferring money to hackers by following instructions in fraudulent emails. “Businesses and their customers are as vulnerable to email hackers as anybody else and need to have processes in place to avoid being ripped off, says Banking Ombudsman Nicola Sladden whose office is helping promote Fraud Awareness Week (15-21 November). “Unfortunately for the people with the complaint, our investigations often reveal that the bank has acted appropriately as they are usually following the instructions of their duped customers.
read more


After 20 years, ISO Scheme becomes IFSO Scheme

Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman - November 2015

“Financial Services” has officially been added to the name of the consumer dispute resolution scheme which resolves insurance and financial services complaints. “When the Insurance & Savings Ombudsman Scheme reached its 20th anniversary, it was time to make this change and become the Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman Scheme,” says Karen Stevens, Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman. “This more accurately reflects our expanded membership and the range of complaints we now resolve.” Originally established by the insurance industry as an independent dispute resolution scheme for its customers, the IFSO Scheme now has over 4,000 Participants from across the financial services sector and resolves complaints about: insurance, investments, loans and credit, superannuation, financial advice and foreign exchange.

read more


Communications issues in regional Australia

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman – October 2015

Performance standards for landline connections and repairs should be retained for consumers in regional and remote Australia, the TIO has recommended to the 2015 Regional Telecommunications Review. Our submission focused on the different experiences consumers in regional and remote Australia have with telco services. Complaints in regional and remote Australia: Since the last Regional Telecommunications Review in 2011 (the Sinclair Review), we have seen decreases in TIO new complaints from regional and remote Australia, consistent with overall decreases in all TIO new complaints. These decreases are across all service types, with mobile new complaints reducing by more than half over this timeframe. Complaints from regional and remote Australia make up about a fifth of all new complaints received by the TIO. Our complaints data shows that the issues consumers from regional and remote areas report to us are similar to those raised in metro areas. However, consumers in regional and remote areas say having no or poor quality services can have serious effects on their lives, livelihood and safety.

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'Let there be light' - an Ombudsman NT Investigation Report

Ombudsman Northern Territory - September 2015

A report on an investigation into the responses of the Department of Housing and the Power and Water Corporation to widespread incidents of criminal damage to electricity meters and other electrical fixtures and fittings for houses in the remote indigenous community of Wadeye. Between June and December 2013, 43 houses in Wadeye had power disconnected because of damage to meters and/or associated property. The power to 20 households remained disconnected for more than 10 days, with 12 disconnected for over 20 days.

read more


Investigation into the rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners in Victoria
Victorian Ombudsman - September 2015

What is the correctional system doing to rehabilitate offenders – to improve public safety and reduce the number of repeat offenders? Plainly, not enough. It is captured in a spiral of rising crime rates and increasing prisoner numbers, resulting in more and more victims and exponential budget growth simply to hold the line. Building more prisons is not making us safer as a community. For such enormous public investment, we should be seeing much better returns.

read more


Ombudsman follows up on Centrelink recommendations

Commonwealth Ombudsman - September 2015

This report into service delivery complaints about the Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Centrelink program follows the Commonwealth Ombudsman's report in April last year, which was sparked by complaints from people dissatisfied with the Centrelink program’s service delivery arrangements. The new report has found that while the department had made significant progress against a number of the recommendations, other areas still required improvement.

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Latest issue of 'Ontrack'

Public Transport Ombudsman, Victoria - September 2015

This edition of On Track focuses on penalty fare complaints and how the PTO assesses, investigates and resolves them.

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Updated Financial Services Compensation scheme proposal

Financial Ombudsman Service - June 2015

The Financial Ombudsman Service Australia (FOS) has been a longstanding proponent for a financial services compensation scheme of last resort, and has supported this approach various submissions to Government. We consider the lack of such a scheme is the missing element in current reform efforts to improve the financial advice and planning industries.

read more


Financial abuse of the elderly

Banking Ombudsman New Zealand - June 2015

We sometimes receive complaints involving the financial affairs and wishes of older family members.

With advancing years, some people become increasingly dependent on others to help them manage their personal and financial affairs. Sadly, this increasing reliance can put them at greater risk of financial abuse – and often from the people they trust most: relatives and caregivers. Financial abuse often takes the form of misuse of, or theft from, bank accounts, so banks have a stake in ensuring their customers are protected from such risks. But individuals, too, have a responsibility to protect themselves – and their loved ones – from the possibility of financial abuse.

read more


Quarterly Affordability Report

Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria) - August 2015

Affordability issues, such as payment difficulties, debt collection and disconnection/restriction, mostly fall within EWOV’s “credit” category of cases. EWOV’s credit cases decreased between the last two quarters, continuing an ongoing downward trend.

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Ombudsman quarterly review

Office of the Ombudsman New Zealand - Autumn 2015

The quarterly update of Ombudsman news, reports, investigations and more
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Updated Complaints and Enquiries Guide
Ombudsman Northern Territory - June 2015
For members of the public whose complaints or enquiries are not within the jurisdiction of the NT Ombudsman to investigate, the office endeavours to direct people to an appropriate body that is able to deal with their specific concerns. This document lists some of the organisations where you can make complaints or enquiries.

read more


100,000 complaints and counting
Energy and Water Ombudsman Queensland - August 2015
The Office of the Energy and Water Ombudsman Queensland (EWOQ) has received its 100,000th

complaint since the office first opened on 1 July 2007. First established as the Energy Ombudsman

Queensland, EWOQ resolves electricity and gas complaints throughout Queensland, and water complaints in south-east Queensland, for residential and small business customers. “Since the office first opened in 2007 we have provided a free, fair and independent dispute resolution service and achieved significant outcomes for customers who are in dispute with their energy or water provider” the Ombudsman, Forbes Smith said. “In this time, we’ve helped more than 600 customers access hardship programs, negotiated payment plans for more than 2000 customers and resolved 2500 billing complaints resulting in over $2 million in billing adjustments,” said Mr Smith.
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Res Online: Smart Meters – sharing our experience
Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria) - August 2015

With the Victorian rollout of some 2.8 million Smart Meters and almost 21,000 related EWOV cases behind us, we've certainly learnt a thing or two about how the introduction of Smart Meters generates customer complaints — pre-installation, during installation and post-installation. Our feature article draws on EWOV's experience to make what we hope is an insightful and useful contribution to the planning — by industry, government, other energy ombudsman schemes, and consumers and their representatives — for Smart Meter rollouts in other states.

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Oversight system failing to protect people with disability says Ombudsman
Victorian Ombudsman - June 2015

Victoria must establish a single independent body to oversee reports of abuse in the disability sector, which could also form the bedrock of any new safeguarding framework under the National Disability Insurance Scheme. This is one of the key recommendations in a report tabled in Parliament today by the Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass into reporting and investigation of allegations of abuse in the disability sector. The investigation was launched in December 2014, prompted by broad concern about the oversight systems currently in place. It was informed by 78 submissions from a range of respondents including individuals, community organisations, academics and professionals.

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Ombudsman Simon Cohen to leave the TIO
Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman - June 2015

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Ltd today announced the departure of Ombudsman Simon Cohen after 5 years’ service as Ombudsman. Mr Cohen is leaving to take up the role of Deputy Secretary, Regulation and Director, Consumer Affairs Victoria, at the Department of Justice and Regulation in Victoria. read more


Ombudsman makes submission to Human Rights Charter review
Victorian Ombudsman - June 2015

The Victorian Ombudsman has made a formal submission to the government's review of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities. The review is being led by Michael Brett Young and will be delivered to the government by September, before being tabled in Parliament before 1 October 2015. The submission makes clear the Victorian Ombudsman's ongoing commitment to human rights, as set out in the Ombudsman Act. read more


Updated financial services compensation scheme proposal
Financial Ombudsman Service, Australia – June 2015

The Financial Ombudsman Service Australia has released an updated proposal to establish a financial services compensation scheme. Chief Ombudsman, Shane Tregillis, said there appeared to be broad industry and community acceptance that this clear gap in the consumer protection framework needed to be addressed, giving consumers the confidence that if things go wrong, they will be compensated when a decision is made in their favour. “In our view, it is in the interests of all financial system participants to find a solution to the problem of unpaid compensation, to enhance consumer trust in financial services,” Mr Tregillis said.
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Law change creates a new climate for borrowing
Banking Ombudsman New Zealand – June 2015

Changes to the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003 (Act), which kick in on 6 June 2015, introduce key lender responsibility principles designed to give better consumer protection. All lenders, including banks, must now comply with "responsibility principles" set by the Act.
read more


New case note: compensation for passport processing error
Office of the Ombudsman, New Zealand – June 2015

The Ombudsman has released a new case note about compensation for a passport processing error by Customs.  The complainant had incurred costs of $1143 after Customs made a mistake processing his passport, which caused him to miss a flight. He had been offered only $200 in compensation.  Customs accepted the Ombudsman's opinion that it should only pay the full costs incurred by the complainant.
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Police investigation report tabled
Ombudsman Northern Territory – June 2015

The Chief Minister has tabled the Ombudsman’s report into matters arising from allegations of inappropriate conduct by a former Commissioner of Police and another police officer.
read more


Financial hardship complaints – the EWOV approach
Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria) – May 2015

With energy and water affordability in the spotlight, in the most recent issue of EWOV's quarterly newsletter, Res Online, the Ombudsman revisits the policy and procedures that underpin the independent approach EWOV takes to identifying and handling financial hardship complaints. Starting with our assessment of the complexity of the complaint, we move through a structured process of information gathering, questioning, analysis, testing and negotiation. It’s an approach with three fundamental aims—consistency of complaint handling, timely Investigation, and an outcome that’s sustainable for both the customer and their energy or water company.
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