[CCWG-ACCT] Role of an ombudsman

Bruce Tonkin Bruce.Tonkin at melbourneit.com.au
Sat Jan 23 00:55:34 UTC 2016

Hello Edward,

>>  My concern is that traditionally the Ombudsman is restricted to acting strictly on the basis of fairness. We seem in a number of areas to be attempting to expand his or her remit into that more akin to an Inspector General or Ombudsman plus.

It is probably useful to see how the role of an Ombudsman has evolved.

See:  http://www.ombudsmanassociation.org/about-the-role-of-an-ombudsman.php 

The institution of the ombudsman, first created in Sweden more than 200 years ago, is designed to provide protection for the individual where there is a substantial imbalance of power.

What ombudsmen do

• Ombudsmen offer their services free of charge, and are thus accessible to individuals who could not afford to pursue their complaints through the courts.

• They are committed to achieving redress for the individual, but also, where they identify systemic failings, to seek changes in the work of the bodies in their jurisdiction, both individually and collectively.

• They can generally undertake a single investigation into multiple complaints about the same topic, thus avoiding duplication and excessive cost.

• They are neutral arbiters and not advocates nor “consumer champions”.

• They normally ask the body concerned and the complainant to try to resolve complaints before commencing an investigation.

• They usually seek to resolve disputes without resort to formal investigations where this is possible and desirable.

• Where they identify injustice, they seek to put this right.

Also from an example in the Australian Government:


“The guiding principle in an Ombudsman investigation is whether the administrative action under investigation is unlawful, unreasonable, unjust, oppressive, improperly discriminatory, factually deficient, or otherwise wrong.   At the conclusion of the investigation, the Ombudsman can recommend that corrective action be taken by an agency.  This may occur either specifically in an individual case or more generally by a change to relevant legislation, administrative policies or procedures.

A key objective of the Ombudsman is to foster good public administration within Australian Government agencies, ensuring that the principles and practices of public administration are sensitive, responsive and adaptive to the interests of members of the public.”

Hope that helps.

Bruce Tonkin

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