Chapters

The Tasmanian Ombudsman

The functions of the Ombudsman in Tasmania are to ‘investigate the administrative actions of public authorities to ensure that their actions are lawful, reasonable and fair.’ He can initiate an investigation when there is a complaint and also on his own initiative. Government departments, local councils, water and sewerage corporations, prisons, state-owned companies, energy companies, and Government Business Enterprises fall under the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman

The Commonwealth Office of the Ombudsman ‘handles complaints, conducts investigations, performs audits and inspections, encourages good administration, and carries out specialist oversight tasks’. The Commonwealth Ombudsman Act establishes the offices of the Defence Force Ombudsman, the Postal Industry Ombudsman, and the Overseas Student Ombudsman. These offices are all held by the Commonwealth Ombudsman. Other areas that the Commonwealth Ombudsman has jurisdiction over include Immigration, Law Enforcement, Taxation, and the ACT.

The Office of the Ombudsman office is not answerable to State or Federal Parliament, as it is an independent office. The Ombudsman may recommend changes to administrative practices or even to existing legislation. It should be stressed that the Ombudsman does not act as an advocate for complainants. The role of the office is to carry out investigations independently and impartially, and to make recommendations that are for the benefit of all. The end result of an investigation may not always satisfy a complainant but the fact that the grievance has been looked at by an independent body should be reassuring.

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman

This Ombudsman is not a government agency, but an independent group, provided for under the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999. This Ombudsman deals with complaints about telecommunication services such as Telstra and Optus, etc. They can be contacted via email and phone, 9am to 530pm, Monday to Friday. Their hotline is 1800 062 058, and they provide an online complaint form.

The Financial Ombudsman Service

The Financial Ombudsman helps resolves problems and disputes with banks through dispute resolution services. They receive complaints from individuals and small businesses. They investigate complaints and can make decisions that are binding on a financial provider. Their contact details are: Level 5, 31 Queen Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000. They are contactable Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. The telephone contact is 1300 780 808. Email is: abio@werple.net.au

Defence Force Ombudsman

The Defence Force Ombudsman is part of the Commonwealth Ombudsman Office. This ombudsman investigates complaints about administrative actions and employment matters. They can investigate complaints from serving members only after the internal grievance mechanisms are exhausted, unless there are exception circumstances. Ex-service personnel or their families can make a direct complaint. Complaints should be directed to the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

Tax Ombudsman

The Tax Ombudsman is actually a specialist team within the Commonwealth Ombudsman office. They recommend attempting to resolve issues with the ATO before proceeding to the Ombudsman complaint mechanism. See the website for details. Contact the Commonwealth Ombudsman for this specialist area.

Legal Ombudsman

There was an office of this name in Tasmania, however it was abolished and its functions taken over by the Legal Profession Board of Tasmania.

The Energy Ombudsman

The Energy Ombudsman is a purely state function, so there is a Tasmanian Energy Ombudsman. For greater detail, see the Energy Ombudsman section.

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