The Office of the South Australian Ombudsman (now known as Ombudsman SA) was created to deal with complaints against State Government agencies. Its three primary focuses are:
- Complaints – can investigate complaints about State government departments and local government councils
- Freedom of Information review – review decisions made about the supply of public information under the Freedom of Information Act 1991 (SA)
- Protection of whistleblowers– can receive information on a confidential basis from whistleblowers (i.e. people wishing to report improper or illegal actions in State or local government)
In recent years, some 40% of the complaints which have been investigated have been resolved with some benefit to the complainant, the complaint being sustained or reasonably resolved.
Not all government agencies fall within the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction. For example, complaints against the Police (see Complaints against police) and complaints against judicial officers (see Complaints against Judges and other judicial officers) are not dealt with by the Ombudsman’s office.
Before a complaint can be investigated there are five conditions that must be satisfied:
- The agency concerned must be an agency within the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman (e.g. a complaint against Police cannot be investigated)
- There has to be an identifiable administrative act
- It must be within the time limit i.e. 12 months
- The complainant must be directly affected by the act complained of
- There has to be a likely remedy available
The South Australian Ombudsman has additional powers to enter premises and to inspect documents and may, where it appears to be in the interests of an agency or the public, publish a report which will be referred to the relevant Minister. Under s 14A of the Ombudsman Act 1972 the Ombudsman also has the power to conduct a review of the administrative practices and procedures of an agency if it is in the public interest to do so.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.