Information for support persons or lawyers attending an interview with a witness

The Ombudsman’s role and powers 

Witnesses who attend a formal interview with the Ombudsman’s staff receive an information sheet that explains the Ombudsman’s powers in detail.  

The Ombudsman has extensive powers under the Ombudsman Act 1973.  More information on the Ombudsman’s role and powers is provided in Fact Sheet 1 and Fact Sheet 7.  Both of these fact sheets are available on the Victorian Ombudsman website:

Fact Sheets page

Who can I bring to the interview?

The Ombudsman will generally permit a witness to bring a support person with them to an interview, provided that support person does not have any involvement in the matter being investigated. A support person is there to provide a reassuring presence to the witness during the interview. The support person may not provide the witness with advice, attempt to answer questions on their behalf or otherwise interrupt the interview without the approval of the Ombudsman’s delegate.
 
The information sheet provided to witnesses includes detailed information regarding the obligations imposed on a person who attends an interview with the Ombudsman. These obligations also apply to the support person, including that it is an offence to mislead or obstruct the Ombudsman.
 
A witness also has the right to seek legal advice about an investigation by the Ombudsman, your rights under the Ombudsman Act; or to be represented by a lawyer when attending an interview at the Ombudsman’s office. The Ombudsman may direct a witness not to seek legal advice or representation from a particular lawyer if the Ombudsman considers on reasonable grounds that an investigation may be prejudiced. If the Ombudsman does this, the Ombudsman must allow a witness at least three days to obtain representation or advice from another lawyer.
 
During the interview, a lawyer assisting a witness may request an opportunity to provide the witness with legal advice or to make a submission during the interview, particularly if they consider the witness may have a lawful basis to be excused from answering a particular question.  The Ombudsman’s delegate will consider that request. 
 

Please note: This document is intended as a guide only. For this reason the information contained herein should not be relied on as legal advice or regarded as a substitute for legal advice in individual cases. To the maximum extent permitted by the law, The Victorian Ombudsman is not liable to you for any loss or damage suffered as a result of reliance on this document. For the most up-to-date versions of cited Acts, please refer to www.legislation.vic.gov.au.

 
© Copyright State of Victoria 2016                                                                         Issue Date Sep 2016   
This work is copyright.  You may reproduce this material for your personal, non-commercial use or use within your organisation. You may distribute copies of downloaded material in an unaltered, complete form only (retaining any logos, graphical elements, sounds, images, headers and footers). Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, all other rights are reserved.

Contact Details

Victorian Ombudsman
Level 2
570 Bourke Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone                     03 9613 6222
Toll free                  1800 806 314
Fax                         03 9602 4761
TTY                        133 677 or
                               1800 555 677
Interpreter service  131 450