More complaints can build better public services: Ombudsman

 

More complaints can build better public services: Ombudsman

Wednesday 7 October 2015

 
The Victorian Ombudsman is helping more people with their complaints about State government departments, agencies and local councils.
 
The Ombudsman’s annual report for 2014–15 shows approaches from the public increased to 38,980 in the financial year, of which 92 per cent were dealt with within 30 days. The office completed 3,256 formal enquiries and investigations, over 500 more than last year.
 
Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass said the ultimate goal of her work was to ensure fairness from the state public sector and improve services.
 
‘Not all complaints require investigation, and many can be resolved quickly and informally. But whether or not they are investigated, all complaints contribute to a picture of dissatisfaction, which can be used to drive improvements in public administration.
 
‘I want to be able to use that data to identify systemic issues that may require investigation, and to feed back to departments and agencies so they can better respond to public concerns,’ said Ms Glass.
 
The report covers Ms Glass’ first full year as Ombudsman, during which she has worked to raise awareness of the office.
 
‘Importantly, the proportion of approaches within our jurisdiction rose by 12 per cent last year. That means we’re spending more time addressing issues we can assist with and less time directing people to other organisations. We’ve made a concerted effort to improve understanding of our role, and that’s beginning to show in our numbers.
 
‘All too often, those with the greatest need for Ombudsman services are the least likely to use them. Addressing this and making my office much more accessible – including to rural and regional Victoria – is a central aspect of my vision,’ she said.
Over the 2014-15 financial year the Ombudsman tabled eight parliamentary reports, including into improper conduct in the Office of Living Victoria, excessive force used by authorised officers on public transport, and failings of the Department of Health and Human Services in regulating an aged care facility. Of the 50 recommendations made to government, 96 per cent were accepted.
 
Looking to the year ahead, Ms Glass urged the Victorian government to deliver promised reforms to legislation governing the work of the office in order to improve services for the public and government agencies alike.
 
‘I have received an assurance from the government that some of the changes I have requested will be before the Parliament this year, and I wait to see,’ Ms Glass said.
 

Headline data:

  • 38,980 approaches to Victorian Ombudsman
  • 3,256 formal enquiries and investigations completed
  • 34 formal investigations completed
  • eight parliamentary reports tabled
  • 4,269 completed approaches in the Corrections, Justice and Regulation portfolio (most commonly complained about portfolio)
  • 3,410 completed approaches in the local government portfolio.

Report:

 
Ms Glass is available for interview.
 
Further information: Rory Cahill Tel 03 9613 6235 | Mob 0409 936 235