2014 Annual Report

 
 

Letter to the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly

To

The Honourable the President of the Legislative Council

and

The Honourable the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly

Pursuant to sections 25 and 25AA of the Ombudsman Act 1973, I am pleased to present to the Parliament the Victorian Ombudsman’s annual report for the year

ending 30 June 2014.

Deborah Glass OBE

Ombudsman

3 September 2014

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Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

Contents

4 Foreword

7The Victorian Ombudsman’s Office

840 years: A reflection

11The new integrity landscape in Victoria

12VO at a glance

13Our work

13

Approaches

18

Is it fair?

20

Influencing change

22

What people complained about

35

Community engagement and education

37

Our people

40

Statutory disclosures

40

Output statement

40

Human resource management

43

Corporate governance

47

Office-based environmental impacts

49

Freedom of Information

52

Financial statements

80

Appendix 1 – Disclosure index

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Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

Foreword

This report covers the last nine months of George Brouwer’s 10 year term as Victorian Ombudsman, and the first three months of mine. It therefore reflects some of my predecessor’s considerable achievements, but also includes my own early observations and plans for the role.

This year is a significant milestone for the Victorian Ombudsman, marking the 40th anniversary of the Office. The institution is a vital element in government transparency and accountability, qualities highly valued in 1973 and even more critical now, when State Government bodies number in excess of a thousand and the public’s relationship with government is even more complex. The reports and recommendations of the Office

have credibility, impact, and have achieved real change in public services.

As the fifth Ombudsman for Victoria, I owe an immense debt of gratitude to the four who preceded me, all of whom played their part in personally ensuring that the role of Ombudsman is not only an inviolable part of the public sector landscape, but also widely respected for its integrity and independence.

The role of the Ombudsman is, fundamentally, to redress the imbalance of power between the individual and the state. The Office provides a free, fair and independent service to those who are dissatisfied with the action or inaction of public bodies. It is a means by which the state is held accountable for its decisions and actions – actions that affect the lives of every Victorian.

On taking up this appointment I inherited a well-run office full of highly motivated

professional staff, for which the credit must go both to my predecessor, and to my Deputy, John Taylor, who has ably supported George Brouwer since 2004 and has since provided invaluable support to me.

A changing landscape

It is appropriate and inevitable at the start of a 10 year term to reflect on the history of the

Office, its work, successes and the opportunities for change.

For its first three decades, the Office evolved, dealing with public complaints about Victorian Government public services, expanding to include, among other things, local government and freedom of information. In 2002 the

Whistleblowers Protection Act 2001 gave the Office a new role, and in 2004, in a climate of public concern about police involvement in gangland killings and drug trafficking, the

Ombudsman took on a wider police jurisdiction. While the landscape evolved yet further with the creation of the Office of Police Integrity, it is clear from the many reports tabled by my predecessor that the Office had become, by default, the state’s anti-corruption watchdog.

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

4

 

This landscape changed again in 2013 with the establishment of the Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC), which took over responsibility for police matters and the whistleblower legislation under the new

Protected Disclosure Act 2012.

The existence of a separate anti-corruption body in IBAC, a positive development for Victoria, allows me to refocus the work of the Office back to the traditional Ombudsman role, more in line with its Swedish origins – the word loosely translates to ‘defender of the people’. It is now much clearer: corruption is the business of IBAC and fairness is mine.

There are however consequences of these changes. The impact on the work of my office has been profound, and is illustrated in the third chapter of this report. My office has a vital but limited investigative capacity, and I have found that the majority of this is being taken up with the requirement to investigate ‘protected disclosures’ (formerly known as whistleblower complaints) referred by IBAC. Under the previous Whistleblowers Protection Act the Ombudsman had the discretion to refer such cases elsewhere, including back to the relevant agencies, if appropriate. This is no longer the case, and as a result the resources of the Office are being disproportionately spent on these investigations.

These changes are having a real impact on the ability of my office to do its core business, which is to investigate public complaints and administrative actions of public bodies.

I agreed with the IBAC Commissioner on amendments to the legislation needed to rectify this state of affairs, and wrote to the Premier

in May 2014 to request his support. I have also raised the issue with the Accountability and Oversight Committee and the Leader of the Opposition.

This is now a matter for Parliament and I urge them to act. These are not contentious amendments, and will address what appear to be unintended consequences of the new legislation. If no legislative changes are forthcoming I will seek funding to increase

investigative capacity, so that my ability to look at the cases of concern to the people of Victoria is not unnecessarily diminished.

Communications and engagement

There are other policy amendments to the Ombudsman Act 1973 which would be desirable, including a review of the

Ombudsman’s core functions which have been essentially unchanged since 1973. The Act for example, does not specify public education as a function of the Office. The Act also has stringent confidentiality provisions, which do not sit comfortably with the increased focus on communications and engagement with the public which I believe is necessary to the role.

Another issue is the requirement under the Ombudsman Act that all complaints must be lodged in writing. This year, over 80 per cent of our contacts were made by phone, and the requirement to make a complaint in writing

often surprises people who have the reasonable expectation that public services, including this office, should be accessible and responsive. It has also meant that hundreds of complaints were not addressed, as complainants were either unable to or did not follow up in writing. This is another area where I believe small legislative change would deliver significant improvement.

I intend to communicate more with the people of Victoria, and with the departments, agencies and other public bodies over which my office has jurisdiction. The current complaints landscape is complicated and confusing with a number of organisations in the mix, and I want people to clearly understand what the Office can do for them, and what it cannot.

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Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

I want to make it easier for people to complain, and for those complaints to be satisfactorily resolved. Communication with other agencies and the public is essential to improving awareness and simplifying the process for all concerned, in particular, the most vulnerable people in our society, who all too often have the greatest need for services but the least knowledge about them.

Improving public administration

As this report shows, my office received over 34,000 approaches last year, and our work covered a wide range of issues – including prison overcrowding and potential human rights breaches, rates notices, child protection and drivers’ licences. In the vast majority of cases, complaints were resolved informally through advice, or we made enquiries to determine whether the actions of the agency were fair and reasonable. In many cases, following enquiries, we found that departments and agencies had acted reasonably. But as the examples in this report show, where we believed the actions were not fair, we sought outcomes to redress the injustice.

Formal investigations carried out by the Office highlighted failures in dealing with conflicts

of interest, poor governance practices in the public sector, and failure to undertake statutory functions.

The overall volume of contacts represents a significant statement of public dissatisfaction. I want to be able to do more with this data to improve public administration. Capacity within this office to identify and analyse emerging trends in complaints would provide State Government departments and agencies with valuable feedback on their operations, and also important data to drive own motion investigations into systemic issues.

I am acutely aware that proposed initiatives

– and potentially, the consequences of a more open and accessible office – will require resources I do not currently have. Like any public sector leader, I am looking to make efficiency savings wherever possible, but as the numbers show I run a very small office in public sector terms, with dedicated staff who

are already stretched to capacity. In the coming year I will be making a case for a modest increase in the budget of the Ombudsman’s Office and I look to government, even in these straitened times, to support this for the benefit of the people of Victoria.

There is much to do to provide the level of scrutiny and service Victorians have a right to expect. I look forward to building on the work of my predecessors to ensure fairness for all Victorians in their dealings with the public sector and improve public administration.

Deborah Glass OBE

Ombudsman

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6

 

The Victorian Ombudsman’s Office

The Victorian Ombudsman is an independent officer of the Parliament under section 94E of the Constitution Act 1975. The Ombudsman is appointed to office under section 3 of the Ombudsman Act by the Governor in Council.

The mission of the Office is to promote fairness, integrity, respect for human rights and administrative excellence in the Victorian public sector.

The Ombudsman’s principal function is to enquire into or investigate administrative actions taken by or in an authority1.

The Ombudsman’s jurisdiction covers government departments, public statutory bodies, employees of municipal councils and private sector entities when delivering services on behalf of government. The Ombudsman may conduct an enquiry or investigation in response to a complaint or on her own motion.

The Ombudsman also has responsibilities in relation to protected disclosure complaints under the Protected Disclosure Act; human rights under the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006; and some important functions aimed at ensuring compliance by state entities with certain other specified Victorian legislation2.

Our leadership team. Left to right: Glenn Sullivan, Deborah Glass, John Taylor, David Berry, Joy Patton, Stephen Mumford.

1Other than administrative action that appears to involve corrupt conduct; or that is taken under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

2For example, monitoring compliance with the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; section 13AA(1)(b) of the

Ombudsman Act 1973.

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Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

40 years: A reflection

40th Anniversary

On 30 October 2013 the Office celebrated 40 years of complaint handling. Over that time it dealt with many thousands of complaints and provided over 100 reports to Parliament. It grew from a small office of 11 staff to what it is today. I am the fifth Victorian Ombudsman, noting that Mr Bob Seamer acted as Ombudsman for almost one year after the untimely illness of

Dr Barry Perry.

Each of my predecessors made an important contribution to the office.

The Last Decade

For the 10 years prior to April 2014, George Brouwer was the Ombudsman, leading the Office through both interesting and challenging times. Not long after

his appointment, he established the Office of Police Integrity in November 2004. For the next three years Mr Brouwer was the inaugural Director, Police Integrity as well as holding the Office of Ombudsman.

In March 2008 Judge Michael Strong was appointed Director, Police Integrity, freeing Mr Brouwer to return to focusing all his attention on the Office of the Ombudsman.

The Parliament also asked Mr Brouwer to undertake investigations into a number of significant issues in Victoria. In 2008 the Acting Premier asked the Ombudsman to investigate the circumstances surrounding the Cranbourne methane gas disaster. The Ombudsman’s report to Parliament in October 20093 led to significant changes within the Environment Protection Authority and the settlement of a class action in the Supreme Court.

Other investigations led to significant changes to government agencies’ practices and procedures, including:

a toll free number for prisoners to call when making a complaint – this has streamlined and sped up prisoner

complaints, making a significant difference to this community – 2006

recommending security improvements to drivers’ licences to reduce fraud – introduced by VicRoads – 20074

addressing conflict of interest in both the public sector and local government – leading to legislative changes – 20085

guarding against fraud and waste identified in a number of reports, including the Transport Accident Commission’s and

the Victorian WorkCover Authority’s administrative practices for medical practitioner billing – 20096 and 20117

investigations aimed at protecting the vulnerable, particularly in child protection

– 20098 and 20109

During his 10 year term, Mr Brouwer was responsible for tabling over 80 reports to Parliament on a wide range of topics. Many involved the Whistleblowers Protection Act, some with significant consequences to both individuals and organisations. For example, his report into an allegation relating to the release of Victoria Police crime statistics in June 2011 led to the resignation of the then Chief Commissioner and more recently, the establishment of an independent crime statistics agency.

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

8

3Victorian Ombudsman, Brookland Greens Estate – Investigation into methane gas leaks, October 2009.

4Victorian Ombudsman, Investigation into VicRoads driver licensing arrangements, December 2007.

5Victorian Ombudsman, Conflict of interest in local government, March 2008; Conflict of interest in the public sector,

March 2008.

6Victorian Ombudsman, An investigation into the Transport Accident Commission’s and the Victorian WorkCover Authority’s administrative processes for medical practitioner billing,

July 2009.

7Victorian Ombudsman, Investigation into record keeping failures by WorkSafe agents, May 2011.

8Victorian Ombudsman, Own motion investigation into

the Department of Human Services Child Protection Program, November 2009.

9Victorian Ombudsman, Own motion investigation into Child Protection – out of home care, May 2010.

 

identifying problems within the youth justice detention system, resulting in upgrading of detention centres and education programs for young offenders

– 201010

addressing concerns about the failure to manage registered sex offenders, leading to significant changes to processes – 201111.

These are but a few examples of how the Ombudsman was able to assist in improving public administration, the core function of the office.

Mr Brouwer left an effective well-functioning office, with staff identifying through a recent survey that they were proud to work in his office.

Dr Barry Perry

Dr Barry Perry served as Ombudsman from 1995 to 2003. Dr Perry had a long career with the Office, which spanned nearly its entire history. He started

with the Office in 1974 and held

various roles prior to his appointment as Ombudsman.

Dr Perry’s major achievements during his tenure as Ombudsman include his contribution to the development

of freedom of information in Victoria and whistleblower protection mechanisms.

Towards the end of his term in 2002, the Whistleblowers Protection Act was enacted, extending the role of the Ombudsman to investigate and oversee investigations of whistleblower complaints.

10Victorian Ombudsman, Whistleblowers Protection Act 2001

– Investigation into conditions at the Melbourne Youth Justice Precinct, October 2010.

11Victorian Ombudsman, Whistleblowers Protection Act 2001 – Investigation into the failure of agencies to manage registered sex offenders, February 2011.

Dr Perry undertook the initial work on the commencement of the Act including issuing detailed guidelines for agencies on the practical operation of the Act, and developing internal working procedures for handling whistleblower complaints.

In the words of the then Premier Steve Bracks, Dr Perry ‘had a great influence on the structure and direction of the office’ and made ‘a very significant contribution to improving public administration and accountability’.

Mr Norman Geschke

Mr Norman Geschke served as Victoria’s second Ombudsman from 1980 to February 1994. Prior to his appointment, Mr Geschke was Victoria’s first Director of Consumer Affairs for six years.

Mr Geschke took the reins at VO following the retirement of Sir John Dillon. During his term of office,

Mr Geschke played a prominent role in the development of the Ombudsman internationally. He was appointed

a Director of the International Ombudsman’s Institute in 1987 and held that position until he stood

down in 1992, at which time he was made a life member of the Institute.

Mr Geschke placed considerable emphasis on complainants and had little time for legal technicalities which he saw as preventing fair and reasonable outcomes and limiting the accountability of government bodies. He also placed great importance on the accessibility of the Office to all, and established a program of country visits during his term to increase awareness of the Office for people living in regional areas.

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Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

Mr Geschke also oversaw substantial diversification of the work of the Office, including the addition of functions in relation to Freedom of Information in 1983 and the creation of the Office of Deputy Ombudsman (Police Complaints) in 1988.

Upon Mr Geschke’s retirement, the then Premier Jeff Kennett expressed appreciation and gratitude for the manner in which Mr Geschke discharged his duties. He said Mr Geschke brought dignity to the Office, exhibited a high level of professionalism and served the State of Victoria with integrity.

Sir John Vincent Dillon

Sir John Vincent Dillon was appointed as Victoria’s inaugural Ombudsman on 9 October 1973. The Victorian

Ombudsman’s Office was the third such office in Australia at that time, and was

quickly followed by the establishment of Ombudsmen in other Australian jurisdictions. Sir John served as Ombudsman for

seven years until August 1980.

He faced a number of challenges associated with the establishment of the Office, including consolidating the structure, establishing jurisdiction, securing accommodation and staff and formulating policies, practices and procedures.

As the first Ombudsman in Victoria, Sir John also:

raised awareness of the existence and purpose of the Office with the public and public sector agencies

ensured accessibility of the Office, particularly for people in regional Victoria

addressed multiple jurisdictional challenges by public sector agencies in the first three years of the Office’s operation

saw the expansion of the Office’s jurisdiction to cover local government in Victoria in 1977.

Sir John put VO on firm foundations and developed its reputation as one of integrity, impartiality and effectiveness.

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

10

 

The new integrity landscape in Victoria

This year was the first full year of the operation of the new integrity landscape in Victoria. The new legislation and the establishment of IBAC have altered the nature of the work of the Office, and increased its workload. In particular, we have seen an increase in:

the number of investigations carried out by VO

workload relating to the assessment of protected disclosure matters

administrative workload arising from the requirement to make written referrals.

Increase in investigations

For the most part, the increase in investigations by VO comes from the new requirement that we must, except in narrow circumstances, investigate all protected disclosures referred by IBAC.

Compared to 2011-12 which was the last full year of operation of the Whistleblowers Protection Act, the Office has started one and a half times the number of investigations in 2013-14.

60

50

 

 

 

 

51

 

37

 

44

 

 

 

 

 

40

 

 

 

 

 

 

35

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30

 

 

 

 

 

24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

Graph 1: Investigations started

Of the 51 formal investigations we started this year, 65 per cent (33) were protected disclosure matters.

Assessment of protected disclosure matters

Workload relating to the assessment of protected disclosure matters (before they are investigated) has also increased, due to the number of times matters are assessed under the new legislation. In particular we must:

complete assessments of matters that we receive that may be protected disclosures and refer these to IBAC where appropriate

complete a further assessment of matters that have been determined by IBAC as protected disclosures and referred back to VO for investigation.

This means that some matters are assessed on three separate occasions – twice by VO and once by IBAC. In 2013-14 we assessed 169 protected disclosure matters, which equates to a 44 per cent increase on the number of assessments conducted in the last full year of operation of the Whistleblowers Protection Act (117 assessments in 2011-12).

Written referrals

Prior to the introduction of the new integrity legislation, we could simply provide the relevant agency details to complainants who approach our office with matters we are unable to assist with. Now we are required to refer many of these complaints to the appropriate body in writing. Since the start of the integrity legislation (10 February 2013) to 30 June 2014, we made 1,279 referrals in writing:

1,063 police matters to IBAC

127 disclosures to IBAC

37 conduct matters12 to the Victorian Inspectorate

40 freedom of information complaints to the FOI Commissioner

12 corrupt conduct matters to IBAC.

This averages 3.7 referrals each business day. In addition to referring these matters in writing to the relevant agency, we must also write to the complainant advising them of the referral. Each referral takes up to 30 minutes to record, prepare and send.

We continue to work with IBAC to streamline processes as far as practicable in relation to these matters.

12Complaints about the conduct of IBAC or IBAC staff, a VAGO officer, the Chief Examiner or an Examiner.

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Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 
 

Our work

Approaches

This year was the busiest in the history of the Victorian Ombudsman. Approaches to the Office increased 12.6 per cent, from 30,517

in 2012-13 to 34,374 this year. These include complaints which are both within and outside the jurisdiction of the Office, as well as requests for information.

In addition, we have the power to look into matters by way of own motion, without receiving a particular complaint13. In 2013-14, we looked into 15 matters using own motion powers.

No. of approaches received

2013-14 – 34,374

2012-13 – 30,517

2011-12 – 29,773

2010-11 – 25,557

2009-10 – 21,074

 

40,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

35,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

25,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

21,074

25,557

29,773

30,517

34,374

 

15,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

How we received approaches

 

 

Telephone – 19,172

 

 

 

 

 

 

Telephone-auto transfer – 8,916

 

 

34,374

 

Online – 2,593

 

 

 

Email – 2,004

approaches

 

 

 

 

 

Letter – 1,393

 

 

 

 

In person – 236

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fax – 60

13These matters are not included in the ‘approaches received’ by the Office, as we initiated them without receiving an ‘approach’ or complaint.

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Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

Under the legislation, complaints must be made in writing. In line with previous years, over 80 per cent of initial approaches to the Office were made by phone. In cases where the initial contact is by phone and the matter warrants further consideration, complainants are advised to set out the details in writing.

In this reporting year, 945 approaches made by phone required an urgent response. In these cases, we initiated an enquiry without a written complaint, using own motion powers.

Where a complainant makes contact by phone and the matter is outside the scope of VO, they have the option to use our telephone auto-transfer system to be directly transferred to the appropriate complaints body. This system was introduced in November 2013, resulting in more efficient complaint handling for Victorians and more VO staff time available to respond to callers with complaints we are able to address.

We also made some changes to our online complaint form in December 2013 to redirect people to pages on our website with referral information to other complaint handling bodies for matters we could not deal with. There were 1,005 hits to those referral pages. Another feature of the new form is that complaints submitted online are automatically loaded into our case management system, which increases efficiency as we do not have to manually enter details.

Of the 25,400 approaches we closed14 this year, more than half related to complaints about matters we can deal with, an increase of about five per cent from 2012-13, when 47 per cent

of the approaches closed were matters within jurisdiction.

No. of approaches closed

Information requests

Matters we can deal with – 13,152 Matters we cannot deal with – 11,763

Information requests – 485

Matters we

 

 

 

cannot deal with

25,400

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

approaches

Matters we

 

 

closed

can deal with

 

 

 

 

 

Telephone-auto transferred approaches have not been represented in this graph (8,916).

14 Note the distinction between approaches received and approaches closed, and that this number excludes telephone- auto transferred approaches (8,916).

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

14

 

Time taken to close approaches

Over 95 per cent of approaches were closed within 30 days, with just under one per cent continuing beyond three months.

Table 1: Time taken to close approaches

 

2013-14

%

 

 

 

Closed on day received

17,559

69.13%

 

 

 

Closed within 1 to 7 days

3,993

15.72%

 

 

 

Closed within 8 to 30 days

2,761

10.87%

 

 

 

Closed within 1 to 3 months

857

3.37%

 

 

 

Closed within 3 to 6 months

177

0.70%

 

 

 

Closed after 6 months

53

0.21%

 

 

 

Total approaches closed

25,400

100%

 

 

 

Enquiries and investigations

The work of VO falls largely into two categories: enquiries and investigations.

These cover both responses to complaints from the public and the use of own motion powers. These powers allow us to look into a matter without having received a complaint, in cases where we consider a particular issue is in the public interest or is systemic. Case studies on the use of own motion powers are on pages 25 and 27.

The total number of jurisdictional matters closed this year (13,152) is slightly down on the number recorded in the previous year (14,424). Some of this change can be attributed to the removal of VO’s jurisdiction over Victoria Police in February 2013. In 2013-14 VO received 1,477 complaints about Victoria Police which are now outside jurisdiction, but which would previously have been within scope.

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Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

What we did with matters we closed

Matters closed

13,152 complaints within jurisdiction + 15 own motion matters

2,672 enquiries

70 formal investigations

(including six own

(including nine own

motion enquiries)

motion investigations)

Enquiries

We make enquiries

with agencies to attempt to informally resolve complaints. An enquiry will usually involve asking an agency to:

comment on a complaint

provide documents

explain its actions

propose a resolution to a complaint.

After our enquiries, a complaint may be closed if an agency:

shows it acted fairly and had sounds reasons for its actions

acknowledges an error and takes steps to fix it

provides a solution that we consider fair and reasonable.

Investigations

We start an investigation where a complaint:

cannot be resolved through enquiries

is complex or relates to a systemic issue

is referred to VO by

Parliament

must be investigated under legislation

(e.g. protected disclosures).

An investigation is a separate process to an enquiry. We take a cooperative approach to investigations where possible, however have formal powers available to use.

An investigation will typically involve interviewing witnesses, examining evidence and providing a report to the relevant agency when the investigation is complete.

Referrals and advice

After considering a matter, it may be that VO is unable to assist. In these cases, we provide advice and where appropriate, refer the complainant to the agency concerned or suggest another avenue.

We may decide not to

look into a complaint where:

the complainant has not pursued the matter with the agency

there is an appeal right or legal remedy available

the action complained about occurred more than 12 months ago

the complainant is not directly a†ected by the matter

we conclude the agency has acted reasonably.

Another 514 matters would have resulted in enquiries if not for the legislative requirement to lodge a complaint in writing.

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

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As a result of feedback from visitors and witnesses, we have reviewed some of our processes and office design. This has included:

a new shared reception with IBAC

a new interview room

amendments to the interview script used by investigators.

Deborah Glass, Ombudsman and Stephen O’Bryan, IBAC

Commissioner outside our shared reception

Our new interview room

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Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

Is it fair?

Fairness is at the heart of

the role of VO and a key consideration in looking at complaints we receive. We

not only look at whether an agency has acted lawfully and in accordance with its policies and procedures, but also whether its actions were fair and reasonable in the circumstances.

Case study

Registration and licensing issues, such as registration or licence cancellations are a common theme in complaints about VicRoads received by VO. While legislation and policy strictly governs these processes, the following case study is an example of a complaint we decided to look at on grounds of fairness.

Driving unregistered

The complaint

VicRoads mistakenly changed the address associated with three of the complainant’s vehicles, instead of just the one he requested. As a result, he did not receive his registration renewal notices, as they were sent to the wrong address. A few months later he was fined by the police for driving an unregistered vehicle.

When he complained to VicRoads, he said it told him that even if he did not receive the reminder notice, it was his responsibility to pay the registration by the due date.

Is this fair?

VicRoads is not legally required to send reminder notices; it is the vehicle owner’s responsibility to renew their registration. Even though VicRoads acted lawfully, in this specific case our enquiries confirmed VicRoads had made an error in changing the complainant’s address. Given this, VicRoads agreed to refund the cost

of the permits the complainant had to purchase to re-register his three vehicles and to request Civic Compliance Victoria (responsible for recovering unpaid fines on behalf of police) withdraw the fine.

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

18

 

Case study

Rates notices are among the most complained about issues in local government. There are established processes for disputing rates notices and so generally VO does not become involved in complaints about these matters. The following case study is an example of a complaint about rates that we looked into which appeared unfair, irrespective of the council’s legal obligations.

Industrial rates incorrectly charged for a residential property

The complaint

A ratepayer was incorrectly charged industrial rates by his local council for his residential property for over 15 years.

When he complained to the council after receiving his 2013 rates notice, the council removed the industrial rate and revalued his property. However, the ratepayer complained that the council should reimburse him the additional money he had paid.

Is this fair?

By law, the council was only required to reimburse the ratepayer for the additional money he was overcharged and paid from 2007 to present (six years). However, our enquiries with the council confirmed that the council had been overcharging him since 1997-98.

In these circumstances, we considered that a fair outcome was for the council to reimburse the complainant the total additional money he had paid since 1997 as a result of its error. The council agreed and reimbursed the complainant $7,295.

Case study

Local and State Government bodies own and manage a range of public assets and land. Poor or inadequate management of such land or assets can cause significant inconvenience to private citizens, as highlighted by this case study.

Flooded property

The complaint

We received a complaint about ongoing flooding to the complainant’s property (including underneath her house) for over three years, as a result of water overflowing from a neighbouring school oval. She had raised the matter with the school and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development on numerous occasions, without timely and adequate resolution.

Is this fair?

After making enquiries with the department, VO brought the matter to the Secretary’s attention and provided footage of the flooding recorded

by the complainant. The Secretary acknowledged the department’s poor handling of the matter and accepted a number of proposals VO made to

achieve a fair and reasonable resolution of the complainant’s concerns. This included that:

the department work with the school to speedily address the flooding and prevent it occurring in the future

report back to VO on how and when the matter is resolved

apologise to the complainant

reimburse the complainant for costs relating to damage to her property.

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Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

Influencing change

Many of our outcomes and resolutions relate to matters affecting individuals, for example the revocation of fines, reimbursement, or the provision of further information.

However some outcomes have broader implications which can lead to systemic change.

Agency and state wide changes

Our enquiries and investigations can have far-reaching consequences and result in fundamental change to the way public services are delivered in Victoria. For example, this year:

We conducted a broad based review of deaths in custodial facilities and made a number of recommendations to address issues identified in relation to prison overcrowding; the management of prisoners at risk of suicide or self-harm; and health services and transitional support services available to prisoners.

We investigated a complaint about the use of force by Authorised Officers on V/Line and recommended improvements to the training provided to all Authorised Officers, and the installation of CCTV cameras in all V/Line trains.

Legislative changes were introduced in 2014 in relation to safety and security practices15 in secure welfare service facilities, which house some of the state’s most vulnerable and at risk children, as a result of recommendations made in our 2013 investigation.

15Changes were made to the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 in relation to the use of searches on visitors to and children residing in secure welfare services; and the use of restraint and seclusion on children in secure welfare services.

We re-examined the existence of conflict of interest in the Victorian public sector, particularly in high risk activities such as procurement and recruitment, and tabled a report providing guidance to public sector agencies and their employees on managing these issues.

The new CEO of VicRoads, Mr John Merritt met with the Ombudsman to discuss issues arising from the multiple investigations VO conducted into VicRoads last year, as highlighted in last year’s annual report. The concerns related to the adequacy of management in identifying and addressing inappropriate practices and in some instances, an unhealthy culture. Mr Merritt has committed to addressing these concerns.

We also recently started two own motion reviews which will have state-wide implications in their respective areas.

Enquiry into Local Government Complaint Handling Systems and Practices

This enquiry will examine complaint handling by local councils to identify how practices and procedures can be improved. We propose to develop a good practice guide to help local councils better handle community complaints. We expect the enquiry and guide will be completed late this year.

Prison program own motion investigation

This investigation will look at the provision of rehabilitation programs and transitional services for offenders in Victoria, with a particular focus on the provision of these programs for female and indigenous offenders. The investigation was prompted by the growth in prisoner numbers and concerns with rates of reoffending and the costs to the Victorian community. We expect the investigation report will be available in October 2014.

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

20

 

Individual resolutions

Also important are resolutions for individual complainants. Some outcomes are achieved after lengthy disagreement between the agency and the complainant, and the resolution brings welcome conclusion and often, a positive result.

“I am writing to thank you most sincerely for your assistance in obtaining clarity regarding the allowances of magazines at … [the] Correctional Centre. I received a letter of apology (and clarification) shortly after your ‘chase-up’ call to facility management, and I am completely satisfied with the General Manager’s response”.

“I would like to thank you very sincerely for all your help with … [my] problem. You have been able to get done in a few months what I had not been able to do in years of trying!”

“This is just a short message of thanks … for following up on this matter … I finally received a substantial, but partial, answer to the questions that I had raised … [with the government agency] … Thanks again, and keep up the good work”.

21

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

What people complained about

VO has jurisdiction to receive complaints regarding more than 1,000 public sector agencies and local councils. These cover a wide range of issues, and are grouped into government portfolios.

Categorising complaints by portfolio is useful in identifying systemic issues within various areas of government.

This year the most complained about portfolio was Justice (which includes prisons) with over 32 per cent of complaints. Local government represented nearly 25 per cent, making it the second most complained about portfolio, followed by Human Services, with 10.6 per cent.

Complaints by portfolio

35.0%

32.3%

30.0%

 

25.0%

 

24.9%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20.0%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15.0%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10.6%

9.3%

 

 

 

 

 

 

10.0%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8.2%

6.9%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.0%

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.2%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.6%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.0%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.9%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Justice

Local

Human

Transport,

Education

Treasury

Health

Environment Other*

 

 

 

 

 

Government

Services

Planning &

& Early

& Finance

 

& Primary

 

 

 

 

 

Local

Childhood

 

 

Industries

 

 

 

 

 

Infrastructure Development

 

 

 

 

Justice – 4,248

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Local Government – 3,281

 

 

Treasury & Finance – 914

 

Human Services – 1,391

 

 

 

Health – 551

 

 

 

 

Transport, Planning & Local Infrastructure – 1,227

Environment & Primary Industries – 343

 

Education & Early Childhood Development – 1,084

Other* – 113

 

 

 

*Other relates to portfolios where complaints were a small percentages of the total. These are not separately shown.

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

22

 

Justice portfolio

Closed complaints for Justice portfolio

2013-14 fast facts

4,248 complaints

75% related to prisons

12% related to Civic Compliance Victoria and the Sheri’s Oce

35.0%

 

 

 

 

 

30.0%

 

 

 

 

 

25.0%

 

 

 

 

 

20.0%

25.0

26.6

26.3

26.2

32.3

 

 

 

 

 

15.0%

10.0%

5.0%

0.0%

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

Justice has been the most complained about portfolio for the last four years. Complaints in this portfolio increased again this year by six per cent, from 26 per cent to 32 per cent of the total.

Of the 4,248 complaints about Justice, 3,177 (75 per cent) related to prisons16.

This was followed by complaints about Civic Compliance Victoria17 and the Sheriff’s Office which collectively represented 12 per cent (499) of Justice complaints.

The most common reasons for complaints involving Justice last year all related to prisons:

Table 2: Most common reasons for complaints involving Justice in 2013-14

Issue

No. of complaints

Percentage (%)

 

 

 

Prisoner health services

631

15%

 

 

 

Prisoner property

312

7%

 

 

 

Prison buildings and facilities

217

5%

 

 

 

Prisoner placement and location

176

4%

 

 

 

Delays in complaint handling in prisons

160

4%

 

 

 

Prisoner visits

141

3%

 

 

 

Prisoner funds

132

3%

 

 

 

Prisoner telephone access/services

132

3%

 

 

 

Prison food

130

3%

 

 

 

The right to humane treatment when deprived of liberty18

124

3%

16This figures includes complaints about Corrections Victoria (the overarching body responsible for the management of Victoria’s correctional facilities) and Justice Health (the body responsible for the delivery of health services in public prisons in Victoria) as well as complaints about public and private prisons.

17Civic Compliance Victoria provides infringement management and enforcement services on behalf of other State Government agencies.

18Section 22 of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006.

23

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

Prisons and human rights

We have an important role in relation to the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and

Responsibilities Act. We are the only body with the power to investigate whether actions taken by agencies are incompatible with the Charter.

Human rights concerns frequently arise in complaints from people held in closed

environments (most commonly prisons) due to the restrictions on their freedom and their vulnerability. This year 124 complaints about Justice raised issues regarding the right to humane treatment when deprived of liberty. Some examples are set out below.

Transfer of prisoner without clothing

The complaint

A prisoner at Port Phillip Prison made a complaint that prison officers had moved him from one unit to another without being clothed.

What we did

In our assessment we considered possible human rights implications of the prison’s actions, in particular the right to humane treatment when deprived of liberty,

and the right to protection from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

We made enquiries with the prison and established that the prisoner had in fact been transferred handcuffed in his

underwear from one unit to another, over a considerable distance.

How we helped

The prison acknowledged that the mode of transfer was regrettable. To ensure this did not occur in the future, the prison amended its operating instructions to specify that prisoners be appropriately clothed during transfers, and that a manager be present to oversee all transfers made using restraint.

Punish one, punish all

The complaint

A prisoner at the Beechworth Correctional Centre complained about the centre’s decision to punish the entire prison population based on misbehaviour by

a small group of prisoners. The centre’s punishment was to shut down the telephone system meaning no prisoner could make or receive personal calls. The prisoner raised concerns that as a result of the punishment (which was

a consequence of behaviour he was not responsible for) he was unable to communicate with his wife about health matters in his family.

What we did

We considered the appropriateness and fairness of the centre’s decision in our assessment, and the possible human rights implications. We made enquiries with the centre and in response, it acknowledged that its policies and procedures did not allow for the use of collective punishment.

How we helped

Corrections Victoria advised each prison that collective punishment should not be used, and that telephone access could only be removed from a prisoner on an individual basis.

Civic Compliance Victoria and the Sheriff’s Office

Complaints about infringement management and enforcement by the Sheriff’s Office and Civic Compliance Victoria was the second most complained about area in Justice, making up 12 per cent of complaints.

In many cases we do not become involved in complaints about infringements due to the established processes to dispute them.

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

24

 

The following is an example of a case relating to an infringement that we decided to look into on the basis that the actions of the Sheriff’s Office seemed unreasonable in the circumstances.

In two places at once?

The complaint

A prisoner complained to us that the Sheriff’s Office had issued him with infringement warrants totalling over $3,000 despite being in prison at the time the infringements occurred. He complained to the Sheriff’s Office six times and submitted a number of forms, but the matter was not resolved.

What we did

We made enquiries with the Sheriff’s Office and Civic Compliance Victoria. They advised they were not aware the complainant was in custody at the time the infringements were incurred, however agreed to review the matter.

How we helped

Following our enquiries, the agencies acknowledged the complainant could not have been the driver and the infringement warrants were revoked and removed from his name.

This year we also took a broader look at the way infringement warrants are enforced and managed in Victoria.

$886 million debt to the state ‘written off’

The issue

Our 2013 own motion investigation into the enforcement of infringement warrants in Victoria examined the Sheriff’s Office’s inability to keep up with the number of infringement warrants issued each year and the impact of this.

We found

limited resources

outdated information technology

failure to use powers

poor enforcement strategies

problems with data sharing and reliability.

These challenges hindered the Sheriff’s Office ability to keep up with the number of outstanding infringement warrants in Victoria. For each warrant finalised by the Sheriff’s Office, five more are issued.

This has resulted in:

a large percentage of warrants not being enforced and expiring without payment

two million warrants totalling $886 million being ‘written off’ between 2005 and 2013

a current pool of 3.5 million unexecuted warrants, valued at more than $1.2 billion.

Concerns about these issues have been raised in several previous reports, including numerous reports by the Auditor-General and a previous report by this Office. Despite these reports and recommendations, the number of unenforced warrants and debt to the state continues to rise.

How we helped

Since the completion of the investigation, the Fines Reform Bill 2014 has been introduced which will result in significant changes to fine collection and enforcement in Victoria. Reform initiatives include changes to provide:

simpler and shorter timelines and notifications for collection and enforcement

earlier intervention when individuals accumulate multiple fines or large debts

greater ability for the Sheriff’s Office to recover civil debts

additional funding to upgrade IT systems and increase enforcement capacity.

25

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

Local government

Closed complaints for local government

2013-14 fast facts

• 3,281 complaints

Most complained about issues:

complaint handling

parking

rates

planning

 

30.0%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

25.0%

 

 

 

 

 

 

27.2

24.8

24.3

25.0

24.9

 

20.0%

 

 

 

 

 

 

15.0%

10.0%

5.0%

0.0%

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

Complaints about local government have remained relatively constant over the last four years, with a marginal drop from 25 per cent of jurisdictional complaints in 2012-13 to 24.9 per cent in 2013-14.

All 79 councils in Victoria were subject to at least one complaint last year, but the number varied widely across municipalities, as illustrated by the map on page 31. In looking at the

map, it is important to note wide variations in population between municipalities, and that the figures represent the total number of complaints to VO and not all of these were substantiated.

Most complained about issues

Of the 3,281 complaints about local government, the most common issues were:

complaint handling 750 complaints (23%)

parking 477 complaints (14%)

rates 344 complaints (10%)

planning 302 complaints (9%).

Over 55 per cent of all local government complaints fell into these categories.

Other common areas of complaint in local government last year included:

other enforcement and regulatory activities in areas such as building, animals, local laws and nuisances

facilities owned or controlled by councils, for example roads and parks.

Complaint handling

Local councils’ handling of complaints was the most commonly complained about local

government issue. Specific issues for Victorians included delays in responding, inadequate remedies and inadequate processes. We also received a substantial number of complaints that local councils had reached the wrong conclusion in relation to complaints, and provided inadequate reasons for their decisions.

Our recently commenced enquiry into local government complaint handling systems and practices aims to give local councils the tools they need to better handle complaints and respond to the public. We will produce a guide after the enquiry, which should assist councils to resolve complaints before they reach VO, reducing the number of complaints we receive about complaint handling in local government.

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

26

 

Parking

Parking complaints received by VO typically relate to local councils’ enforcement of parking restrictions. While we do not usually become involved in complaints about parking infringements (due to options available to dispute them), the following is an example of a parking matter we looked into this year.

Reading between the lines

The issue

After seeing an article in a local newspaper, we decided to make enquiries into a parking infringement issued to

a member of the public by their local council for parking next to a continuous yellow line19. The location at which the person had parked also displayed a four hour parking sign, giving the impression that it was lawful to park in that space for less than four hours (despite the yellow line). The person had requested that the council review the infringement notice twice; it was upheld both times.

What we did

Based on the information provided following our enquiries, we concluded that the placement of the yellow line AND the four hour parking sign above the parking space was confusing, and on that basis, the infringement should have been withdrawn. The council subsequently agreed to refund the infringement.

We made further enquiries with the council to establish whether any other infringements may have been issued in similar circumstances. The council advised us that it had identified another parking zone within the municipality which could be interpreted as being similarly confusing (see the photo below).

How we helped

The council subsequently issued refunds for 26 infringement notices issued for parking at the two sites. The signage and line markings at the two sites were altered to ensure restrictions were clear and unambiguous.

19Under the Road Safety Rules 2009, motorists are not allowed to park a car next to a continuous yellow line.

27

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

Rates

Thirty-nine per cent of the complaints we received this year about rates related to the amount individuals were charged by their local council. The following is an example of one of these cases.

13 years of inflated rates

The complaint

We received a complaint from a ratepayer who had been overcharged for her rates by her local council for 13 years due to

a council error regarding the size of her property. The council reimbursed her for the overcharged rates however she was dissatisfied that it would not pay her interest on the amount, which she believed she was entitled to.

What we did

We made enquiries with the council to establish why it was not willing to pay her interest.

How we helped

The council reconsidered its position on the matter and subsequently advised the complainant it would pay her $910.94 in interest.

Roads

Local councils are responsible for maintaining local roads within their municipality. Councils’ management of roads is a commonly complained about issue in local government complaints to our office. The following is an example of one of these cases, where there was a substantial failure by the local council to fulfil its responsibility.

No through road

The complaint

An elderly couple living in regional Eastern Victoria complained to us about the lack of action taken by their local council (Latrobe City Council) to reinstate the only access road to their property, which had been closed due to a landslip. The complainants had been unable to return to their property, live in

their home and tend to their livestock for over a year at the time they complained, and half of their sheep had died as a result. They were temporarily living

with their daughter and son-in-law in Melbourne, who they were visiting at the time of the landslip.

The council is the responsible road authority for the access road to their property, and was responsible for arranging rectification works

following the landslip. Despite ongoing communication with the council following the landslip, the complainants were unable to resolve the matter with the council and remained unable to access their property.

What we did

We made enquiries with the council to attempt to informally resolve the matter. However we were not satisfied with the council’s responses and lack

of action and so proceeded to a formal investigation. While we use such formal powers sparingly, a formal investigation was clearly necessary in this instance due to the lack of action by the council and the significant distress and inconvenience the complainants had experienced.

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

28

 

Our investigation revealed that the lack of action taken by the council was associated with:

the cost of the works to reinstate the road, which services only one property

unavailability of government funding to meet this cost

exploration of alternative options to reinstating the existing road

a lack of clarity in the roles and responsibilities of the council and other government agencies in the natural disaster funding process

the council’s view that the works were not urgent because the complainants were residing with family members.

How we helped

About two weeks after the commencement of our investigation, the council restored temporary road access, allowing the complainants to return to their property. Shortly after, it then successfully obtained government funding for the permanent reinstatement of the road.

Notwithstanding the constructive outcomes we achieved for the complainants, we decided to table a report in Parliament on the matter as it highlights how inaction by an

agency can cause significant distress and inconvenience to citizens. The

complainants expressed their appreciation to us for resolving the matter by sending cards and photos of their livestock and property to us (shown to the right).

29

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

Table 3: Local councils and map numbers

Map no.

Local council

Map no.

Local council

 

 

 

 

1

East Gippsland Shire Council

41

Buloke Shire Council

 

 

 

 

2

Towong Shire Council

42

Northern Grampians Shire Council

 

 

 

 

3

Wodonga City Council

43

Pyrenees Shire Council

 

 

 

 

4

Indigo Shire Council

44

Ballarat City Council

 

 

 

 

5

Alpine Shire Council

45

Golden Plains Shire Council

 

 

 

 

6

Wellington Shire Council

46

Surf Coast Shire Council

 

 

 

 

7

Wangaratta Rural City Council

47

Colac Otway Shire Council

 

 

 

 

8

Benalla Rural City Council

48

Corangamite Shire Council

 

 

 

 

9

Mansfield Shire Council

49

Warrnambool City Council

 

 

 

 

10

Baw Baw Shire Council

50

Moyne Shire Council

 

 

 

 

11

Latrobe City Council

51

Ararat Rural City Council

 

 

 

 

12

South Gippsland Shire Council

52

Southern Grampians Shire Council

 

 

 

 

13

Bass Coast Shire Council

53

Horsham Rural City Council

 

 

 

 

14

Cardinia Shire Council

54

Yarriambiack Shire Council

 

 

 

 

15

Yarra Ranges Shire Council

55

Mildura Rural City Council

 

 

 

 

16

Murrindindi Shire Council

56

Hindmarsh Shire Council

 

 

 

 

17

Strathbogie Shire Council

57

West Wimmera Shire Council

 

 

 

 

18

Greater Shepparton City Council

58

Glenelg Shire Council

 

 

 

 

19

Moira Shire Council

59

Brimbank City Council

 

 

 

 

20

Campaspe Shire Council

60

Moonee Valley City Council

 

 

 

 

21

Greater Bendigo City Council

61

Maribyrnong City Council

 

 

 

 

22

Mitchell Shire Council

62

Hobsons Bay City Council

 

 

 

 

23

Macedon Ranges Shire Council

63

Melbourne City Council

 

 

 

 

24

Hume City Council

64

Moreland City Council

 

 

 

 

25

Whittlesea City Council

65

Darebin City Council

 

 

 

 

26

Nillumbik Shire Council

66

Yarra City Council

 

 

 

 

27

Casey City Council

67

Port Phillip City Council

 

 

 

 

28

Frankston City Council

68

Bayside City Council

 

 

 

 

29

Mornington Peninsula Shire Council

69

Glen Eira City Council

 

 

 

 

30

Borough of Queenscliffe

70

Stonnington City Council

 

 

 

 

31

Greater Geelong City Council

71

Boroondara City Council

 

 

 

 

32

Wyndham City Council

72

Banyule City Council

 

 

 

 

33

Melton City Council

73

Manningham City Council

 

 

 

 

34

Moorabool Shire Council

74

Whitehorse City Council

 

 

 

 

35

Hepburn Shire Council

75

Monash City Council

 

 

 

 

36

Mount Alexander Shire Council

76

Kingston City Council

 

 

 

 

37

Central Goldfields Shire Council

77

Greater Dandenong City Council

 

 

 

 

38

Loddon Shire Council

78

Knox City Council

 

 

 

 

39

Gannawarra Shire Council

79

Maroondah City Council

 

 

 

 

40

Swan Hill Rural City Council

 

 

 

 

 

 

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

30

 

Complaints about local councils in 2013-14

55

 

 

 

40

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

39

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

56

54

41

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

38

 

20

18

 

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

57

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8

7

53

 

42

 

21

 

 

17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

 

 

 

 

 

37

36

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

22

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

43

 

35

 

 

 

9

 

 

 

 

 

23

 

 

16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

52

 

51

44

34

 

24

25

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

33

 

26

15

 

 

 

58

 

 

 

45

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

32

 

 

 

6

 

 

 

 

31

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

50

 

 

28

 

14

10

 

 

 

48

 

 

 

27

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

46

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

47

 

 

 

29

 

 

11

 

 

 

 

 

 

30

 

 

 

 

 

 

49

 

 

 

 

13

12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

59

60

64

65

72

 

 

No. of complaints

 

 

 

73

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

61

63

66

 

 

79

100 – 124

 

 

71

 

74

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

62

 

67

 

 

 

80 – 99

 

70

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

78

 

 

 

69

 

75

60 – 79

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Melbourne Metropolitan region 68

76

 

 

40 – 59

 

 

 

 

77

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20 – 39

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 – 19

31

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

Human Services

Closed complaints for Human Services

2013-14 fast facts

1,391 complaints

45% related to Child Protection

44% related to Housing

18.0%

 

 

 

 

 

16.0%

 

 

 

 

 

14.0%

 

 

 

 

 

12.0%

 

 

 

 

 

10.0%

 

 

 

 

 

8.0%

16.4

13.5

13.0

11.3

10.6

 

 

 

 

 

6.0%

4.0%

2.0%

0.0%

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

The Human Services portfolio has ranked third with the number of complaints for the last five years, however complaint numbers have been falling. This year Human Services complaints made up 10.6 per cent of all jurisdictional complaints, down from 11.3 per cent last year.

Of the 1,391 complaints in this portfolio, 628 (45 per cent) related to Child Protection and 609 (44 per cent) related to Housing. Only 11 per cent of Human Services complaints related to other areas within Human Services.

The most common reasons for complaints about Human Services related to complaint handling and service delivery issues, such as the quality of services provided, assessments undertaken and failures to act or provide services.

Child Protection

Child Protection complaints often relate to the placement and care arrangements in place for children subject to Child Protection involvement, which can take a number of different forms. The following case study relates to a complaint about children placed in a kinship care20 arrangement, and the adequacy of support provided by Child Protection to the carers.

20Care provided by relatives or a member of a child’s social network when a child cannot live with their parents.

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

32

Vulnerable children in need

The complaint

We received a complaint from a kinship carer of indigenous children raising concerns that:

The department had not arranged and provided necessary support services for the children, including counselling services to address their history of problematic and trauma specific behaviours.

The department had delayed responding to a:

funding request for modifications to the carer’s home to more appropriately accommodate the children

reimbursement request for property destroyed by the children.

The complainant contacted us after raising their concerns with the department on numerous occasions without a resolution.

 

What we did

We made enquiries with the department to find out what it had done to address the complainant’s concerns and attempt to informally resolve the matter. Our enquiries revealed that the department’s management of the case had been poor. It had failed to:

provide adequate support to the children and carers

respond to the children’s needs

comply with its legal obligations.

How we helped

During our enquiries with the department it approved financial assistance to the carers for modifications to their home

to better meet the children’s behaviour management needs and to reimburse the carers for the destroyed property.

It also took a number of steps to reduce the risk of the placement breaking down and ensure the children’s needs were sufficiently addressed, including referrals:

for the children to attend an intensive therapeutic provider

to a community service organisation for the development of cultural plans.

It also apologised to the complainant for its handling of the matter.

Housing

This year we decided to take a broader look at a growing area of concern in Housing complaints.

Neighbourly disputes turn dangerous

The issue

In 2013 we conducted an own motion investigation into the department’s management of complaints about anti-social behaviour by public housing tenants. The investigation was prompted by a complaint about a murder involving public housing tenants, combined with:

the high number of complaints received by the department about anti-social behaviour by public housing tenants in recent years

the number of tenant disputes requiring intensive dispute management, which included the management of stabbings and shootings.

What we did

Our investigation found that while the department had undertaken several projects, prepared multiple research reports and developed a range of initiatives aimed at dealing with anti-social tenant behaviour, many of the initiatives had either only been partially implemented or not at all.

We also identified obstacles in the department’s policies and practices, inadequate information sharing with other relevant agencies, and limited staff training in this area.

How we helped

We made a number of recommendations to the department aimed at improving the way such matters are handled, all of which were accepted.

33

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

Disability Services

Disability Services complaints broadly relate to disability care and support services directly provided by the department or by providers across the non-government sector that are funded by the department.

The following is a case study relating to the department’s management of concerns about care provided to a disability resident living in a shared support accommodation facility.

Unexplained injuries of a disability client

The complaint

In 2013 we investigated a complaint about unexplained physical injuries to a female disability client living in a shared supported accommodation facility funded by the department. The client has a number of intellectual disabilities and has been in the department’s care for about 40 years.

The department’s records showed that the client had sustained more than 70 injuries over an 11 year period, the majority of which had occurred in the preceding two years. Over 40 of the injuries were unexplained.

What we did

Our investigation found that while the supervisor of the facility had taken some action in response to the ongoing unexplained injuries to the client, the actions had failed to prevent further injuries.

Further, given the frequency of reported incidents over an extensive period of time, we found that the department’s review and evaluation of the client’s care and support plan was deficient.

How we helped

As a result of our investigation and recommendations, the department completed a Quality of Support Review in relation to the client’s care, which focussed on:

assessing and identifying the client’s needs

developing and implementing an action plan to address the client’s safety and wellbeing

identifying and implementing system and process improvements to enable a consolidated approach to the client’s care.

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

34

 

Community engagement and education

VO engages directly with the public sector and the community in a number of ways, to raise awareness about the operations of the Office and to address particular areas of need.

Education and outreach

In 2013-14 we continued to do a modest amount of outreach with Victorian public sector agencies,

local councils, community service organisations and members of the broader community.

Communications is an area of focus for the next financial year. There are plans to expand this function and further raise awareness of VO’s work with the general public across the state and in other agencies.

Complaint handling workshops

This year we delivered four complaint handling workshops for employees in the Victorian public sector who deal with complaints and complainants on behalf of their agencies.

Our workshops cover:

good practice principles of complaint handling

the elements of a good complaint handling system

the basic concepts and procedures contained in the unreasonable complainant conduct manual

how to develop strategies for managing unreasonable complainant conduct.

We continue to receive positive feedback on the value of these workshops.

Regional information days

For the first time we also hosted four regional presentation and information days across the state in:

Warrnambool, October 2013

Sale, March 2014

Bendigo, May 2014

Ballarat, June 2014.

Agencies from surrounding municipalities were also invited to attend. Each day was hosted by senior staff and comprised:

an information session for staff from community agencies in the region21

an information session for Victorian Ombudsman liaison officers from public sector agencies in the region

an executive forum for executives of public sector agencies in the region to meet, discuss issues relevant to the region and form connections with other leaders in the area.

These sessions provided an opportunity to engage with both community and public sector agencies in regional areas, discuss and collaborate on relevant issues, share information and answer any questions. We received positive feedback on all sessions and plan to expand the delivery of these events.

Other information sessions

We also delivered a number of other information sessions and presentations to individual groups in the community, particularly for people who are disadvantaged or marginalised or who may lack the capacity to make a complaint. These sessions cover our role, the types of complaints we can investigate, tips for dealing with government agencies and how to make a complaint.

21 The Warrnambool day involved this session only.

35

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

University complaint handling forum

Complaints to VO about universities have grown substantially since 2007. In 2013-14 we closed 631 complaints, mainly from students about a range of issues including enrolment, fees and charges, student assessment and grades and the conduct of university appeals. This amounts to almost 60 per cent of all complaints in the Education portfolio.

In response, VO developed a complaint handling forum specifically targeted at universities. We hosted our second forum in March 2014, bringing together staff who deal with complaints and student appeals at seven Victorian universities to share their knowledge and experiences and to assist them in dealing with complaints.

Complaint handling at universities – Australasian best practice guidelines22 was also launched, which was the result of a collaborative

project between Australian and New Zealand Ombudsmen to set minimum standards for complaint handling at universities.

Feedback from forum participants was highly positive.

Prison forum

Following round table conferences in 2012 on the excessive number of prisoners in police cells, VO hosted a forum in December 2013. This was attended by representatives from the Department of Justice, Victoria Police, the Magistrates’ Court, the Police Association,

prison contract provider G4S, the Law Institute of Victoria and the Human Rights Law Centre.

The forum provided the opportunity to discuss current concerns and identify practical strategies for reducing the number of prisoners in police cells and the length of time in police custody. At the conclusion, participants agreed on a number of proposals to alleviate current concerns.

The Office’s recent report regarding deaths and harm in custody23 further discusses these issues and makes a number of recommendations for improvements.

PNG Ombudsman twinning program

This year we participated in a twinning program with the Ombudsman Commission of Papua New Guinea (OCPNG). Under the program, officers from the OCPNG take up placements with the Office of the

Commonwealth Ombudsman and the Victorian Ombudsman.

The purpose of the program, through training, practical application and mentoring, is to assist officers from the OCPNG to develop advanced investigatory and other skills which they can take back to their substantive roles.

We hosted one delegate from the OCPNG for five weeks in March and April 2014 focusing particularly on major investigations. Another OCPNG delegate placed with the Commonwealth Ombudsman worked with us for one week in the same period.

We received very positive comment from the delegate in relation to the value of the placement.

22 The draft guidelines are available at www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au.

23Victorian Ombudsman, Investigation into deaths and harm in custody, March 2014.

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

36

 

Our people

Fast facts about us

63% of sta are female*

37% of sta are male

73% of sta are under the age of 44

*Based on FTE; includes ongoing, fixed term and casual employees.

VO Organisational structure

We are a small but busy office, consisting of 77 staff of diverse backgrounds, experiences and qualifications. While in the Office’s beginnings the majority of investigation staff were lawyers and male, our current staff’s qualification fields include international relations, criminal justice, social science, humanitarian studies and business.

Organisational structure

The work is shared among staff in three business units, each with teams in various areas.

Ombudsman

Deborah Glass

General Counsel

Ian Killey

Deputy

Ombudsman

John Taylor

Director,

Director,

Director,

Corporate Services

Major Investigations

Complaints and

Stephen Mumford

David Berry

Investigations

 

 

Joy Patton

• Information Technology

• Two investigation teams

• Intake team

and Facilities

 

• Two complaint handling

• Records Management

 

teams

• Business Services

 

• Investigations team

• Strategic Services

Special Projects

 

 

 

 

Director

 

 

Glenn Sullivan

 

This structure was current as of 30 June 2014, but is under review.

37

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

Complaints and Investigations Unit

The majority of the 25,400 approaches we closed last year were handled by staff in our Complaints and Investigations Unit. Joy Patton is the Director of the unit, supported by two Assistant Directors and three team leaders. The unit consists of four teams:

Intake team

first point of contact

responds to all incoming phone calls

Two complaint handling teams

handle all incoming complaints from members of the public

enquiries with agencies

informal resolution of complaints

Investigations team

conducts small scale formal investigations

assesses protected disclosure matters

Major Investigations Unit and Special Projects

The Major Investigations Unit is led by Director, David Berry, who is supported by two Assistant Directors. There is also a Special Projects team led by Director, Glenn Sullivan which undertakes particularly complex or sensitive investigations.

Corporate Services

The Corporate Services Unit provides services and undertakes work to support the operations of the Office and is made up of IT and Facilities, Strategic Services (covering executive support, media, report tabling, governance and

learning and development), Business Services (human resources and finance) and Records Management.

Results of ‘People Matter’ Survey

By any measure the results of the State Services Authority’s

2014 survey of our staff were outstanding. The survey identified that our staff are happy; particularly in the context of:

• enjoying their work

strongly acknowledging a feeling of personal contribution to the organisation’s objectives

being proud to tell others that they work for the Office.

The survey is voluntary and anonymous. Eighty-four per cent of our staff participated. Against the following topics, the percentage agreement was 98 per cent or 100 per cent:

I feel I make a contribution to achieving the organisation’s objectives.

I have enough work to keep me busy.

My organisation provides high quality services to the Victorian community.

I provide help and support to other people in my workgroup.

In my organisation, earning and sustaining a high level of public trust is seen as important.

Taken as a whole, the pleasing results detailed above describe a busy, confident workplace where staff are committed and actively engaged at all levels.

Staff training

Staff training ensures consistency of information and practice across VO. It also provides staff with development opportunities and promotes continuous improvement in staff skills, performance and knowledge. We also have a formal training program for investigation staff, which includes:

Certificate IV

We introduced a tertiary accredited Certificate in Government (Investigation) five years ago. All investigation officers are required to attend training sessions and submit course work to obtain their Certificate IV. To date we have had 60 graduates.

Diploma

In 2012 we introduced a Diploma in Government (Investigation), in association with Box Hill Institute of TAFE. We offer this program to other integrity agencies. There have been

27 graduates from a range of agencies across Australia and New Zealand.

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

38

 

Table 4: Staff profile by employment status at 30 June 2014

Ongoing

 

 

 

Fixed Term

 

 

 

Casual

 

 

Total

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Number

 

FTE

 

Number

 

FTE

 

Number

 

FTE

 

Number

 

 

FTE

 

(headcount)

 

 

(headcount)

 

 

(headcount)

 

(headcount)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

58

 

56.10

 

14

 

 

13.40

 

5

 

 

2.8

 

77

 

 

72.3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 5: Staff profile by age, gender and employment status as at 30 June 201424

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 2013

 

 

 

 

 

June 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ongoing Employees

 

 

Fixed Term

 

 

Ongoing Employees

 

 

Fixed Term

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and casual

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and casual

 

 

 

 

 

Number

 

FTE

 

 

 

FTE

 

 

Number

 

FTE

 

 

FTE

 

 

 

 

(headcount)

 

 

 

 

 

(headcount)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gender

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Male

 

 

17

 

17.00

 

 

7.27

 

 

21

20.80

 

 

5.79

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Female

 

 

32

 

30.4

 

 

12.18

 

 

37

35.30

 

 

10.41

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

 

 

49

 

47.4

 

 

19.45

 

 

58

56.10

 

 

16.2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Age

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under 25

 

 

8

 

8.00

 

 

2.64

 

 

6

6.00

 

 

2.42

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

25-34

 

 

 

16

 

15.00

 

 

6.88

 

 

22

21.40

 

 

3.59

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

35-44

 

 

 

12

 

11.40

 

 

5.00

 

 

16

14.70

 

 

4.40

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

45-54

 

 

 

9

 

9.00

 

 

0.96

 

 

9

9.00

 

 

1.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

55-64

 

 

 

3

 

3.00

 

 

1.00

 

 

3

3.00

 

 

2.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over 64

 

 

1

 

1.00

 

 

2.97

 

 

2

2.00

 

 

2.79

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

 

 

49

 

47.4

 

 

19.45

 

 

58

56.1

 

 

16.2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Classification

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VPS G1

 

 

0

 

0.00

 

 

0.00

 

 

0

0.00

 

 

0.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VPS G2

 

 

4

 

4.00

 

 

4.72

 

 

1

1.00

 

 

2.41

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VPS G3

 

 

14

 

13.8

 

 

4.80

 

 

19

18.30

 

 

3.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VPS G4

 

 

12

 

11.40

 

 

0.96

 

 

12

11.40

 

 

2.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VPS G5

 

 

14

 

13.20

 

 

5.00

 

 

17

16.40

 

 

4.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VPS G6

 

 

4

 

4.00

 

 

1.97

 

 

4

4.00

 

 

1.79

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Senior specialist

 

 

1

 

1.00

 

 

0.00

 

 

5

5.00

 

 

0.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Executives (E02)

 

 

0

 

0.00

 

 

2.00

 

 

0

0.00

 

 

2.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other

 

 

0

 

0.00

 

 

0.00

 

 

0

0.00

 

 

1.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

 

 

49

 

47.4

 

 

19.45

 

 

58

56.1

 

 

16.2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

24All employees have been correctly classified in workforce data collections.

39

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

Statutory disclosures

Under the Financial Reporting Directions and Financial Management Act 1994 we are required to report on a number of statutory disclosures. The disclosure index is at Appendix 1.

Output statement

The output statement for Ombudsman Services is published in the budget papers each financial year. The format is standardised across public sector agencies, including the use of ‘targets’. While we understand the need for this, we note that some of the targets – such as the number of complaints - are actually ‘outcomes’.

Human resource management

Public sector values and employment principles

VO embraces the public sector employment principles established under Part 2 of the Public Administration Act 2004. The principles aim to ensure that employment decisions are based on merit; that employees are treated fairly and reasonably; that equal employment opportunity is provided; that human rights as set out in the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act are upheld; that employees have a reasonable avenue of redress against unfair

or unreasonable treatment; and that a public service career is fostered.

VO employees comply with the public sector values established under the Act. The values provide that public officials demonstrate responsiveness, integrity, impartiality, accountability, respect, leadership, and that they respect and promote human rights.

Disability action plan

As per section 38 of the Victorian Disability Act 2006 the Office has a three year Disability Action Plan, prepared in May 2013. In implementing the plan in 2013-14 we reviewed a number of policies and procedures as well as our office space and building to identify and reduce barriers for those with a disability. We also introduced a disability disclosure form for new employees to confidentially disclose any disability and ongoing support needs.

Occupational health and safety

Under section 25 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 employees must take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that of others and cooperate with their employer in the workplace.

VO continues its commitment to the health, safety and welfare of staff and others in the workplace. The QUIT smoking program, eye tests, subsidised spectacles, on-site influenza inoculations, on-site health checks, ergonomic assessments and confidential counselling with external professionals all remain available

to staff. Proactive stress management and psychological and physical well-being

programs were also available to staff over the reporting period.

VO’s Occupational Health and Safety Committee, established under the provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, makes recommendations to the executive about all matters to do with health, safety and welfare of employees and other persons at work.

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

40

 

Table 6: Output statement for 2013-14

 

Output

Unit of

2013-14

2013-14

 

measure

target

actual

 

 

 

Quantity measures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Initiatives delivered under the Outreach program

number

115

46

 

 

 

 

 

Comment: VO started a new outreach program in September 2013. Due to insufficient resources, the number of initiatives is significantly less than the 2013-14 target of 115 initially set in early 2013 and by necessity, has had to be more targeted in promoting access to the Ombudsman’s services. This will be an area of greater focus next year.

 

Internal reviews of complaint investigations conducted at the

number

<70

33

 

request of the complainant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comment: The case management arrangements we have in place and continue to develop are designed to facilitate the investigation and finalisation of complaints thoroughly, expeditiously and accurately. We take requests for reviews of complaint outcomes seriously and ensure they are addressed promptly at a senior level. The 33 cases reviewed is just 0.25 per cent of all jurisdictional complaints closed.

 

Jurisdictional complaints finalised, including general, Freedom of

number

14,000

13,152

 

Information and Whistleblower complaints

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comment: The number of complaints finalised in any given year relates closely to the number of complaints received. We received over 1,000 complaints in 2013-14 which related to Victoria Police. These were within our jurisdiction in 2012-13 but are now outside the scope of our work.

Reports tabled in Parliament

number

10

12

 

 

 

 

Comment: The number of parliamentary reports is contingent on issues and circumstances as they arise during a given year, some of which cannot be predicted.

Quality measures

Proportion of complaint investigations reviewed at the request

 

 

 

of complainants (by a new senior investigator) where the original

per cent

80

94

findings were found to be sound and well founded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comment: In only two of the 33 reviewed cases was the initial finding amended (that is, less than 0.02 per cent of all jurisdictional complaints closed). These numbers reflect the thoroughness of our investigations.

 

Recommendations made in jurisdictional complaint investigations

per cent

80

86

 

that are accepted by respondent agencies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comment: This measure relates only to those complaints we substantiated; that is, where we identified maladministration and wrote to the agency seeking changes. We put much effort into ensuring our investigations are thorough and fair. This includes ensuring recommendations are well founded, reasonable, practical and achievable.

 

Recommendations made in reports tabled in Parliament which

per cent

90

71

 

respondent agencies agreed to implement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comment: This outcome in this measure is a conservative count. It is based on explicit statements from agencies during the ‘due diligence’ process of preparing parliamentary reports that recommendations have been accepted. It does not include: recommendations which agencies ‘agree to consider’; recommendations not explicitly agreed to or recommendations with no response at the time the report is tabled. Further, in the Ombudsman’s December 2013 report, A review of the governance of public sector boards in Victoria, the recommendations were made to all departments, Ministers and the Victorian Government more broadly and so were not counted as accepted. If these recommendations are excluded, the 2013-14 Actual result is 78 per cent.

Timeliness measures

Complaints resolved within required timelines

per cent

95

92

 

 

 

 

Comment: VO prides itself on being a well-run and efficient office. For the first time in over a decade we have not met this measure. This is a direct result of the impact of the new integrity legislation, which, as explained in the Ombudsman’s foreword, is having a real impact on the ability of this Office to do its core business.

41

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

Table 7: Performance against OHS management measures

Measure

Key Performance Indicator

2012-13

2013-14

 

 

 

 

Incidents

No. of reported incidents

4

1

 

 

 

 

Claims25

No. of standard claims (1)

0

1

 

No. of lost time claims (2)

0

0

 

No. of claims exceeding 13 weeks (3)

0

0

 

 

 

 

Fatalities

Fatality claims (ii)

0

0

Claim costs

Average cost per standard claim (i)

0

$85

Return to work

Percentage of claims with RTW plan <30 days

N/A

N/A

 

 

 

 

Management

Evidence of OHS policy statement, OHS

Completed

Completed

commitment

objectives, regular reporting to senior

 

 

 

management of OHS, and OHS plans

 

 

 

 

 

 

Consultation and

Evidence of agreed structure of designated

Completed

Completed

participation

workgroups (DWGs), health and safety

 

 

 

representatives (HSRs), and issue resolution

 

 

 

procedures (IRPs)

 

 

 

Compliance with agreed structure on DWGs,

Completed

Completed

 

HSRs, and IRPs

 

 

 

 

 

 

Risk management

Percentage of internal audits/inspections

100%

100%

 

conducted as planned

 

 

 

Percentage of issues resolved arising from:

 

 

 

– internal audits and inspections

100%

100%

 

– HSR Provisional Improvement Notices (PINs)

-

-

 

– WorkSafe Notices

-

-

 

 

 

 

Training

Percentage of staff that have received OHS

 

 

 

training:

 

 

 

– induction

100%

100%

 

– contractors and temporary staff

100%

100%

 

Percentage of health and safety representatives

 

 

 

trained:

 

 

 

– on acceptance of role

100%

100%

 

– on reporting of incidents and injuries

 

100%

100%

 

 

 

 

 

 

25Data for standard claims, time lost claims and fatality claims is at 30 June for the year shown. Standard claims are those that have exceeded the employer excess (for medical and like expenses) threshold and/or liability of 10 working days of time lost.

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

42

 

Corporate governance

Audit and Risk Management Committee

This committee met on four occasions during 2013-14. The members are:

Table 8: Audit and Risk Management Committee

Mr Adam Awty

Chair.

Chief Operating Officer –

Independent

Commercial,

member

CFO and Company Secretary

 

CPA Australia

 

 

 

Mr Andrew Dell

Independent

Head of IT Security Services

member.

Operations

Appointed July

National Australia Bank

2013

 

 

 

Mr Stephen Mumford

Ex-officio

Director, Corporate Services

representative

Victorian Ombudsman

 

 

 

Mr Glenn Sullivan

Ex-officio

Director, Investigations

representative

Victorian Ombudsman

 

 

 

The committee’s role is to review and advise VO’s executive about all matters of financial accountability, internal financial control and risk management. These include:

financial performance

financial reporting

scope of work, performance and independence of VO’s internal audit function

scope of work of VO’s external auditor

development, implementation and operation of VO’s risk management framework

accountability and internal control affecting the financial operations of VO

effectiveness of VO’s management information systems and other systems of internal financial control

acceptability, disclosure and correct accounting treatment of any significant transactions which are not part of VO’s normal course of business.

Attestation for Compliance with the Australian/New Zealand Risk Management Standard

I, Deborah Glass, certify that the Victorian Ombudsman’s Office has in place risk management processes consistent with AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009 and an internal control system that enables the executive to understand, manage and satisfactorily control risk exposures. The Audit and Risk Management Committee verifies this assurance and that VO’s risk profile has been critically reviewed within the last twelve months.

Deborah Glass OBE

Ombudsman

3 September 2014

Gifts, benefits and hospitality

VO has gifts, benefits and hospitality policies and procedures in place. They are consistent with the minimum requirements and accountabilities outlined in the Gifts, Benefits and Hospitality Policy Framework for the Victorian Public Sector issued by the Public Sector Standards Commissioner.

The policies and procedures are reviewed at least annually and provided to VO’s Audit and Risk Management Committee, together with the register of any gifts offered to or received by the Ombudsman and her staff during each reporting period.

43

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

Insurance Attestation

The Office is required to insure with the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority under the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority Act 1996. I, Deborah Glass, certify that VO has arranged appropriate insurance with VMIA, having regard to relevant government guidelines and directions. As required by

Ministerial Direction 4.5.5.1 – Insurance, VO has:

determined the appropriate level of insurance in consultation with VMIA

maintained a current register of all insurances and indemnities and makes this available to VMIA on request

recorded the valuation and basis for valuation of self-insured retained losses

provided information to VMIA about claims management capability, resources, structures and processes for any self-insured retained losses.

The Office has undertaken this process as part of the annual insurance renewal. The Audit and Risk Management Committee verifies this attestation.

Deborah Glass OBE

Ombudsman

3 September 2014

Procurement

VO has a comprehensive governance policy for managing the purchasing of goods and services. The policy consists of:

a governance framework which establishes processes, authorities, accountabilities and relationships for the organisation to manage the procurement function

an assessment of capability within the organisation to ensure that the Office is able to manage the scope and complexity of its procurement activities; and

a policy for the management of complaints relating to VO’s procurements.

We received no complaints about our procurement activities in 2013-14.

We expect that the framework, capability assessment and complaints management policy will be available on the VO website in 2014-15.

Declaration of private interests

The Deputy Ombudsman and other senior staff have lodged declarations of pecuniary and other interests with the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman has lodged a corresponding declaration with the Department of Premier and Cabinet. These declarations are made on appointment and updated annually or more frequently as individual circumstances change.

Compliance with the Building Act 1993

VO does not own or control any government buildings and so is exempt from notifying its compliance with the building and maintenance provisions of the Building Act 1993.

Consultancies

A consultant is a contractor engaged primarily to perform a discrete task that facilitates decision making through the provision of expert analysis and advice, and/or the development of intellectual output.

In this context, VO engaged four consultants in 2013-14 where the total fee was in excess of $10,000.

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

44

 

Table 9: Consultancies in 2013-14

 

 

 

 

 

Total fee

Expenditure

Future

 

Consultant

Purpose

Start date

End date

in 2013-14

expenditure

 

(ex GST)

 

 

 

 

 

(ex GST)

(ex GST)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blueprint

Develop an

April 2014

June 2014

$54,500

$54,500

Nil

 

Information

information security

 

 

 

 

 

 

Security P/L

management

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

system

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Business as Usual

Business continuity

April 2014

June 2014

$36,000

$36,000

$7,800

 

 

planning and

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

training

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CPR

Develop a

June 2014

June 2014

$10,410

$10,410

Nil

 

Communications

communications

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

strategy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LAG Consulting

Develop an

June 2014

June 2014

$12,000

$12,000

TBD

 

 

organisational

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

structure strategy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and supporting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

arrangements

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was one further consultancy engaged in 2013-14 where the total fee payable was less than $10,000.

National Competition Policy

The National Competition Policy requires that (among other things) where government services compete with the private sector, any advantage arising solely from government ownership be removed if the advantage is not in the public interest.

VO does not provide services in competition with the private sector.

DataVic Access Policy

The intent of the government’s DataVic Access Policy is to enhance public access to the

vast range of information held by Victorian Government agencies. Data from all agencies is being progressively supplied for this purpose. Access is available at www.data.vic.gov.au.

In 2014-15 VO will assess the categories of datasets that may be suitable for inclusion at DataVic. Comprehensive information about the Office is already available at www.ombudsman. vic.gov.au.

Victorian Industry Participation Policy

The Victorian Industry Participation Policy, in operation since 2001, aims to boost employment and business growth in Victoria

by encouraging contractors for major projects to maximise use of local suppliers, while still delivering value for money. The policy applies to all State Government procurements and projects where values exceed $3 million and have their primary impact in metropolitan Melbourne, and those over $1 million that have their primary impact in regional Victoria.

The Victorian Industry Participation Policy Act 2003 requires public bodies to report on their compliance with this policy. In 2013-14 VO had no procurements or projects to which the policy applied.

45

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

Protected Disclosure Act 2012

Under section 69 of the Protected Disclosure Act VO is required to include in the annual report information about how to access the procedures we have established to facilitate the making of disclosures to the Ombudsman, for the handling of those disclosures and, where appropriate, for the notification of those disclosures to IBAC.

That information can be accessed on VO’s website at www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au/ Protected-Disclosures.Data about disclosures made under the Protected Disclosure Act

Table 10: Data about disclosures made under the Protected Disclosure Act in 2013-14

 

Data Category

Improper conduct

Detrimental action

Total

 

 

 

 

 

 

Number of disclosures notified to IBAC

85

1

86

 

 

 

 

 

 

Number of protected disclosure complaints referred

57

0

57

 

to VO by IBAC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Number of protected disclosure complaints

37

0

37

 

investigated by VO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Number of protected disclosure complaints

20

0

20

 

dismissed by VO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Number of applications for an injunction made by VO

N/A

N/A

0

 

 

 

 

 

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

46

 

Office-based environmental impacts

My office continues to monitor its impact on the environment.

The use of electrical power, paper and office vehicles over the five years since 2009-10 is outlined below.

Table 11 and graphs 11.1, 11.2 and 11.3 set out the relevant details.

Electrical Power

In 2013-14 power use was four per cent higher than in 2012-13, when measured on a per FTE staff member basis. Emissions of greenhouse gas in 2013-14 per FTE staff member was the same as in 2012-13 due to more emissions saved by meeting some power needs from government accredited green power sources.

Table 11: Electricity usage since 2009-10

 

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total electricity used in the office (gigajoules)

298

312

305

320

362

 

 

 

 

 

 

Electricity used per FTE staff member (megajoules)

4,827

4,521

4,696

4,792

5,003

 

 

 

 

 

 

Electricity used per m2 office space (megajoules)

237

249

243

255

288

Net Greenhouse emissions

87

96

90

94

101

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net Greenhouse emissions per FTE staff member (tonnes)

1.41

1.39

1.39

1.40

1.40

 

 

 

 

 

 

Graph 11.1: Megajoules of electricity used per FTE staff member

 

 

7,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

Megajoules

4,827

4,521

4,696

4,792

5,003

 

5,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

 

 

 

Graph 11.2: Megajoules of electricity used per m2 office space

350

 

300

 

 

 

 

 

288

Megajoules

 

237

249

243

255

 

250

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

200

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

150

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

50

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

 

 

 

Graph 11.3: Net Greenhouse emissions per FTE staff member (tonnes)

 

1.80

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.60

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.41

1.39

1.39

1.40

1.40

 

1.40

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tonnes

1.20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.80

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.60

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.40

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

 

 

Waste

In 2013-14 the office continued to recycle all recyclable materials including paper, cardboard, plastics and glass. The materials are placed

in segregated recycling bins throughout the office. The bin contents are cleared daily and deposited into communal recycling facilities serving all tenants in the building.

47

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

Paper

Paper use in the office in 2013-14 per FTE staff member was below usage in 2012-13.

All of the white paper used in the office during 2013-14 was made from recycled waste paper and carbon neutral under the National Carbon Offset Standard Carbon Neutral Program.

Table 12 sets out the relevant details.

Water

There are no separate water metering facilities for individual tenancies in the building occupied by the office. However, the office uses water efficient appliances wherever possible.

Table 12 : Paper usage since 2009-10

 

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total paper used in office (reams)

1,158

1,227

1,165

1,195

1,121

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paper used per FTE staff member (reams)

18.78

17.78

17.95

17.88

15.50

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vehicles

VO staff are encouraged to use public transport when on official business in preference to office cars when that is feasible. All three of the office’s vehicles are hybrid electric/petrol vehicles.

Table 13 and graphs 13.1 and 13.2 set out the relevant details.

Total kilometres driven and kilometres per FTE staff member were both down in 2013-14 compared to 2012-13. This is reflected in the reduction in the carbon emissions in 2013-14.

Table 13: Vehicle usage since 2009-10

Passenger vehicle trips

Total kilometres driven

Kilometres driven per FTE staff member

Greenhouse gas emissions associated with vehicles

Total tonnes CO2-e emitted

Tonnes CO2-e emitted per FTE staff member

Graph 13.1: Vehicle kilometres per FTE staff member

 

600

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

516

491

544

 

 

 

 

 

 

500

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kilometres

396

 

 

 

434

 

 

 

 

400

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

300

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

200

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

 

 

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

24,415

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

35,589

31,865

36,346

31,390

396

516

491

544

434

7.59

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6.93

6.20

5.59

4.83

0.12

0.10

0.10

0.08

0.07

 

 

 

 

 

Graph 13.2: Vehicle – tonnes CO2-e emitted per FTE staff member

 

0.14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.12

 

 

 

 

 

0.12

 

 

 

 

 

-e

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.10

0.10

 

 

0.10

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.08

0.07

CO

0.08

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tonnes

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.06

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.04

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.02

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

 

 

 

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

48

 

Freedom of Information

This section contains information required to be published under Part II of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act).

Functions of the Victorian Ombudsman’s Office

Our mission, purpose and governing legislation is set out on page 4.

The Office:

receives complaints and disclosures

makes enquiries into and investigates administrative actions

receives and assesses disclosures made under the Protected Disclosure Act

investigates protected disclosure complaints

reports on the outcomes of investigations

makes recommendations

tables reports in Parliament.

Categories of documents held

The Office holds:

reports dealing with issues of public interest, tabled in Parliament and posted on our website

internal administrative and operational documents

internal policy and procedural documents

documents concerning the development or implementation of policy and legislation

personnel and human resources documents

financial records

legislation and law reports

documents obtained or created in the course of conducting investigations or making enquiries, including complaints, correspondence, file notes and reports

documents relating to our functions under the Protected Disclosure Act and the Whistleblowers Protection Act

background material, records of conversation, analysis and advice

fact sheets, brochures and promotional material.

Certain documents are destroyed or transferred to the Public Records Office in accordance with the Public Records Act 1973.

The FOI Act does not apply to certain documents in the possession of this Office as per section 29A of the Ombudsman Act. The Act does not apply to documents that disclose information about:

a complaint, a referred complaint, a referred matter, or a matter referred to the Ombudsman by Parliament

an enquiry or an investigation under the Ombudsman Act

a recommendation made by the Ombudsman under the Ombudsman Act

a report or draft report made under the Ombudsman Act.

Publicly available information

The following materials are required to be made available by the Office under Part II of the FOI Act and can be found on our website:

advice sheets

guidelines

policy and practice documents

reports.

The Office also holds a range of other information that is available to the public, including:

fact sheets

answers to frequently asked questions

information about the availability and content of community education and public sector workshops

statements about the Ombudsman’s role, responsibilities, jurisdiction, governing legislation and reporting to Parliament

information about the Protected Disclosure Act

media alerts

presentations made by our staff

tabled parliamentary reports

the complaint handling good practice guide.

49

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

All of the above material is available on our website and may also be obtained by post or in person by telephoning or attending the Office’s reception at:

Level 1 North Tower

459 Collins Street Melbourne VIC 3000 (03) 9613 6222 1800 806 314

(toll free for regional callers only) www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Literature available by subscription

Media alerts are available by subscription. Copies of reports tabled in Parliament are mailed to individuals who request them.

FOI arrangements

Access to records

Authorised officers deal with all requests for access to records held by the Office. Applicants seeking access to documents should attempt to specify the topic of interest rather than the file series in which the applicant considers the document may exist.

Forms of request for access

Applicants are required by the FOI Act to submit an application in writing requesting access to documents. A letter clearly describing the document or documents sought is sufficient. The letter should specify that the application is a request made under the FOI Act and should not form part of a letter on another subject. The applicant should provide the following information:

name

address

telephone number

details of document(s) requested

form of access required, e.g. copy of documents; inspection of file; or other.

A request for a correction or amendment of personal information contained in a document held by the Office must be made in writing.

It should specify particulars of how and why the person making the request believes the information to be incorrect, incomplete, misleading or out of date and specify the amendments that they wish to have made.

Requests should be addressed as follows: Mr John Taylor

Deputy Ombudsman

Level 1 North Tower

459 Collins Street Melbourne VIC 3000

An authorised officer may also be contacted via telephone on (03) 9613 6222 for assistance with queries about making an application.

Charges

An application fee of $25.70 is required unless that fee is waived by an authorised officer if satisfied that the payment of the fee would cause hardship. Applicants are advised that other charges may be made in accordance with the Freedom of Information (Access Charges) Regulations 2004.

Appeals

Applicants may appeal decisions made in response to requests for access to documents or amendment of records, or again the cost levied for allowing access to documents.

Information about the appropriate avenue of appeal will be conveyed to the applicant in the letter advising of the initial decision. Applicants are advised to consult Part IV of the FOI Act for further information about appeal rights.

Further information about the FOI Act can be obtained from the Act, the regulations made under the Act and at www.foi.vic.gov.au.

The FOI Act creates a right for the public to access certain documents held by public sector agencies. The Act applies to documents held by the Office, except – as per section 29A of the Ombudsman Act – those that disclose information relating to a complaint, an enquiry, an investigation, a report of an investigation or a recommendation resulting from an investigation.

We received no FOI requests in 2013-14 for documents held by the Office.

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

50

 

Financial statements

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

52

 

53

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN

Comprehensive operating statement

For the year ended 30 June 2014

 

 

2014

2013

 

Notes

$

$

Income from transactions

 

 

 

 

Grants

2

11,199,391

 

10,603,197

Total income from transactions

 

11,199,391

10,603,197

Expenses from transactions

 

 

 

 

Employee benefits

3

8,147,522

7,366,072

Depreciation

3

142,336

155,333

Finance lease interest

 

4,005

5,126

Capital asset charge

1(f)

179,000

179,000

Supplies and services

3

2,668,994

 

2,932,924

Total expenses from transactions

 

11,141,857

 

10,638,455

Net result from transactions

 

57,534

(35,258)

Other economic flows included in net result

 

 

 

 

Net gain/(loss) on disposal of property, plant and equipment

 

1,815

(1,336)

Net gain/(loss) arising from revaluation of leave liabilities

 

(1,725)

 

40,265

Total other economic flows included in net result

 

90

 

38,929

Net result

 

57,624

3,671

Other economic flows – other comprehensive income

 

-

 

-

Comprehensive result

 

57,624

 

3,671

The above comprehensive operating statement should be read in conjunction with the accompanying notes

.

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

54

 

OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN

Balance sheet

As at 30 June 2014

 

 

2014

2013

 

Notes

$

$

Assets

 

 

 

 

Financial assets

 

 

 

 

Cash on hand

 

1,000

1,000

Receivables

4

1,400,985

 

1,116,601

Total financial assets

 

1,401,985

1,117,601

Non-financial assets

 

 

 

 

Prepayments

 

52,284

47,729

Non-financial assets held for sale

 

-

11,730

Property, plant and equipment

5

501,289

498,627

Intangible assets

6

37,194

 

60,561

Total non-financial assets

 

590,767

 

618,647

Total assets

 

1,992,752

1,736,248

Liabilities

 

 

 

 

Payables

 

432,297

449,026

Provisions

7

1,721,721

1,468,932

Borrowings

8

83,419

 

120,599

Total liabilities

 

2,237,437

 

2,038,557

Net liabilities

 

(244,685)

(302,309)

Equity

 

 

 

 

Contributed capital

 

513,376

513,376

Accumulated deficit

 

(758,061)

 

(815,685)

Total equity / (deficit)

 

(244,685)

 

(302,309)

The above balance sheet should be read in conjunction with the accompanying notes.

55

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN

Statement of changes in equity

For the year ended 30 June 2014

 

Contributed

 

Accumulated

 

Total

 

capital

 

deficit

 

 

 

$

$

$

Balance at 1 July 2012

513,376

(819,356)

(305,980)

Net result for the year

-

3,671

3,671

Balance at 30 June 2013

 

 

 

 

 

513,376

 

(815,685)

 

(302,309)

Net result for the year

 

57,624

57,624

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balance at 30 June 2014

513,376

(758,061)

(244,685)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The above statement of changes in equity should be read in conjunction with the accompanying notes.

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

56

 

OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN

Cash flow statement

For the year ended 30 June 2014

 

 

2014

2013

 

Notes

$

$

Cash flows from operating activities

 

 

 

 

Receipts from government

 

11,155,614

10,863,197

Payments to suppliers and employees

 

(10,827,342)

(10,572,277)

Capital asset charge paid

 

(179,000)

(179,000)

Interest and other finance costs paid

 

(4,005)

 

(5,126)

Net cash flows from operating activities

16

145,267

106,794

Cash flows from investing activities

 

 

 

 

Payments for property, plant and equipment

 

(121,632)

(86,277)

Proceeds from disposal of property, plant and equipment

 

13,545

 

35,227

Net cash flows used in investing activities

 

(108,087)

(51,050)

Cash flows from financing activities

 

 

 

 

Repayment of finance leases

 

(37,180)

 

(55,744)

Net cash flows used in financing activities

 

(37,180)

 

(55,744)

Net increase in cash held

 

-

-

Cash at the start of the year

 

1,000

 

1,000

Cash at the end of the year

 

1,000

1,000

Non-cash financing and investing activities

17

 

 

 

The above cash flow statement should be read in conjunction with the accompanying notes.

57

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

Notes to the financial statements

30 June 2014

Note 1. Summary of significant accounting policies

(a)Statement of compliance

These general purpose financial statements have been prepared in accordance with the Financial Management Act 1994 and applicable Australian Accounting Standards including Interpretations (AASs), issued by the Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB). In particular, they are presented in a manner consistent with the requirements of AASB 1049 Whole of Government and General Government Sector Financial Reporting. Where relevant, those paragraphs of the AASs applicable to not-for-profit entities have been applied.

Accounting policies are selected and applied in a manner which ensures that the resulting financial information satisfies the concepts of relevance and reliability, thereby ensuring that the substance of the underlying transactions or other events is reported.

(b)Basis of preparation

The accrual basis of accounting has been applied in the preparation of these financial statements whereby assets, liabilities, equity, income and expenses are recognised in the reporting period to which they relate, regardless of when cash is received or paid.

Judgements, estimates and assumptions are required to be made about the carrying values of assets and liabilities that are not readily apparent from other sources. The estimates and associated assumptions are based on professional judgements derived from historical experience and various other factors that are believed to be reasonable under the circumstances. Actual results may differ from these estimates. Revisions to accounting estimates are recognised in the period in which the estimate is revised and in future periods that are affected by the revision.

The financial statements are presented in Australian dollars and have been prepared in accordance with the historical cost convention, except where noted.

Consistent with AASB 13 Fair Value Measurement, the Office of the Ombudsman (the Office) determines the policies and procedures for both recurring fair value measurements such as property, plant and equipment and financial instruments and for non-recurring fair value measurements such as non-financial physical assets held for sale, in accordance with the requirements of AASB 13 and the relevant Financial Reporting Directions. All assets and liabilities for which fair value is measured or disclosed in the financial statements are categorised within the fair value hierarchy, described as follows, based on the lowest level input that is significant to the fair value measurement as a whole:

Level 1 - Quoted (unadjusted) market prices in active markets for identical assets or liabilities

Level 2 - Valuation techniques for which the lowest level input that is significant to the fair value measurement is directly or indirectly observable

Level 3 - Valuation techniques for which the lowest level input that is significant to the fair value measurement is unobservable.

For the purpose of fair value disclosures, the Office has determined classes of assets and liabilities on the basis of the nature, characteristics and risks of the asset or liability and the level of the fair value hierarchy as explained above.

In addition, the Office determines whether transfers have occurred between levels in the hierarchy by re-assessing categorisation (based on the lowest level input that is significant to the fair value measurement as a whole) at the end of each reporting period.

The Office, monitors changes in the fair value of its assets through relevant data sources to determine whether revaluation is required.

The accounting policies set out below have been applied in preparing the financial statements.

(c)Reporting entity

The financial statements include all the controlled activities of the Office of the Ombudsman. The Office was established under the Ombudsman Act 1973. Its principal address is:

Level 1, 459 Collins Street

Melbourne Victoria 3000

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

58

 

Notes to the financial statements

30 June 2014

Objectives and funding

The Office handles complaints concerning administrative actions taken by Victorian Government departments, Victorian statutory authorities and local councils under the Ombudsman Act 1973 (including whether administrative actions are compatible with the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006); assesses disclosures received under the Protected Disclosure Act 2012, refers relevant disclosures to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) and investigates protected disclosures referred by the IBAC; monitors compliance by officers of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals with specified sections of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986; and monitors compliance by certain categories of authorised officers with the Domestic Animals Act 1994.

It aims to improve the accountability of State and local government agencies to the public and the Parliament, and to promote fair and ethical public administration.

The Office is predominantly funded by accrual based Parliamentary appropriations for the provision of outputs. These appropriations are received by the Department of Premier and Cabinet and on-forwarded to the Office in the form of grants.

(d)Scope and presentation of financial statements

Comprehensive operating statement

The comprehensive operating statement comprises three components, being ‘net result from transactions’, ‘other economic flows included in net result’, as well as ‘other economic flows – other comprehensive income’. The sum of the first two represents the net result which is equivalent to profit or loss derived in accordance with AASs, This classification is consistent with the whole of government reporting format and is allowed under AASB 101

Presentation of Financial Statements.

Balance sheet

Assets and liabilities are presented in liquidity order with assets aggregated into financial assets and non-financial assets. Current and non-current assets and liabilities are disclosed in the notes, where relevant. Non-current assets or liabilities are those expected to be recovered or settled more than 12 months after the reporting period.

Statement of changes in equity

The statement of changes in equity presents reconciliations of non-owner and owner changes in equity from opening balance at the beginning of the year to the closing balance at the end of the year. It also shows separately changes due to amounts recognised in the comprehensive result and amounts recognised in other economic flows – other movements in equity related to transactions with the owner in its capacity as owner.

Cash flow statement

Cash flows are classified according to whether they arise from operating, investing or financing activities. This classification is consistent with requirements of AASB 107 Statement of Cash Flows.

(e)Income from transactions

Income is recognised to the extent that it is probable that the economic benefits will flow to the Office and the income can be reliably measured.

Grants

Income from grants (other than contribution by owners) is recognised when the Office obtains control over the contribution. Where grants are reciprocal (i.e. equal value is given back by the Office to the provider), the Office is deemed to have assumed control when it has satisfied its performance obligations under the terms of the grant. Non-reciprocal grants are recognised as income when the grant is received or receivable. Conditional grants may be reciprocal or non-reciprocal depending on the terms of the grant.

(f)Expenses from transactions

Employee benefits

Employee benefits comprise all costs related to employment including wages and salaries, superannuation, fringe benefits tax, leave entitlements, redundancy payments and WorkCover premiums.

59

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

Notes to the financial statements

30 June 2014

Superannuation expenses represent the employer contributions for members of both defined benefit and defined contribution superannuation plans that are paid or payable to these plans during the year.

The Department of Treasury and Finance centrally recognises, on behalf of the State as the sponsoring employer, the defined benefit liability or surplus of most Victorian government employees in such funds.

Depreciation

All plant and equipment and other non-current physical assets (excluding items under operating leases and assets held-for-sale) that have finite useful lives are depreciated. Depreciation is generally calculated on a straight line basis at rates that allocate the asset’s value, less any estimated residual value, over its expected useful life. Leasehold improvements are depreciated over the period of the lease or estimated useful life, whichever is the shorter, using the straight line method.

Intangible produced assets with finite useful lives are depreciated as an expense from transactions on a straight- line basis over the asset’s useful life. Depreciation begins when the asset is available for use, that is, when it is in the location and condition necessary for it to be capable of operating in the manner intended by management.

The estimated useful lives, residual values and depreciation method are reviewed at least annually. Typical estimated useful lives applicable for the years ended 30 June 2014 and 30 June 2013 are as follows:

Building fitouts

10 years

Office furniture and computer equipment

3-5 years

Motor vehicles under finance lease

2-3 years

Capitalised software development

3-7 years

Finance lease interest

Finance lease interest charges are recognised as expenses in the period in which they are incurred.

Capital asset charge

The capital asset charge represents the opportunity cost of capital invested in the non-current physical assets used in the provision of outputs. The charge is calculated on the budgeted carrying amount of applicable non-current physical assets (excluding leased motor vehicles).

Supplies and services

Supplies and services are recognised as an expense in the reporting period in which they are incurred. The carrying amounts of any inventories held for distribution are expensed when distributed.

(g)Other economic flows included in net result

Other economic flows measure the change in volume or value of assets or liabilities that do not result from transactions. They include net gains and losses on financial and non-financial assets and liabilities and other gains and losses from other economic flows.

Net gains and losses on non-financial assets and liabilities include realised and unrealised gains and losses from impairments, and disposals of property, plant and equipment and intangible assets. Net gains and losses on financial instruments include impairment and reversal of impairment for financial instruments at amortised cost, and disposals of financial assets. Other gains and losses from other economic flows include the transfer of amounts from reserves and accumulated surplus to net result due to disposal, derecognition, or reclassification, the revaluation of the present value of leave liabilities due to changes in bond interest rates, and the revaluation of the restoration costs provision.

Disposal of non-financial assets

Any gain or loss on the disposal of non-financial assets is recognised at the date of disposal and is determined after deducting from the proceeds the carrying value of the asset at that time.

Impairment of non-financial assets

All non-current physical assets and intangible assets are assessed annually for indications of impairment. If there is an indication of impairment, the assets concerned are tested as to whether their carrying value exceeds their recoverable amount. Where an asset’s carrying value exceeds its recoverable amount, the difference is written off as another economic flow except to the extent that the write-down can be debited to an asset revaluation reserve amount applicable to that class of asset.

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

60

 

Notes to the financial statements

30 June 2014

It is deemed that, in the event of the loss of an asset, the future economic benefits arising from the use of the asset will be replaced unless a specific decision to the contrary has been made. The recoverable amount for most assets is measured at the higher of depreciated replacement cost and fair value less costs to sell. Recoverable amount for assets held primarily to generate net cash inflows is measured at the higher of the present value of future cash flows expected to be obtained from the asset and fair value less costs to sell.

Impairment of financial assets

The Office assesses at the end of each reporting period whether there is objective evidence that a financial asset or group of financial assets is impaired. All financial assets, except those measured at fair value through profit or loss, are subject to annual review for impairment.

Bad and doubtful debts are assessed on a regular basis. Those bad debts considered as written off by mutual consent are classified as a transaction expense. The allowance for doubtful receivables and bad debts not written off by mutual consent are adjusted as other economic flows.

(h)Financial assets

The financial assets held by the Office include cash and receivables. The classification depends on the purpose for which the financial assets were acquired. Management determines the classification of its financial assets at initial recognition.

The Office assesses at each balance sheet date whether a financial asset or group of financial assets is impaired.

Receivables

Receivables consist of:

contractual receivables, which include mainly debtors in relation to goods and services; and

statutory receivables, which include predominantly amounts owing from the Victorian Government and GST input tax credits recoverable.

Receivables that are contractual are classified as financial instruments. Statutory receivables are recognised and measured on the same basis as contractual receivables (except for impairment) but are not classified as financial instruments as they do not arise from a contract.

Debtors are due for settlement at no more than 30 days from the date of recognition. Collectability of debtors is reviewed on an ongoing basis. A provision for doubtful debts is recognised when there is objective evidence that the debts may not be collected. Bad debts are written off when identified.

(i)Non-financial assets

Prepayments

Prepayments represent payments in advance of receipt of goods or services or that part of expenditure made in one accounting period covering a term extending beyond that period.

Non-financial assets held for sale

Non-financial physical assets are treated as current and classified as held for sale if their carrying amount will be recovered through a sale transaction rather than through continuing use. This condition is regarded as met only when the asset is available for immediate use in the current condition; and the sale is highly probable and the asset’s sale is expected to be completed in 12 months from the date of classification. These non-financial physical assets, related liabilities and financial assets are measured at the lower of carrying amount and fair value less costs of disposal, and are not subject to depreciation or amortisation.

Property, plant and equipment

Property, plant and equipment are recognised initially at cost and subsequently measured at fair value less accumulated depreciation and impairment. Where an asset is acquired for no or nominal cost, the cost is its fair value at the date of acquisition. Assets transferred as part of a machinery of government change are transferred at their carrying amount.

The initial cost for non-financial physical assets under a finance lease (refer note 1(k)) is measured at amounts equal to the fair value of the leased asset or, if lower, the present value of the minimum lease payments, each determined at the inception of the lease.

61

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

Notes to the financial statements

30 June 2014

The fair value of plant, equipment and vehicles, is normally determined by reference to the asset’s depreciated replacement cost. For plant, equipment and vehicles, existing depreciated historical cost is generally a reasonable proxy for depreciated replacement cost because of the short lives of these assets concerned. Unless otherwise disclosed, the current use of these non-financial physical assets will be their highest and best use.

Intangible assets

Intangible assets represent identifiable non-monetary assets without physical substance. Intangible assets are measured at cost less accumulated depreciation and impairment. Costs incurred subsequent to initial acquisition are capitalised when it is expected that additional future economic benefits will flow to the Office.

(j)Liabilities

Payables

Payables consist predominantly of creditors and accruals. Payables represent liabilities for goods and services provided to the Office that are unpaid at the end of the financial year. Payables are initially measured at fair value, being the cost of the goods and services, and then subsequently measured at amortised cost.

Provisions

Provisions are recognised when the Office has a present obligation where the future sacrifice of economic benefits is probable and the amount of the provision can be measured reliably. The amount recognised as a provision is the best estimate of the consideration required to settle the present obligation at reporting date, taking into account the risks and uncertainties surrounding the obligation. Where a provision is measured using the cash flows estimated to settle the present obligation, its carrying amount is the present value of those cash flows, using a discount rate that reflects the time value of money and risks specific to the provision.

Employee benefits

Provision is made for benefits accruing to employees in respect of wages and salaries, annual leave and long service leave when it is probable that settlement will be required and they are capable of being measured reliably.

Provisions made in respect of employee benefits expected to be wholly settled within 12 months are measured at their nominal values, using the remuneration rate expected to apply at the time of settlement. Provisions made in respect of employee benefits which are not expected to be wholly settled within 12 months are measured as the present value of the estimated future cash outflows to be made by the Office in respect of services provided by employees up to reporting date. The liability is classified as a current liability where the Office does not have an unconditional right to defer settlement for at least 12 months after the reporting date. The long service leave liability is classified as non-current where the Office has an unconditional right to defer the settlement of the entitlement until the employee has completed the required years of service.

(k)Leases

Leases are classified as finance leases whenever the terms of the lease transfer substantially all the risks and rewards of ownership to the lessee. All other leases are classified as operating leases.

Finance leases are recognised as assets and liabilities of the Office at amounts equal to the fair value of the lease property or, if lower, at the present value of the minimum lease payments, each determined at the inception of the lease. The leased asset is depreciated over the shorter of the estimated useful life of the asset or the term of the lease.

Minimum finance lease payments are apportioned between reduction of the lease liability and periodic finance charges which are calculated using the interest rate implicit in the lease and charged directly to the comprehensive operating statement.

Operating lease payments are recognised as an expense in the comprehensive operating statement on a straight line basis over the lease term, except where another systematic basis is more representative of the time pattern of the benefits derived from the use of the leased asset. The leased asset is not recognised in the balance sheet.

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

62

 

Notes to the financial statements

30 June 2014

(l)Goods and services tax (GST)

Income, expenses and assets are recognised net of GST, unless the GST incurred is not recoverable from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). In this case it is recognised as part of the cost of acquisition of the asset or as part of the expense.

Receivables and payables are stated inclusive of the amount of GST receivable or payable. The net amount of GST recoverable from, or payable to, the ATO is included as part of receivables or payables.

Cash flows are presented on a gross basis. The GST component of cash flows arising from investing and financing activities which is recoverable from, or payable to, the ATO is classified as operating cash flows.

(m)Contributed capital

Additions to net assets which have been designated as contributions by owners are recognised as contributed capital. Other transfers that are in the nature of contributions or distributions are also designated as contributed capital. Transfers of net assets or liabilities arising from administrative restructurings are treated as distributions to or contributions by owners.

(n)Commitments

Commitments for future expenditure include operating commitments arising from contracts. These commitments are disclosed in note 10 at their nominal value and inclusive of GST payable. These future expenditures cease to be disclosed as commitments once the related liabilities are recognised in the balance sheet.

(o)Contingent assets and contingent liabilities

Contingent assets and contingent liabilities are not recognised in the balance sheet, but are disclosed by way of a note and, if quantifiable, are measured at nominal value. Contingent assets and liabilities are presented inclusive of GST receivable or payable respectively.

(p)Going concern basis

The liabilities of the Office exceed its assets. Despite this, the going concern basis continues to be appropriate for these financial statements. Under the current Government funding model, $11.160 million of revenue has been allocated to the Office next financial year, which will enable the Office to pay its debts as and when they fall due.

(q)Changes in accounting policies

Subsequent to the 2012-13 reporting period, the following new and revised Standards have been adopted in the current period with their financial impact detailed as below.

AASB 13 Fair Value Measurement

AASB 13 establishes a single source of guidance for all fair value measurements. AASB 13 does not change when an entity is required to use fair value, but rather provides guidance on how to measure fair value under Australian Accounting Standards when fair value is required or permitted. The Office has considered the specific requirements relating to highest and best use, valuation premise, and principal (or most advantageous) market. The methods, assumptions, processes and procedures for determining fair value were revisited and adjusted where applicable. In light of AASB 13, the Office has reviewed the fair value principles as well as its current valuation methodologies in assessing the fair value, and the assessment has not materially changed the fair values recognised.

However, AASB 13 has predominantly impacted the disclosures of the Office. It requires specific disclosures about fair value measurements and disclosures of fair values, some of which replace existing disclosure requirements in other standards, including AASB 7 Financial Instruments: Disclosures.

The disclosure requirements of AASB 13 apply prospectively and need not be applied in comparative information before first application. Consequently, the 2012-13 comparatives of these disclosures have not been provided.

63

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

Notes to the financial statements

30 June 2014

AASB 119 Employee Benefits

In 2013-14, the Office has applied AASB 119 Employee Benefits (Sept 2011, as amended) and the related consequential amendments for the first time.

The revised AASB 119 changes the accounting for defined benefit plans and termination benefits. The most significant change relates to the accounting for changes in defined benefit obligation and plan assets. As the current accounting policy is for the Department of Treasury and Finance to recognise and disclose the State’s defined benefit liabilities in its financial statements, this change will have limited impact on the Office.

The revised standard also changes the definition of short-term employee benefits. These were previously benefits that were expected to be settled within twelve months after the end of the reporting period in which the employees render the related service, however, short-term employee benefits are now defined as benefits expected to be settled wholly within twelve months after the end of the reporting period in which the employees render the related service. As a result, accrued annual leave balances which were previously classified by the Office as short-term employee benefits no longer meet this definition and are now classified as long-term employee benefits. This has resulted in a change of measurement for the annual leave provision from an undiscounted to discounted basis.

Comparative amounts for 2012-13 and the related amounts as at 1 July 2012 have been restated in accordance with the relevant transitional provisions set out in AASB 119. The impact is as follows:

 

 

 

 

2013

Impact on comprehensive result

 

 

$

Decrease in employee expense

 

 

1,638

 

 

As previously

AASB 119

 

 

 

reported

adjustments

Restated

Impact on liabilities and equity

$

$

$

As at 1 July 2012

 

 

 

Current employee benefit provision - annual leave

358,556

(16,048)

342,508

Accumulated deficit

(835,404)

16,048

(819,356)

As at 30 June 2013

 

 

 

Current employee benefit provision - annual leave

395,849

(17,686)

378,163

Accumulated deficit

 

(833,371)

17,686

(815,685)

(r)New Accounting Standards and Interpretations

As at 30 June 2014, the following standards and interpretations applicable to the Office had been issued but were not mandatory for the 30 June 2014 reporting period. The Office has not adopted, and does not intend to adopt, these standards early.

AASB 9 Financial Instruments. This standard simplifies requirements for the classification and measurement of financial assets resulting from Phase 1 of the IASB’s project to replace IAS 39 Financial Instruments: Recognition and Measurement (AASB 139 Financial Instruments: Recognition and Measurement). Applicable for annual reporting periods beginning on 1 Jan 2017. Preliminary assessment has identified that the financial impact of available for sale assets will now be reported through other comprehensive income and no longer recycled to profit and loss. While the preliminary assessment has not identified any material impact arising from AASB 9, it will continue to be monitored and assessed.

AASB 10 Consolidated Financial Statements. This Standard forms the basis for determining which entities should be consolidated into an entity’s financial statements. AASB 10 defines ‘control’ as requiring exposure or rights to variable returns and the ability to affect those returns through power over an investee, which may broaden the concept of control for public sector entities. The AASB has issued an Australian Implementation Guidance for Not-for-Profit Entities – Control and Structured Entities that explains and illustrates how the principles in the Standard apply from the perspective of not-for-profit entities in the private and public sectors. Applicable for annual reporting periods beginning on 1 Jan 2014 (not-for-profit entities). For the public sector, AASB 10 builds on the control guidance that existed in AASB 127 and Interpretation 112 and is not expected to change which entities need to be consolidated. Ongoing work is being done to monitor and assess the impact of this standard.

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

64

 

Notes to the financial statements

30 June 2014

AASB 11 Joint Arrangements. This Standard deals with the concept of joint control, and sets out a new principles-based approach for determining the type of joint arrangement that exists and the corresponding accounting treatment. The new categories of joint arrangements under AASB 11 are more aligned to the actual rights and obligations of the parties to the arrangement. Applicable for annual reporting periods beginning on 1 Jan 2014 (not-for-profit entities). Based on current assessment, entities already apply the equity method when accounting for joint ventures. It is anticipated that there would be no material impact. Ongoing work is being done to monitor and assess the impact of this standard.

AASB 12 Disclosure of Interests in Other Entities. This Standard requires disclosure of information that enables users of financial statements to evaluate the nature of, and risks associated with, interests in other entities and the effects of those interests on the financial statements. This Standard replaces the disclosure requirements in AASB 127 Separate Financial Statements and AASB 131 Interests in Joint Ventures. Applicable for annual reporting periods beginning on 1 Jan 2014 (not-for-profit entities). The new standard is likely to require additional disclosures and ongoing work is being done to determine the extent of additional disclosure required.

AASB 127 Separate Financial Statements. This revised Standard prescribes the accounting and disclosure requirements for investments in subsidiaries, joint ventures and associates when an entity prepares separate financial statements. Applicable for annual reporting periods beginning on 1 Jan 2014 (not-for-profit entities). Current assessment indicates that there is limited impact on Victorian public sector entities. Ongoing work is being done to monitor and assess the impact of this standard.

AASB 128 Investments in Associates and Joint Ventures. This revised Standard sets out the requirements for the application of the equity method when accounting for investments in associates and joint ventures. Applicable for annual reporting periods beginning on 1 Jan 2014 (not-for-profit entities). Current assessment indicates that there is limited impact on Victorian public sector entities. Ongoing work is being done to monitor and assess the impact of this standard.

65

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

Notes to the financial statements

30 June 2014

 

 

 

2014

2013

Note 2.

Income from transactions

$

$

 

 

 

 

 

Grants

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grants from Department of Premier and Cabinet

11,199,391

 

10,603,197

Total income from transactions

 

11,199,391

 

10,603,197

Note 3.

Expenses from transactions

 

 

 

 

 

Expenses from transactions includes:

 

 

 

 

 

Employee benefits

6,277,259

 

 

 

 

Salaries and wages

5,763,500

Superannuation

 

 

530,767

 

 

 

 

- Defined contribution plans

472,636

- Defined benefits plans

72,876

59,885

Annual and long service leave expense

857,117

732,427

On-costs

 

 

409,503

337,624

Total employee benefits

8,147,522

 

7,366,072

Depreciation

 

 

41,796

 

 

 

 

Building fitouts

 

 

39,021

Office furniture and equipment

51,373

64,711

Motor vehicles under finance lease

25,801

28,235

Capitalised software development

23,366

23,366

Total depreciation

142,336

 

155,333

Supplies and services

831,439

 

 

 

 

Purchase of services

1,043,168

Lease rentals and outgoings

712,362

663,428

Information technology costs

491,468

733,914

Other supplies and services

633,724

492,414

Total supplies and services

2,668,994

 

2,932,924

Note 4.

Receivables

 

 

 

 

 

Current:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contractual

 

 

12,474

 

 

 

 

Other receivables

6,865

Statutory

 

 

12,474

 

6,865

 

 

30,648

 

 

 

 

GST recoverable

 

 

34,506

Amounts receivable from Victorian government departments

1,138,048

879,177

Total Current

 

 

1,168,696

 

913,683

 

 

1,181,170

 

920,548

Non-current:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Statutory

 

 

219,815

 

 

 

 

Amounts receivable from Victorian government departments

196,053

 

 

 

219,815

 

196,053

Total receivables

 

1,400,985

 

1,116,601

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

66

 

Notes to the financial statements

30 June 2014

 

 

 

 

 

2014

 

2013

 

Note 5.

Property, plant and equipment

 

 

$

 

$

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Building fitouts at fair value

 

 

 

528,441

 

461,395

Less: accumulated depreciation

 

 

 

(259,885)

 

(218,089)

 

 

 

 

 

268,556

 

243,306

Office furniture and equipment at fair value

 

 

 

589,612

 

535,026

Less: accumulated depreciation

 

 

 

(438,829)

 

(387,456)

 

 

 

 

 

150,783

 

147,570

Motor vehicles under finance lease at fair value

 

 

 

129,009

 

129,009

Less: accumulated depreciation

 

 

 

(47,059)

 

(21,258)

 

 

 

 

 

81,950

 

107,751

Total property, plant and equipment

 

 

 

501,289

 

498,627

Reconciliation of carrying amounts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Building fitouts

 

 

 

 

243,306

 

 

 

Carrying amount at start of year

 

 

 

 

282,327

Additions

 

 

 

 

67,046

 

-

Depreciation expense (note 3)

 

 

 

(41,796)

 

(39,021)

Carrying amount at end of year

 

 

 

268,556

 

243,306

Office furniture and equipment

 

 

 

147,570

 

 

 

Carrying amount at start of year

 

 

 

 

135,143

Additions

 

 

 

 

54,586

 

86,277

Disposals

 

 

 

 

-

 

(9,139)

Depreciation expense (note 3)

 

 

 

(51,373)

 

(64,711)

Carrying amount at end of year

 

 

 

150,783

 

147,570

Motor vehicles under finance lease

 

 

 

107,751

 

 

 

Carrying amount at start of year

 

 

 

 

76,730

Additions

 

 

 

 

-

 

98,411

Disposals

 

 

 

 

-

 

(27,425)

Transfer to non-financial assets held for sale

 

 

 

-

 

(11,730)

Depreciation expense (note 3)

 

 

 

(25,801)

 

(28,235)

Carrying amount at end of year

 

 

 

81,950

 

107,751

 

 

Carrying

Fair value measurement using:

 

 

Fair value measurement hierarchy* at 30 June 2014

amount

 

 

 

 

 

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

 

 

$

$

 

$

 

$

 

Building fitouts

 

268,556

-

-

268,556

 

Office furniture and equipment

150,783

-

-

150,783

 

Total at fair value

419,339

-

-

419,339

 

* See fair value hierarchy in note 1(b)

There have been no transfers between levels during the period.

67

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

Notes to the financial statements

30 June 2014

Reconciliation of Level 3 fair value

 

 

 

 

 

 

Office furniture

2014

Building fitouts

 

and equipment

 

$

$

Opening balance

243,306

147,570

Purchases

67,046

54,586

Depreciation

(41,796)

(51,373)

Closing balance

268,556

 

150,783

Unrealised gains/(losses) on non-financial assets

-

-

Description of significant unobservable inputs to Level 3 valuations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Valuation

Significant

Range

Sensitivity of fair value measurement to

 

 

technique

Unobservable

 

changes in significant unobservable inputs

 

 

 

Inputs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Building

Depreciated

Cost per item

$2,000 - $77,000

A cost per item increase or decrease would

 

fitouts

replacement

 

per item

result in a significantly higher or lower

 

 

cost

 

 

valuation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Useful life

10 years

A significant increase or decrease in the

 

 

 

 

 

estimated useful life of the asset would result

 

 

 

 

 

in a significantly higher or lower valuation.

 

Office

Depreciated

Cost per unit

$5,000 - $65,000

A significant increase or decrease in cost per

 

furniture and

replacement

 

per unit

unit would result in a significantly higher or

 

equipment

cost

 

 

lower fair value.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Useful life

3-5 years

A significant increase or decrease in the

 

 

 

 

 

estimated useful life of the asset would result

 

 

 

 

 

in a significantly higher or lower valuation.

 

 

 

 

 

2014

2013

 

Note 6.

Intangible assets

 

$

$

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Capitalised software development – at cost

 

104,750

104,750

 

Less: accumulated depreciation

 

 

(67,555)

 

(44,189)

 

 

 

 

 

 

37,195

 

60,561

 

Carrying amount at start of year

 

60,561

83,927

 

Depreciation expense (note 3)

 

 

(23,366)

(23,366)

 

Carrying amount at end of year

 

 

 

37,195

 

 

60,561

 

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

68

 

Notes to the financial statements

30 June 2014

 

 

 

2014

2013

Note 7.

Provisions

$

$

 

 

 

 

 

Current:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Employee benefits

 

 

 

 

 

- Annual leave

 

 

391,694

 

 

 

 

Expected to be paid within 12 months

340,239

Expected to be paid after 12 months

96,551

37,924

- Long service leave

90,577

 

 

 

 

Expected to be paid within 12 months

87,559

Expected to be paid after 12 months

751,125

693,198

- Performance bonus

49,000

51,000

Restoration costs

122,959

122,959

 

 

 

1,501,906

 

 

1,332,879

Non-current:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Employee benefits

219,815

 

 

 

 

- Long service leave

136,053

 

 

 

219,815

 

 

136,053

Total provisions

 

 

1,721,721

1,468,932

Note 8.

Borrowings

 

 

 

 

 

Secured

 

 

32,386

 

 

 

 

Current lease liabilities

37,180

Non-current lease liabilities

51,033

 

83,419

Total borrowings

83,419

120,599

Lease liabilities are effectively secured as the rights to the leased assets revert

 

 

 

 

 

to the lessor in the event of default.

 

 

 

 

 

Assets pledged as security

 

 

 

 

 

The carrying amounts of non-current assets pledged as security are:

81,950

 

 

 

 

Motor vehicles under finance lease

107,751

Non-financial assets held for sale

-

11,730

 

 

 

81,950

 

 

119,481

Note 9 discloses the maturity analysis of borrowings and the nature and extent of risks arising from borrowings.

69

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

 

Notes to the financial statements

30 June 2014

Note 9. Financial instruments

(a)Significant accounting policies

Details of the significant accounting policies and methods adopted, including the criteria for recognition, the basis of measurement, and the basis on which income and expenses are recognised, with respect to each class of financial asset, financial liability and equity instrument are disclosed in note 1 to the financial statements.

(b)Categorisation of financial instruments

 

 

 

Carrying amount

 

 

 

2014

2013

Financial assets

Note

Category

$

$

Cash on hand

 

Cash

1,000

1,000

Receivables *

4

Loans and receivables

12,474

6,865

Financial liabilities

 

 

13,474

 

 

7,865

 

 

432,297

 

 

 

Payables

 

Financial liabilities at amortised cost

449,026

Borrowings

8

Financial liabilities at amortised cost

83,419

120,599

 

 

 

515,716

 

 

569,625

Net holding gain/(loss) on financial instruments by category:

 

 

 

 

Financial assets

 

Category

-

 

 

 

Cash on hand

 

Cash

-

Receivables *

 

Loans and receivables

-

-

Financial liabilities

 

 

-

 

-

 

 

-

 

 

 

Payables

 

Financial liabilities at amortised cost

-

Borrowings

 

Financial liabilities at amortised cost

(4,005)

(5,126)

 

 

 

(4,005)

 

 

(5,126)

* Receivables disclosed here exclude statutory receivables (i.e. amounts receivable from government departments and GST recoverable).

The net holding gains or losses disclosed above are determined as follows:

For cash and receivables, the net gain or loss is calculated by taking the interest revenue, if any, minus any impairment recognised in the net result; and

For financial liabilities measured at amortised cost, the net gain or loss is the related interest expense.

(c)Credit risk

Credit risk arises from the financial assets of the Office, which comprise cash and cash equivalents, and trade and other receivables. The Office’s exposure to credit risk arises from the potential default of counterparties on their contractual obligations resulting in financial loss to the Office. Credit risk is measured at fair value and is monitored on a regular basis.

Credit risk associated with the Office’s financial assets is minimal because the main debtor is the Victorian Government. For debtors other than government, it is the Office’s policy to only deal with entities with high credit ratings and to obtain sufficient collateral or credit enhancements where appropriate. The Office does not have any significant credit risk exposure to any single counterparty or any group of counterparties having similar characteristics. The carrying amount of financial assets recorded in the financial statements, net of any allowances for losses, represents the Office’s maximum exposure to credit risk without taking account of the value of any collateral obtained.

Financial assets that are either past due or impaired

There are no material financial assets which are individually determined to be impaired. Currently the Office does not hold any collateral as security nor credit enhancements relating to any of its financial assets.

As at the reporting date, there was no event to indicate that any of the financial assets were impaired.

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

70

 

Notes to the financial statements

30 June 2014

There are no financial assets that have had their terms renegotiated so as to prevent them from being past due or impaired, and they are stated at the carrying amounts as indicated. There are no financial assets that are past due but not impaired.

(d)Liquidity risk

Liquidity risk arises when the Office is unable to meet its financial obligations as they fall due. The Office operates under the Victorian Government’s fair payments policy of settling financial obligations within 30 days and in the event of a dispute, making payments within 30 days from the date of resolution.

The Office’s exposure to liquidity risk is deemed insignificant based on prior periods’ data and current assessment of risk. Maximum exposure to liquidity risk is the carrying amounts of financial liabilities. The Office manages its liquidity risk by maintaining an adequate level of uncommitted funds that can be drawn at short notice to meet its short term obligations.

The contractual maturity analysis of financial liabilities is as follows:

 

 

Carrying

Nominal

 

Maturity dates *

 

 

 

Less than 1

1-3 months

3 months –

1-5 years

 

 

amount

amount

month

1 year

 

 

$

$

$

$

$

$

2014

 

432,297

432,297

432,297

 

 

 

Payables

 

 

 

Borrowings

83,419

89,290

2,661

5,322

28,696

52,611

2013

 

515,716

521,587

434,958

5,322

28,696

52,611

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Payables

449,026

449,026

449,026

 

 

 

Borrowings

120,599

132,916

14,351

5,323

23,951

89,291

 

 

569,625

581,942

463,377

5,323

23,951

89,291

* The amounts disclosed are the contractual undiscounted cash flows of each class of financial liabilities.

(e)Market risk

The Office has no exposure to interest rate, foreign currency or other price risks. Interest rates on the Office’s finance lease liabilities are fixed.

(f)Fair value

The carrying amount of financial assets and financial liabilities recorded in the financial statements approximates their fair values because of the short term nature of the financial instruments and the expectation that they will be paid in full.

The fair values of financial assets and financial liabilities are determined as follows:

Level 1 – the fair value of financial assets and financial liabilities with standard terms and conditions and traded on active liquid markets are determined with reference to quoted market prices;

Level 2 – the fair value is determined using inputs other than quoted prices that are observable for the financial asset or liability, either directly or indirectly; and

Level 3- the fair value of other financial assets and financial liabilities are determined in accordance with generally accepted pricing models based on discounted cash flow analysis using unobservable market inputs.

None of the classes of financial assets and liabilities are readily traded on organised markets in standardised form.

71

Victorian Ombudsman Annual report 2014

Notes to the financial statements

30 June 2014

Note 10.

Commitments for expenditure

2014

2013