Integrity system reform must continueDate posted:
Victoria’s integrity system must be further reformed to ensure the Victorian Ombudsman can deliver the best possible scrutiny and accountability of public services in the public interest.
Tabling her Annual Report 2015-16, Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass said she had worked with the other ‘pillars’ of the state’s integrity system – the Auditor-General and IBAC – on the first ever joint submission to Parliament by the agencies on proposed reforms.
“That submission highlighted inconsistencies in our mandate and jurisdictional reach," Ms Glass said.
"We pointed out that Victorians deserve the same level of accountability over services funded by public money regardless of whether those services are delivered by the public sector or by contract.
"It follows that the Ombudsman and IBAC should also have the capacity to ‘follow the dollar’ that the Auditor-General has finally achieved.
“A modern Ombudsman should be able to apply a consistent approach to oversight regardless of the structure of the agency ultimately delivering the service; gaps and inconsistencies cannot be in the public interest."
Ms. Glass highlighted other reforms that she would like enacted in order to deliver her vision of a fairer Victoria.
“My submission to the government highlighted further areas for reform, including powers and privileges when carrying out investigations, a mandated education function and the ability of the Ombudsman to release information in the public interest.”
Key achievements of the office during 2015/16 included the tabling of significant investigations into the rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners in Victoria, allegations of abuse within the disability system and public transport fare enforcement.
The report also highlights Ombudsman work in improving public administration without launching a formal investigation: for example, as a result of complaints and media commentary about people being fined for driving unregistered vehicles when they had not received renewal notices, the Ombudsman raised the issue with the CEO of VicRoads.
VicRoads took immediate action, including contacting the 1,432 people who did not receive renewal notices and working with Civic Compliance and Victoria Police to withdraw fines.
Victorian Ombudsman staff handled a record number of complaints and contacts with members of the public in 2015/16, while conducting a similar number of enquiries and investigations as in 2014-15.
- 39,470 contacts with Victorian Ombudsman
- 3,021 formal enquiries and investigations completed
- 33 formal investigations completed
- Eight parliamentary reports tabled
- 4,443 completed contacts in the Corrections, Justice and Regulation portfolio (most complained about portfolio)
- 3,416 completed contacts in the local government portfolio.