On 10 December we celebrated 75 years since the UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the cornerstone of international human rights law, and it is as vital as ever as we face existential risks from war and climate change.
Much has changed in the past 50 years, and much more will no doubt change in the next 50. While this responsibility will fall to others, I hope the fundamental importance of the Office remains undiminished.
Several hundred public servants, and members of the public, recently tuned in to the first of our ‘Behind the Scenes’ webinars, designed to give anyone who might come into contact with the office an insight into how investigations are conducted and complaints resolved.
The Ombudsman’s busy winter is continuing into spring, with its hope of seasonal renewal. In particular, referrals from Parliament have been in the spotlight, with the release of two reports - Operation Watts and the ‘Red Shirts 2 report.
In the past few months, for the first time in over a year, I was able to attend events in person as a guest speaker at a variety of functions where I could engage with the crowd beyond the confines of Zoom, Teams and my laptop screen.
With the end of the year just around the corner, the Ombudsman’s Office is not yet slowing down. We have been busier than ever and despite most staff continuing to work remotely I am proud of the service we’ve been able to provide through lockdowns and all the other challenges 2021 has sent our way.
Spring is approaching, but the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage around us, affecting us all in ways large and small. But while our physical office remains closed, we are busier than ever. Our phone line and online complaint form remain open, as we do our best to help Victorians every day.
Sometimes the complaints we receive tell us something may be very wrong with an agency or system. When we started getting a flood of complaints from small business owners about the way Government grants to support them over lockdown were being administered, we knew we needed to look into this.