Ombudsman's Quarterly Update | Spring 2022Date posted:
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, the result of the Ombudsman’s first ever joint investigation with the Independent Broad-based Anticorruption Commission - and the ‘Red Shirts 2 report’ which followed a referral from the Legislative Council in February 2022. A further investigation from that referral, into the alleged politicisation of the public service, is continuing.
It was encouraging to see the Government’s acceptance of the Operation Watts recommendations, which when implemented should constitute the most significant reforms to the Parliament integrity framework in at least a generation. The Red Shirts 2 report also underlined the need for this reform, to ensure there are consequences for Members of Parliament who cross the line.
But while it may garner the most headlines, the Ombudsman’s work itself is not dominated by political themes. Aside from the thousands of complaints we deal with each week, which we might seek to resolve through enquiries or conciliation, we investigate other matters of public interest. I recently reported on social housing complaints, where I recommended improvements to complaints systems that would vastly improve the experience of those who live in public and community housing. And my most recent report identified serious flaws in Victoria’s Working with Children Check scheme.
I monitor the responses to all my recommendations, which are intended to improve public administration – and my next report on this is just around the corner.