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The Ombudsman

What is the ombudsman?

The Ombudsman is an independent officer of parliament that investigates
the actions of public authorities including schools and local governments.
The private sector can also lodge a complaint to the ombudsman and
complaints can be lodged against them.
History of the Ombudsman.
Ombudsman comes from Sweden, meaning citizens defender. The
ombudsman was introduced into Australia in 1924, but its role has
changed dramatically since then.
Different types of Ombudsman in Australia.

One ombudsman for each state.

A commonwealth ombudsman.
Several industry specific ombudsman (e.g. Energy, water and public
Employment ombudsman (e.g. fair work ombudsman).

How does the ombudsman help in resolving disputes?

The Ombudsman can assist with resolving disputes as it can release a
report that can be used as evidence. It also can help to negotiate deals or
suggest solutions with government bodies and private companies so that
everyones needs are legally met. This takes some of the pressure off the
courts as it gives them relevant information and suggestions that would
otherwise take time to investigate and develop.
The Ombudsmans procedures 4 principles
1) Receives, investigates and resolves complaints about the
administrative decision.
2) Improves public administration through their administrations and
education program.
3) Reviews certain child deaths and domestic abuse matters.
4) A collection of other integrity oversight functions.
Example: MYER and the Fair Work Act.

Myer was illegally underpaying their cleaners and other

maintenance staff.
The matter was reported anonymously to the fair work ombudsman.
The investigation was launched and Myer was found guilty to
underpaying workers.

Myer was offered by the ombudsman to go into a partnership in

order to combat the underpaying of its employees.
Myer refused the offer and was shortly after taken to court.

Review of the Ombudsman process:

The ombudsman was more responsive and quicker to act than the courts
in replying to the individuals complaints.
Ombudsmen are very accessible as they can be contacted by any
individual or company.
By creating a detailed report, the ombudsman is making the facts and
legality of the case accessible to both the individual and the courts.
One of the main purposes of the ombudsmen are for people to seek the
protection of their own rights.
Despite being responsive, the ombudsman cannot enforce any laws, only
make suggestions. This means that the ombudsman is not effective in
enforcing the law.
By seeking an ombudsman instead of taking a matter to court, an
individual can reduce court fees and time. This makes the ombudsman
resource efficient for its clients.