The role of the Ombudsman

The Ombudsman is an independent officer of Parliament with responsibility to investigate the actions of public authorities including State Government departments, prisons, hospitals, schools and technical colleges, local governments and public universities.
The creation of the office of the Ombudsman recognised:

  • the growing power of public authorities to affect people’s daily lives;
  • the need for these agencies to be accountable for this power; and
  • the desirability of creating a body that provides timely, accessible and low cost means for people to resolve their disputes with these agencies.

Read more about the History of the Ombudsman

What does the Ombudsman do?

The Ombudsman’s office has four principal functions. The office:

  • Receives, investigates and resolves complaints about the administrative decision making and practices of the public sector, local government and universities. See How to make a complaint;
  • Improves public administration for the benefit of all Western Australians through own motion investigations and education and liaison programs with agencies. See Improving public administration;
  • Undertakes a range of additional functions that fit within the broad category of integrity oversight, including inspections of telecommunications intercepts and investigation of public interest disclosures. See Other Functions for more information about the Ombudsman’s other functions.

The Ombudsman always observes an independent and impartial approach to the conduct of investigations as well as observing procedural fairness at all times. Information obtained by the Ombudsman in an investigation is confidential. At the conclusion of an investigation, the Ombudsman may make formal recommendations, including to:

  • refer the matter to another agency;
  • rectify administrative actions;
  • vary administrative practice;
  • reconsider the law which underpins administrative action; or
  • give reasons for a decision.

The Ombudsman places a strong emphasis on making practical recommendations about significant matters. The Ombudsman does not make recommendations unless it is considered that they will be beneficial to the public. The Ombudsman also considers the costs recommendations will have for agencies. The Ombudsman seeks to make recommendations that have a beneficial outcome for the Western Australian public.

Governing Legislation

The principal legislation for the Ombudsman’s office is the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1971 which provides the basis for the existence of the Office.
Copies of the legislation can be viewed on the State Law Publisher website.