Operational Structure

The Role of the Ombudsman

The Parliamentary Commissioner for Administrative Investigations – more commonly known as the Ombudsman – is an independent officer of the Western Australian Parliament. The Ombudsman is responsible to the Parliament rather than to the government of the day or a particular Minister. This allows the Ombudsman to be completely independent in undertaking the Ombudsman’s functions.

Functions of the Ombudsman

The Office has four principal functions derived from its governing legislation, the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1971, and other legislation, codes or service delivery arrangements.

Principal Functions

Investigating and resolving complaints

Receiving, investigating and resolving complaints about State Government agencies, local governments and universities.

Reviewing certain deaths

Reviewing certain child deaths and family and domestic violence fatalities.

Undertaking own motion investigations and  promoting improvements to public administration

Improving public administration for the benefit of all Western Australians through own motion investigations and education and liaison programs with public authorities.

Other functions

Undertaking a range of additional functions, including statutory inspection and monitoring functions.


Other Functions of the Ombudsman

Complaints and appeals
by overseas students

Under the relevant national code, the Ombudsman can receive complaints or appeals by overseas students.

Public Interest Disclosures

The Ombudsman can receive disclosures of public interest information relating to matters of administration, and public officers.

Complaints from residents of the Indian Ocean Territories

Under a service delivery arrangement between the Ombudsman and the Australian Government, the Ombudsman can investigate complaints about public authorities in the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction that provide services in the Indian Ocean Territories (Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands).

Complaints from persons detained under terrorism legislation

Persons detained under relevant terrorism legislation can make a complaint to the Ombudsman.

Inspection of Telecommunications Interception records

The Ombudsman inspects the records of the Western Australia Police and the Corruption and Crime Commission to ascertain the extent of compliance with relevant telecommunications interception legislation.

Monitoring functions under the Criminal Organisations Control Act 2012

Under the Criminal Organisations Control Act 2012, the Ombudsman monitors and reports on the exercise of powers conferred on the Commissioner of Police and police officers under the legislation for a five year period.

Monitoring the Infringement Notices provisions of The Criminal Code

The Ombudsman monitors the Infringement Notices provisions of The Criminal Code and reports on the first 12 months of operation.

Energy and Water Ombudsman

The Energy and Water Ombudsman Western Australia resolves complaints about electricity, gas and water services providers. The Ombudsman undertakes the role of the Energy and Water Ombudsman. The costs of the Energy and Water Ombudsman are met by industry members.

A full list of legislation governing these functions can be found in the Appendices Section in Appendix 2.


Our Vision, Mission and Values

Our Vision

Lawful, fair and accountable decision
making and practices by public authorities.

 

Our Mission

To serve Parliament and Western Australians by:

  • Receiving, investigating and resolving complaints about State Government agencies, local governments and universities;
  • Reviewing certain child deaths and family and domestic violence fatalities;
  • Improving public administration for the benefit of all Western Australians through own motion investigations and education and liaison programs with public authorities; and
  • Undertaking a range of additional functions, including statutory inspection and monitoring functions.
 

Our Values

  • Fair: We observe the requirements of our legislation at all times, use a ‘no surprises’ approach in all of our work and provide our services equitably to all Western Australians.
  • Independent: The Ombudsman is an officer of the Parliament, independent of the government of the day and impartial in all of our work.
  • Accountable: We should be, and are, accountable for our performance and proper expenditure of taxpayers’ money. Being accountable means being:
    • Rigorous: We undertake work that is important to the community and our decisions are supported by appropriate evidence.
    • Responsible: All recommendations for change to public administration are practical and proportionate to the problem identified and have a net public benefit.
    • Efficient: We undertake our work in a timely way at least cost. We value working with other agencies that further good public administration but we never duplicate their work

 

Our Strategic Focus

  • Complaint resolution that is high quality, independent, fair and timely, with an emphasis on early resolution, practical remedies for members of the public and improvements to public administration.
 
  • Improved public administration through own motion investigations, making practical recommendations for improvement and monitoring their implementation.
 
  • Review of certain child deaths and family and domestic violence fatalities, identifying patterns and trends and making recommendations to public authorities about ways to prevent or reduce these deaths.
 
  • Inspection of certain records and reports to ensure statutory compliance by the Western Australia Police and the Corruption and Crime Commission and monitoring and reporting on the exercise of certain powers by Western Australia Police under defined legislation.
 
  • Collaboration with other Ombudsman and accountability agencies, raising community awareness, making our services accessible and promoting good decision making practices and complaint handling in public authorities.
 
  • Strong and effective governance and attracting, developing and retaining a skilled and valued workforce with a culture that supports high quality, responsive and efficient service.

 

Executive Management

Management of the Office is undertaken by the Executive Management Group comprised of the Ombudsman, Deputy Ombudsman, Principal Assistant Ombudsman Executive Services and Principal Assistant Ombudsman Investigations and Legal Services, and the Office’s Corporate Executive which includes each member of the Executive Management Group and the leaders of the teams in the Office.
The role of executive management is to:

  • Provide leadership to staff and model the Office’s values;
  • Set and monitor the strategic direction of the Office and monitor and discuss emerging issues of relevance to the work of the Ombudsman;
  • Monitor performance, set priorities and targets for future performance; and
  • Ensure compliance with relevant legislation and corporate policies.

For more information, see the Disclosures and Legal Compliance section.

Our Corporate Executive

Chris was appointed Ombudsman in March 2007 and reappointed in 2012 and 2017. He concurrently holds the roles of Energy and Water Ombudsman and Chairman, State Records Commission. In 2016, Chris was elected 2nd Vice President of the International Ombudsman Institute and is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Law at the University of Western Australia. Prior to his appointment as Ombudsman, Chris held a number of senior roles in Western Australia and Victoria in the public and private sectors. Chris holds Arts and Law (Hons) degrees and articled at Arthur Robinson & Hedderwicks (now Allens Linklaters).

Chris Field, Ombudsman

 

Mary was appointed Deputy Ombudsman in April 2014 and concurrently holds the role of Deputy Energy and Water Ombudsman. Prior to her appointment Mary worked in a number of senior executive roles in the Office, from February 2008. Mary has more than 30 years’ experience in the public sector, including strategic and corporate leadership roles in line and accountability agencies.

Mary White, Deputy Ombudsman

 

Lisa commenced her role as Principal Assistant Ombudsman Investigations and Legal Services in November 2015. She is a legal practitioner with significant experience in administrative and criminal law, including 14 years as a member of various tribunals.

Lisa Ward, Principal Assistant Ombudsman Investigations and Legal Services

 

Alan commenced his role as Principal Assistant Ombudsman Executive Services in June 2017. He has extensive experience in management roles and has been accountable for strategy and financial, and asset management. He has held a number of senior roles in the Western Australian public sector, Government Trading Enterprises and the Not-for-Profit sector.  

Alan Shaw, Principal Assistant Ombudsman Executive Services

 

Kim commenced her role as an Assistant Ombudsman in June 2008. She has more than 25 years’ experience in government roles, working at the Commonwealth and State levels, in both line and central agencies, and has a strong background in evaluation.

Kim Lazenby, Assistant Ombudsman Administrative Improvement

 

Natarlie joined the office in 2009 and commenced the role of Assistant Ombudsman Reviews in July 2016.  She has worked in the State public sector for over 20 years, and has extensive experience working with the issues of child safety and wellbeing, and family and domestic violence.

Natarlie De Cinque, Assistant Ombudsman Reviews

 

Belinda joined the office in 2008 and commenced the role of Assistant Ombudsman Monitoring in August 2014. She has more than 25 years’ experience working in the public sector in financial and performance auditing and leadership roles in both line and accountability agencies.

Belinda West, Assistant Ombudsman Monitoring

 

Michelle joined the Office in 2007 and commenced the role of Assistant Ombudsman in December 2015.  She has more than 18 years’ public sector experience in investigations and complaint handling.

Michelle Bovill, Assistant Ombudsman Complaint Resolution

 

Paula was appointed as an Assistant Ombudsman in April 2017. She has been a legal practitioner for over 20 years; working in the Commonwealth and State public sectors, and in the non-government sector.

Paula Parentich, Assistant Ombudsman Investigations

 

Our Structure and Teams

Organisational Straucture as at 30 June 2017

Ombudsman WA Organisationl Chart

Team Responsibilities

  • The Complaint Resolution Team includes the Intake Team and the Early Resolution Team and has responsibility for handling enquiries, receiving and assessing complaints, and undertaking the early resolution of complaints, where appropriate, through informal investigations.
  • The Administrative Improvement Team undertakes own motion investigations and other strategies aimed at improving public administration.
  • The Monitoring Team monitors and reports on the operation of powers conferred on the Western Australia Police under legislation, undertakes inspections of telecommunications interception records and undertakes other statutory inspection and monitoring functions.
  • The Reviews Team reviews certain child deaths and family and domestic violence fatalities, identifies patterns and trends arising from these reviews and makes recommendations to relevant public authorities to prevent or reduce these deaths.
  • The Investigations Team handles the investigation of complaints and the Legal Services Team provides legal services across the Office.
  • The Energy and Water Team has responsibility for handling enquiries and receiving, investigating and resolving complaints about electricity, gas and water services providers.
  • The Executive Services, Corporate Services and Information Technology Services Teams support the Office in strengthening its strategic focus, corporate communications, governance and business services.

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