Section C | Legislative and policy-based reporting

Public interest disclosure

The ACT Ombudsman is a proper authority for receiving public interest disclosures under the now repealed Public Interest Disclosure Act 1994 (ACT) and is also a ‘disclosure officer’ under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2012 (ACT) which commenced on 1 February 2013.

For public interest disclosures we received from a member of the public or an officer of a public service agency before 1 February 2013, we may choose to investigate the matter using our investigative powers under the Ombudsman Act 1989 (ACT). Alternatively, we may refer the matter to another authority if it is better placed to investigate the matters disclosed. Once we have referred the matter, we remain an interested party to any ongoing investigation and we are entitled to receive progress reports from the other authority every three months.

For public interest disclosures received after 1 February 2013, we must provide a copy or written record of the disclosure to the head of each public sector entity to which the disclosure relates, as well as to the Commissioner for Public Administration.

For a disclosure that relates to an entire agency or Directorate, we must also provide a copy or written record to the Head of Service. The Ombudsman is only authorised to investigate a public interest disclosure received after 1 February 2013 if it relates to the disclosable conduct of the Head of Service.

No new public interest disclosures were made during the reporting period and we finalised one investigation.

Freedom of information

In 2012–13 we received 14 approaches about requests for information made to ACT Government agencies. We finalised 13 approaches, four of which we investigated. Two other investigations remain ongoing at the end of the reporting period.

We received two requests for information under section 14 of the Freedom of Information Act 1989 (ACT).

Territory records

Our office has a records management program that was approved by the Director of Territory Records.

In accordance with the Territory Records Act 2002 (ACT), we ensure that:

  • all ACT Ombudsman records are stored appropriately and securely

  • relevant position profiles and duty statements reflect the records management skills required by the office

  • training is available for records management and general staff in record keeping skills and responsibilities

  • a controlled language system for records management for the office has been developed and is used by staff.

The office operates in line with the Territory Records (Records Disposal Schedule — Ombudsman Complaint Management Records) Approval 2011 (No 1) (NI 2011–93).

Given the nature of the Ombudsman’s work, the office does not have records that may allow people to establish links with their Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage.

Part 3 of the Territory Records Act provides for public access to ACT records that are more than 20 years old.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander reporting

We participated in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Justice Agreement implementation group and continued to look at ways to improve access to complaint services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT.

ACT Multicultural Strategy 2010 – 2013

The Ombudsman provides support to the ACT Multicultural Strategy through efforts to ensure the office is easily accessible by the Australian community. Information sheets are available at in 36 community languages setting out the role of the Ombudsman and how to make a complaint about a government agency.

The office uses interpreting services, particularly telephone interpreting services, to help people dealing with the office who may have difficulty communicating in English.