The ACT Ombudsman can investigate complaints about ACT Corrective Services (ACTCS) including the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC). This can include complaints about:
- access to prison programs, such as a literacy course
- living conditions, such as the amount of time allowed outside of cells
- conduct of AMC staff, for example the searching of cells and removal of property
- management of bank accounts and purchasing of food.
Detainees at the AMC are allowed to raise requests, concerns and complaints about anything relating to their custody. If detainees have difficulties resolving their issues, they can make a complaint to our Office by calling us on
02 6276 3773 (option 1).
What we cannot help you with
We will not investigate a complaint when:
- it relates to a health service
- a more appropriate agency can assist, such as the ACT Human Rights Commission
- the matter has been considered by a Minister, or has been before a court or tribunal.
If we decide to not investigate your complaint, we will explain the reasons why.
See Who else can help for a detailed list of other complaint-handling agencies.
Before you make a complaint
Before making a complaint to the Ombudsman, we ask you to try and resolve the issue with ACTCS first. In most cases, ACTCS staff are best placed to resolve your issue quickly and it is important they are given an opportunity to respond. Our investigations typically take more time.
For detainees at the AMC, most complaints can be raised with Custodial Officers and resolved quite quickly. Detainees can also raise their requests, concerns or complaints in writing using:
- Detainee Request Forms (or Blueys)
- Formal ACTCS Complaint Forms
If detainees need help to make written complaints, they can ask Custodial Officers for help. If a detainee does not wish to talk to the Custodial Officers about their issue, they can call our Office from the prison phones on #74.
ACTCS encourage detainees to include as much relevant information as possible in their complaints and clearly describe the outcome they are seeking.
For advice on how to approach an agency, see our guide Resolving the issue yourself.
If ACTCS doesn’t fix your problem or is taking too long to fix it, you can contact us.
If you need support to make a complaint please call us on 02 6276 3773. We will do our best to help you.
You can call us on our dedicated Indigenous number 1800 060 789 or you can use our Indigenous language interpreter service.
If you are a non-English speaking person, we can help through the Translating and Interpreter Service (TIS) on 131 450. You can visit our brochures page for information in many community languages.
If you are hearing or speech impaired, please use the National Relay Service:
- the speak and listen number is 1300 555 727.
- for TTY call 133677
Phone calls to the ACT Ombudsman from within the AMC are free via the following:
- #74 to access the general line
- #54 to access the Indigenous line.
How to complain
When writing your complaint keep it simple and list the facts. Be as specific as possible about dates, names and other important details. Make sure you include:
- a description of your issue, incident or decision
- dates of events and contact with the agency
- who was involved including witnesses
- details of telephone conversations or meetings
- reference numbers you received when dealing with the agency
- evidence such as photographs or medical records
- steps you have already taken to sort out the problem
- what outcome you would like to see as a result of your complaint.
How we have helped
Incorrect advice about parole
A detainee had been preparing to leave the AMC because they had been told that they had completed their sentence. There were then told at short notice that they were unable to leave as they needed to apply for parole.
The detainee made a complaint to our Office about the advice they had received from the AMC staff, which caused them considerable distress and resulted in a delay for their anticipated release.
After we investigated, the AMC acknowledged they had been given incorrect advice, apologised for the error and wrote to the Sentence Administration Board to request the parole hearing be held as soon as possible.
Access to open air
A detainee in the AMC approached the ACT Ombudsman raising concerns about their detention in the management wing for an extended period without access to open air, during which they made four complaints but did not receive an acknowledgement or response.
In response to our questions, ACTCS indicated that action had been taken in relation to some of the complaints raised by the detainee, but acknowledged that staff had not complied with policies around recording access to outside time, or in terms of complaint management.
ACTCS has since advised they are taking steps to address these issues, including drafting communications to remind all staff of the appropriate process for complaint receipt, response and documentation.