Section B: CONSULTATION AND SCRUTINY REPORTING
- Community engagement
- Legislative Assembly Committee inquiries and reports
- Legislation report
Officers representing the ACT Ombudsman attended and hosted several community functions and organisations in 2011–12 as part of an ongoing commitment to networking and engaging with the community. Events included:
- an information and discussion session about the roles and functions of the Ombudsman’s office to staff of the ACT Legislative Assembly in October 2011
- the ACT Auditor-General’s performance audit seminar in September 2011
- the 20th anniversary of the passing of the ACT Human Rights Bill in December 2011
- a roundtable in April 2012 co‑hosted by the Institute of Public Administration Australia and the Legislative Assembly's Administration and Procedure Standing Committee about the ongoing review of the ACT Self-Government Act 1988
- a workshop on making better use of complaint data, co-sponsored with the Commonwealth Ombudsman. This workshop, Collecting, Analysing and Reporting on Complaint Data, was presented by the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals in May 2012. About half of the participants were from the ACT Government agencies
- a forum for community group representatives in June 2012
- the Side by Side launch in June 2012.
Outreach activities in 2012–13 will include the production of new information products specifically for the Canberra community and the holding of two community forums.
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE INQUIRIES AND REPORTS
The Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety considered the ACT Ombudsman Annual Report 2010–2011 in its Report on Annual and Financial Reports, tabled in the Legislative Assembly in May 2012. The Committee requested advice about the correct identification of an ACT Government agency with respect to a suspension of licence case study in the report. A response was provided on 30 November 2011. The Committee made no recommendations in relation to the ACT Ombudsman.
The role of the ACT Ombudsman is performed under the ACT Ombudsman Act. The Ombudsman also has specific responsibilities under the FOI Act and is authorised to deal with whistleblower complaints under the PID Act.
Members of the AFP provide policing services for the ACT under an agreement between the Commonwealth and ACT Governments. Members of the AFP assigned to the AFP’s ACT region are engaged in community policing duties under the ACT Chief Police Officer, who is also an AFP Assistant Commissioner. The AFP deals with complaints under Part V of the AFP Act.
Responsibility for investigating complaints rests with the AFP. AFP line managers are required to deal with minor matters. More serious matters are referred to the Ombudsman’s office. The categorisation of complaints into minor or serious matters was agreed on by the AFP Commissioner and the Ombudsman and set out in a legislative instrument. Primary responsibility for resolving more serious matters remains with the AFP. The Ombudsman may investigate complaints about the AFP under the Ombudsman Act. In general, complainants are expected to raise their complaints with the AFP before the Ombudsman’s office will consider investigating them.
In addition, the Commonwealth Ombudsman, also designated as the Law Enforcement Ombudsman under the Ombudsman Act, is required to review the handling of complaints and conduct issues in the AFP at least annually.
The Crimes (Controlled Operations Act) 2008 (ACT) allows ACT Policing to conduct controlled (covert) operations in the ACT and gives oversight to the Ombudsman. A controlled operation is a covert operation carried out by law enforcement officers under the Controlled Operations Act for the purpose of obtaining evidence that may lead to the prosecution of a person for a serious offence. The operation may result in law enforcement officers engaging in conduct that would constitute an offence unless authorised under this Act.
A Child Sex Offenders Register was established in the ACT as a requirement of the Crimes (Child Sex Offenders) Act 2005 (ACT). One of the Ombudsman’s functions under the ACT Ombudsman Act is to monitor compliance with Chapter 4 of the Act by the ACT Chief Police Officer and other people authorised by the Chief Police Officer to have access to the register.
Under the Crimes (Assumed Identities) Act 2009 (ACT), the Ombudsman may inspect records of a law enforcement agency to determine the extent of compliance with the Act. The Act facilitates investigations and intelligence gathering in relation to criminal activity by providing for the lawful acquisition and use of assumed identities.