Commonwealth Ombudsman

The Commonwealth Ombudsman's Office was created by the Ombudsman Act 1976 (Cth).

The Ombudsman’s Office can investigate and receive complaints from Commonwealth government departments and agencies (e.g. Centrelink), including private contractors delivering services on behalf of the Commonwealth government).

They also provide specialist services for the areas of:

  • the Australian Defence Force (i.e. can receive and investigate complaints for serving and former members of the Defence Forces or their dependants about official actions in relation to their service);
  • Immigration(including enhanced powers to review immigration detention cases and facilities);
  • the Postal industry;
  • Taxation disputes with the Australian Taxation Office (including debt recovery actions, decisions to bankrupt, conduct of audits and delays in decision making);
  • Overseas Students (investigates complaints about private education providers)

The Ombudsman also deals with complaints about the Australian Federal Police. These powers come from the Australian Federal Police Act 1979 (Cth). Complaints may be made either to the Ombudsman or direct to the Australian Federal Police, in which case the Ombudsman is informed of, and deals with, the complaint.

Renate's Passport

Renate sought the Ombudsman's help when, as a result of applying for a passport, she found that the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs had no record of her Australian citizenship. Renate had immigrated from Germany with her parents when she was six months old and she remembered that her parents had attended a citizenship ceremony when she was about 13 years old. She believed she had been included in that process. The Ombudsman's inquiries found that Renate's parents had asked for their daughter to be included on the father's citizenship certificate but that the Department had issued an incorrect certificate which did not include the daughter. The Department agreed to amend the father's certificate to include Renate.


Commonwealth Ombudsman  :  Last Revised: Mon Jul 30th 2012
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