You can contact our office if you have a complaint about Tasmanian state or local government administration.
We act independently and don't take sides. We act in the public interest to resolve complaints and improve the standard of Tasmanian public administration.
Some of the issues we look into include:
- the actions of Tasmanian government departments and agencies
- the provision of local government services
- the treatment and welfare of people in prison
- administrative actions of State-owned businesses and Government Business Enterprises.
The Ombudsman is an independent officer appointed by the Governor, and answerable to the Parliament.
Our role is to investigate the administrative actions of public authorities to ensure that their actions are lawful, reasonable and fair.
We work in an independent, impartial and objective way to resolve complaints and to address systemic problems in order to improve the quality and standard of Tasmanian public administration.
Authorities within our jurisdiction include government departments, local councils, water and sewerage corporations, prisons, state-owned companies and Government Business Enterprises.
We can make investigations on our own initiative (often called 'own motion') or following receipt of a complaint.
Our Statutory functions
The Ombudsman's role under the Ombudsman Act 1978 is to enquire into and investigate complaints about the administrative actions of Tasmanian Government Departments, Local Government Councils and a range of public authorities.
The Ombudsman also:
- Reviews decisions under the Freedom of Information Act 1991 (repealed 1 July 2010)
- Reviews decisions and has other functions under the RTI Act 2009
- Investigates complaints under the Energy Ombudsman Act 1998
- Reviews and investigates disclosures under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2002
- Investigates complaints under Personal Information Protection Act 2004
- Takes complaints under the Water and Sewerage Industry Act 2008
- Examines Tasmania Police compliance with the Telecommunications (Interception) Tasmania Act 1999, the Police Powers (Controlled Operations) Act 2006 and the Police Powers (Surveillance Devices) Act 2006
- Prepares a report annually under the Misuse of Drugs Act 2001. This relates to the Commissioner of Police’s authorisations for police officers’ and correctional officers’ possession and supply of drug training material.
- Reviews certain decisions of the Commissioner of Police under the Witness Protection Act 2000
- Reviews decisions about the release of information under the Adoption Act 1998
The Ombudsman is also the Health Complaints Commissioner and receives complaints under the Health Complaints Act 1995.
Ombudsman is a Swedish word that describes a person who acts as a link between the people and their government.
A similar role was performed by the Tribune in ancient Rome, and by the Control Yuan in China as early as 221 BC.
The first modern Ombudsman was established by the Swedish Parliament in 1809 to protect the interests of citizens and to ensure that they were governed fairly and according to law.
Ombudsman offices were created in all Australian states during the 1970s. The Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman was established in 1977.
Tasmania's first Ombudsman, C R (Dick) Woodhouse, was appointed in May 1979. His office received 588 complaints in the first year. Mr Woodhouse remained Ombudsman until 1984. His deputy Michael Dixon was Acting Ombudsman before Roger Willee was appointed in 1985.
Find out more about previous Ombudsmen.
About the Ombudsman
Mr Richard Connock was appointed as Tasmania's Ombudsman and Health Complaints Commissioner in July 2014.
Prior to that, Mr Connock had been Acting Ombudsman since January 2014, following the resignation of Mr Leon Atkinson-MacEwen. He was appointed Director of the Office of the Ombudsman in April 2011, and was previously the Principal Officer, Ombudsman.
He has extensive experience as a barrister and solicitor, principally in Victoria. Following his move to Tasmania in 2000, however, Mr Connock focused more on consultancy than legal work and before joining the Office of the Ombudsman, provided investigation, conciliation and mediation services for a number of government agencies and private organisations.
As with previous Ombudsmen, Mr Connock also serves as the Health Complaints Commissioner, who acts independently of government to promote and protect the rights of consumers who use health services, and to help resolve problems between consumers and providers of health services.
Mr Connock is a member of the following bodies:
Australian and New Zealand Ombudsman Association (ANZOA): The peak body for Ombudsmen in Australia and New Zealand.
Australia and New Zealand Energy and Water Ombudsman Network (ANZEWON): The aim of the network is to share information such as training, systems, processes and systemic issues arising from complaints. The network works towards as much consistency as possible between schemes.
International Ombudsman Institute (IOI): Established in 1978, IOI is the only global organisation for the cooperation of more than 150 Ombudsman institutions.
Any job vacancies in Ombudsman Tasmania will be advertised on the Tasmanian Government Jobs Website.
Ombudsman Tasmania offers an internship in first and second semester to penultimate or final year University of Tasmania law students who have completed Administrative Law. Students who have completed Law and Ethics of Health Care are also encouraged to apply.
The interns will be exposed to almost all facets of the Office’s functions but with a particular focus on assisting with factual and legal research. Previous interns have undertaken a range of tasks including:
- assisting with the initial assessments of complaints
- drafting correspondence
- preparing case summaries for our annual report
- assisting in the preparation of custodial inspection guidelines
- accompanying investigation officers to meetings with public authorities and assisting with follow up research
- research projects relating to the Mental Health Act, the Public Interest Disclosures Act and the Corrections Act.
The internships are unpaid. Interns attend our office for one day per week through the university semester. More flexible attendance arrangements can be made. While the internships do not provide students with direct credit towards their degrees, they offer a valuable learning opportunity and workplace experience.
An invitation for expressions of interest are distributed to eligible law students around the end of each year.