Frequently asked questions

Who can complain to the Ombudsman?

Anyone with a complaint against a Tasmanian public authority can raise an issue with the Ombudsman. You can do this yourself or ask someone to represent you. Your local Member of Parliament can also make a complaint on your behalf.

What does it cost?

Nothing. The services of the Ombudsman are free.

Who can I complain about?

You can complain to us if you think you have been treated unfairly or unreasonably by a Tasmanian public authority. We can take complaints against:

  • Tasmanian Government Departments
  • Tasmania Police
  • The Tasmanian Prison Service
  • Local Councils and Water and Sewerage Corporations
  • Government Business Enterprises
  • State-owned companies
  • The University of Tasmania
  • the holder of a statutory office
  • any body created under an Act for a public purpose
  • any body whose members (or most of whose members) are appointed by the Governor or a Minister

Some public authorities and certain actions are outside the Ombudsmans jurisdiction. We cannot take complaints about:

  • The Attorney-General, the Solicitor-General or the Director of Public Prosecutions
  • The Tasmanian Audit Office
  • Judges, associate judges, magistrates or courts
  • The actions of public authorities with respect to court proceedings in which they are involved
  • Actions taken by a tribunal or its members in the performance of its decision-making functions

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Can I make an anonymous complaint?

Yes, but if you do not give us your name and your complaint does not raise any serious issues, we might not be able to investigate it.

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Is there a time limit on complaints?

The Ombudsman will not usually investigate a complaint if you have known about the issue for more than two years, unless there is a reasonable excuse for the delay.

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What happens when I have made a complaint?

We will acknowledge receipt of your complaint quickly and assess it carefully. As a first step, we will usually contact the authority to seek their response. Most complaints are resolved at this early stage.

The Ombudsman might decide to formally investigate your complaint and if necessary, we can examine the authority's files and interview witnesses.

If your complaint is upheld, we can make recommendations to the authority about how any problems should be resolved. We cannot require the authority to act in a particular way but most comply with our recommendations. If they do not, and we believe it is in the public interest to do so, we can report their non-compliance to Parliament.

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How long will it take?

Some complaints can be resolved quickly, others take longer. Formal investigations can take several months. We will keep you informed of progress throughout the process and report the results.

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What if I am unhappy with the way my complaint has been handled?

If you do not agree with our decision, you can ask for a review. These reviews are handled by a senior member of our staff who has not been involved in your complaint.

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