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Annual Report 2017-2018 OmbudsmanNT



Annual Report 2017-2018 OmbudsmanNT

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Tabled paper 934


Tabled Papers for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020; Tabled Papers; ParliamentNT






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43 CHAPTER 5 QUALITY IMPROVEMENT The Ombudsman Act has two objects. The first relates specifically to investigating and dealing with complaints. The second, and equally important object, is to improve the quality of decision-making and administrative practices in public authorities. While information gained in the course of dealing with complaints may inform the Office in its pursuit of the second object, that object is considerably broader than the formal investigation of complaints. The Office engages with other independent offices, public authorities and public sector officers through a range of mechanisms aimed at improving government services. COMPLAINTS AND REVIEW BODIES Our Office strives to minimise the potential for duplicated effort in dealing with complaints and matters of public interest, while at the same time ensuring that all matters of significance are dealt with by the body best placed to deal with them. To that end, we regularly meet or liaise with other independent offices to discuss matters that have come to our attention that may touch on issues within their jurisdiction. These discussions will usually result in an agreed course of action and potentially the formal referral of a complaint. This may involve provision of information already obtained by the Office and, in some cases, provision of support to another office. For example, in 2017/18, the Childrens Commissioner approached my Office and the Commissioner for Public Interest Disclosures regarding a high profile matter surrounding the alleged sexual assault of a child in Tennant Creek. Initial enquiries suggested that there may be issues relating to police conduct in addition to matters relating to Territory Families. In the circumstances, it appeared likely that each of our agencies might have some jurisdiction. This was clearly a matter of substantial public interest. However, there would have been little value in pursuing three separate enquires about related issues. Upon the Childrens Commissioner confirming that she had jurisdiction to conduct an inquiry into the relevant issues, it was agreed that the Childrens Commissioner would conduct an inquiry and that our Office and the Commissioner for Public Interest Disclosures would support the inquiry by each providing one of our staff members for the time required to conduct the inquiry. Our Office provided a Senior Investigation Officer to work on the Childrens Commissioners inquiry for a period of five weeks. More generally, we make every effort to facilitate ongoing co-operative relationships with NT complaints and review bodies. We have entered into the following Memorandums of Understanding to cement those relationships: Entity MoU commenced MoU available Commissioner for Public Interest Disclosures August 2010 2013/14 Annual Report Childrens Commissioner June 2014 2013/14 Annual Report Information Commissioner May 2015 2014/15 Annual Report