Annual Report 2017-2018 OmbudsmanNT
Tabled paper 934
Tabled Papers for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020; Tabled Papers; ParliamentNT
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2 Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection transfer Following on from a recommendation in the Martin Report (which led to the establishment of the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption) the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) functions have been transferred to the Ombudsmans Office. In August 2018, we welcomed the staff of the OIC. I have been appointed as Information Commissioner in addition to my role as Ombudsman. The former Information Commissioner has taken up the position of Deputy Ombudsman and Deputy Information Commissioner. All other OIC staff have also transferred. The transfer had been anticipated for some time, and some appointments and initiatives in my Office were delayed in order to facilitate a smooth transition. This impacted to some extent on the capacity of the Office during the reporting period. I wholeheartedly thank my staff for their application, flexibility and understanding during this transitional period. I also thank the staff of the OIC for their extremely positive approach to the new arrangements. Office operations In 2017/18, we saw a substantial increase in approaches, reaching 2,304 compared to 2,036 in the previous year. The number of annual approaches has fluctuated substantially over the past five years within a range of around 2,000 up to over 2,700. The figure this year fits within the middle of that range but is higher in the context of a historical average over many years of just over 2,000 approaches per year. Major contributors to the increase over the previous year were NT Police, Fire & Emergency Services (105 more approaches), Correctional Services (77 more) and Jacana Energy (51 more). Interestingly, the year was one of two distinct halves, with 1,001 approaches in the first half rising to 1,303 in the second half. Increases were experienced across the board but analysis to date has been unable to identify any particular reason for the trend, which continued in the first two months of 2018/19. Of the approaches completed in 2017/18 (2,293), we finalised 92% of general approaches within 28 days and 92% of Police conduct approaches within 90 days. In the great majority of cases, we attempt to deal with and resolve approaches informally. There is a more detailed description of what we do and how we do it in Chapter 3. In 2017/18, we finalised two major investigations on Administration of a high volume, low value, subsidy scheme and Taser use and Management of NT Police conduct issues, with reports to the Chief Minister for tabling in the Legislative Assembly. My Office also contributed to a major investigation by the Childrens Commissioner by providing the services of one of our senior investigators for five weeks.