What we do
Ombudsman SA investigates complaints about South Australian government and local government agencies, conducts freedom of information reviews, and supports and monitors the implementation of the Information Sharing Guidelines. Anyone can lodge a complaint, and the Ombudsman can also receive information about State and local government activities confidentially from whistleblowers.
The South Australian Ombudsman is an independent officer who has comprehensive power to:
- investigate complaints about state government departments and authorities, and local government councils
- investigate misconduct and maladministation in public administration on referral by the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption
- review agencies’ determinations about the release of information under the Freedom of Information Act
- receive information confidentially from a person who wishes to disclose improper or illegal action by officers in agencies.
A complaint can be made about any action or inaction by an agency within the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction. Ombudsman SA may conduct investigations to determine whether the process was reasonable and fair, and that the decision is not unlawful, unreasonable or wrong.
If we detect a problem, we may make recommendations to correct the problem. This can involve reviewing a decision, changing a procedure, or some other appropriate remedy. In some cases we may also recommend a refund of payment or an ex gratia payment to remedy any financial loss.
Ombudsman SA may attempt to resolve a complaint by conciliation – bringing both sides together to try to come to a solution. If this route is commenced, then investigation of the complaint is suspended until the completion of this process. While the Ombudsman has substantial powers, not all issues can be investigated under the Ombudsman Act.
Wayne Lines has lived in Adelaide, South Australia all his life. He graduated from Adelaide University with a law degree in 1983 and was engaged in legal practice for 25 years. For sixteen of those years he was employed with the Crown Solicitor’s Office where he undertook a diverse range of work within the Civil Litigation Section and represented government in many different courts and tribunals. In 2008 he was appointed as the South Australian WorkCover Ombudsman. He was then appointed as the South Australian Ombudsman in December 2014. Mr Lines is the sixth Ombudsman appointed since the establishment of the Office of the Ombudsman in 1972.
The Ombudsman, Wayne Lines, is a member of the Australian and New Zealand Ombudsman Association (ANZOA). Established in 2003, ANZOA is a professional association and the peak body for Ombudsmen in Australian and New Zealand. ANZOA’s members are individual Ombudsmen working in not-for-profit industry-based, parliamentary and other statutory offices, which meet accepted high standards of independence, impartiality and effectiveness, and which observe the Benchmarks for Industry-Based Customer Dispute Resolution (CDR Benchmarks). Through the Ombudsman’s membership of ANZOA, our staff benefit from the professional development opportunities offered by participation in ANZOA’s interest groups for staff who perform similar roles. More information at www.anzoa.com.au
In addition to the Ombudsman, there is a Deputy Ombudsman.
Investigating officers investigate complex complaints.
Assessment officers address complaints when they are first received.
Legal officers provide advice and prepare determinations under the Freedom of Information legislation.
The Principal Adviser supports the ISG.
The office has an office manager and three administration officers who provide support for the whole office.
Although Ombudsman SA is independent, it is funded by an allocation from the State Budget through the Attorney-General’s Department.