The South Australian Government established the Ombudsman’s office in 1972 as part of a global movement. The Ombudsman Act 1972 was passed in Parliament on 23 November 1972 and proclaimed on 14 December 1972. In its first year of operation, the office received 726 complaints against agencies in its jurisdiction.

The office was set up originally in Parliament House.

Over time the Ombudsman’s role has expanded, leading to changes in jurisdictions and relevant legislation.

Local government councils were brought into the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction in 1975.

The Ombudsman became the external reviewer of decisions regarding access to information in 1991, with the proclamation of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 1991 and the Local Government (Freedom of Information) Amendment Act (local government FOI provisions were removed from the Local Government Act 1999 and incorporated into the FOI Act).

The Whistleblowers Protection Act 1993 enabled the Ombudsman to receive disclosures of ‘public interest information’.  In 2019, the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2018 replaced the Whistleblowers Protection Act 1993 and made the Ombudsman a relevant authority for receiving public interest disclosures relating to all agencies specified in the Ombudsman Act. Disclosures are actioned in accordance with the Public Interest Disclosure Act and the Public Interest Disclosure Guidelines issued by the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption.

Between 2003 and 2010, amendments to the Local Government Act 1999 gave the Ombudsman specific powers to consider matters such as:

  • council member conduct including handling of conflicts of interest
  • an audit function in relation to council
  • council decisions and practices related to rating.

In 2013 the Ombudsman was given responsibility for South Australia’s Information Sharing Guidelines for promoting the safety and wellbeing of all vulnerable people. This function was relocated to the Department of the Premier and Cabinet in 2018.

On 1 September 2013, the Ombudsman was given powers to investigate misconduct and maladministration in public administration on referral by the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption.

On 1 July 2015, Ombudsman SA assumed the powers of the WorkCover Ombudsman to oversee the management of workers compensation claims under the Return to Work Act 2014.

Since 18 December 2017, prescribed child protection complaints may be made to Ombudsman SA and will be taken to be complaints under the Ombudsman Act 1972. Prior to this time, all child protection complaints went to the Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner at first instance.

On 7 October 2021 , the Ombudsman was given direct jurisdiction over complaints and reports about misconduct and maladministration in public administration.

Past and present Ombudsmen

First Mr Gordon Combe 1972 – January 1980
Acting Mr LWA Myers January – June 1980
Second Mr Robert Bakewell 1 July 1980 – 31 March 1985
Third Ms Mary Beasley 1 April 1985 – October 1985
Acting Mr Eugene Biganovsky 24 October 1985 – February 1986
Fourth Mr Eugene Biganovsky February 1986 – 22 June 2007
Acting Ms Suzanne Carman 23 June 2007 – 12 September 2007
Acting Mr Ken MacPherson 13 September 2007 – 31 May 2009
Fifth Mr Richard Bingham 1 June 2009 – 30 June 2014
Acting Ms Megan Philpot 1 July 2014 – 17 December 2014
Sixth Mr Wayne Lines 18 December 2014 – Present

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