Who can you complain about?

A complaint may be made about any administrative action or inaction by an agency within Ombudsman SA’s jurisdiction.

Ombudsman SA can investigate ‘administrative acts’ of:

  • state government departments (e.g. Planning, Transport, & Infrastructure; Education & Child Development; Primary Industries and Regions),
  • state government authorities (e.g. SA Water; Housing SA; Public Trustee; Lotteries Commission) and
  • local councils.

Possible complaints may include the process an agency used to make a decision, a delay in taking any action, any requirement which an agency has placed on you which you believe is unreasonable, the conduct of staff or any other action by the agency.

However, it’s important to note that Ombudsman SA does not exist as a means of appeal against a decision by an agency with which you disagree.  Ombudsman SA will only look to see that the process was reasonable and fair, and that the decision was not unlawful, unreasonable or wrong.

What matters can’t Ombudsman SA deal with?

There are certain matters about which Ombudsman SA cannot investigate. Amongst these are:

  • decisions of a court or actions related to court decisions (although the Courts Administration Authority is a body within Ombudsman SA’s jurisdiction, so matters relating to its purely administrative actions may be investigated)
  • complaints about most employee/employer matters
  • actions of the SA Police
  • actions of a Minister (except in respect of external reviews under the Freedom of Information Act), Members of Parliament and judges
  • actions of legal advisors to the Crown
  • actions of private persons, businesses or companies (unless they are acting under a contract with an agency or council) and
  • complaints about the contents of a policy of an agency.

The Ombudsman Act places other limitations on matters which may be able to be investigated.  We do not investigate complaints:

  • where the person is provided with a right of appeal to a court or tribunal
  • other than in exceptional circumstances, where the person has been aware of the matter which is the subject of the complaint for more than 12 months.

The Ombudsman may also decline to investigate or discontinue an investigation if he considers that further investigation is unnecessary or unjustifiable.

Providing it doesn’t fall into any of the categories listed above, virtually any action taken by an agency is likely to be within Ombudsman SA’s jurisdiction.  If in any doubt, we are very happy for you to contact us to discuss the matter. It should be noted that we would expect you to have made reasonable attempts to resolve the matter yourself before we get involved.