Anyone – including individuals, groups and organisations - may make a complaint to us about a South Australian state or local government agency’s acts.
There is no charge to make a complaint.
What can I complain about?
We deal with complaints about administrative acts. For example, your complaint might be about:
- a decision-making process
- a failure to act or delay in taking action
- an unreasonable or unfair decision or requirement
- the conduct of staff or delivery of a service.
We don’t investigate every complaint we receive. Even where the Ombudsman has power to investigate a complaint, the complaint will be assessed against our criteria for investigation, to decide whether investigation is necessary or justifiable.
That said, we can look into allegations of misconduct or maladministration by any public officer or public authority where the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption refers the matter to us.
We also cannot investigate when a person making a complaint has a right of appeal or review under legislation, or a legal remedy, reasonably available to them.
We do not generally investigate complaints about Development Act authorisations. The Ombudsman has no power to change an authority’s decision in relation to a development authorisation.
Before making a complaint
Many complaints can be resolved by contacting the agency about the problem.
Before looking into your complaint, we need to know how you tried to resolve it with the agency and how the agency responded.
We recommend that you:
- call and tell them about your complaint
- send them an email or letter if needed
- allow them time to respond, usually 2 to 3 weeks.
- make note of what you did and when, and keep copies of your communication.
Contact details for South Australian government departments and authorities can be found on the South Australia Government website and contact details for Councils can be found on the Local Government Association of South Australia website.
Unless the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2018 applies, we will disclose your identity to an agency for the purposes of assessing and investigating the complaint.
- If you do not want to be identified to the agency, please let us know when making the complaint.
- If you do so, we will not disclose your identity unless we consider it necessary to properly assess and investigate your complaint.
- If we consider it is necessary to disclose your identity in that situation, we will let you know beforehand.
If the Ombudsman considers that it is in the public interest, parties may be authorised to disclose assessment outcomes and investigation reports. The Ombudsman may also decide to publish an assessment outcome or investigation report, having regard to our Publication of Ombudsman Act Decisions and FOI Determinations policy.
What we cannot do
- give legal advice
- act for any of the parties
- award compensation
- force an agency to comply with our recommendations; however, if the agency does not comply, we can report it to the Premier and the South Australian Parliament.