Ombudsmen fundamental to democracy: Brent

Public sector officials have been reminded of the importance of government 'watchdogs' by the Acting Commonwealth and ACT Ombudsman Ron Brent.

The Ombudsman’s new office premises were officially opened last week by Cabinet Secretary and Special Minister of State Senator Joe Ludwig.

Mr Brent used the occasion to remind government officials of the relevancy of ombudsmen and their role to motivate governments towards accountability, transparency and integrity.

“The Ombudsman exists for those people – be it as many as 95 per cent of the population or as few as five individuals – who need assistance from an objective third party to help them equitably resolve a problem with a government agency,” he said.

“We are able to help people deal with a diverse range of government issues, including social security payments, grant schemes, child support matters, tax complaints, visa problems, public housing, corrective services, compensation for poor administration and police actions.”

Senator Ludwig said the expansion of the Ombudsman’s roles and responsibilities was “testament to the agency’s high-quality work and the confidence of successive governments in the Ombudsman”.

“Since the inception of the office in 1977, the role of the Commonwealth Ombudsman in ensuring Australian governments are accountable to the public continues to be relevant,” Senator Ludwig said.

“The consolidation of the Commonwealth and ACT Ombudsman offices will assist the agencies to deliver better services to the community.”

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