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    7.8 The Ombudsman

    The Ombudsman is an officer of Queensland Parliament established under the Ombudsman Act 2001 (the Ombudsman Act).1


    The principal functions of the Ombudsman are to:

    • investigate administrative actions of agencies
    • make recommendations to agencies about ways of
      1. addressing the effects of inappropriate administrative actions
      2. improving administrative practices and procedures.2


    ‘Administrative action’ means any action about a matter of administration and includes a decision and an act, the failure to make a decision or do an act (including a failure to provide a written statement of reasons for a decision), the formulation of a proposal or intention, the making of a recommendation (including a recommendation made to a Minister) and an action taken because of a recommendation made to a Minister.3

    The Ombudsman Act applies to ‘agencies’ which means a department, local government or a public authority. Similar to the RTI Act and the IP Act, ‘public authority’ includes entities established for a public purpose under an Act or created by the Governor in Council or a Minister and certain other entities or individuals appointed by the Queensland Government which may include Government Boards. The definition for ‘public authority’ is broad and the Ombudsman's Office should be consulted for clarification of any queries.

    Investigative role and powers

    The Ombudsman may instigate an investigation on his/her own initiative, as a result of a complaint, or on reference by Parliament.4

    The Ombudsman may investigate informally or exercise significant formal powers under Part 4 of the Ombudsman Act, such as the power to require persons to give statements, documents and information and may, if necessary, apply for a warrant for the arrest of a person who fails to comply with an investigation requirement.5 The Ombudsman must conduct the investigation in a way that maintains confidentiality.6 The views of both the complainant and the agency are actively sought and considered before any investigation is concluded.

    If the Ombudsman considers that the administrative action to which the investigation related was:

    • unlawful or unreasonable, unjust, oppressive or improperly discriminatory; or
    • made for an improper purpose, based on irrelevant grounds or considerations, or a mistake of law or fact; or
    • lacking in adequate explanation or reasons; or
    • simply wrong.7

    The Ombudsman may give a report to the principal officer of the agency and the relevant Minister recommending that particular action be taken.8 If the recommended action is not taken, a report can be provided to the Premier and Parliament.9

    Administrative improvement role

    The Ombudsman may also make recommendations or provide information or other assistance to agencies to improve administrative practice – e.g., guidelines and training on good administrative decision making and internal complaints management.

    1. Section 11 Ombudsman Act
    2. Section 12 Ombudsman Act
    3. Section 7 Ombudsman Act
    4. Section 18 Ombudsman Act
    5. Section 36 Ombudsman Act
    6. Section 25(2) Ombudsman Act
    7. Section 49 Ombudsman Act
    8. Section 50 Ombudsman Act
    9. Section 51 Ombudsman Act

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    Last updated:
    18 May, 2016
    Last reviewed:
    29 July, 2010