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The Ombudsman SA Office, providing free, impartial, informal and timely resolution of complaints to promote fairness, openness and good public administration in South Australia.

The South Australian Ombudsman can assist you with your complaint about the administrative actions of a State government agency or authority, or local government council, and review government agencies’ decisions about Freedom of Information.


A complaint may be made about any action or inaction by an agency within the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction. For example you may complain about 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, the Ombudsman does not exist as a means of appeal against a decision by an agency with which you disagree. The Ombudsman will only look to see that the process was reasonable and fair, and that the decision is not unreasonable or unlawful.

There are certain matters about which the Ombudsman cannot consider complaints. Amongst these are decisions of a court or actions related to court decisions, complaints about employee/employer matters, actions of the Police (refer to the Police Complaints Authority) or actions of Ministers of the Crown (except in respect of external reviews under the Freedom of Information Act). However for an agency within jurisdiction, virtually any action taken by the agency may be within the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction.

If in any doubt, it would be best to call the Ombudsman’s Office to discuss the matter.

Normally the Ombudsman would expect you to have made reasonable attempts to resolve the matter yourself before he becomes involved.

Available online is the ’Make a Complaint’ form to quickly and conveniently allow you to register your complaint.

An alternative approach which the Ombudsman Act allows the Ombudsman to adopt is to refer the matter for conciliation and suspend any investigation whilst this occurs. In suitable cases this may be an option preferred to further investigation if the Ombudsman considers that this may produce an outcome which is acceptable to both the complainant and the agency. If this option occurs, an officer from the Ombudsman’s Office will convene and chair a conference with the parties. The aim of such a conference is initially to clarify issues with the parties and then to attempt to identify possible solutions with the assistance of the parties. Conciliation is a voluntary process and if either party declines to cooperate then the Ombudsman will not proceed with such a conference.

Normally when the Ombudsman receives a complaint, he seeks to understand the complaint from the complainant either by assessing the complainant’s written submission or by questioning the complainant on the telephone. An Officer of the Ombudsman’s Office will then approach the agency with the details of the complaint and invite the agency to respond to the claims made. Once this stage has been reached it will depend on the assessment of the information as to what may happen next. If the Ombudsman is initially satisfied with the agency’s response or if it is necessary to clarify information with the complainant, the complainant will be contacted and invited to respond to the information received from the agency. The Ombudsman (or an officer from the Ombudsman Office) may also attend the agency to examine documents, or may conduct an on-site inspection at the complainant’s premises or at the agency to ascertain further information.

The Ombudsman may also consider it necessary to interview relevant witnesses to the matter. These may include staff of the agency or other independent persons. Once all relevant information has been obtained the Ombudsman will form a view of the agency’s actions. If it is considered that any error or unfairness has occurred then the Ombudsman’s Office will attempt to negotiate a resolution between the complainant and the agency. Alternatively if the Ombudsman believes that the agency has acted fairly he will express this view to the complainant and explain why he holds this view.

If the Ombudsman considers that the agency has acted unfairly and the agency will not negotiate a suitable resolution, the Ombudsman is able to report the matter to the Chief Executive of the agency, the Minister, the Parliament and the Premier with recommendations for remedial action. In practical terms, however, it is rarely necessary for this type of action to occur as on most occasions the agency will reach some compromise to resolve the problem.

The Ombudsman can receive a complaint in any understandable form.

Many complaints are received over the telephone (call 8226 8699 or Toll Free 1800 182 150 from country areas).

Alternatively you can visit the Ombudsman’s office. Please telephone the office to make an appointment.

Whatever method is chosen, it is essential that you attempt to give the Ombudsman as clear a picture as possible of your complaint. Obviously the Ombudsman will need your contact details, including a telephone number (and a daytime number if it is different to your home number). If you have an account number or any other reference number from the agency, this should be provided to the Ombudsman. Please attempt to set out as clearly and as concisely as possible the matters about which you are complaining. Dates of relevant events and names and contact telephone numbers of agency or other people who may have relevant information would be most helpful. In many cases there is documentation which is held by the complainant and will assist the Ombudsman to obtain a full appreciation of the complaint. Copies of such letters or documents should be provided to the Ombudsman by post or by delivery to the Ombudsman’s Office.

Complaints can also be made by fax on 8226 8602 or e-mail

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