CAIN Update – 30 January 2017

Items of interest for the Complaints, Accountability, Integrity Network

Domestic violence

A report on giving effect to the recommendations arising from the Investigation into issues associated with violence restraining orders and their relationship with family and domestic violence fatalities

In November 2015, the WA Ombudsman tabled an Investigation into issues associated with violence restraining orders and their relationship with family and domestic violence fatalities (FDV Investigation Report) in the WA Parliament. This report sets out the steps taken, or proposed to be taken, to give effect to the recommendations arising from the FDV Investigation Report. A further report on progress will be provided in the Ombudsman's office's 2016-17 Annual Report.

Ombudsman WA, November 2016

Human rights

Human Rights, Global Values and the Ordinary Virtues

"Are human rights more than a theoretical discourse for politicians and lawyers? Research by Michael Ignatieff shows that human rights don't shape our moral instincts and values. And they don't shape the public assessment of issues like immigration, discrimination or poverty. To make human rights useful for everyday life, we need to change the language from 'rights' to 'gifting'."

Uehiro-Carnegie-Oxford Lecture in Practical Ethics, Merton College, University of Oxford, October 2016

Conduct of Police and investigative bodies

Operation Prospect

Operation Prospect was a comprehensive investigation of allegations and complaints about the conduct of officers of the NSW Police Force, the NSW Crime Commission and the Police Integrity Commission. Those complaints and allegations related to certain investigations conducted by those bodies, separately and jointly, between 1999 and 2002. The Ombudsman's investigation also examined the circumstances surrounding the unauthorised release of confidential NSWPF and NSWCC records relating to those matters.

This was a complex and at times controversial investigation. It is stated to be the largest single investigation undertaken by an Ombudsman in Australia. Over the four years of investigation to compile this report of over 850 pages, the NSW Ombudsman assembled over one million pages of source documents, conducted 107 hearings and 67 interviews with 131 witnesses, provided 1,425 pages of provisional findings to 38 affected parties, arranged 103 days of document inspection for 27 of the 38 parties, considered 61 submissions from the parties comprising 1,626 pages of submissions, and handled more than 330 complaints, enquiries and public interest disclosures regarding the matters under investigation.

Ombudsman NSW, December 2016

Public interest in publication of Ombudsman report

Kaldas v Barbour

The plaintiff was a former senior police officer who sought an interlocutory injunction to prevent the NSW Ombudsman providing a copy of the Operation Prospect report to Parliament. There are two issues when considering whether to grant an interim injunction – whether there is a serious question to be tried and – whether the balance of convenience favours granting interlocutory relief. The Judge determined that there were serious issues to be tried but that the balance of convenience did not favour grant of the injunction. The application for an injunction was dismissed.

The decision contains a number of comments about the nature of an Ombudsman and the public interest served by the provision of Ombudsman reports to Parliament (paragraphs 47-52). These can probably be extended by analogy to other similar independent bodies.

NSW Supreme Court, [2016] NSWSC 1880 (20 December 2016)

Unauthorised access to information

How to respond to a confidential information incident in your agency: A six-step guide for managers and supervisors

Confidential information is misused when a public sector employee accesses information held by the agency — not to perform their normal lawful duties — but rather for a private use and benefit, either for themselves or another person. This document is a practical guide to help public sector managers and supervisors respond effectively to any confidential information incident in their agency. It provides the necessary legal framework, key steps and supporting resources.

Qld Crime and Corruption Commission, November 2016


Report on a Matter of Governance at Murdoch University

The report related to allegations of breaches of policy by a former Vice-Chancellor surrounding the appointment of a senior officer of the University and the appointment and subsequent termination of another officer. The Commission formed an opinion that serious misconduct had been committed in one regard and misconduct had been committed in two other respects. The report also discussed the governance of the University.

Corruption and Crime Commission, WA, July 2016

Provision of a link in CAIN updates is not an endorsement of a website or a publication. Readers must make up their own minds about the value of any information provided or views expressed.