CAIN Update – 31 January 2018

Items of interest for the Complaints, Accountability, Integrity Network

Evidence based decision making

Can We Trust The Numbers?

"Data, statistics and algorithms dominate every aspect of our lives. But how accurate are they, and how fair?" Of particular interest are presentations on:
Alan Smith: Why Do We Trust Intuition Over Even The Most Reliable Numbers?
Mona Chalabi: How Can We Tell The Good Statistics From The Bad Ones?
Anne Milgram: How Can Smarter Statistics Help Us Fight Crime?
Ted Radio Hour podcast, 26 January 2018

Dispute resolution

Medico-legal dispute resolution programs

"In highly litigious societies, especially the USA and to some degree in Australia, when there is medical negligence, the patient's trigger response may be to call a lawyer and sue. But is this the best way forward for the patient? New research evaluates an alternative to costly and stressful malpractice suits. In the USA, a growing number of hospitals are adopting 'open disclosure', Communication and Resolution programs or CRP's, and the study found malpractice victims overall like this process."
ABC Radio National Law Report podcast, 30 January 2018

Correctional services

Implementing OPCAT in Victoria: report and inspection of the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre

Australia has declared the intention to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment – known as OPCAT – by the end of 2017. While the reader's eye is immediately drawn to the word 'Torture', OPCAT is equally concerned with the other forms of ill-treatment referred to in its title. OPCAT carries with it important obligations, most of which will fall to the individual states who have responsibility for the various closed environments that are intended to keep our community safe. The Ombudsman began an investigation in March to ensure that Victoria is prepared to respond to international obligations – not only to set out the landscape of closed environments and the agencies that oversee them, but also to understand what it will take, in practical terms, to comply with OPCAT.
Victorian Ombudsman, November 2017

Investigation into the strip searching procedures for women at the Hobart Reception Prison

The Ombudsman investigated the Tasmanian Prison Service's compliance with its strip searching procedures at the prison. The Ombudsman was satisfied that the Prison Service was following best practice when detainees were cooperating with the strip search but some issues arose in the context of strip searches where correctional and police officers were required to use force. The investigation identified training gaps. The report makes a number of recommendations relating to training, provision of information and review.
Tasmanian Ombudsman, November 2017

Conflict of interests

The Cairns Regional Council councillor conflicts of interest report

This report outlines the findings of an investigation into whether Cairns Regional Council (council) and its councillors complied with relevant legislative and policy requirements and acted reasonably in relation to the disclosure and management of councillors' conflicts of interest. Some of the issues considered are unique to councils which have a group of councillors operating within it, as Cairns did with respect to the Unity Team. Other issues discussed are of general relevance to councils and councillors. The investigation did not identify wilful non-compliance with any legislative requirements by council or councillors, and observed that councillors went to some effort to comply. It did identify, however, a lack of understanding of a number of requirements and a sense of complacency by some councillors in respect of matters which were their own personal responsibility. The investigation found that: • the practice of councillors declaring conflicts of interest as a group did not comply with legislation • the practice of all Unity Team members relying on a legislative provision to stay in a meeting to maintain a quorum, in circumstances where it was not necessary for all members to stay to maintain a quorum, did not comply with that provision • it was not always possible to determine from the minutes of a meeting how a councillor who has declared a conflict of interest voted and, in this respect, council did not always comply with the legislation • a number of councillors did not comply with legislation in that their Register of Interests did not contain all gifts required to be included.
Queensland Ombudsman, October 2017


Delays in processing of applications for Australian Citizenship by conferral

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (the department) receives approximately 200,000 applications per year for Australian citizenship by conferral, which is an increase of about 70,000 applications over the past five years. In this same period, the department has become more aware of the risk of identity fraud, which has increased the need for the department to apply greater effort to the task of verifying the identity of applicants before conferring Australian citizenship. An increasing volume of applications, and an increasing effort to process them, has meant a slow-down in decision-making. This has also meant an increase in complaints from people awaiting decisions. This prompted an Ombudsman investigation.

The Report makes four recommendations for the department to assist with its administration, mindful of the risks it is trying to mitigate. These include the implementation of overarching strategies, which should assist the citizenship program to better manage its increasing caseload of complex identity matters. In the Ombudsman's view, if integrity and identity issues are better treated and resolved before a person applies for citizenship, and if departmental systems are more innovative and advanced, with enhanced instructions and improved accessibility, it will assist a citizenship delegate to make a decision on identity more quickly and with greater satisfaction. With improved technological innovation that the department envisages implementing, this should result in improved efficiencies and effectiveness for citizenship decisions as well.
Commonwealth Ombudsman, December 2017

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