CAIN Update – 28 February 2017

Items of interest for the Complaints, Accountability, Integrity Network


Accessibility of Indigenous Language interpreters: Talking in language follow up investigation

In 2011, the Commonwealth Ombudsman released a report into the accessibility and use of Indigenous Language Interpreters by government agencies. At the time, the government was developing a National Framework for Indigenous Interpreters (draft National Framework), which was not finalised. This follow up investigation focuses on what steps, if any, agencies may have taken to improve access to Indigenous language interpreter services in the absence of a national framework. The Ombudsman consulted with government agencies and other stakeholders to evaluate what new challenges, opportunities and examples of good practice have emerged.

Commonwealth Ombudsman (December 2016)

Department of Human Services: Accessibility of Disability Support Pension for remote Indigenous Australians

The Ombudsman's office investigated a number of cases in which Indigenous people and their advocates complained about decisions to refuse Disability Support Pension (DSP) claims. The Ombudsman does not usually investigate where, as in most of those cases, a complainant has a right of review. However, the focus of these complaints was the Department of Human Services' (DHS) assessment process. The complainants argued that their medical impairments were not properly or appropriately assessed. The Ombudsman decided to investigate their circumstances and examine DHS's approach.

Commonwealth Ombudsman (December 2016)

Independent officers

The challenges facing independent statutory officers

A speech by the Acting NSW Ombudsman, Professor John McMillan, who has held five independent statutory roles in the last 14 years. He describes a threefold challenge for statutory independent officers to maintain independence, to have impact and make a difference, but to steer clear of debilitating controversy. He offers his thoughts on how that challenge can play out in practice.

Professor John McMillan AO, Acting NSW Ombudsman, October 2016


Operation Exmouth special report

This report concerns an investigation by IBAC into allegations that a senior manager employed by Places Victoria dishonestly awarded contracts for work under the Fibre to the Home project to entities with whom he had a relationship and which were effectively under his control. IBAC's investigation found that the person played a critical role in one family (with whom he has a familial relationship) obtaining a large financial advantage through their subcontracting businesses. This advantage was obtained in circumstances where the person flouted Places Victoria policies in a range of areas including procurement and declaration of conflicts of interest. IBAC also identified that Places Victoria did not provide adequate training and guidance by way of policies and procedures. As a result, opportunities to detect and regularise the person's improper management of the Fibre to the Home project were missed.

Independent broad-based anti-corruption Commission, Victoria, October 2016

Sponsorship management - Corruption Prevention Advisory

Sponsorship is a business arrangement in which the sponsor agrees to have their name, products or services associated with the sponsored organisation's activities for a negotiated benefit in cash or kind, or a combination of both. The opportunities for public sector agencies using sponsorships to develop corporate partnerships are extensive. When properly considered and implemented they can provide all parties with positive and tangible returns. However, they do present risks to public sector organisations which must strive at all times to obtain the best value for money, act transparently, encourage open and effective competition and make efficient use of public funds. Achieving this through sponsorship requires an awareness of the associated ethical and corruption risks, and high-level management skills. One of the most important aspects is managing the public perception of the arrangement

Qld Crime and Corruption Commission, September 2016


Department for Correctional Services – Prohibition of correspondence

"The Ombudsman investigated a complaint from a prisoner advocacy group Justice Action against a decision by the Department for Correctional Services in January 2016 to prohibit correspondence between prisoners and Justice Action. This action was in response to Justice Action posting prisoner profile information on its iExpress website. When requested by the Department to remove the profiles due to the potential for victims to be harmed or offended Justice Action declined to do so. The Ombudsman acknowledged that the decision was a policy decision but in considering the rationale for the policy found that the Correctional Services Act enabled prisoners to receive and send letters unless the content of the communication contravened the Act. On the available evidence there had been no breach of the Act or the Declaration of Principles Governing Treatment of Victims. On 1 September 2016 new regulations were introduced prohibiting communication if it facilitated a relationship between the prisoner and a person who was not a prisoner. The Ombudsman found that this did not prohibit communication with Justice Action for another purpose. The Ombudsman recommended that the Department amend its policy document to ensure that it permits lawful communication between prisoners and Justice Action."

Ombudsman SA, November 2016

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