CAIN Update - 20 June 2018

Items of interest for the Complaints, Accountability, Integrity Network

Inspection of places of detention (OPCAT)

Report on an unannounced follow-up inspection of Christchurch Women's Prison Under the Crimes of Torture Act 1989

Australia has ratified the OPCAT (Optional Protocol to the Convention against torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment). The Commonwealth, states and territories will need to appoint National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) to inspect and report on places of detention in line with the Protocol. This is an example of an NPM follow up inspection report on a correctional centre.
New Zealand Ombudsman, April 2018

Dealing with challenging complainant behaviours

Dealing with challenging behaviour

Short YouTube video introducing good practice guide.
Victorian Ombudsman, May 2018

Good Practice Guide to Dealing with Challenging Behaviour

This guide provides practical, common sense advice about how to deal with challenging behaviour. It includes tips for dealing with common situations and examples of what does and does not work, based on actual cases. It recommends organisations follow four stages — Prevent, Respond, Manage, Limit. These stages recognise that complaint handlers encounter a spectrum of behaviour, from slightly confronting to clearly unreasonable, and responses need to be graduated too. The guide also provides advice about complaint handlers looking after themselves, and managers and leaders looking after staff.
Victorian Ombudsman, May 2018


The Indigenous birth registration report

A 2014 Queensland Health analysis showed approximately 15-18% of births to Indigenous mothers were not registered compared with 1.8% for births to non-Indigenous mothers. While this disparity appears to decrease over the first five years after birth, the investigation found the processes used by the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) may be contributing to lower registration rates of Indigenous births in Queensland. It found that, while there have been some efforts to engage with Indigenous communities, BDM had taken inefficient action to remedy the disparity between registration of Indigenous and non-Indigenous births. The investigation also found the current level of coordination between Queensland Government agencies was inadequate, particularly given the potential for a range of agencies to encourage and support birth registration and certification.
Queensland Ombudsman, June 2018

Regulation of builders

Is your builder 'fit and proper': the weaknesses of the home building licensing scheme in NSW

The complainants engaged a small building company to build a home. There was a dispute which was unsuccessfully mediated by Fair Trading. The complainants cancelled the contract and later learned that the builder had been declared bankrupt some years ago and there had been previous complaints against it. The investigation found that there was information available to Fair Trading that indicated the company's contractor licence should not have been renewed. This information concerned the company and the fitness and propriety of its director (the builder) to hold a licence. The investigation concluded that there are serious and systemic issues with both the public register and the home building licensing system. The report makes a range of recommendations, including: • changes to the public register • improvements in intelligence sharing for the purpose of publishing on the public register to assist Fair Trading's licence assessment processes, and • changes to internal guidance for staff.
NSW Ombudsman, May 2018

Standard of proof

Whether the Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner misdirected himself as to the standard of proof applicable to a complaint under the Health and Community Services Complaints Act 2004

A medical professional complained that the Commissioner determined to take no further action in respect of his complaint concerning a social worker, whom he alleged had attempted to procure an unlawful abortion for a patient and had unlawfully directed or incited him to facilitate the procedure. The Ombudsman decided that the Commissioner's determination to take no further action was based in part on a mistake of law regarding the applicable standard of proof. The Commissioner had applied the criminal standard of proof as the complaint involved allegations of criminal conduct. The Ombudsman declined to set aside the determination of the Commissioner on the basis that he was not satisfied that the Commissioner would have reached a different determination had the Commissioner not misdirected himself.
South Australian Ombudsman, January 2018


Investigation into the financial support provided to kinship carers

The Ombudsman investigated financial support provided by the Department of Health and Human Services to kinship carers. The Ombudsman recommended that the Department:

  • give kinship carers and foster carers the same payments
  • make decisions that give children in kinship care the best support
  • give kinship carers clear information about payments
  • make decisions in a reasonable time
  • contact kinship carers in a reasonable time.
Victorian Ombudsman, December 2017

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