This factsheet tells you what the Ombudsman does, what you can and cannot complain about and how to complain.
The Ombudsman examines complaints from people who feel they have been unfairly treated by certain public service providers.
We accept complaints about public service providers including:
Before you complain to the Ombudsman, you must first complain to the service provider whose action or decision has affected you. In some cases there will be a local appeals system which you should use.
If you have complained to the service provider and are still unhappy, then you can contact the Ombudsman.
You should submit your complaint within 12 months of the action or decision that has adversely affected you. However, even if more than 12 months has passed, we may still be able to help if there is a good reason for the delay.
The Ombudsman can examine complaints about:
You cannot complain to the Ombudsman about:
You cannot make a complaint if it relates to:
You cannot complain to the Ombudsman if you can appeal a decision in the courts or with an independent appeals body.
Also, unless the circumstances are exceptional, the Ombudsman cannot examine your complaint if you have started legal proceedings against the service provider about the same complaint.
You can get legal advice about your complaint and still bring it to the Ombudsman -- as long as you don't actually start legal proceedings. Call or email us if you are not sure.
Yes, but only if you give them written permission to do so. Similarly, if you want to complain on behalf of someone else, you must first get their written permission.
Yes. You should include copies of any letters, emails, reports and details of other communications between you and the service provider.
When you make your complaint, you should explain why you are unhappy and what you feel should be done to put things right.
If we can examine your complaint, we will ask you to give us all the information about it. We usually ask the public service provider to send us information about the issues involved. It can take time to gather the information that we need before we can make a decision on your complaint.
It will depend on your individual complaint. We will try to complete the examination of your case within three to six months. If your case is more complicated, it may take us longer. However, we will keep you informed as to what is happening with your complaint.
Yes. The Ombudsman deals with all complaints independently and impartially when deciding whether the action or decision of the service provider was fair or reasonable.
Nothing - there is no charge for the services of the Ombudsman.Download the print version (PDF)