26 September 2023

Ombudsman fails APS handling of complaints

Start the conversation

A national survey by the Commonwealth Ombudsman of how Australian Public Service (APS) Agencies handle complaints from the community has discovered it could do better.

According to the Ombudsman, APS Agencies need to deliver high quality programs and services to the Australian community in a way that is fair, transparent, timely, respectful and effective.

Acting Ombudsman, Penny McKay, said that in April last year her Office invited a broad selection of APS Agencies to participate in a voluntary survey about how they handled complaints.

“The survey aimed to establish a baseline for how the APS handles complaints from members of the community,” Ms McKay said.

“The survey focused on three key areas common in strong complaint handling services — good governance, effective data capture and reporting, and ongoing improvement.”

She said the most variability between Agencies was in how they collected, recorded, analysed, reported and used complaint data.

“The quality of data management was influenced by whether the Agency had a centralised complaint handling unit, the sophistication of their complaint handling electronic systems and the level of detail recorded,” the Ombudsman said.

“Survey responses indicated that information about how to make a complaint is often only found on an Agency’s website and is not included in other formats such as brochures or on other organisations’ websites.”

She said customer feedback about complaint handling could also be better captured and analysed, with few Agencies conducting customer satisfaction surveys on how complaints are managed.

“The Ombudsman’s Office is keen to help Agencies improve their complaints handling by providing education and training,” Ms McKay said.

The Ombudsman’s Complaint Handling Better Practice Guides can be accessed at this PS News link.

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.