26 September 2023

Ombudsman guides PS to deal with complaints

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The Victorian Ombudsman has issued a new guide to help public service staff involved in emergency response work to deal with complaints about their Agency’s programs.

The Ombudsman, Deborah Glass said that as pandemic programs wound up and staff moved on, her Office wanted to learn from what happened and share the knowledge.

Ms Glass said the new Good Practice Guide: Complaint handling in a crisis, set out 12 key lessons for handling complaints in emergency response and relief programs.

“They represent the collective wisdom of the Agency officers, and of our Office,” Ms Glass said.

“This guide draws on what very different agencies did in response to crisis,” she said.

“The best put complaint handling front and centre and evolved as they went.”

Ms Glass said helping Victorians in a crisis was a growing reality for Agencies and Departments, with the COVID-19 pandemic highlighting the difficulties in responding quickly and appropriately to an emergency.

She said amid the haste to get appropriate help to those who require it urgently, the need for a well-planned complaint handling process to accompany Government programs should always be among top priorities

“You can guarantee if you are running an emergency response and relief program, you will get complaints,” the Ombudsman said.

“The guide details the complaint handling efforts of four pandemic response and relief programs, with staff sharing what worked well, what they would do differently next time, and other advice for grappling with future emergencies.”

Ms Glass said this was an opportunity for other Agencies to get a faster start when faced with the next crisis.

“Because crisis is a certainty, whenever or however it next evolves,” she said.

“And the more we can learn from the last one, the better we will handle it.

“My advice to all public organisations – keep this Guide close by.”

The Ombudsman’s 38-page Guide can be accessed at this PS News link.

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