ISSUE 22—JULY 2010
MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIR
opportunities it provides for us to engage with our
Ron Brent colleague institutions in the region. Our staff learn
Acting Commonwealth Ombudsman and grow through the friendships and interactions
Recent months have been exciting times for the with our regional colleagues. The POA has also
Pacific Ombudsman Alliance. We have moved shown itself to be a powerful tool for enhancing
from the previous ‘network’ to a more formal the effectiveness of all our offices in the vital work
organisation with a Board and a better defined of improving accountability, fairness and
role and work program. The 2010 POA program governance in government.
was approved in our March Board meeting in As foreshadowed at our meeting in March, I will
Canberra, and has since been expanded through be moving on to a new role and new challenges as
out‐of‐session Board approvals. It is very pleasing Australia’s first ‘Aircraft Noise Ombudsman’. (This
to see a program being rolled out that is having a will be a part‐time position, allowing me to begin
strong impact and generating new opportunities. a ‘transition to retirement’ while hopefully still
It is also pleasing to see the Board responding making a worthwhile contribution to fairness and
quickly and constructively to proposals developed accountability in government.) I will therefore be
by the secretariat. We have an association with a handing over the reins of the office to the next
strong and effective board and an active and Commonwealth Ombudsman, Mr Allan Asher,
vigorous secretariat. We have strong support from who will take up duty on 1 September 2010.
AusAID in particular. Dr Vivienne Thom, the other Deputy Ombudsman
There have been two particularly exciting under John McMillan has also moved on, and is
additions to our work program including the role now the Inspector General of Intelligence and
we have taken on to support the AusAID funded Security, so there has been quite a ‘changing of
Australian Youth Ambassador for Development the guard’ here in the Commonwealth
(AYAD), Kristy Yeats, who has just deployed to the Ombudsman’s office! However, with change
Vanuatu Ombudsman’s office for twelve months. I comes opportunity, and the renewal of energy
hope this is a precursor to further AYAD and personality coincides with an exciting stage of
placements in member offices. Secondly, we have consolidation across member offices and the POA.
also allocated funding to bring member I have been privileged to work with a group of
representatives to the National Investigation truly outstanding colleagues, and to spend a few
Symposium being hosted in November by the months as Chair of the POA Board (following John
NSW Ombudsman, the Independent Commission McMillan’s move to become Australia’s
Against Corruption and the Institute of Public ‘Information Commissioner Designate’). I am very
Administration. The NSW Ombudsman’s office, pleased to be handing over the role of Chair at a
conspicuous in its strong and active role in helping time when the future of the organisation is
establish and support the POA, will also host a looking so strong. I have briefed Mr Asher on the
separate Pacific focused pre‐conference program importance of our involvement in the POA and
for POA delegates. expect him to be every bit as supportive as John
To see the POA in such good shape is very and I have been. The Board will decide on a new
important to me personally. I have been closely Chair and anticipate that Mr Asher will be
involved in the development of the Network and available if that is the Board’s preference.
now the Alliance. I see it as an important part of Let me finish by saying that I have found the
the future of this office because of the opportunity to share experience, ideas and
friendships with colleagues very rewarding a
personal level and would like to thank you all for
that. I hope I will be able to maintain contact with
COUNSEL FROM THE OCPNG IN
my friends in the region and perhaps even have CANBERRA
ongoing involvement in some of the POA’s
activities. The Commonwealth Ombudsman hosted
Mr Narakobi in Canberra as a part of our twinning
program with the OCPNG. In Canberra
AUSTRALIAN YOUTH AMBASSADOR Mr Narakobi worked closely with our legal team as
FOR DEVELOPMENT IN VANUATU well as with senior legal practitioners from AGS
and the Victorian Ombudsman.
Mr Dan Thomas
POA Secretariat First steps were taken towards the creation of an
Ombudsman Legal Officers Network. This network
In early June 2010, on behalf of the Pacific would see the strengthening of the unique legal
Ombudsman Alliance (POA) and the Secretariat, approach across the region. Ombudsman legal
Dan undertook a scoping visit to Vanuatu. The visit work is quite different to most other legal roles,
was to assess and provide draft recommendations partly because of the large cross‐section and
on what level of support the POA should provide diversity of advice sought.
to the Vanuatu Ombudsman’s Australian Youth
Ambassador for Development (AYAD), and to Often different Ombudsman Offices have
clarify support for future volunteers across specialist knowledge or direct experience in
member offices. particular matters which, through the Legal
Officers Network, could be shared across
The VO has been awarded two separate twelve‐ jurisdictions.
month AYAD placements commencing in August
2010 and July 2011. In March this year the POA Mr Narakobi also provided a seminar to
resolved to become an Australian Partner Commonwealth Ombudsman staff on the
Organisation (APO) of the AYAD program and to controversial constitutional amendments
provide support to each AYAD placement. proposed by Esa’ala MP Moses Maladina, which
diminishes the Commission’s oversight role and
Ms Kristy Yeats has been selected as the first of are subject to a number of pending Supreme
two AYADs to be placed with the Vanuatu Court challenges questioning the amendments
Ombudsman’s Office. Prior to her departure she legality.
undertook pre‐departure training with the
Commonwealth and NSW Ombudsman’s Offices in Mr Narakobi also met with a number of senior
a range of complaint handling and investigation public servants from AusAID and DFAT.
techniques and office functions.
The POA is currently considering the program
SAMOAN OFFICER IN SYDNEY
implications of increasing the number of AYADs to Seiao (Sei) Saena, the Office Manager and part‐
member offices and the form of ongoing support time Investigation Officer at the office of the
our program can provide to volunteers during Ombudsman of Samoa, spent 24 May to 4 June
placements. 2010 working with the Sydney office of the
Member offices who are interested in developing Commonwealth Ombudsman and with the NSW
proposals for AYAD placements in their office Ombudsman’s office.
should contact Dan Thomas from the POA Ms Saena’s placement fulfilled a recommendation
secretariat for further information. There are long made in Michael Woodhead’s exit report after his
lead times associated with AYAD placements with 2009 placement in Samoa. Michael, an officer in
a formal application process. However the right the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Canberra
AYAD volunteer can make a significant office, spent two days in the Sydney office with
contribution to an ombudsman’s office. Ms Saena, introducing her to the office’s staff and
The Sydney office receives a broad range of
complaints with parallels to the work of the
Samoan Ombudsman. Sandra Koller, Director New
South Wales, facilitated the placement in the
Sydney office and Anne Radford, Manager Public
Administration Division, facilitated the placement
with the NSW Ombudsman. Sei spent time
working alongside investigation officers in both
The main focus of Ms Saena’s placement was the
investigation process, with a particular emphasis
on improving complaint file management and
record‐keeping. The placement explored Key speakers at the opening ceremony were
complaint management and workflows, in Deputy Prime Minister Fred Fono and RAMSI
particular looking at decision points in the Special Coordinator, Mr Graeme Wilson. Both paid
complaint management process. Sei examined tribute to Isaac Qoloni for his vision and fine
how and why the decisions are made and how this example of advocacy for openness, transparency
influences the timely resolution of complaints. and fairness within the public service.
The Sydney office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman
Ombudsman Joe Poraiwai (above) and Leadership
hosted Ms Seiao Saena, Samoan Investigation Officer.
Code Commissioner, Mr Emmanuel Kouhota,
accompanied by their staff (below) hosted
distinguished guests and members of the public to
SOLOMON ISLANDS a successful opening ceremony. The new building
Update from the Office of the Solomon provides custom built and much needed
infrastructure to undertake Ombudsman
investigations and Leadership Code inquiries.
On 2 July 2010 the Office of the Solomon Islands
Ombudsman and the Leadership Code
Commission took delivery of their new building
funded by the Australian Government through
RAMSI. The building was named after the
country’s fourth Ombudsman, the late Mr Isaac
Qoloni, who had served the country with notable
vigour and dedication.
Workshop: Focal Point Officers OCPNG Regional Standardisation Placement
Ombudsman Poraiwai recently invited Permanent The POA Secretariat is making arrangements for a
Secretaries from each major Government agency CO staff member to visit the OCPNG and its
to discuss the role and function of the regional offices for two months to assist with the
Ombudsman’s office. Ombudsman Poraiwai standardisation of complaint‐handling policies and
outlined to the senior public servants strategies to procedures.
reduce the departmental response times to
Ombudsman enquiries. APOR CONFERENCE PAPERS
The Permanent Secretaries indicated that they
found the workshop insightful—helping to identify Conference papers for the general meeting of the
the mutual aims of senior public servants and Pacific Ombudsman Alliance and the 25th
objectives of the Ombudsman’s Office. Those in anniversary conference of the Australasian and
attendance provided helpful suggestions on how Pacific Ombudsman Region are available at
the public service and the Ombudsman could http://www.ombudsman.gov.au/pages/about‐
work more closely together to resolve public us/events/index.php .
A strategy put forward by Ombudsman Poraiwai NEXT BOARD MEETING
was the creation of focal point officers within
The next board meeting will be held via
departments to manage departmental response
teleconference in August. If you have any matters
times to Ombudsman enquiries. The
that you would like to put before the Board,
Ombudsman’s suggestion was well received and
please contact the Secretariat.
discussed extensively by the attendees.
Articles and submissions are welcome. The
Pacific Ombudsman Alliance Network News is
published four times a year.
To submit items for publication, or any other
communication with us, please write to us at:
Pacific Ombudsman Alliance Secretariat
GPO Box 442
PLANNED ACTIVITIES AND Canberra ACT 2601
In the coming months, the POA plans to facilitate
the following activities: email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Forensic accounting training in PNG Previous issues of Pacific Ombudsman Alliance
Network News are stored electronically and
Regional forensic accounting training will be
available at www.ombudsman.gov.au.
delivered in PNG in June 2010. In March, POA
members identified this as a training priority. The Pacific Ombudsman Alliance Network News is
training module is being coordinated by the POA supported by AusAID and NZAID funding.