Complaining about ACT Government Decision Making

Based on the contribution of David Kelsey-Sugg and Heather Lambrick for the Fitzroy Law Handbook 2016, as amended by Andrew Klein and current to March 2022

The ACT Ombudsman - an overview

The ACT Ombudsman is an independent and impartial officer appointed to investigate complaints from individuals who have been unable to resolve problems with ACT Government agencies.

The office states that its aim is to safeguard the community in its dealings with ACT Government agencies by:
  • correcting administrative deficiencies through independent review of complaints about ACT Government administrative action;
  • fostering good public administration that is accountable, lawful, fair, transparent and responsive;
  • assisting people to resolve complaints about government administrative action;
  • developing policies and principles for accountability;
  • reviewing statutory compliance by agencies.
The overall vision of the ACT Ombudsman is to ensure that administrative action by ACT Government agencies is fair and accountable.

What can be investigated

The ACT Ombudsman can deal with most complaints involving the administrative actions of ACT Government agencies and police, including freedom of information requests made to them and whistle-blower disclosures.

The ACT Ombudsman is authorised to investigate complaints about, or issues related to: For more information on what the ACT Ombudsman is authorised to investigate see:

What cannot be investigated

The ACT Ombudsman does not have jurisdiction to investigate complaints about:
  • ACT Government ministers or politicians;
  • building, planning and development;
  • Commonwealth government agencies, such as Centrelink;
  • dangerous dogs;
  • private individuals;
  • issues relating to environmental management and sustainability;
  • decisions of courts and tribunals;
  • public service employment;
  • public trustee and guardianship;
  • rates and land valuations;
  • disability services;
  • health services;
  • services for children and young people;
  • services for older people.
Links to other commissioners and complaint handling agencies that can cover some of these complaints are available at:

For complaints about Commonwealth government agencies visit:

Making a complaint

The ACT Ombudsman does not necessarily investigate all complaints its receives. If you have not already done so, you may be asked to complain to the agency involved first or, if appropriate we may refer you to another dispute resolution body.

When the Ombudsman does investigate, it should be done independently, impartially and in private. The Ombudsman should indicate how long it may take to deal with your complaint and provide the name of a contact person at its office.

The Ombudsman will aim to provide a remedy, which may range from better explanations for actions, through to decisions being reconsidered or actions expedited. Other remedies that the Ombudsman may be able to help you access include apologies and changes to law, policy or practices that help others in the future.

If the Ombudsman does not investigate your complaint, it should explain clearly why, and suggest an alternative avenue for resolving the problem if we know of one. Generally speaking, the Ombudsman will recommend that you try to sort out your complaint with the agency before approaching its office.

More information about the ACT Ombudsman can be found on its website (

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