COVID-19

Physical Office Closure from 2pm on 18 March 2020

At 2pm on Wednesday 18 March, NSW Ombudsman had to effect the immediate physical closure of our offices. This is a direct result of the COVID-19 Pandemic: an employee of another tenant in our building tested positive to COVID-19. Our offices will remain closed until further notice.

The health and safety of our staff and the public we serve is paramount. This priority is foremost in our mind as we look to maintain our operations and fulfill our legislative requirements.

Impact on our services

Anyone accessing our services should be aware of the following:

  • We expect significant disruptions to, and in some cases the complete cessation of, our services as a result of this closure.
  • We are currently working to maintain critical office systems and support staff to work remotely to the maximum extent possible.
  • Members of the public accessing our service should be mindful of this impact and refer to the instructions below.

We appreciate everyone’s understanding in this matter.

How to contact us:

  • Anyone wishing to contact our office, including to make a complaint about a NSW public authority, should do so by using the web form or by emailing the office.
  • If you are unable, for example by reason of disability, to put your complaint in writing, you can call us. Please be mindful that you may need to leave a voicemail.

Detailed information

For complainants and the general public:

For NSW public authorities, community service providers and other stakeholders

For complainants and the general public

Delays expected

The NSW Ombudsman has limited resources to respond to complaints, and these resources are expected to be further strained as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently you may expect delays to our complaint-handling responses.

We expect that many public authorities and community service providers will also have additional challenges at this time. They may not be in a position to respond in a timely manner to our inquiries either, which may exacerbate delays.

All complaints made to our office will be triaged. If your complaint is assessed as urgent a contact officer will contact you as soon as possible.

Emergencies

In case of emergency you should contact the relevant public authority or community service provider concerned directly or, if relevant, contact emergency services.

If you require information about the NSW Government’s response to COVID-19 you should consult the NSW Health website or contact HealthDirect on 1800 022 222.

For NSW public authorities, community service providers and other stakeholders

Training cancelled until further notice

All face-to-face training provided by the NSW Ombudsman’s Office will be discontinued from Monday 16 March 2020. No new training will be scheduled prior to 1 July 2020.

All agencies whose staff were scheduled to undertake training will be contacted to make alternative arrangements. Depending on the circumstances, this may include remote delivery of training, postponement, or cancellation and refund.

Alternative arrangements for non-essential face-to-face meetings

Face-to-face meetings with staff of the NSW Ombudsman Office will not take place, unless the meeting is deemed by the Ombudsman to be essential and necessary to be conducted in person. Where possible, essential meetings will be replaced by telephone meetings or audio-visual conference.

Any person who is required to attend the NSW Ombudsman’s Office will be screened before arrival. They will be asked three questions:

  1. Have you travelled overseas in the last 14 days?
  2. Have you had any contact or been in proximity with any person who has a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days?
  3. In the past 24 hours have you had any cold or flu-like symptoms including fever, sore throat, cough or shortness of breath?

If the answer to any of these questions is ‘yes’, access will not be permitted. The relevant meeting will not proceed and the person may be offered an alternative meeting process via phone or audio visual link where possible.

Responses to Ombudsman inquiries and statutory notices

The NSW Ombudsman appreciates that some public authorities and community services providers will be under additional pressures as they respond to COVID-19.

If these pressures are such that you will be unable to respond to the NSW Ombudsman’s inquiries or statutory notices within the time frame specified, please let us know as soon as possible that an extension will be required. Where reasonable, we will seek to make necessary accommodations to ensure there is no unnecessary diversion of resources or disruption to the authority’s response.

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