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Ombudsman warns of danger posed to people with disabilities left in vehicles

The public should be alert to vulnerable people with disabilities being left in cars in heat waves, the Ombudsman Michael Barnes sent out a media release today, ahead of extreme temperatures predicted for the weekend.

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Office Christmas closure

Our office will be closed from 1pm Friday 22 December 2017 and will reopen in the new year on Monday 8 January 2018.

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Oversight of the Public Interest Disclosures Act

The Acting NSW Ombudsman, Professor John McMillan, tabled in Parliament his annual report on his oversight of the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994 (PID Act).

The focus of this year’s annual report is the operational challenges faced by public authorities. We listened to the experience of practitioners and unsurprisingly, their most difficult challenge is to manage the human elements – such as creating an ethical climate that welcomes staff speaking up, and dealing with the heightened emotions of the parties involved in the internal reporting process.

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Our publications

We produce a range of publications including general information for the public, guidelines for agencies and organisations we oversight, discussion papers seeking information from the public, annual reports outlining the work we have done during the financial year and special reports to Parliament about public interest issues. Some of our publications are also available in community languages.

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Featured publication

From 2006 onwards the NSW Ombudsman’s office has received complaints and public interest disclosures alleging that the water management principles and rules were not being properly complied with and enforced. We have undertaken three prior investigations into those complaints and disclosures that resulted in reports to Government and the Minister. We are now undertaking a fourth investigation, once again triggered by complaints from the public and public interest disclosures from officials working in the agencies charged with administering the legislation.

We are midway through the current investigation. We have already examined an extensive range of agency records and conducted formal hearings under the Ombudsman Act 1974. This progress report to the Parliament on the current investigation is prompted by a few considerations. Our inquiry is one of a number that are underway at present into similar issues. Action is currently being taken by the NSW Government to change the administrative structure for water management. Our investigation will also be continued by a new Ombudsman appointed to commence in December 2017.

In that setting it is appropriate to advise Parliament, Government and the public of the progress and direction of our current investigation. The concerns that we raised in the earlier investigations continue to be a strong theme in the current investigation, and are summarised in this progress report. Two recurring issues are whether the water compliance and enforcement function has been properly understood, supported and resourced within Government, and whether the function has suffered rather than benefitted from a frequent history of administrative restructuring. This progress report does not make findings or express concluded opinions on the issues that we are currently investigating.

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