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Is your builder ‘fit and proper’: the weaknesses of the home building licensing scheme in NSW

The NSW Ombudsman, Michael Barnes, tabled a report in Parliament today following his investigation into Fair Trading’s Home Building Service.

Our investigation found that there were serious and systemic issues with both the public register and the home building licensing system. The information that Fair Trading records on the public register does not have sufficient detail and contemporaneous information to make it fit for purpose, that is, to provide consumer protection and help stop the actions of unscrupulous builders.

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Child mortality rates decline for NSW, but variation still seen across areas

The NSW Ombudsman and Convenor of the NSW Child Death Review Team, Mr Michael Barnes, today tabled a report in the NSW Parliament on the ‘Spatial analysis of child deaths in New South Wales’.

The report, prepared by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare for the NSW Child Death Review Team, focuses on two key issues - the geographic distribution of child deaths across NSW, and how the risk of death varies by area-level characteristics.

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Joint Protocol training videos

The Joint Protocol to reduce the contact of people with disability in supported accommodation with the criminal justice system aims to reduce unnecessary contact with the Police in relation to incidents that would be better managed within the disability accommodation service, and to improve relationships and communication between local police and disability services.

We have developed two short videos to make it as easy as possible for disability support workers and managers to quickly understand the Joint Protocol and what they need to do:

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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.

[PDF, 601.1 KB]

Related report tabled 8 March 2018 - Correcting the record: Investigation into water compliance and enforcement 2007-17.

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