Internal Ombudsman: Making Complaints about Council

The Internal Ombudsman is an experienced, senior Council officer whose main role is to assess and inquire into customer complaints.

You can contact the Internal Ombudsman for advice if you feel you have been treated unfairly by Council.

The Internal Ombudsman deals with the following complaints:

  • Customer complaints about Council processes, unreasonable delays or lack of action by Council staff;
  • Customer complaints alleging misconduct, fraud, corruption or maladministration involving Council staff and Councillors;
  • Complaints referred by the Mayor and Councillors;
  • Privacy complaints.

The Internal Ombudsman cannot change Council decisions but can make recommendations to the Chief Executive Officer and the elected Council to change a decision, process or policy.

The Internal Ombudsman also reviews public interest disclosures made by Council staff and Councillors.

For more information, contact 1300 36 2170.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How do I make a complaint?

Your complaint must be made in writing either using Council’s My Request Form or by email (lcc@liverpool.nsw.gov,au) or post to the Internal Ombudsman, Liverpool City Council, Locked Bag 7064, Liverpool, NSW 1871.

Please provide the following information:

1. The reason for your complaint;

2. The background to your complaint and any relevant information;

3. The solution you are seeking;

4. Copies of any relevant letters or emails.

Before making your complaint, you can contact the Internal Ombudsman on 1300 36 2170 for advice or assistance.

The only exceptions to written complaints are to report fraud, corruption or an urgent matter of public safety, in which case please contact the Internal Ombudsman on 1300 36 2170.

Cost

There is no charge for making a complaint.

When should I complain to the Internal Ombudsman?

Where possible, you should try at first to resolve your issue with relevant Council staff before making your written complaint.

You can contact the Internal Ombudsman at any stage but if a member of Council staff is already handling your matter, it is likely that your complaint will be referred back to that Council unit to give Council staff the opportunity to resolve the issue.

What is the complaint handling process?

After making a complaint, you will receive an acknowledgement within five working days andan indication of whether an assessment of your complaint will go ahead.

You will receive feedback on an assessment of your complaint within 10 working days.

If an assessment of your complaint reveals evidence supporting your complaint, the matter will then progress to an inquiry.

Within 20 working days of receiving the complaint, the Internal Ombudsman will aim to complete the inquiry and inform you of the outcome of the inquiry into your complaint.

Does the Internal Ombudsman handle appeals against parking infringement notices?

No. If you wish to appeal a parking infringement notice, contact Revenue NSW on 1300 138 118.

Does the Internal Ombudsman handle appeals regarding development approvals?

No. The NSW Land and Environment Court deals with appeals regarding development approvals. Contact the Court Registry on (02) 9113 8200.

Can the Internal Ombudsman overrule a Council decision?

No, the Internal Ombudsman cannot overrule any decision made by Council. If, after an inquiry into a matter, the Internal Ombudsman finds that a Council policy or process was not correctly, the Internal Ombudsman can make recommendations to the Chief Executive Officer to change a decision, process or policy.

Can the Internal Ombudsman provide me with legal advice?

No, the Internal Ombudsman cannot provide legal advice or intervene in legal action taken by Council. If necessary, the Internal Ombudsman will explain legislation and Council policies relating to a decision subject to a complaint.

Can I remain anonymous?

The Internal Ombudsman will not inquire into any anonymous complaint unless the matter involves a risk to public safety or allegations of corrupt conduct, serious misconduct, maladministration or waste.

Will my complaint remain confidential?

During an assessment or inquiry, the Internal Ombudsman makes every effort to maintain confidentiality. However, it is not always possible to obtain information without disclosing a complainant's identity to limited Council staff.

If the Internal Ombudsman refers your complaint to the relevant Council manager, then it is likely that your complaint may not remain confidential. The Internal Ombudsman will inform you in writing if this happens. Your complaint will be dealt with only by relevant members of Council staff who are bound by the Code of Conduct to respect confidentiality.

Can I make an appointment to see the Internal Ombudsman?

You are welcome to contact the Internal Ombudsman on 1300 36 2170 to discuss a matter of concern. However, you must make a complaint in writing before it can be assessed.

After making a written complaint, it may be necessary for the Internal Ombudsman to meet with you, in which case you will be contacted about an appointment.

What if I disagree with the outcome of the inquiry?

The Internal Ombudsman will not review any findings if a complainant does not agree with the outcome or a decision has not been favourable to them.

If you are dissatisfied with the findings or outcome of an inquiry made by the Internal Ombudsman, you can submit a written complaint to the NSW Ombudsman using the online complaint form at www.ombo.nsw.gov.au.

Can I make a complaint elsewhere?

You can make a complaint about Council to an external agency, such as the NSW Ombudsman, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), the Information and Privacy Commission, and the Office of Local Government.

If you do make a complaint to an external agency but also make a complaint to the Internal Ombudsman, please inform the Internal Ombudsman because it is likely your inquiry would be stopped by the Internal Ombudsman so the external agency can make inquiries without duplicating efforts.

Can the Internal Ombudsman deal with complaints by members of Council staff?

The Internal Ombudsman will not deal with matters which involve a staff dispute, grievance or disciplinary procedure.

However, the Internal Ombudsman can deal with complaints by Council staff which may involve:

  • A privacy issue or complaint;
  • A Code of Conduct complaint referred by the Chief Executive Officer;
  • A confidential public interest disclosure made under the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994.