Skip to content Skip to main navigation


Experts in Wills, Trusts
& Estate Planning

How does one compain about senior public servants?

By Mbn - 7 May 2009 32

Hello Riot Act. Long time reader, first time poster. I have a small question and thought someone on here might have a sensible answer.

How does one officially complain about the actions of a Senior ACT public servant?

Several of my friends have children with Disabilities and are dependant on the Government for funding.

The problem is, while they want their kids to use some particulr services,  the big wig at Disability ACT has decided that they will be told where their children can and can’t go.

If they do not agree with what they are told then it is intimated that they may lose the funding.

They are not given a choice of what they want to do, in direct contradiction to this departments rhetoric.

Where does someone go to complain about very senior public servants? I know the minister is an obvious choice however this route has been taken in the past and appears to get nowhere.

Is there an ombudsman?

Thanks in advance for any advice. 

What’s Your opinion?

Post a comment
Please login to post your comments, or connect with
32 Responses to
How does one compain about senior public servants?
S4anta 11:14 am 07 May 09

One things that I do enjoy about this site is any post that has the words ‘complain’ and ‘public servant’ in its title.

99% of the time I am then remembering a coversation I had with a colleague whilst in queue for a committee that went along the lines of ‘everytime a piper blows his pipe, the rats come out to play’.

Muttsybignuts 10:57 am 07 May 09

I work in the Disability area in Canberra and have a fair understanding of what the issues are here.
Disability ACT goes to great length to tell everyone that their mission is to give people with Disabilities the right ( and resources) to choose what they need to do to live a valued life. Like any Government department there is never enough money to give everybody what they need or want. To this end Disability ACT does the best it can with what it has.
The issue her appears to be that some people with Disabilities and their carers (parents) are being told where they can and cant go instead of being given an amount of funding and being able to choose for themselves what services they use.
I have had similar experiences in the service I work for. Parents want to use this service and are apparently told by Disability ACT that this service isn’t appropriate for their children and that they should instead look at “X” service. While this may indeed be the case, some people feel railroaded in a direction instead of being able to choose for themselves.
From a personal point of view, I feel slighted because often these recommendations are made without the Government people making the decisions every bothering to find out what our service ( and others)really does. If they had an accurate picture they might not be so hasty to steer people in another direction.
Anyhoo, as for complaining, I also advise extreme caution. If the personalities involved are as evil as made out then you might shoot yourself in the foot. After all the attention dies down ( if you use media or Shadows etc) you may be left with a very angry, powerful public servant who will find ways for your funding to very quickly dry up. People with significant disabilities have a lifelong hard slog as it is. Getting on the wrong side of the Government only makes it worse when you are dependent on them for help. It isn’t right of course. It is just how it is.

RayP 10:48 am 07 May 09

Jim Jones, Brian Martin’s book has much broader application than the title suggests. It provides good advice on things like common mistakes and building support for anyone thinking of questioning the conduct of a decision maker.

As a further suggestion for MBn, you could look at what services are available in other states. They may be better or they may not.

It is likely to be easier to shift states than to get your concerns with a public servant addressed in Canberra. A few years down the track you may wish that you had taken the easy option and shifted states.

Jim Jones 10:37 am 07 May 09

RaypP, I think you might need to read the post a bit more closely. The OP isn’t a ‘whistleblower’ at all, s/he is a member of the public with a complaint about a government decision.

Mike Crowther 10:36 am 07 May 09

I suggest you read ‘Capital Tyranny’ by Caroline Ambrus. ACT Ministers routinely act outside the law and allow their public servants to do the same if it suits their purpose. The system is designed to allow this and the joke that passes for freedom of information and investigative journalism in this town prevent vast tracts of it from ever becoming public.

I like Neanderthalsis idea of shadow ministers, although three years out from an election governments tend to feel quite smug and bulletproof. Good luck.

trevar 10:34 am 07 May 09

neanderthalsis said :

If the Minister hasn’t delivered, try the Shadow. It is amazing how a Shadow Minister sprouting in the media on the failings of the government can motivate the administration to act.

Regardless of whether your complaint is valid, neanderthal is right. A complaint should always be addressed to both the minister and the shadow minister. Ministers are useless without their shadows.

RayP 10:30 am 07 May 09

You should exercise extreme caution in criticising or challenging the decisions of a senior Canberra public servant. Senior public servants in Canberra have considerable capacity to defend themselves.

You are likely to be disappointed by the assistance that is provided by agencies like the Ombudsman.

There do not appear to be any good sources of support available in the ACT for citizens who want to challenge the conduct of senior public servants.

This is not to say that there are not people who would be concerned and who may like to do things, but that they and you may be disappointed by what they are able to achieve.

I would suggest that before you do anything that you read “The Whistleblowers Handbook” by Brian Martin. It may alert you to what may lie ahead.

Canberra can be a savage place for those who criticise public servants.

Jim Jones 10:22 am 07 May 09

Well, it’s impossible to know whether the complaint is legit or not based on the given info (and yes, resources are limited and have to be portioned appropriately so that they do the most good that they can).

The only question anyone here could really answer is ‘where do I go to complain’. Probably best to ignore the (obviously partisan) comments about how evil the public servant in question was.

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_ 10:14 am 07 May 09

I’m going to air what could be an unpopular view, and suggest that more information is provided as to exactly what this actually means. “The problem is, while they want their kids to use some particulr services, the big wig at Disability ACT has decided that they will be told where their children can and can’t go. “

We should remember that the govt does not have unlimited resources, and if parents don’t want their kids participating in the programs provided then there’s only so much that can be done to help.

Like I said, and unpopular view and possibly wide of the mark. Thoughts anyone?

Thumper 10:05 am 07 May 09

A letter to the Minister responsible and cced into the CM and the Opposition leader. You may want to cc the Greens leader as well so that the government can’t just fob you off with a form letter reply.

astrojax 9:56 am 07 May 09

try the minister, or chief minister (at least cc him in to the correspondence), first – are you going to write or wil your aggreived friends? i suggest both parties, your letter in support of the gov’t’s policies.

Furry Jesus 9:55 am 07 May 09

You haven’t really given much information. What reason were they given for why they couldn’t use the services they wanted? For a matter to be taken up by the head of Disability ACT, there must be a little more history…

deezagood 9:49 am 07 May 09

Start making some noise; maybe contact the media too. This seems a totally unacceptable situation (as if life isn’t hard enough for parents who have kids with disabilities?).

neanderthalsis 9:46 am 07 May 09

If the Minister hasn’t delivered, try the Shadow. It is amazing how a Shadow Minister sprouting in the media on the failings of the government can motivate the administration to act.

frontrow 9:36 am 07 May 09

Yes. The Commonwealth Ombudsman also has the role of the ACT Ombudsman.

1 2 3

Related Articles

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Copyright © 2017 Riot ACT Holdings Pty Ltd. All rights reserved. | |

Search across the site