Local councils are independent bodies, elected by and accountable to their communities and therefore we encourage councils to resolve most complaints at the local level.
We have three statutory complaint handling roles.
First, we examine complaints for breaches of the pecuniary interest provisions within the Act. Second, we examine public interest disclosures made to the Chief Executive under the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994. Third, we examine complaints alleging councillor misconduct.
The types of matters we routinely investigate are:
- pecuniary interests / failure to disclose
- councillor misconduct
- systemic and serious deficiencies in council functions and operations
- serious non compliance with the Act and regulations
Our investigative priorities are to focus on councils where there is evidence of systemic breakdowns in council operations. We assess all complaints based on their individual merits and a number of criteria including whether:
- the complaint falls within our jurisdiction to investigate
- there is sufficient prima facie evidence to substantiate the complaint
- the complaint raises an issue that, on our further assessment, may warrant further action
- the matter is frivolous, vexatious or is not made in good faith
- there are alternative means of resolving the issue
- the issues raised need to be investigated by another appropriate body
- it is in the public interest to investigate such an issue
- the matter occurred some time ago and it is unlikely that our intervention would provide a resolution
To avoid the duplication of resources, the Office of Local Government and the NSW Ombudsman have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding relating to the referral of complaint matters and the sharing of information.
- MOU between NSW Ombudsman and Office of Local Government relating to the referral of complaint matters and the sharing of information
- Managing Complaints About Local Councils Policy
- Procedures for Managing Complaints About Local Councils