Wellington Hosts a Major Ombudsman Conference
Over 100 Ombudsmen and staff will come together in Wellington this week for the biennial conference of the Australian and New Zealand Ombudsman Association (ANZOA).
With a theme of 'Checks and Balances', the conference will focus on six benchmarks that underpin the Ombudsman's work—accessibility, independence, fairness, accountability, efficiency and effectiveness.
''These benchmarks are the non-negotiable basics for an Ombudsman office,'' says ANZOA Chair Judi Jones, Australia's Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman and formerly New Zealand's Electricity & Gas Complaints Commissioner. ''They are also principles that apply to many other roles and offices with a 'public good' focus.''
A number of high profile New Zealanders in roles that share similar challenges will present keynote perspectives to the conference:
• Rebecca Kitteridge CVO, Director-General, New Zealand Security Intelligence Service
• Judge Andrew Becroft, Children's Commissioner, New Zealand
• Hon David Parker, Attorney-General New Zealand
From further afield, Caroline Wayman, Chief Ombudsman for the UK's Financial Ombudsman Service—the world's largest industry-based Ombudsman scheme—will provide practical insights on how her office manages the challenges of over 1.7 million enquiries and complaints annually and almost 3,000 staff. And Jane Williams, a dispute resolution specialist from Queen Margaret University in the UK, will explore the benchmark of fairness and its inherent subjectivity.
Ms Jones adds: ''Ombudsmen are rarely alone in the problems we face; we can inevitably benefit from the experience of others; and we are keen to learn from solutions adopted elsewhere.''
''Our role in providing a free, informal, timely and cost-efficient pathway to dispute resolution is widely recognised. It's a model with many applications and, in working independently and impartially, we provide critical checks and balances in the relationship between state and citizen, or provider and consumer.
''The role of an Ombudsman doesn't stop there though. We look at the complaints we receive from a systemic perspective to find solutions, which address broader detriment and promote fairness for affected others who haven't complained. We also draw on our frontline dispute resolution experience to assist complainants and service providers, and to contribute to public policy discussions and consultations,'' Ms Jones said.
ANZOA's conference runs from Monday 21 May to Wednesday 23 May at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
For more information: ANZOA Chair, Judi Jones +61 491 210 516
ABOUT ANZOA: The Australian and New Zealand Ombudsman Association (ANZOA) is the professional association for ombudsmen across New Zealand and Australia. Each year, the offices of ANZOA's Members handle over half a million contacts—from individuals, businesses and not-for-profit organisations—about all levels of government departments, councils and agencies; all types of financial services providers; and telecommunications, energy, water and public transport companies. For more about ANZOA and the evolution of the Ombudsman model: