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External scrutiny

The FWO Customer Service Charter outlines our services, what customers can expect from us and what they should do if unsatisfied. The charter is available on the FWO website.

The FWO welcomes feedback from customers about their experience with us. During 2016–17, we introduced a new consolidated online feedback form, providing a central point for our customers to provide feedback about our services.

Our Feedback and Complaints Management Policy is available on the FWO website and enables customers to:

  • give feedback—comment about the FWO’s services
  • submit a service complaint—express dissatisfaction with an aspect of our service
  • request a review – ask for a FWO decision to be reassessed.

If a customer is not satisfied with the way we respond to their feedback or complaint, they can contact the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

New definitions in the policy and the online form’s improved accessibility contributed to an 11% increase in requests for review and service complaints, compared with 2015–16.

Table 26: FWO service complaints and requests for reviews received and finalised
Action 2016-17 2015-16
Received 237 214
Finalised 225 210

The ROC did not receive any feedback or complaints in its first two months of operation. The ROC’s complaint handling process is available on ROC website external-icon.png.

Reports to Commonwealth Ombudsman

The Commonwealth Ombudsman investigates complaints about our actions, and identifies and conducts its own motion investigations on administration matters. In 2016–17, two formal reviews were conducted in relation to the FWO’s operations with no adverse findings made.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman also notified the FWO about the outcome of a review commenced in 2015–16, where no adverse findings were made.

Table 27: Commonwealth Ombudsman investigations and findings
2016-17 2015-16
Commonwealth Ombudsman investigations 2 2
Adverse findings 0 0

The Australian National Audit Office conducts an audit of our financial statements. The 2016–17 Independent Auditor’s Report is available with the financial statements.

There were no other reports by the Auditor-General, a parliamentary committee or Commonwealth Ombudsman in relation to the FWO’s or ROC’s operations.  

Freedom of information

FWO requests

The FWO received 49 Freedom of Information (FOI) requests through the year with five requests outstanding as at 30 June 2017. The number of requests has dropped by 32%, compared with 72 requests received in 2015–16.

We continue to facilitate document access through our Information Access Policy, available on the FWO website, which reduces the need for customers to make formal FOI requests. This has seen a 44% increase in informal information access requests—from 68 requests in 2015–16 to 98 requests in 2016–17.

ROC requests

The ROC did not receive any FOI requests in its first two months of operation. The ROC’s Access to Information Policy, available on the ROC website external-icon.png, outlines when information can be released, how to access and how to make an FOI request.

Formal FOI requests are not required for most documents held by the ROC and documents lodged by registered organisations are publicly available on the ROC website.

Information Publication Scheme

We are required to publish information to the public as part of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) Information Publication Scheme (IPS). This requirement is in Part II of the FOI Act and has replaced the former requirement to publish a section 8 statement in annual reports. Each agency must display a plan on its website showing what information it publishes in accordance with IPS requirements. The FWO’s plan can be found on the FWO website. The plan sets out what information is published under the IPS, how and to whom it is published, and how we otherwise comply with IPS requirements. The ROC’s plan will be published on the ROC website external-icon.png in 2017–18.


We are committed to protecting the privacy of individuals who provide us with their personal information and ensuring staff know what to do in the event of a suspected privacy breach. We have continued to undertake privacy impact assessments for new projects and processes.

The FWO proactively reported one privacy breach to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) during 2016–17. In light of steps taken in response to the breach, the OAIC advised it did not intend to take any action.

Decisions by the Australian Information Commissioner

The OAIC reviews our compliance with information transparency, FOI and privacy.

An application under review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in 2015–16 was withdrawn by the applicant in 2016–17. The appeal, lodged by an affected third party to an FOI request, had objected to the release of a document containing information about their business. The Information Commissioner affirmed the FWO’s decision to release this document on the basis that no exemption applied to prevent its release.

Judicial decisions or administrative reviews

There were no judicial decisions or administrative reviews or findings that affected our operations in 2016–17.

Regulator Performance Framework

Under the Regulator Performance Framework, the FWO’s performance was measured against six key performance indicators in 2016–17. These measures involved reducing regulatory burden, communications, risk-based and proportionate approaches, efficient and coordinated monitoring, transparency, and continuous improvement.

Publicly reporting on the agency’s contribution to reducing unnecessary or inefficient regulation will give the community further confidence in the FWO’s work. The first report was published in December 2016 and is available on the FWO website. The second report is due in December 2017.

In 2015, the FWC developed Regulator Performance Framework measures to assess its performance in regulating registered organisations. The ROC has adopted these measures and will publish its first report following a full year of operation.