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  • Decision to implement locked cell policy

    Case notes
    Complaint about the negative effects of implementing a locked cell policy in the Kaaka North and South pods at Northland Region Corrections Facility – Chief Ombudsman found that the implementation was unreasonable – the significant consequences (lack of
  • The OIA for Ministers and agencies: A guide to processing official information requests

    Official information
    The purpose of this guide is to assist Ministers and government agencies in recognising and responding to requests for official information under the OIA.
  • Declined request for dispensation regarding school Transport Entitlement Zone

    Case notes
    A family asked the Board of Trustees (the Board) of School A for dispensation to allow their child to access bus services to attend School B.
  • Ministry of Social Development (CYF) failings at Family Group Conference and remedy of ex gratia payment required

    Case notes
    Ministry of Social Development (CYF—later Oranga Tamariki) fails to recognise impact and stress caused by failings by its staff at a family Group Conference to discuss child’s future—Advisory Panel had already acknowledged many of the failings but MSD had not accepted the gravity thereof—Ombudsman’s opinion on the matter accepted and MSD (OT) finally offered reasonable ex gratia payment and meaningful apology to complainant
  • Department of Corrections staff to follow legislative requirements when segregating inmate

    Case notes
    Department of Corrections held prisoner in Management Unit without following required procedure—segregation legislation and regulations are clear and prescriptive
  • Ministry of Social Development’s Advisory Panel will make administrative change as a result of complaint

    Case notes
    Complaint about MSD CEO’s Advisory Panel—MSD appointed panel outside governing terms of reference—Chair of Panel was formerly employed by Child Youth and Family (CYF)—Ombudsman found composition reasonable in the circumstances but on second matter, that the Panel should have in its reports, a record of consideration of compensation requests and reasons why payment would/would not be recommended
  • Department of Corrections unreasonably declines computer access to inmate

    Case notes
    Access to computer suite in prison denied—Ombudsman found this unreasonable—Corrections agreed to reconsider the inmate’s request and to review criteria for use—also that computer facilities at prison be reviewed to ensure availability to prisoners who meet criteria for assistance with litigation
  • Department of Corrections not unreasonable to decline face to face interview between prisoner and journalist in particular case

    Case notes
    Prisoner requested face to face interview with journalist—request declined—Ombudsman noted journalist had offered to conduct interview by AVL, notwithstanding preference for face to face—Ombudsman concluded that on this basis Department had not acted unreasonably in this instance
  • Training Institution fails to adequately address a complaint about its course

    Case notes
    Whether a training institution failed to address a complaint made by a student—Ombudsman found the institution’s appeals and complaints processes to have been inadequate—the institution accepted the finding and agreed to re-hear the appeal and then refunded the complainant’s course fees in resolution of the complaint
  • Ministry of Social Development’s decision not to review student allowance application

    Case notes
    The Ministry of Social Development refused an application for a student allowance and on review, concluded that the application should not proceed—Chief Ombudsman concluded that the decision to review the application as an administrative review (rather than a statutory review pursuant to section 305 of the Education Act 1989), was unreasonable—Ministry agreed to reconsider the application under the Education Act 1989
  • Adequacy of ex gratia payment to remedy mistake by Customs

    Case notes
    NZ Customs officer rejected passenger on flight because water damage on passport—Ombudsman found officers failed to process the passport adequately and caused considerable cost to passenger because of this failure—complainant upheld and complainant received full payment to cover financial losses
  • Department of Internal Affairs provides reasonable service and advice to traveller on temporary passport

    Case notes
    Whether the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) reasonably handled revalidation of a passport for New Zealand citizen travelling on temporary passport—Ombudsman concluded DIA had made every effort to inform the complainant of the steps needed to have his passport validated
  • Department of Corrections reasonable to seek removal of prisoner from study course in some circumstances

    Case notes
    Whether the Department of Corrections was reasonable to request the tertiary institution to remove a prisoner from a course at a polytechnic—Ombudsman found Department’s decision to have been reasonable in part
  • Department of Corrections made errors in documentation but parole hearing set correctly

    Case notes
    Whether Department of Corrections staff failed complainant with respect to a Parole Board hearing—Ombudsman found errors in documentation but complainant not disadvantaged
  • Department of Corrections unreasonable to place prisoner with mental illness in mainstream unit

    Case notes
    Whether the Department of Corrections was unreasonable to place prisoner in mainstream unit given specific medical condition of mental illness—Ombudsman upheld complaint
  • Department of Internal Affairs accepts it unreasonably interpreted requirements for death certificate

    Case notes
    Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) did not allow certain details on death certificate—complainant requested amended death certificate for father because of error relating to birth date noted on original certificate—DIA accepted the Ombudsman’s opinion that the information should be recorded as required under the legislation at the time of death
  • Department of Internal Affairs not unreasonable to cancel passport

    Case notes
    Department of Internal Affairs—decision to recall and cancel complainant’s NZ passport – position determined by terms of legislation
  • Corrections unreasonable not to pay for inmate’s glasses for re-integration programme

    Case notes
    Long serving prison inmate required glasses to participate in reintegration programme and work in prison tailor shop—Department of Corrections refused to pay for glasses unless inmate would refund them through his prison earnings—inmate later found out Department had paid for another inmate’s glasses in full—Ombudsman sustained complaint that inmate was not treated fairly—refund to inmate of money paid recommended.
  • Ministry of Social Development should make ex-gratia payment for accidental disclosure of an informant’s identity

    Case notes
    Whether Child Youth and Family (CYF), a service of the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) which received information from an informant about alleged offending by another individual, was reasonable to accidentally disclose the identity of this informant to the alleged offender – Ombudsman found CYF’s procedures for protecting the identity of informants had not been followed in this case
  • Investigation of the Department of Corrections in relation to the detention and treatment of prisoners

    Systemic investigations
    Under the Ombudsmen Act 1975, it is a function of the Ombudsmen to investigate complaints relating to matters of administration affecting persons in their personal capacity against various bodies, including the Department of Corrections (the Department). Pursuant to this Act, the Ombudsmen have power to investigate complaints by prisoners about all aspects of their detention by the Department. At the end of 2004 serious issues related to the treatment of prisoners came to public attention.
  • Technical Institute required to amend student records when course cancelled

    Case notes
    Students enrolled in a two stage course to obtain a Certificate of Security were informed the second half was cancelled shortly before it was to commence—Technical Institute explored various options including notifying on the relevant academic records that students had ‘withdrawn’—students complained notation, course cancellation and lack of certification was unreasonable—Institute explained to Ombudsman that certificate registration was in train, the timing of the tutor’s resignation left it with few options but it was willing to explore these with students—Institute acknowledged it cancelled the course but current system did not have ‘cancellation of course’ as an option—Institute willing to review system and remove course from student records—Ombudsman satisfied that Institute acted reasonably to provide students with other options, certificates forthcoming and removing course from records would resolve complaint
  • School Board of Trustees and Principal’s decision to suspend student not consistent with principles of natural justice

    Case notes
    Suspended student’s parents complained about the conduct of his suspension—Ombudsman’s jurisdiction confined to the process followed by the Board—parties disputed duration of Principal’s interview with student, ability of Principal to contact parents about suspension and comments allegedly made to the student by the Principal during the interview—Ombudsman’s investigation unable to resolve these issues and no determination as to reasonableness of Board’s actions able to be made—Ombudsman satisfied that Principal’s request for student to write down his account of incident in accordance with principles of natural justice—however Ombudsman found Board acted unreasonably by dismissing parents’ concerns about Principal’s decision to interview student in absence of parents—Board acknowledged Principal’s decision not consistent with principles of natural justice and agreed to review its ‘Interviewing of Students’ policy—no formal recommendation made
  • Department of Corrections required to state reasons for security classification

    Case notes
    Prison inmate complained that his security classification had been unreasonably assessed and Ombudsman concluded the Department failed to provide ‘strong reasons’ (which must be stated)—Ombudsman found the Prison officers had based their classification on uncorroborated, unrecorded, verbal statement made by another inmate—Ombudsman upheld complaint based on inequitable situation that would result if prison relied solely on this information, however, the inmate released before any recommendation could be made
  • Department of Labour reasonable not to investigate accident of primary student on extra-curricular activity

    Case notes
    Primary school student training for cross country competition on mountain road struck by motor vehicle – training sanctioned by school as an extra curricular activity—OSH declined to investigate—father complained to Ombudsman—Ombudsman examined provisions of Health and Safety in Employment Act—satisfied that OSH had no jurisdiction to investigate as accident did not fall within the definitions of ‘place of work’ or ‘work’ in s.2(1) as occurred outside school grounds—Police investigation limited to criminal liability—Ombudsman identified no mechanism in place for ensuring accountability by schools in providing safe environment for students outside school gates—Ombudsman approached OSH, Ministry of Education and Minister of Labour about his concerns – Ministry confirmed it was developing policy to address this and agreed to keep Ombudsman informed—Ombudsman advised complainant he was satisfied OSH’s original decision was reasonable
  • Child Youth and Family’s decision to remove child from care

    Case notes
    The Department of Child, Youth and Family (CYF), now Ministry for Children - Oranga Tamariki, agreed to apologise and reimburse couple’s legal fees following Ombudsman’s finding that CYF’s decision to decline custody of a child was unreasonable and then, when CYF acquiesced following the commencement of a court proceedings, CYF was unreasonable not to reimburse legal costs incurred by the couple
  • Board of Trustees fails to follow principles of natural justice at disciplinary hearing for expelled student

    Case notes
    Student excluded after initially caught hiding stolen property—at the disciplinary hearing the exclusion decision not based on this incident due to lack of evidence but on history of misdemeanours—parents complained that due process had not been followed in disciplinary process—Ombudsman found that at the disciplinary hearing by school the student had no reasonable indication that the student would be answering to an allegation of continual disobedience—complaint about Board of Trustees’ process sustained and Ombudsman recommended apology, reinstatement of student, and removal of exclusion from student’s records—the Board refused to act on recommendations although the student reinstated for other reasons
  • Department of Corrections revises guidelines on implications for visitors possessing drugs

    Case notes
    Prison banned inmate’s family members from visiting for 12-months after small amount of cannabis found in their possession—the inmate complained that the duration of ban was unreasonable but the Department of Corrections noted it had zero tolerance policy for drugs with an automatic 12-month prohibition order to be placed on anyone found with them on prison property—Ombudsman concluded blanket ban unreasonable and the Department agreed each case to be considered on merits and prepared guidelines for prisons—Ombudsman advised inmate to apply for a review of prohibition order under the new guidelines
  • Ministry of Education reimburses overcharged rental on school owned house

    Case notes
    Tenants renting house from Board of Trustees paid $35 per week more than permitted by the Ministry of Education guidelines and tenants sought reimbursement from the Ministry—the Ministry refused but Ombudsman found the Board was acting as Ministry’s agent and it had been unreasonable for the Ministry to decline reimbursement—the Ombudsman recommended that tenants be fully reimbursed
  • Ministry of Social Development has no authority to require beneficiary to appoint agent

    Case notes
    Illiterate beneficiary preferred to communicate verbally, frequently and often vociferously—the Ministry arranged for beneficiary’s solicitor to become agent—Ombudsman sought advice from Ministry as to authority it was relying on to request appointment of an agent—the Ministry confirmed there was no specific legislative authority— Ombudsman formed view that requirement unreasonable—complainant revoked agency and dealt directly with Ministry again
  • University Appointment processes should provide better information to applicants

    Case notes
    Unsuccessful applicant for a senior university appointment—alleged procedural unfairness—lack of clarity about processes and rights of appeal
  • University Council cannot exclude public from meetings on basis of members needing ‘free and frank’ discussion

    Case notes
    Exclusion of public from part of meeting—adequacy of grounds for exclusion—free and frank expression of opinion not a sufficient basis to exclude the public—Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987, s 48(1)(a)(ii)
  • Superannuation Appeals Board reasonably relied on Crown Law advice

    Case notes
    Failure to give reasons for decision—reasons given in counsel’s written submissions adopted by Board—disclosure of reasons distinguished from merits of decision—Government Superannuation Appeals Board—Ombudsmen Act 1975—Government Superannuation Fund Act 1956, s 12(A)(2)