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Ombudsman Amendment (Education Ombudsman) Bill 2010

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Ombudsman Amendment (Education Ombudsman) Bill 2010

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

Circulated by authority of Senator Sarah Hanson-Young

 

 

This bill was introduced by the Australian Greens in the 42 nd Parliament. The following explanatory memorandum reflects the debate at the time of the bill’s original introduction.

 

GENERAL OUTLINE: Policy Rationale

 

The Ombudsman Amendment (Education Ombudsman) Bill 2010 seeks to create the office of the Education Ombudsman to cover the domestic and international education sector in Australia and act as a one-stop national authority for resolving individual student complaints; provide a further avenue for resolving academic disputes, monitoring and enforcing compliance of education institutions, and facilitating communication between state and federal governments and educational organisations. 



FINANCIAL IMPACT:

 

The establishment of an office under the Commonwealth Ombudsman will entail a small financial cost for administrative purposes.

 

NOTES ON CLAUSES



Clause 1 - Short title

This clause provides for the Act, when enacted, to be cited as the Ombudsman Amendment (Education Ombudsman) Act 2010.

 

Clause 2 - Commencement

This clause provides for sections 1 to 3 of the Act to commence on the day it receives Royal Assent, and schedule 1 six months after Royal Assent.

 

Clause 3 - Objects

This clause states that the object of this Bill is to safeguard the quality of and access to higher education for all students and education for overseas students in Australia.  

 

Schedule 1 - Amendments relating to the Education Ombudsman

 

Item 1- Amendments of the Ombudsman Act 1976 :

Subsections 1 - 8 provide definitions for course; education provider; higher education provider; officer; principal officer; and registered provider.



Part 11AA - Establishment, functions, powers and duties of the Education Ombudsman



Division 1 - provides for definitions



Division 2 - outlines the establishment and functions of the Education Ombudsman.



19FE - Functions of Education Ombudsman:

Some key functions include:

 - the provision of the Education Ombudsman to investigate complaints made under the Act;

 - the provision to carry out compliance audits of the regulatory and investigative functions of a Department or prescribed authority in relation to courses;

 - the provision to provide advice and training to education providers;

 - the provision to conduct agency specific and cross-agency investigations.





19FF and 19FG - Discretion to investigate and transfer complaints as Commonwealth Ombudsman or Education Ombudsman.

The subsection provides both the Commonwealth Ombudsman and Education Ombudsman the discretion to transfer the complaint to one another.  However, if this does occur, then a notice of transferral must be provided to the complainant.



19FH - Discretion not to investigate certain complaints.

This subsection outlines the reasons for the Education Ombudsman may choose not to investigate a complaint.



Division 3 - Powers and duties of the Education Ombudsman:



19FI - Application of other provisions of this Act to the Education Ombudsman.

This subsection outlines the consequential amendments to the other provisions of the Act applying to the Education Ombudsman.



19FJ, 19FK, and 19FL

These subsections outline the powers of the Education Ombudsman, the duty to comply with the rules of procedural fairness, and the requirement that the name of the complainant is not disclosed when  conducting an investigation.



19FM, 19FN and 19FO

The first subsection prescribes that the Education Ombudsman may report to the Department, prescribed authority, or education provider.



19FN outlines the requirements for the Minister to table certain reports in Parliament, if the request has been made by the Education Ombudsman.



19FO requires the Education Ombudsman to produce Annual reports relating to the operations during the year.



19FP - Education Ombudsman may notify Minister or employer of misconduct

This subsection applies if the Education Ombudsman believes an officer of an education provider has engaged in misconduct.



19FQ - Provides for the limitation on liability where information or documents provided in good faith or when required to do so.



Division 4 - Fees for investigations

This Division provides the provision for the Education Ombudsman, on behalf of the Commonwealth, to charge an education provider fees incurred in relation to an investigation.



Subsection 10, 11, and 12 are consequential amendments.