Energy and Water Ombudsman

Our role

The Energy and Water Ombudsman Western Australia is an independent, impartial body that investigates and resolves complaints about electricity, gas and water providers in Western Australia.

Our role is to:

  • Investigate and resolve complaints about electricity, gas and water providers.
  • Identify serious, systemic and emerging issues, and report these issues to the Economic Regulation Authority and other relevant forums.
  • Undertake outreach, education, liaison and other activities to ensure awareness and accessibility to the Energy and Water Ombudsman, particularly for under-represented Western Australians.

The Energy and Water Ombudsman Western Australia Scheme is governed by a range of legislation, Constitution and Charter.

Our values

The Energy and Water Ombudsman Western Australia is founded on the principles of:

  • Independence
  • Natural Justice
  • Access
  • Equity
  • Effectiveness
  • Community Awareness

Meet the Ombudsman

Chris Field is the Western Australian Ombudsman and Western Australian Energy and Water Ombudsman. 

Mr Field was recently reappointed for a fourth five-year term, commencing on 26 March 2022. Mr Field is Australia’s longest serving Ombudsman and the only Ombudsman in the fifty-year history of the Ombudsman institution in Australia to be appointed for four terms of office.  Mr Field concurrently holds the roles of Energy and Water Ombudsman and Chair, State Records Commission. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the School of Law at the University of Western Australia and the inaugural Chair of the Accountability Agencies Collaborative Forum.

During his terms of office, six major new functions have been commenced which have seen the office grow to over 100 staff, compared to 26 staff in 2007.

Mr Field has also previously served on the International Ombudsman Institute World Board as President between 2021 and 2024, Second Vice President between 2016 and 2020, Treasurer between 2014 and 2016 and President of the Australasian and Pacific Ombudsman Region between 2012 and 2014.

He has a particularly strong theoretical and practising interest in administrative law and teaches the University of Western Australia’s advanced administrative law unit Government Accountability – Law and Practice, a course he founded with Professor Simon Young. He is also the author of a range of publications on the ombudsman and administrative law.

His role as Ombudsman builds on a foundation of long-term legal practice and work as an economic regulator. He commenced his career as a lawyer at one of Australia’s leading commercial law firms, Arthur Robinson and Hedderwicks (now Allens Linklaters), having been articled to Professor Bob Baxt AO. A strong interest in trade practices and consumer law led him to the position of Executive Director of the Consumer Law Centre Victoria (a non-government consumer advocacy organisation with a legal practice for vulnerable consumers) and Chair of the Australian Consumers’ Association (publisher of Choice magazine). After seven years, he left his position as Executive Director to commence as an inaugural Member of the Economic Regulation Authority, Western Australia’s independent economic regulator of electricity, gas, water and rail.

He holds Arts and Law (Honours) degrees.

The Ombudsman stands with the LGBTQIA+ community.

A photo of the Ombudsman, Chris Field

Our structure

The Office of the Energy and Water Ombudsman Western Australia is located within the office of the Western Australian Ombudsman.

This provides the opportunity to achieve significant benefits through scale and scope economies that would not be available to a very small stand-alone energy ombudsman scheme such as Energy and Water Ombudsman Western Australia.

It also creates the opportunity for improved service quality delivery through the highly developed, specialised expertise existing in the office of the Western Australian Ombudsman. Direct operational dispute resolution services are provided by a team of staff reporting to the Western Australian Ombudsman in his role as Energy and Water Ombudsman Western Australia.

Specialist investigations services, as well as the review of the handling of complaints, are provided for complex cases through senior investigation staff of the Western Australian Ombudsman’s office.

Corporate services, including IT and communications, are provided through the Executive and Corporate Services Division of the Western Australian Ombudsman.

Chart showing the organisational structure of the Energy and Water Ombudsman's office