Energy and Water Ombudsman

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    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 President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI). Chris is currently Australia's longest serving ombudsman and 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.

    On 27 May 2021 he commenced his four-year term as President of the IOI at the 12th quadrennial World Conference and General Assembly of the IOI in Dublin, Ireland. It is the first time in the 43-year history of the IOI that an Australian has been elected President. The IOI, established in 1978, is the global organisation for the cooperation of 205 independent Ombudsman institutions from more than 100 countries worldwide. The IOI is organised in six regional chapters - Africa, Asia, Australasian and Pacific, Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America and North America. His appointment also marks the first time that a President has been elected by IOI members. Historically, Presidents were elected by the IOI World Board. A new voting system, applicable for the first time in the 2020 election, provided the opportunity for every IOI member globally to vote for the position of President. Chris received 96% of the vote. He has previously served on the IOI World Board as 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.

    Chris 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. Chris is also the author of a range of publications on the ombudsman and administrative law.

    His role as Ombudsman, and now IOI President, 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.

    Chris holds Arts and Law (Honours) degrees. 

    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