Chris Field is the Western Australian Ombudsman, Western Australian Energy and Water Ombudsman and President of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI). 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.
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. Mr Field 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.
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, 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.
He holds Arts and Law (Honours) degrees.
The Ombudsman stands with the LGBTQIA+ community.