Trust, Service

& Accountability

Behaving Ethically

1.4 Oversight agencies

In addition to the Public Service Commissioner, there are other office holders and bodies, established by legislation, with special responsibilities to protect and preserve the public interest.

This section provides information about four of the statutory integrity bodies.

NSW Ombudsman

The NSW Ombudsman helps agencies within his or her jurisdiction to address problems with their performance. These problems may be uncovered by complaints from the public or by people who work for those agencies. Problems may also come to the Ombudsman’s attention through work in scrutinising agency systems, overseeing investigations or reviewing the delivery of services.

The Ombudsman is responsible for keeping the following types of organisations under scrutiny:

  • agencies delivering public services – including police, correctional centres and state-owned corporations
  • organisations delivering services to children – including schools and child-care centres
  • organisations delivering community services – including services for people with disabilities, people who are homeless and elderly people
  • agencies conducting covert operations – including the Crime Commission and the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

The Ombudsman has other specific functions that relate to:

  • the causes and patterns of deaths of children and people with disabilities in care
  • child protection in relation to how allegations of reportable conduct and reportable convictions are dealt with by designated government agencies
  • decisions made by public sector agencies
  • public interest disclosures (including the provision of guidance and advice)
  • the administration of the Official Community Visitors scheme
  • the administration of the witness protection program
  • the implementation of new pieces of legislation conferring additional powers on police.

For more information and contact details for the office of the NSW Ombudsman, see

Independent Commission Against Corruption

The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) was established by the NSW Government in 1989 in response to growing community concern about the integrity of public administration in NSW.

The ICAC’s principal functions are set out in the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988. In summary, they are:

  • to investigate and expose corrupt conduct in the NSW public sector
  • to actively prevent corruption through advice and assistance, and
  • to educate the NSW community and public sector about corruption and its effects.

The ICAC works to minimise corruption by providing advice, information, resources and training to public sector organisations to remedy existing or potential corruption problems, and helps organisations to identify and deal with significant corruption risks. The ICAC also educates the NSW community and public sector about corruption and its effects.

Enquiries and reports regarding suspected corrupt conduct (including public interest disclosures) can be made to the ICAC by a range of means, including through the ICAC’s online corruption report form.

For more information and contact details for the ICAC, see

Audit Office of NSW

The Audit Office of New South Wales is a statutory authority, established under the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983, that conducts audits for the Auditor-General. The Auditor-General helps parliament hold government accountable for its use of public resources.

The Auditor-General is responsible for audits and related services. The Audit Office conducts financial and performance audits, principally under the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983 and the Corporations Act 2001.

Financial audits provide an independent opinion on NSW Government agencies’ financial statements. They identify whether agencies comply with accounting standards and relevant laws, regulations and government directions. Financial audits are designed to add credibility to financial statements, enhancing their value to end-users. Also, the existence of such audits provides a constant stimulus to agencies to ensure sound financial management.

Performance audits build on our financial audits by reviewing whether taxpayers’ money is spent efficiently, effectively, economically and in accordance with the law. These audits may review all or part of an agency’s operations. Some audits consider particular issues across a number of agencies.

The Auditor Office also examines allegations of serious and substantial waste of public money under the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994. Serious and substantial waste refers to the uneconomical, inefficient or ineffective use of resources, authorised or unauthorised, which results in a loss/wastage of public funds/resources.

For more information and contact details for the Audit Office, see

Information and Privacy Commission NSW

The Information and Privacy Commission (IPC) is an independent statutory authority that administers New South Wales legislation dealing with privacy and access to government information.

The IPC reviews the performance and decisions of agencies and investigates and conciliates complaints relating to public sector agencies, health service providers (both public and private) and some large organisations that deal with health information. The IPC also provides feedback about the legislation and relevant developments in the law and technology.

The Privacy Commissioner’s role is to resolve complaints, protect and enhance the privacy rights of the NSW community and ensure agencies uphold the privacy principles in the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 and the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002.

The Information Commissioner’s role is to promote public awareness and understanding of the right to access government information in NSW, and provide information, support, advice, assistance and training to agencies and the general public. The Information Commissioner has the power to review decisions made by other NSW government agencies and deal with complaints about information access. The Information Commissioner can investigate agencies and compel them to provide information in the conduct of inquiries.

For more information and contact details for the Information and Privacy Commission,

Police Integrity Commission

The Police Integrity Commission was established to detect, investigate and prevent police misconduct, and misconduct by administrative officers of the NSW Police Force and officers of the NSW Crime Commission. For more information and contact details see the Police Integrity Commission.

Health Care Complaints Commission

The Health Care Complaints Commission acts to protect public health and safety by resolving, investigating and prosecuting complaints about health care practitioners and organisations. For more information and contact details see the office of the Health Care Complaints Commission.