Student Ombud Authority


The Council of the University of South Australia has endorsed the appointment of an appropriately qualified staff member to undertake the function of Student Ombud.

The Student Ombud has the authority to conduct enquiries relating to complaints by students against decisions or conduct of staff, committees (other than decisions of the student appeals committee), Board or any unit or group either within the University or acting under the authority or auspices of the University.

The services of the Student Ombud will be available to all students of the University regardless of location and mode of study.

To ensure independence, the Student Ombud is provided direct access to the University Council.

The Student Ombud shall be given access to all University records and documents relating to the complaint.


The Student Ombud has both a responsive and educative/proactive role.

The Student Ombud responds to complaints lodged by students after all internal grievance procedures have been exhausted and will not normally investigate until these avenues have been tried.

On receipt of a complaint, the Student Ombud shall have authority to enquire into that complaint and shall decide, by enquiry if necessary, whether the complaint falls within the role and functions of the Student Ombud.

In cases of unlawful discrimination or sexual harassment the Student Ombud may either investigate the complaint personally or decide that the matter should be investigated by another person either within or external to the University. The Student Ombud will review whether the investigation has been conducted with procedural fairness.  

If during an investigation being carried out by the Student Ombud it becomes known that the complaint is the subject matter of a hearing or appeal under a University Act Statute or By-law, the Student Ombud shall proceed no further with investigating the complaint until the hearing or appeal has been concluded.

Conduct of Enquiries

The Student Ombud shall decide the appropriate person, form and procedures to be adopted in investigating a complaint.  All persons involved shall be given reasonable opportunity to explain their views and encouraged to reach agreement.

If the complaint is not settled by informal consultation and discussion and the complainant wishes to proceed the Student Ombud may proceed with the enquiry by methods such as:

  • Providing a written copy of the complainant’s statements to the person(s) against whom the complaint has been made; or

  • At the request of either the complainant or the person(s) complained against, or in any case where the Student Ombud deems it desirable, convening a conference to discuss the complaint.

If the Student Ombud believes that a situation arising from a complaint requires action to avoid further problems, the Student Ombud will make recommendations to any authority or person.

If in the opinion of the Student Ombud a complaint warrants no further action, or no further action can be taken, the Student Ombud may decline to proceed further.

Report of Investigation

If the Student Ombud has been unable to reach a decision regarding a complaint, or the staff involved refuse to accept the recommendation of the Student Ombud, the Student Ombud will seek resolution through the Dean of Programs or Executive Dean.  If referring the matter to the Vice Chancellor for determination the Student Ombud will make available all details of the complaint, investigation findings, and actions undertaken in attempting resolution.

The Student Ombud may bring to the attention of the Vice Chancellor any matter:

(i) arising from an enquiry; or

(ii) relating to processes, procedures, rules or policies of the University

Outcome of Investigation

Once a recommendation has been made by the Student Ombud and accepted by the relevant University authority, then the Ombud shall have no further responsibility for actions taken as a result of that recommendation.  The Student Ombud may not be called upon to appear before any University boards of discipline, appeals committee, grievance committees or any inquiry.

Report to Council

At the end of each year the Student Ombud shall provide Council with a report for the previous twelve months. The report shall be statistical in character and shall contain no reference to named individuals.


The Student Ombud Office is dedicated to excellence in the practice of Ombudsman work. This Code of Ethics provides a common set of professional ethical principles and aligns with Framework endorsed by the International Ombudsman Association (IOA).

Based on the traditions and values of Ombudsman practice, the Code of Ethics reflects a commitment to promote ethical conduct in the performance of the Student Ombud role and to maintain the integrity of the Ombudsman profession.

This means that within the University of South Australia, the Student Ombud shall be truthful and act with integrity, shall foster respect for all members of the University he or she serves, and shall promote procedural fairness in the content and administration of the University’s practices, processes, and policies.



The Student Ombud is independent in structure, function, and appearance to the highest degree possible within the University.

Neutrality and Impartiality

The Student Ombud, acts as a designated neutral dispute resolution practitioner who remains unaligned and impartial. The Student Ombud does not engage in any situation which could create a conflict of interest.


The Student Ombud holds all communications with those seeking assistance in strict confidence, and does not disclose confidential communications unless given permission to do so. The only exception to this privilege of confidentiality is where there appears to be imminent risk of serious harm.


The Student Ombud, as an informal resource, does not participate in any formal adjudicative or administrative procedure related to concerns brought to his/her attention.


The Standards below are based upon and derived from the ethical principles stated in the International Student Ombud Association’s (IOA) Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.



1.1 The Student Ombud Office and the Student Ombud are independent from other University entities.

1.2 The Student Ombud holds no other position within the University which might compromise independence.

1.3 The Student Ombud exercises sole discretion over whether or how to act regarding an individual’s concern, a trend or concerns of multiple individuals over time. The Student Ombud may also initiate action on a concern identified through his/her direct observation.

1.4 The Student Ombud has access to all information and all individuals in the University, as permitted by law.

Neutrality and Impartiality

2.1 The Student Ombud is neutral, impartial, and unaligned.

2.2 The Student Ombud strives for fairness and objectivity in the treatment of people and the consideration of issues. The Student Ombud advocates for fair and equitably administered processes and does not advocate on behalf of any individual within the University.

2.3 The Student Ombud is a designated neutral reporting to the highest possible level of the University and operating independent of ordinary line and staff structures.  The Student Ombud should not report to nor be structurally affiliated with any compliance function of the University.

2.4 The Student Ombud serves in no additional role within the University which would compromise the Student Ombud’s neutrality. The Student Ombud should not be aligned with any formal or informal associations within the University in a way that might create actual or perceived conflicts of interest for the Student Ombud. The Student Ombud should have no personal interest or stake in, and incur no gain or loss from, the outcome of an issue.

2.5 The Student Ombud has a responsibility to consider the legitimate concerns and interests of all individuals affected by the matter under consideration.

2.6 The Student Ombud helps develop a range of responsible options to resolve problems and facilitate discussion to identify the best options.


3.1 The Student Ombud holds all communications with those seeking assistance in strict confidence and takes all reasonable steps to safeguard confidentiality, including the following:

The Student Ombud does not reveal, and must not be required to reveal, the identity of any individual contacting the Student Ombud Office, nor does the Student Ombud reveal information provided in confidence that could lead to the identification of any individual contacting the Student Ombud Office, without that individual’s express permission, given during informal discussions with the Student Ombud; the Student Ombud takes specific action related to an individual’s issue only with the individual’s express permission and only to the extent permitted, and even then, at the sole discretion of the Student Ombud, unless such action can be taken in a way that safeguards the identity of the individual contacting the Student Ombud Office. The only exception to this privilege of confidentiality is where there appears to be imminent risk of serious harm, and where there is no other reasonable option. Whether this risk exists is a determination to be made by the Student Ombud.

3.2 Communications between the Student Ombud and others (made while the Student Ombud is serving in that capacity) are considered privileged. The privilege belongs to the Student Ombud and the Student Ombud Office, rather than to any party to an issue.  Others cannot waive this privilege.

3.3 The Student Ombud does not testify in any formal process inside the University and resists testifying in any formal process outside of the University regarding a visitor’s contact with the Student Ombud or confidential information communicated to the Student Ombud, even if given permission or requested to do so. The Student Ombud may, however, provide general, non-confidential information about the Student Ombud Office or the Student Ombud profession.

3.4 If the Student Ombud pursues an issue systemically (e.g., provides feedback on trends, issues, policies and practices) the Student Ombud does so in a way that safeguards the identity of individuals.

3.5 The Student Ombud keeps no records containing identifying information on behalf of the University.

3.6 The Student Ombud maintains information (notes, phone messages, appointment calendars) in a secure location and manner, protected from inspection by others (including management), and has a consistent and standard practice for the destruction of such information.

3.7 The Student Ombud prepares any data and/or reports in a manner that protects confidentiality.

3.8 Communications made to the Student Ombud are not notice to the University. The Student Ombud neither acts as agent for, nor accepts notice on behalf of, the University and shall not serve in a position or role that is designated by the University as a place to receive notice on behalf of the University. However, the Student Ombud may refer individuals to the appropriate place where formal notice can be made.

Informality and Other Standards

4.1 The Student Ombud aims to respond to all enquiries within 24 hours.

4.2 The Student Ombud functions on an informal basis by such means as: listening, providing and receiving information, identifying and reframing issues, developing a range of responsible options, and – with permission and at Student Ombud discretion – engaging in informal third-party intervention. When possible, the Student Ombud helps people develop new ways to solve problems themselves.

4.3 The Student Ombud, as an informal and off-the-record resource, pursues resolution of concerns and considers procedural irregularities and/or broader systemic problems when appropriate.

4.4 The Student Ombud does not make binding decisions, mandate policies, or formally adjudicate issues for the University.

4.5 The Student Ombud supplements, but does not replace, any formal channels. Use of the Student Ombud Office is voluntary, and is not a required step in any grievance process or University policy.

4.6 The Student Ombud does not participate in any formal investigative or adjudicative procedures. Formal investigations should be conducted by others. When a formal investigation is requested, the Student Ombud refers individuals to the appropriate offices or individual.

4.7 The Student Ombud identifies trends, issues and concerns about policies and procedures, including potential future issues and concerns, without breaching confidentiality or anonymity, and provides recommendations for responsibly addressing them.

4.8 The Student Ombud acts in accordance with the IOA Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, keeps professionally current by pursuing continuing education, and provides opportunities for staff to pursue professional training.

4.9 The Student Ombud endeavors to be worthy of the trust placed in the Student Ombud Office.