Michael Manthorpe PSM was appointed by the Australian Government to the role of Commonwealth Ombudsman for a five year term commencing on 8 May 2017. He is the 10th Commonwealth Ombudsman since the Office’s inception in 1977.
Prior to his appointment, Michael was a career Australian public servant. He is a generalist, who studied journalism and history at the University of Queensland in the 1980s, and worked for different governments on a variety of public policy and program issues over the years. Most recently, he held Deputy Secretary level positions at the then Department of Immigration and Border Protection, where he was responsible for the global delivery of Australia’s visa, citizenship and refugee programs.
For 25 years he worked in the Education, Employment and Workplace Relations portfolios. He is fascinated by the way in which large complex administrative systems interact with and serve people, and how this can occur in the best possible way.
He was awarded the Public Service Medal in 2010 for his leadership of the government’s handling of the insolvency of ABC Learning childcare centres.
Michael is on the executive of the Australia New Zealand Ombudsman Association (ANZOA), and is a Deputy President and councillor of the ACT Branch of the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPPA).
Jaala Hinchcliffe–Deputy Ombudsman
Jaala Hinchcliffe was appointed to the position of Deputy Commonwealth Ombudsman on 6
November 2017. Prior to joining the Office, Jaala worked at Parliament House with the Department of Parliamentary Services, where she headed the People and Governance Branch, which was responsible for a range of corporate functions.
Jaala spent a significant portion of her career with the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions where, for 15 years, she worked across a range of legal functions, including as Senior Executive for Law Reform, Policy and Strategic Review and Reform.
Jaala has been engaged in a number of community organisations in the ACT, including as a board member for Palliative Care ACT. She is currently a member of the National Executive for the Australian Institute of Administrative Law. She studied Arts and Law at the Australian National University and was admitted to practice as a Legal Practitioner in the ACT in 2000.
Fiona Sawyers joined the Office in July 2017. Prior to joining the Office, Fiona held leadership roles in a variety of Commonwealth agencies and departments, including most recently in Indigenous education at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Fiona has over 20 years’ experience in social policy and program management, primarily at the Department of Social Services and its predecessors, where she has worked on welfare and family payments, disability policy and housing support. Fiona’s experience spans program management and implementation, research and evaluation and policy development. Fiona has lived and worked in rural NSW and in Canberra, and studied English literature and politics at the University of New South Wales.
Louise Macleod–Senior Assistant Ombudsman, Program Delivery Branch
Louise joined the Office in July 2016. Her public service career spans over 16 years in various leadership roles, conducting investigations, compliance monitoring and dispute resolution in agencies such as the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria, the Queensland Justice and Attorney-General’s Dispute Resolution Centres and the Family Court of Australia. Prior to this, Louise spent seven years as an officer in the Australian Army and served on operations in East Timor. Louise is a lawyer and mediator by training.
Paul Pfitzner–Senior Assistant Ombudsman, Complaints Management and Education Branch
Paul Pfitzner joined the Office in September 2016 as part of the expansion of the Defence Force Ombudsman jurisdiction relating to reports of serious abuse within Defence. He established the Office’s processes for responding to reports of serious abuse in Defence and has also previously had executive responsibility for the work of the ACT Ombudsman. He has been in his current role since March 2019.
Paul is a lawyer by training and has been in the Commonwealth public service since 2003. Prior to joining the Office, he held senior roles in the Attorney-General’s Department in legal policy relating to human rights, legal services, national security and criminal justice.
Autumn O’Keeffe joined the Office in June 2018 as the Senior Assistant Ombudsman for the Assurance Branch. Autumn is a lawyer by training and commenced her public service career in 2004 at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission where she worked on a range of issues including petrol price fixing, cartel behaviour and product safety.
Immediately prior to joining the Office Autumn worked at the Attorney-General’s Department for 12 years in a wide variety of legal and policy areas including civil law, private international law, royal commissions, criminal justice and family law. In 2017 Autumn was a member of the delegation for Australia’s appearances before both the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the Human Rights Committee.
Dermot Walsh–Senior Assistant Ombudsman, Industry Branch
Dermot Walsh joined the Office in 2014. He is currently responsible for the Office’s industry ombudsman functions, including: private health insurance, postal industry, overseas students and VET student loans.
Before joining the Office, Dermot held leadership roles in both the Commonwealth and ACT Public Service, in a diverse range of organisations including: the ACT Land Development Agency, the ACT Economic Development Directorate, Comcare, the National Gallery of Australia, the Defence Service Homes Insurance Scheme and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Dermot has a Bachelor of Commerce, is a Fellow member of CPA Australia and a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Rodney Lee Walsh–Chief Operating Officer, Corporate Branch
Rodney Lee Walsh joined the Office in July 2011. He is currently responsible for the agency’s corporate functions and the Public Interest Disclosure Scheme.
Rodney is a lawyer and mediator. He has held a range of SES roles since 2005 including IT applications development, senior executive lawyer (administrative law), organisational strategy, workplace relations and national employment programs.