Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

Ombudsmen gather for world conference

Speakers at the conference include former New Zealand prime minister and Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme Helen Clark. Photo / Supplied
Speakers at the conference include former New Zealand prime minister and Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme Helen Clark. Photo / Supplied

Corruption, natural disasters and public service cuts will be issues under scrutiny by ombudsmen at this week's world conference in Wellington.

The conference, being hosted for the first time in New Zealand, will see about 280 ombudsmen and representatives from national human rights institutions and other integrity bodies arrive for the 10th World Conference of International Ombudsman's Institute.

It will be open to the public from tomorrow until Friday.

The conference will be chaired by New Zealand's Chief Ombudsman Dame Beverley Wakem.

Dame Beverley said technology and social media were giving people a greater voice than ever before and social, political and economic forces were effecting change from within - often not waiting for official processes to run their course.

The global financial crisis, government austerity measures and natural disasters have created new groups of vulnerable people, and cuts to government services, and the shifting of public service delivery to private providers opened the door for corrupt practice and unreasonable decisions.

Internationally, ombudsmen were facing the fear of budgetary constraints impacting on timely investigations at a time when complaints were on the rise and ombudsmen were being asked to do more, Dame Beverley said.

This year's conference marks New Zealand's 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Office of the Ombudsman.

Speakers at the conference include former New Zealand prime minister and Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme Helen Clark.

The conference topics will range from holding leaders to account through to looking at the challenges faced by ombudsmen in assisting communities suddenly finding themselves displaced through natural disasters such as the Christchurch and Japan earthquakes and floods in Queensland.

- APNZ

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