WHS Ombudsman Office

At the most fundamental level, an Ombudsman is one who assists individuals and groups in the resolution of conflicts or concerns.

The primary duties of the WHS Ombudsman are (1) work with individuals and groups to explore and assist in determining options to help resolve conflicts, problematic issues or concerns, and (2) to bring systemic concerns to the attention of WHS leadership for resolution. The Ombudsman will operate in a manner to preserve the confidentiality of those seeking services, maintain a neutral/impartial position with respect to the concerns raised, work at an informal level of the organizational system, and is independent of formal organizational structures.

Activities and functions include but are not limited to:

  • Listen and understand issues while remaining neutral with respect to the facts. The ombudsman doesn’t listen to judge or to decide who is right or wrong. The ombudsman listens to understand the issue from the perspective of the individual. This is a critical step in developing options for resolution.
  • Assist in reframing issues and developing and helping individuals evaluate options. This helps individuals identify the interests of various parties and helps focus efforts on potential options to meet those interests.
  • Guide or coach individuals to deal directly with other parties, including the use of formal resolution resources of the organization. An ombudsman often seeks to help individuals improve their skill and their confidence in giving voice to their concerns directly.
  • Inform individuals of other resolution resources.
  • Assist in surfacing issues to formal resolution channels. When an individual is unable or unwilling to surface a concern directly, the ombudsman can assist by helping give voice to the concern and/or creating an awareness of the issue among appropriate decision-makers in the organization.
  • Facilitate informal resolution processes. An ombudsman may help to resolve issues between parties through various types of informal mediation.
  • Identify new issues and opportunities for systemic change for the organization. The unique positioning of the ombudsman will serve to provide unfiltered information that can produce insight to issues and resolutions. The ombudsman is a source of detection and early warning of new issues and a source of suggestions of systemic change to improve existing processes.