This report deals with the Department of Immigration’s (DIAC) obligation to provide an unsuccessful visa applicant with a letter that clearly explains the decision and information about DIAC’s notification of adverse decisions was not well coordinated or consistent. There was variation in the quality of notification letters, many of which fell short of best practice standards.
The Ombudsman recommended that DIAC conduct a comprehensive review of its management of notification letters, to improve their quality and consistency. Specific recommendations in the report were for DIAC to introduce quality assurance measures, introduce consistent letter templates, use plain English in letters, improve the description of review rights and adopt minimum standards for explaining the reasons for decisions.
DIAC has accepted all the Ombudsman’s recommendations. The Ombudsman notes the reforms that have been implemented by DIAC, as part of a more sweeping reform program in the Department. These include the introduction of a Letter Improvement Program, and publication of a Best Practice Guide for reasons for decision, based on an Administrative Review Council publication. The Ombudsman’s report also notes the complex task faced by DIAC in dealing with over 12,000 visa applications each day, relating to over 140 different visa classes, processed at 68 offices overseas and nine offices in Australia.