Our governance

At a glance

Our governance framework outlines how we manage our business, minimise our risks, and meet our legislative obligations.

Our systems are based on strong ethical foundations and our commitment to fairness, accountability and transparency.

The following committees oversee our governance:

  • Executive management group
  • Advisory Council
  • Audit and risk management committee
  • Information steering committee
  • Workplace health and safety committee.

Risk management is a key governance principle and forms an integral part of the everyday activities of EWOQ.

In detail

EWOQ’s governance framework underpins our strategies, policies, procedures, processes, and resources that provide ongoing confidence in the integrity of our services. These elements have been mapped against the following six governance principles to ensure our practices are rigorous and robust.

LEADERSHIP

Shared understanding of purpose and priorities through effective planning, collaboration, communication and resource allocation.

ACCOUNTABILITY

Clear accountabilities, understanding our roles and responsibilities to meet corporate expectations and legislative requirements.

PERFORMANCE

Monitoring and reporting on our performance to meet expectations.

RISK MANAGEMENT

Regularly assessing and responding to risks and opportunities.

IMPROVEMENT

Actively enhancing our performance across all aspects of our business.

SERVICE DELIVERY

Customer and scheme participant focused service delivery, stakeholder engagement and collaboration.

In 2020-21, our executive management group members were:

Jane Pires. Energy and Water Ombudsman

Jane Pires was appointed Energy and Water Ombudsman in December 2016 and has more than 30 years experience in customer service and complaint management, including extensive senior executive experience in dispute resolution, mediation and conciliation.

As Energy and Water Ombudsman, Jane is committed to providing all Queenslanders with access to a free, fair and independent dispute resolution service, contributing to improved service delivery in the energy and water sectors, and fostering a culture of excellence within the team.

Jane chairs the Standards Australia QR-015 (Complaints handling) committee responsible for reviewing ‘AS/NZS 10002:2014 Guidelines for complaint management in organizations’ and also the Queensland chapter of the Thriving Communities Partnership.

She is also the Australian representative on the committee for international standard ‘ISO 10002:2018 Quality management — Customer satisfaction — Guidelines for complaints handling in organizations’. Jane also served on the board of the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals Australia (SOCAP) for 10 years, including three years as President and five years as Vice President.

John Jones. General Manager – Assessment, Investigation and Resolution

John Jones leads the complaint investigation and dispute resolution functions of the office, providing a timely, effective and independent way of resolving disputes.

His wealth of experience in dispute resolution makes him a valued representative of EWOQ at forums with state and national jurisdictional regulators, and industry and consumer representatives.

Sonia Cahill. Manager – Communications and Engagement

Sonia Cahill leads the communications and engagement team and is responsible for raising awareness of the scheme through a range of communication initiatives and community outreach activities.

She has expertise in corporate communications, media relations, and website and social media management in both the public and private sectors in Australia and abroad.

EleanorBray. General Manager – Strategy, Operations and Governance

Eleanor Bray leads the strategy, operations and governance team. She supports our business by providing corporate services including finance, risk and compliance, IT, policy and research, and performance reporting to the broader team.

Her experience and drive ensures our business is customer centric, forward-focused and conducted efficiently and effectively within our resource limitations.

Leonie Jones. Manager – People, Capability and Culture

Leonie Jones leads the people, capability and culture team, managing and implementing a range of strategic human resources, organisational culture and development initiatives that support EWOQ’s strategic objectives.

With more than 25 years’ experience within the public sector, Leonie brings with her a depth of management and HR experience

EWOQ organisation structure 2020-21

The Advisory Council monitors the independence of the Energy and Water Ombudsman scheme and provides advice to the Energy and Water Ombudsman and the Ministers responsible for energy and water on policy, procedural and operational issues relating to the Energy and Water Ombudsman Act 2006. This helps to ensure the scheme is fair and effective for consumers and suppliers.

Advisory Council membership

The Advisory Council meets every quarter and includes an independent chair and at least six other members appointed by the Ministers on the Chair’s recommendation and after consultation with scheme participants, consumer groups and community organisations.

There must be an equal number of other members representing industry and consumer interests. Under the Act, at least two of the industry members must represent the interests of energy retailers, at least one must represent the interests of energy distributors, and at least one must represent the interests of the water entities.

The Chair may hold office for up to five years, however, there is no restriction on the length of terms of ordinary members. On appointment to the Advisory Council, members receive an induction to help them understand the scheme and how the office operates. Council members represent the interests of the sector and must act in the best interests of the scheme when exercising their council responsibilities.

Roles and responsibilities of council members

The EWOQ Advisory Council Handbook details the roles and responsibilities of council members, while the Advisory Council Code of Conduct helps council members discharge their responsibilities under the Public Sector Ethics Act 1994. While not a prescriptive code, it contains the ethics, principles and values which council members have agreed to put into practice.

Council members are entitled to meeting fees approved by the Governor-in-Council, and reimbursement of reasonable costs incurred for attending council meetings, based on the Remuneration Procedures for Part-time Chairs and Members of Queensland Government Boards.

Message from the Advisory Council Chair

The committee provides independent comment, advice and counsel to assist the Ombudsman’s oversight of the:

  • integrity of EWOQ’s financial statements and internal controls
  • compliance with legislative and regulatory requirements
  • process relating to internal risk management and control systems
  • performance of the internal audit function.

Read more about the audit and risk management committee’s work during 2020-21.

The purpose of this committee is to act as a forum for health, safety and wellbeing consultative processes, lead the direction for managing health, safety and wellbeing issues, and address operational matters where appropriate.

At EWOQ, we are required to make ethical decisions, be accountable for our actions, and demonstrate integrity. We are committed to fostering a positive organisational culture that values and promotes ethical leadership and decision making.

All employees are required to observe the Code of Conduct for the Queensland Public Service. The principles and values in the code are incorporated into our policies and procedures as well as individual performance plans.

All new team members undertake ethics and code of conduct training during their induction.

Refresher training for code of conduct is provided annually. Mandated training in fraud control and corruption prevention was completed by all team members during 2020-21, along with a tailored online program about bullying and harassment.

Queensland’s Human Rights Act 2019 recognises 23 categories of human rights and acknowledges the responsibility of public sector employees to respect, protect and promote the human rights of all individuals.

EWOQ is committed to acting in a way that is compatible with our human rights obligations when we promote our services and interact with the community.

The Human Rights Act requires Queensland’s public agencies, including EWOQ, to act or make decisions that are compatible with these rights.

Section 97 of this Act also requires that we publish details of any:

  • human rights actions taken during the reporting period
  • human rights complaints received, including:
    • the number of complaints received
    • the outcome of the complaints
    • any other information prescribed by regulation relating to complaints
  • review of policies, programs, procedures, practices or services undertaken in relation to our compatibility with human rights.

During 2020-21, EWOQ made it a requirement that all reviews of EWOQ policies, procedures and plans must assess whether the documents promote and are compatible with human rights.

A number of key EWOQ documents have since been reviewed for compatibility with human rights and all prospective document reviews will be reviewed against this criteria.

EWOQ received no human rights complaints between 1 July 2020 and 30 June 2021.

See the official copy of the 2020-21 annual report, as tabled in the Legislative Assembly of Queensland, on the Queensland Parliament's tabled papers website.