This week (November 12, 2019), about 300 people, among whom were internal auditors and public inquiry administrators in government ministries and local communities, as well as representatives from social organizations, participated in a special conference held by the Ombudsman Office of the Office of the State Comptroller of Israel.
The “Multidimensional Protection of Social Rights in Israel” conference was held at the Shalva Center in Jerusalem and gathered together under one roof all those in the public center in Israel involved in the important work of clarifying public complaints. During the conference, many issues directly related to the state ombudsman were raised, include the latter’s objectives and purposes.
Mr. Matanyahu Englman, State Comptroller and Ombudsman, spoke about the importance that he sees in making the Office of the State Ombudsman accessible to the public, when the employees of the state ombudsman go out into the field, and in cooperation with ancillary bodies. The comptroller announced the launching of a program, “the state ombudsman in the community”, in which framework, bodies involved in helping individuals exercise their rights are invited to submit proposals for cooperation with the state ombudsman.
The director of the Office of the State Ombudsman, Dr. Esther Ben-Haim, welcomed the conference participants and expressed the hope that this will be the beginning of a new tradition in holding conferences of this kind, which bring together colleagues working in this important area of clarifying public complaints about the public sector.
Watch a video about the state ombudsman – Here For You
The keynote speech at the conference was given by Dr. Günter Kräuter, past Austrian ombudsman and general secretary of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI). Dr. Kräuter related to the international standing of the position of ombudsman and to his experience as the Austrian ombudsman. Dr. Kräuter noted that Austrian television broadcasts a weekly program whose participants include the Austrian ombudsman and ancillary bodies, and that this is an effective tool in heightening exposure to a wide audience as well as makes the work of the Austrian ombudsman more transparent.
In addition, there was a panel of selected ombudsmen who discussed the role of the ombudsman in defending social rights. The panel, chaired by Prof. Yuval Albashan, comprised the commissioner for equal rights of persons with disabilities – Mr. Avrami Turam, the head of the anti-racism coordinating government unit – Attorney Awaka (Koby) Zena, director of the public inquiries and state audit in the National Insurance Institute – Attorney Nurit Yitzhak, commissioner of public complaints under the National Health Insurance Law – Attorney Nili Hayoun Dickman and the deputy director of the public complaints commission in the Office of the State Comptroller – Attorney Ronit Zanberg.
During the panel, four short lectures (TED style) were given by employees of the state ombudsman. These talked about prominent issues involving complaints received and handled by the state ombudsman.
How are complaints submitted? An animated video
The theoretical part of the conference ended with a discussion between three individuals on the topic of protection of whistleblowers. The discussion, moderated by Prof. Aviad Cohen, was between the president of the national labor court, Varda Virt-Livne and director of the Office of the State Ombudsman, Dr. Esther Ben-Haim.
At the end of this special day, the conference participants enjoyed a tour of the Shalva Center, which seeks to give individuals with handicaps advanced and appropriate treatment, to support their family members and to promote social integration.
Main documents from the State Ombudsman Conference:
PowerPoint presentation of the talk given by the State Comptroller and Ombudsman