Call to facilitate complaints by direct provision residents

Ombudsman says trust must be built to help refugee children and families complain

 Ombudsman for Children Dr Niall Muldoon:  the making of a complaint can seem daunting for those living in the direct provision system. Photograph: Eric Luke

Ombudsman for Children Dr Niall Muldoon: the making of a complaint can seem daunting for those living in the direct provision system. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Workers in the public service and in direct provision centres need to ensure that children in such centres and their families are facilitated if they want to make complaints, the Ombudsman for Children has said.

Dr Niall Muldoon said that, almost a month after beginning to accept complaints from children in direct provision, he and his staff were working to build trust so that people might have the confidence to come forward.

He said the making of a complaint can seem daunting for those living in the direct provision system. Understandably people in direct provision are fearful that a complaint of any kind, to any organisation, might affect their refugee status, he said. “That is not the case.”

Greater understanding

His office cannot investigate decisions on asylum, citizenship, family reunification, residency or visas but has a role in relation to complaints made by or on behalf of children in relation to public bodies, as well as organisations providing services on behalf of the State.

He said it was clear that greater understanding and improved communication was needed across the public service, and in all government departments, to make it easier for people living in both direct provision centres and reception centres to make a complaint.

“We expect to receive complaints about life in direct provision centres, but we also anticipate complaints about all aspects of a child’s life; access to school, education supports, health and welfare,” Dr Muldoon said.