The Service Compaints Ombudsman

The Service Complaints Ombudsman

Nicola Williams

I wanted to use my my abilities with words,

both the written and the spoken word
to help further social justice, that’s my life purpose.

When the Travon Martin verdict came out in the States, I was so very very angry at the time because of the blatant unfairness.

Social justice
Nicola has been a barrister, a judge and served on regulatory bodies.  She has been the second woman Service Complaints Commissioner for the armed forces and now has  a more important role, that of the first  Service Complaints Ombudsman, to the Military.

The common thread in all  her choices is they’ve  all been challenging roles, and intellectually rigorous.  There’s an element of social justice in all of them which is to make sure that everybody who needs to access a lawyer, or access an ombudsman has equal rights of access, equal ability to access, and that their issues or complaints will be dealt with fairly.

Nicola Williams becomes the Ombudsman for the armed services

Portrait of new Service Complaints Ombudsman for the Armed Forces Nicola Williams

As Service Complaints Commissioner
We can certainly do a lot, given that we don’t have the legislative, backup.  We take the complaint, send to, for example the Army, monitor them to make sure they investigate within a certain time frame.  We look at the result, sometimes we have discussions.    Ultimately we can’t do anything with the decision, once they make it.  To be fair, they listen, and  if we disagree, they do take on board, what myself and the previous commissioner have said.  We have no right to tell them what to do.    Then we publish the report.

As Ombudsman
I will be more powerful, and will have my own team of investigators,  who will be hand-picked,  a diverse group to go in and have a look at things.

In the beginning, here’s how it will work.    I can look at  the merits of the complaint.    If it’s out of time, I can look at that.   I can look at maladministration.  I just generally speed the process up.
But  it is underpinned by the legislation.   The legislation provides that, if the army for example, make a decision with which I disagree, and if I look at it again, and I still disagree, I can overturn the decision.

I will have greater power than any Ombudsman in the world.

I had a really difficult last year in the Cayman islands as Ombudsman.    The more effective the office got the more the government hated me, so it  was a really tough job.   I know for a fact there are reports which will live on beyond me, and legislation, which will live beyond me.

Nicola Williams new OMbudsman for the armed forced

Nicola Williams in interview. Photo christrainers.

Being a woman
As a child of immigrant parents, Nicola is very aware of how discrimination, can effect people’s ambitions.   The role she now takes on, is to defend people who’ve been denied justice.

As Ombudsman for the Service Complaints Commission, I will be a woman working with the armed forces, totally independent to them.   I came back from Cayman, I’ve been in post nearly a full year, as the second SCC, and will be the first  Service Ombudsman .    I do have a different perspective, from outside.    One because I’m a woman, but also because of race.   Because I’m a civilian with a legal, judicial and ombudsman background,  I have a wealth of  experience from which  both the ministry of defense and armed forces will benefit.    While I’m waiting to take up my role I’ve also learnt a great deal within military service.

They realize there is a need for wide-spread cultural change.

I don’t remember the first instance of discrimination.   I can’t remember the first.    It’s just the facts of life for a black child.  As you’re brought up,  you are aware that you always have to be twice as good, twice as bright, twice as capable, twice as competent.

Any black professional  person here or in America will tell you that.   As to gender discrimination,  I’m not saying that I don’t notice, but  I feel it less.    If I’m going to be discriminated against, it’ll be race rather than gender.

While  the power structure is still largely white male from a certain social class, it has this effect . A white man of a certain age, if his consciousness is going to be raised, it will be through his daughters.   These men now, if they’re in 50s and 60 have daughters and granddaughters.  They can kind of understand as they get older, they are more aware of age discrimination and possibility of disability.   It’s a stretch,  if  they’re going to expand their area of consciousness, then changes around  gender, are going to be easier than race.   When I have been discriminated against, it is both race and sex which give it a rather ugly dimension.

Core Values
Well you know, Travon Martin could happen here.  When the Travon Martin verdict came out in the States, I was so very very angry at the time because of the blatant unfairness.  It made me really distill what my life purpose was.   That  helped me to decide that I was going home.

I wanted to use my abilities with words, both the written and the spoken word to help further social justice, that’s my life purpose.

It encapsulates what I think is important. What I can do  in my sphere, will I hope have made things better in some small way.

© 2016


One Response

  1. […] she was the Service Complaints Commissioner (SCC), which gives her oversight of how complaints are dealt with in all three sections of the military: […]

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