On 29 June 2022, SCOAF hosted a Stakeholder Symposium. The event, which was held at HMS President, was attended by a range of stakeholders and representatives from civilian organisations. The purpose of the event was to raise awareness of the role of the Ombudsman and the work of SCOAF, discuss the Annual Report 2021, and to offer an opportunity for collaborative working, discussion and networking. The symposium was opened by Donal Galligan (Chief Executive of the Ombudsman Association), who gave a keynote speech focused on the role of an ombudsman, and the benefits that ombudsman organisations can bring in providing assurance and oversight. The event also included presentations on the role and functions of SCOAF, with staff from SCOAF’s Operations Team presenting on our processes and approach to casework. Following the presentations, attendees then took part in one of three workshop sessions. These sessions were a new addition to the symposium agenda, designed to offer the opportunity for attendees to engage in more focused discussions on specific areas of interest, and to enable SCOAF to gather a wide range of insights and contributions. The workshop sessions focused on the use and presentation of statistical data, opportunities for collaborative working with SCOAF, and the wider legislative framework for Service Complaints and SCOAF. Feedback from the sessions was very positive, with all participants engaging and contributing extremely useful insights.
The formal agenda concluded with an open question and answer session chaired by the Ombudsman. This session highlighted the overwhelming desire from all involved to make improvements to the system, whilst noting that there is still a significant amount of work to be done before the Service Complaints system can be judged to be efficient, effective and fair. Speaking after the event the Ombudsman said “it was wonderful to be able to host the SCOAF Stakeholder Symposium, as this event has not been possible over the last few years due to Covid-19. It was particularly special for me, as my first symposium since being appointed to this role. I am very grateful to all who attended for taking the time to engage with this event, and for sharing their experiences and insights.”We hope that all of the stakeholders who attended the event found it informative and engaging. We look forward to welcoming you all back next year alongside even more of our stakeholders!