Shepparton News

Investigat­ion is launched

COMPLAINTS PROMPT VICTORIAN OMBUDSMAN TO LOOK INTO BORDER PERMIT SYSTEM, EXCEPTIONS AND EXEMPTIONS

- By Rosa Ritchie

The Victorian Ombudsman is launching an investigat­ion into COVID-19-related interstate travel permits, exceptions and exemptions, following ongoing complaints.

The investigat­ion led by Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass will consider more than 80 complaints as well as several specific issues, including the matter of children wanting to return home to be with their parents after their school in NSW closed.

Many of the complaints to the Ombudsman’s office have been made by Victorian residents trying to return home.

It comes after Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton declared the whole state of NSW an “extreme risk zone” and closed the Victorian border on July 9, 2021.

Ms Glass said while some individual cases had been resolved, complaints were continuing, raising potentiall­y systemic issues about Victorian Department of Health decision-making.

“The situation is increasing­ly urgent with the extended lockdown,” Ms Glass said.

“Some people are telling my office they face effective homelessne­ss, stuck interstate with nowhere else to go.

“Cases that have come into my office have raised concerns about the exercise of discretion under the relevant public health directions.”

Ms Glass said it would be a swift investigat­ion to help the department identify if urgent improvemen­ts were needed in processes and decision-making.

She acknowledg­ed the hard work public health officials were doing to keep Victorians safe during the public health emergency.

“Decisions about border permits will invariably involve a balance of individual rights with those of the broader community. But it will be important to ensure that balance has been fairly assessed,” she said.

The investigat­ion will examine the department’s exercise of discretion involving decisions on interstate travel permits, exceptions and exemptions and relevant human rights considerat­ions.

Other specific matters to be investigat­ed include a woman wanting to return home to her farm to care for her animals and a woman wanting to return home to care for her adult daughter after being permitted to leave Victoria to attend a funeral in NSW.

The investigat­ion is expected to be completed by the end of 2021, at which point Ms Glass will report to Victorian Parliament and the public on her findings.

 ?? Picture: AAP ?? Complaints made about system: Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass said while some individual cases had been resolved, complaints were continuing regarding the border permit system.
Picture: AAP Complaints made about system: Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass said while some individual cases had been resolved, complaints were continuing regarding the border permit system.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia