Ombudsman: Border permits were ‘downright unjust, even inhumane’

Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass has called on the Andrews government to acknowledge distress caused by its border permit scheme during Sydney’s COVID-19 outbreak of the Delta variant.

Breakıng, Covid 19vic

7/12/2021 1:50:00 AM

BREAKING : The Ombudsman has labelled Victoria’s border permit scheme ‘unjust, even inhumane’ in a report that reveals how many people were locked out of the state. | heyracheddie covid19vic

Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass has called on the Andrews government to acknowledge distress caused by its border permit scheme during Sydney’s COVID-19 outbreak of the Delta variant.

AdvertisementVictoria’s “unjust” border permit scheme that locked thousands of people out of the state resulted in some of the most questionable decisions Ombudsman Deborah Glass has seen in her career, with Department of Health staff given as little as 30 seconds to categorise desperate applications.

In a report tabled in the Victorian Parliament on Tuesday, the Ombudsman called on the Andrews government to acknowledge the distress caused by the system which she believed focussed on blocking people out during Sydney’s Delta outbreak of COVID-19 rather than helping them get home safely.

Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass.Credit:Penny StephensMs Glass did not criticise the decision to close the state border during the outbreak — which ultimately led to Melbourne’s sixth lockdown and an acceptance the elimination strategy was unsustainable — but said discretion applied under the blunt system was unnecessarily narrow and left people in effect homeless.

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Just 20 staff were responsible for the permit scheme in early July, scaled up to 285 by early September. Those tasked with categorising and prioritising applications had between 30 seconds and one minute to do so.Only 8 per cent of the 33,252 applications were granted in the period July 9 to September 14 this year, when the Ombudsman began her investigation.

In that time, 2649 applications were made to attend a funeral or be with a loved one in their final moments. Only 877 were granted. Another 10,812 were made for health and compassionate reasons, with 895 granted.“People’s anguish when they spoke to us was palpable,” Ms Glass said.

“I recognise that the Department of Health’s intentions were to protect people in Victoria from a dangerous virus that had already seeded through cross border incursion, and that the Department was under enormous pressure dealing with the exigencies of the public health emergency.”

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AdvertisementAmong the 315 complaints received, Ms Glass heard from people paying double rent with no income and a farmer afraid of having to put down her flock when she couldn’t get home. In one case, a woman was asked why she could not put her intellectually disabled sister in aged care while she was unable to be her carer. Another woman lost her new job because she was unable to relocate to begin work.

Victoria’s traffic light system, introduced in January, required people to obtain a permit to enter the state based on the public health risk of other parts of the country.Parts of Sydney were designated a “red zone” in late June and COVID-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar urged all Victorians in New South Wales to return home on July 10, with the entire state declared a red zone a day later.

On July 20, the government tightened the border again in a move that ended the right to return home from a red zone. People entering Victoria would need to qualify for a compassionate exemption.All of NSW was declared a new category of “extreme risk” three days later on July 23, blocking thousands of people from entering Victoria.

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LoadingMs Glass accepted the government had explicitly warned Victorians interstate that border rules could change, but said people were reasonably relying on the traffic light system that allowed some restricted movement and people did still need to cross borders during a pandemic.

The guidelines did not evolve with Victoria’s growing outbreak, Ms Glass said, and persisted even once Premier Daniel Andrews abandoned the elimination strategy in late August.“The result was some of the most questionable decisions I have seen in my over seven years as Ombudsman,” Ms Glass said.

“The effect of a complex and constrained bureaucracy meant some outcomes were downright unjust, even inhumane. People felt caught up in a bureaucratic nightmare.”She said public health officials were working hard in an especially tough job during the pandemic. But she said: “If there is a next time – we cannot let this happen again.”

The Ombudsman has recommended the government publicly acknowledge the narrow exercise of discretion resulted in unjust outcomes.Ms Glass also recommended the government improve policy and guidance for such schemes and consider payments on applications to help cover the financial cost for people who cannot return home.

Read more: The Age »

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heyracheddie You need one of these heyracheddie Hey, “The Age”, stop verballing the Ombudsman, the Ombudsman didn’t say the schem was “unjust, even inhumane” - some “outcomes were downright unjust, even inhumane.” Journalism is more that just making s&t up. heyracheddie Everybody needs to read the report before jumping into this one way or another. It's pretty hard reading. That said if you chose to go on holiday to NSW last year and then were astonished you had challenges getting back I struggle to have sympathy.

heyracheddie Curious as to what the Commonwealth Ombudsman would have to say about the international border… heyracheddie Ombudsman wanted a big increase in funding and didn’t get it / the Andrews govt is going to pay, apparently. heyracheddie The ombudsman has called out the government’s on some of the worst desisions ever made by fedral and state governments not forgetting heath departments. Terrible management, time for a fresh start. 1st Up how did the feds go with pandemic management.

heyracheddie Ccp andrews the inhumane premier. heyracheddie It boggles the mind why there are still people who defend Dan Andrews even after his prolonged lockdown of Victoria didn’t even prevent an outbreak of the Corona virus. heyracheddie heyracheddie Now do Queensland! heyracheddie Do we have one of them in Qld as I’m pretty sure they followed similar cruelties

Queenslanders warned to expect masks to return as cases pop up in communityQueenslanders have been warned to expect targeted restrictions to be reimposed where there are outbreaks of COVID-19 even after the border reopens at the 80 per cent double dose vaccination mark. Mask are a load of crap. Do absolutely nothing The Queensland government officially cancelled Christmas

heyracheddie Lets be frank here. The Victorian govt should have vetted these people on the border & if found safe, let the poor buggers in! heyracheddie She can call it whatever she likes, but fact remains it was legal and its a shite load better than most states heyracheddie So you’re telling me NONE of the other states closed their borders? Is that what you’re saying? Because it’s bollocks.

heyracheddie Goodness. What would she say about Qld approach? heyracheddie arrestdanandrews arrestscottmorrison heyracheddie And what will be done about it. Nothing! heyracheddie Thank god ,Someone with common sense . heyracheddie Maybe we need to rename the state of Victoria. I suggest “SOUTH PARK”

heyracheddie Hopefully the ombudsman is coming for the QldGov and AnnastaciaMP considering we will still need a border pass from interstate, even after 80%DD heyracheddie 270 days of lockdown wasn’t a walk in the park either.

Early border reopening still too late for border 'refugees', but welcome relief in CoolangattaMurwillumbah Showgrounds caretaker Meg Fallon says she's been caring for Queensland 'refugees' for months and it's a disgrace they've been locked out, so opening the border early is still happening way too late. It's pretty disgusting continuing to use the word refugees for people 'stuck' on the border....doesn't make it less bad by putting it in quotation better.... auspol

heyracheddie But the Age published this... heyracheddie didn't need the ombudsmen to know this... just needed MSM to do its job 18 months ago heyracheddie And so is dying from Covid. Take your pick? heyracheddie Ms Glass said she did not criticise the decision to close the border, which was based on public health advice, but the narrow exercise of discretion.

heyracheddie Lol what do you label Queensland and Western Australia then? Or how about South Australia making the olympians quarantine for 28 days…? heyracheddie Disgusting harsh system that achieved nothing, people in need should have just needed COVID test to cross borders ? heyracheddie I’m so glad the Ombudsman continues to do her job in protecting people’s rights and freedoms. There’s no point in having a “Charter” or “Bill” of rights, or “values of freedom” if they are the first thing to be dumped in hard times or times of crisis.

heyracheddie Another symptom of the terrible leadership - left and right, state and federal, government and opposition - that Australia suffers from. Out of their depth amateurs, making it up as they go along. ScottMorrisonMP AnnastaciaMP DanielAndrewsMP heyracheddie She is a voice of sanity in a State where the Govt has gone insane.

heyracheddie The virus was inhumane, the restriction had to be tough

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heyracheddie And Covid is just? heyracheddie Yawn heyracheddie my trust for ombudsman of any industry went out the door sometime ago, when an ombudsman interviewed me on condition of confidentiality, within an hour a State manager repeated everything i informed ombudsman about, I resigned on the spot, i was a subject matter aviation expert

heyracheddie And, by not being even stricter with Border Control, we now have 6 Victorians dying every day from virus that spread into VIC from NSW. From end Oct-2020 to end Aug-2021 (307 days), VIC had ONE Covid death. But, virus kept entering from NSW & we now have 573 deaths in 100 days heyracheddie She's just a LIBERAL

heyracheddie Its ironic, cos then the same people will blame Dan for 'not closing borders early enough' and for lockdown 4,5,6. heyracheddie Thank you, for saying this. michaelobrienmp MatthewGuyMP heyracheddie heyracheddie Anyone get the feeling the ombudsman has it in for Dan Andrews? heyracheddie Wow stop lying

'Sham trial' condemned as Aung San Suu Kyi jailed for two yearsAntony Blinken called the convictions of Aung San Suu Kyi and Win Myint 'unjust' and 'affronts to democracy and justice' Same happening for the rest of the just population of the world. No place now for the ones seeking to make things right in this world . And she was quite on the Rohingya's genocide. How does he feel about Julian Assange being in jail for years on behalf of his government?

SabraLane heyracheddie What rubbish…what about Tasmania, South Australia, West Australia, Queensland. It’s bash a Vic day again.

Onlookers come to rescue of teens attacked by shark during evening swimA nurse swimming with her family goes to the aid of two teenagers bitten by a shark during a swim at beach near Geelong. Not disclosing the state gets more clicks! Funny how times change we were always told as kids don't swim in the late afternoon and never at night as its feeding time for sharks Don't swim at dinner time.

Doctors push for children over five to be vaccinated before WA's hard border comes downDoctors are pushing for Western Australia's hard border to stay in place until 90 per cent of the population over five is fully vaccinated, but Premier Mark McGowan is not keen. Can we just delete WA from Australia? WA doing and done a lot better than the eastern states. Oh my! What a bunch if bed wetters. Australia is a joke