Health | December 07, 2021

Ombudsman slams Labor’s “downright unjust, even inhumane” border permit scheme

The Victorian Ombudsman has condemned the Andrews Labor Government’s border permit system in a scathing report released today.

Ombudsman Deborah Glass’s investigation found the “downright unjust, even inhumane” scheme, which was introduced in early 2021 and saw thousands of Victorian citizens indefinitely locked out of their home state, resulted in “some of the most questionable decisions I have seen in my over seven years as Ombudsman”.

Member for Lowan Emma Kealy said her office had received a number of calls this year from people stuck in NSW desperately trying to get home.

“In one case we had residents who applied for an exemption and waited four weeks for a result, causing them an enormous amount of stress and financial difficulty, as they had no choice but to pay for motel accommodation while they waited for the government to allow them to return home,” she said.

“The Ombudsman’s report contains countless other stories of heartache, including people waiting weeks to find out the outcome of an exemption application to be with their terminally ill daughter; people forced to pay rent on properties in Victoria and New South Wales with no income; and a young woman undergoing breast cancer treatment whose mother was denied entry to Victoria to help care for her daughter and grandchildren.

“The report paints a damning and heartbreakingly accurate picture of what communities have suffered under Daniel Andrews’ cruel and oppressive border rules, and is yet another example of the Premier failing to understand the enormous impact of his pandemic management decisions.”

In her report, Ms Glass stated that the border permit scheme “failed to comprehend the very real need for many people to come and go across the border for a whole range of reasons, even in the face of official warnings”.

She also noted that, “It appeared to us that the department put significant resources into keeping people out rather than helping them find safe ways to get home.”


Key facts and figures from the Victorian Ombudsman’s investigation into decision-making under the Victorian Border Crossing Permit Directions show:

  • Department of Health staff were given as little as 30 seconds to categorise applications
  • Only 20 staff were working on the scheme in early July
  • Only eight per cent of more than 33,000 applications were granted between July 9 and September 14
  • Only 877 of 2649 applications to attend a funeral were accepted

Only 895 of 10,812 applications on other health or compassionate grounds were accepted

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