Case studies - positive outcomes for vulnerable people
20 Mar 2020
Communication is key, Case studies
The Office continues to promote awareness and accessibility for communities in regional and remote areas, Indigenous, culturally and linguistically diverse communities, the homeless and prisoners. Following are a few examples from the 2018-19 annual report that resulted in positive outcomes for vulnerable people
Review of Disability Parking Permit application process
Angela applied for an Australian Disability Parking Permit (ADPP) on behalf of her son Liam. In her application, Angela provided information that Liam’s primary disability or medical condition was Downs syndrome, which severely restricts his ability to walk. This was identified as a permanent condition by a doctor. The application was refused, so Angela provided further information regarding Liam’s open-heart surgery, how he gets breathless when he has to walk too far and trips over his feet.
The department informed Angela that the additional information did not indicate a functional inability to walk and the original decision to refuse the ADPP was upheld.
This Office's investigation found that even though a doctor certified that Liam‘s mobility restriction met the criteria set out in s 60 of the Traffic Regulation 1962, the department refused the application. The department did not ask Angela to provide further medical evidence that would have helped the department come to a decision regarding the application. This is an option available under the regulation.
The department reconsidered the application and granted the ADPP to Liam. As a result of the issues raised in the investigation, the department decided to review the ADPP application form and the review of decision form. The forms were updated to make the application and review requirements clearer. The department also made changes to the process for reviewing a decision to ensure that the applicant will be contacted if further information is needed.
Prisoner transfer problems
After a prisoner-on-prisoner assault, Tim was temporarily held in a correctional centre's detention unit on a safety order. He complained to this Office that he was being denied basic items, such as toiletries and underwear. He objected to the safety order conditions and said he had not been given timely advice about the reasons for the order. Tim also complained about being accommodated near the alleged perpetrator of the assault. When Tim contacted the Office, he told us he had complained to the centre’s general manager but had not yet received a formal response.
Ombudsman officers contacted the centre and found there were other concerns that Tim had attempted to raise with centre management. It was unclear which issues had been submitted to the general manager using the centre’s complaints management process.
With Tim’s consent, this Office directly referred a summary of his complaint issues to the general manager for response. Following this referral, the general manager confirmed that Tim was transferred to a low security facility.
Managing tenancy issues
Jerry was a tenant of the Department of Housing and Public Works. His neighbour, Al, was also a tenant of the department and was subject to a Tenancy Management Plan (TMP). The department uses a TMP to support vulnerable tenants to sustain their tenancy. The plan outlines the ways the department will proactively work with a tenant to stop disruptive behaviours occurring and help the tenant to meet their tenancy obligations.
Jerry was assaulted by Al and suffered a minor head injury. As a result, the department relocated Jerry to another property. The department had previously failed to take any action in response to Jerry’s complaints about Al, which were made on a regular basis prior to the assault.
This Office’s investigation considered the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 and the department’s relevant policy and procedures, particularly focusing on tenancy management and responding to complaints about disruptive behaviour of its tenants.
Following recommendations made by the Office, the department apologised to Jerry, stating that it had not properly managed his complaints in accordance with its policy and procedures. The department amended its TMP document to include consequences and options to take if the plan is not followed by a tenant, and the department’s written procedures were updated to incorporate the new plan.