Victorian Ombudsman to investigate NSW border closure, travel permits

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The Victorian Ombudsman has launched an investigation into the interstate travel permit system.

Ombudsman Deborah Glass said her office had received more than 80 complaints from people wanting to enter Victoria, mostly residents trying to come home.

Ombudsman Deborah Glass is investigating whether the discretion exercised by the department has struck the right balance.Credit:Joe Armao

They include children wanting to come home to be with their parents after their school in NSW closed, and a woman trying to return home to care for her adult daughter after she was permitted to travel to NSW for a funeral.

The state’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton declared all of NSW an “extreme risk zone” and Victoria closed its border on July 9.

Ms Glass said there could be systemic issues about departmental decision-making.

“The situation is increasingly urgent with the extended lockdown. Some people are telling my office they face effective homelessness, stuck interstate with nowhere else to go,” Ms Glass said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Ombudsman said the complaints raised concerns about the discretion the department was exercising.

Ms Glass said her investigation would be swift to assist the Department of Health to identify urgent improvements if necessary.

She said the decisions the department made were difficult, requiring officials to balance individual rights with the safety of the broader community.

“But it will be important to ensure that balance has been fairly assessed,” Ms Glass said.

Other complaints the Ombudsman received were from a student who wants to go home to be with his family for health and wellbeing, and a woman who wants to go home to her farm to care for her animals.

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