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A win against the Government

Written by: Iris

A win against the Government post image

Villamanta Disability Legal Rights Service and VALID welcome the withdrawal of the State Government from its decision to increase the residential fees for residents of disability supported accommodation services to 75% of the Disability Support Pension and 100% of the Commonwealth Rental Assistance. Villamanta’s Viv Avery and Ben Von Einem argued the case at VCAT.
“This is a great turn-around,” said Mr Avery. “It should take a lot of weight off the shoulders of our clients with disabilities. It gives people with disabilities a degree of dignity and a degree of certainty.”
Villamanta and VALID have been together supporting people with disability, family members and administrators in a statewide Fight the Fee Hike Campaign.
Victorian Advocacy League for Individuals with Disability Inc

Villamanta provided representation to over two thousand litigants in a challenge to VCAT, which recently ruled that it has jurisdiction to deal with the matter. Over six thousand people had signed onto a petition which was to be delivered to the Victorian Parliament at a rally on September 19th.
People with disability and family members have also been actively lobbying against the decision in their local communities, with numerous local newspaper articles reporting on the personal impact of the decision.
In announcing the Government’s decision on ABC Radio, Minister Mary Wooldridge cited her concern that she did not wish to subject people to a lengthy legal process. Villamanta and VALID believe it was for exactly this reason - that people with disability and families were prepared to stand up in court to argue for fairness - that the State Government knew they had a fight on their hands.
Villamanta and VALID pay tribute to the parents and family members who stood up in court and passionately and compellingly argued their case. However, while Villamanta and VALID are satisfied that the current attempt to raise fees has been withdrawn, the Minister’s comments on ABC radio make it clear it is a victory only “at this stage”.
VALID’s E.O. Kevin Stone and Villamanta’s Principal Solicitor and E.O. Deidre Griffiths state: “We have every expectation that the State Government will regroup and revisit the issue. We therefore call on the Government to avoid repeating the trauma it has caused by its rash decision, by engaging in full and proper consultation with the sector.”
“With the establishment of DisabilityCare there are many issues which need to be addressed regarding fees and charges generally, and any decision to alter current arrangements should only be made in the context of an over-arching national policy framework that is fair, consistent and equitable for all residents of disability-funded accommodation services. The levels of poverty for people living on the DSP is a major national disgrace, one which DisabiltyCare should be looking to alleviate, not standardise.”