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Funding Announced to keep VCAT moving during COVID-19

May 05, 2020

The Government announced on the 28th of April that $5.2 million in funding has been released to support Victoria’s Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to manage hearings during COVID-19. This is particularly good news for home building as the Planning and Environment list and other current and pending matters have largely been on hold since mid-March. This announcement will provide for a range of ways to proceed with cases using appropriate technology and we believe “on the papers hearings”.

The new funding will provide new software and processes to essentially allow for digital upgrades to the service. Work has already commenced on these upgrades, which are due to be rolled out over the next 12 weeks.

This announcement compliments the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Bill 2020 which was passed through the Victorian Parliament last week. Amongst a range of other matters, that Bill provided for reforms to assist the operation of the broader justice system to minimise delays and to minimise the need for actual appearances in courts or tribunals.

Over recent weeks, HIA has advised the Victorian Government that it should support VCAT to be able to continue to progress cases in the current COVID-19 environment with ‘on the papers’ hearings and undertaking cases by video conference. In conjunction with other measures, such as calling on all sessional members to be deployed, these will assist with clearing any backlog of cases.

With regard to building matters, HIA continues to advocate for resolving building dispute matters currently held up in the Domestic Building Disputes Resolution Process (DBDRV) by removing the need for mandatory conciliation. This would ensure building matters can move through to VCAT and be resolved in a more timely way.

Access the Victorian Government’s announcement here.

If you wish to discuss this matter further please contact Teresa Davis via email or call 03 9280 8230.