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A decision in the Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) earlier this month has tenant advocates in our region concerned that a large number of renters will face homelessness now that the moratorium on evictions has ended.

At the height of the COVID-19 crisis last year, the Andrews Government introduced a raft of emergency measures to provide renters with additional protections. This included protection against eviction where renters were unable to pay their rent due to the ongoing pandemic.

Such measures proved crucial not only to ensuring renters were able to keep a roof above their heads but also in the overall strategy to reduce the spread of the virus by limiting peoples’ movement. However, these protections were repealed in late March this year, leaving many renters still unable to return to work due to rolling lockdowns at risk of homelessness.

“The protections may have gone away, but the virus has not,” said Jackie Galloway, CEO of Peninsula Community Legal Centre. “This leaves families in our area quite vulnerable to eviction where rent has gone unpaid due to a drop in income. It also comes at a time when rental providers are increasing rents, especially on the Peninsula, as people flee the city in the wake of COVID-19.”

Peninsula Community Legal Centre (PCLC) operates its Tenancy Assistance and Advocacy Program (TAAP) where staff are seeing an increase in rent-related debts. “In the past it was unusual to see rent arrears accrue beyond a couple of thousand dollars,” said Ms Galloway. “Now we are increasingly seeing renters with arrears of over ten thousand dollars. Many people have limited means to pay their rent and nowhere to go as rents are rising and housing is being snapped up by the sea changers.”

PCLC has continued to operate throughout the COVID-19 crisis and has assisted many renters negotiate rent reductions with their landlords in the hope they would have avoided disaster. However, with the crisis still unfolding renters require ongoing protection.

“With every lockdown comes the very real fear of how to pay your rent. There is no longer a mechanism to get rents reduced, and the Rental Relief Grant is no longer available. With VCAT now saying that renters can be evicted for rent arrears accrued during last year’s lockdowns, renters are at a heightened risk of homelessness with little means to repay their debt.”

Renters are reminded that they cannot be evicted from their homes without an order from the Tribunal. If anyone receives a Notice to Vacate for rent arrears or any other reason, they are urged to contact PCLC for advice.

PCLC remains committed to assisting our community. We are here to help and continue to offer services by telephone. Its dedicated staff are still available to advise, assist and attend VCAT hearings with renters. PCLC can be contacted on 9783 3600.

END.

DATE: 19 AUGUST 2021

CONTACT: Kirsten Young, Community Engagement Officer
9783 3600 kyoung@pclc.org.au
clc.org.au

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We know that many people in our community are experiencing legal problems due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our community engagement officer Kirsten Young spoke to 3CR 855am’s Done by Law podcast about the common legal issues our clients have been facing as a result of COVID-19, including family violence, parenting arrangements and family law issues, tenancy and fines. The podcast and its webpage also provide details about where to find reliable legal information responding to COVID-19.

Click here to access the podcast

 

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We know that many people in our community are experiencing legal problems due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our community engagement officer Kirsten Young spoke to 3CR 855am’s Done by Law podcast about the common legal issues our clients have been facing as a result of COVID-19, including family violence, parenting arrangements and family law issues, tenancy and fines. The podcast and its webpage also provide details about where to find reliable legal information responding to COVID-19.

click here to access the podcast

 

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PCLC has welcomed the opportunity to contribute to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health system. We have made recommendations with the aim to improve the provision of legal assistance to the most disadvantaged and vulnerable client’s in our community. These recommendations are informed by our extensive work with those experiencing psychosocial disability.

With over 50% of our family law clients experiencing family violence, we have seen the detrimental impact that exposure to family violence can have on our client’s mental well- being.

We are hoping our submission will contribute to the Commission’s aim to improve Victoria’s mental health system and enable Victorians to have the best outcomes in relation to mental health care.

To read our full Submission please click here Submission to Royal Commision into Mental Health July 2019

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Elder abuse is any act which harms an older person and is carried out by someone they trust such as an adult child, family member, partner, carer or friend.

To help commemorate and bring awareness to World Elder Abuse Awareness day, the Peninsula Community Legal Centre will be holding a morning tea on June 15, as well as conducting training and information sessions in June and July with aged care workers and seniors groups on the Mornington Peninsula.

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Peninsula Community Legal Centre stands with Fitzroy Legal Service and sixteen partner agencies urging all Victorian members of Parliament to reconsider the proposed amendments mandating imprisonment where injuries are sustained by emergency workers.

We need solutions that connect vulnerable people with the treatment they need and work to protect to our frontline emergency workers.

Please view Submission Mandatory Imprisonment – June 2018

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Motorists driving on the toll roads in the eastern board states may save time on their travel, but can accrue huge penalities and fees if they are fined for neglecting to pay the toll or top up their E-tag credit.

Some motorists in Victoria have toll fine debts as large as $200,000 and road toll matters are clogging up the magistrates court.

While some reforms with the toll operators will ease the situation in Victoria, lawyers and advocates are seeking more solutions.

Listen to full episode ABC: What to do about the growing weight of road toll debt

 

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Peninsula Community Legal Centre along with 26 organisations has signed an open letter to the Victoria Police Commissioner regarding the trial of body worn cameras by Victoria Police.

This  letter outlines a series of crucial accountability and oversight measures that must be implemented if the program is to achieve the objectives of enhancing safety for both officers and community members, and increasing police transparency and public confidence.

We are calling for:

  1. clear and publicly available guidelines, concerning data retention periods;
  2. limits on discretionary use by  officers and penalties for failure to activate;
  3. breadth of access for victims, their lawyers and the public; and
  4. rigorous evaluation prior to further expansion

Please  view full letter  Body worn cameras – Letter to Commissioner Ashton

 

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