Girl’s nearly $2k Ambulance Victoria charge regardless of not moving into an ambulance

A Victorian woman copped an almost $2000 ambulance fee despite never stepping inside an ambulance and when she complained, Ambulance Victoria refused to waive the charge – twice.

It was one of thousands of complaints made about government departments or agencies to the Victorian Ombudsman in the 2021-22 financial year.

Its annual report was tabled in state parliament this week outlining some frustrating bureaucratic situations Victorians found themselves in.

The wife, Maeve, traveled to hospital with her husband in their own car.

When her husband rushed into the emergency room looking for assistance, concerned Ambulance Victoria paramedics noticed Maeve distressed and alone.

They helped her inside the hospital with the use of an extraction device and gave her some pain relief.

She later received a $1894 invoice from Ambulance Victoria for treatment and transport.

The Ombudsman said Ambulance Victoria had twice declined to waive the debt, but Ombudsman investigators considered the charge inconsistent with accepted practices.

It wasn’t until the Ombudsman stepped in that Ambulance Victoria apologised to the family and the fee was waived.

Another Victorian woman found herself needing the Ombudsman’s help when she discovered another car had the same number plates as her.

When Tahni contacted VicRoads she was told she would need to visit a customer service center to obtain new registration plates.

This was a problem as she was dealing with a complicated pregnancy.

The Ombudsman contacted VicRoads about the issue and it found the two cars’ registration numbers were in fact one letter different but had been entered incorrectly in the system, meaning the same number plates were issued.

Tahni’s new plates were sent to her via registered post.

In the winter, a public housing resident’s hot water system stopped working.

Omar told the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing and a tradie sent out to the job said it would need to be replaced.

After having cold showers for five days, Omar reached out to the Ombudsman, who contacted the department. The next day a new hot water system was installed.

The Ombudsman said it turned out the hot water system initially arranged by the department was due to be installed the following day.

Another complaint came from inside Port Phillip Prison, where an inmate had found a colony of mice in the prison unit kitchenette.

An inspection by prison staff, once contacted by the Ombudsman, found the area was

unacceptably dirty and not being properly maintained.

The kitchenette is used and maintained by the prisoners.

Those whose job it was to clean were dismissed on grounds performance and pest control was increased from fortnightly to weekly.

Corrections Victoria was the most complained about government agency or department in 2021-22 with 3578 complaints.

It was followed by local councils with 3555 complaints, the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing with 2623 complaints, Business Victoria with 1064 complaints, and the Department of Health’s Covid response with 944 complaints.

The biggest issue when it came to complaints made about government departments and agencies was correspondence and communication delays and no response.

The annual report also highlighted the Victorian Ombudsman’s investigation into the state’s Covid border permit system.

When releasing that report in December last year, Deborah Glass said the investigation uncovered some of the most questionable decisions she had seen in more than seven years as the Ombudsman.

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