My speech in the Victorian Parliament on Monday night on the outrageous delays with the Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

Mr TILLEY (Benambra) (19:17:11): (637)

My question is for the Attorney-General. The action I seek is for the Attorney-General to provide a briefing explaining the current Labor government policy and administrative time lines for the issuing of certificates from Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria and to expedite applications that have already been in the system for close to three months.

I am happy to provide the minister’s office with a list of names, but in recent times my office has become a revolving door for people seeking marriage certificates to change their name, families trying to finalise estates after losing a loved one and even new parents simply wanting, and waiting for, a birth certificate.

The common theme is the snail’s pace of this department.

Take Stephen and Libby Winnett for example. They made their application for a marriage certificate 10 weeks ago.

The advice is that this should take 20 working days. After nine weeks they received advice that more paperwork was needed—nine weeks! During that nine weeks, Mrs Winnett—although she is not officially known by that name at present because she needs a marriage certificate—spent lunchtimes trying to get through on the helpline, and each time she had to hang up after close to an hour because she had to return to work. Her emails have simply gone unanswered.

The couple is booked on a belated honeymoon, but that too might be on hold without a marriage certificate to change Libby’s passport.

We have families in Rutherglen where deceased estates are desperately waiting for a death certificate. The delay there is nearly two months.

Thankfully, through the minister’s office, we were able to ease the grief and frustration for a mourning mother and grandmother just last month. That Wodonga woman had tragically lost her daughter and was fighting for custody of her orphaned grandchild. She needed a copy of the birth certificate. At one stage she phoned the department just after 9am to find herself number 67 in the wait queue. Her story was that at various times the paperwork was lost, additional information was required or there was complete denial of the child’s existence. It took almost three months to resolve that issue.

I guess what I am trying to highlight is that these pieces of paper that might have been taken for granted have affected people’s lives so significantly.

What is more, these current delays are further complicating what for many are already traumatic and stressful times.

Some have attempted to go through proper process and make a complaint through the recommended channels on the department’s website. They have quickly lost faith when the department has openly warned that it will take 20 days for a response. For some that is simply too long; for others their own experience tells them 20 days is more than likely three months.

Many have referred their claims to the Ombudsman, of which I imagine you are only too aware. I am led to believe that part of the reason for these current delays is that the department is transitioning to a more efficient computerised system.

My constituents are saying that if this is more efficient, then bring back the white-out and quill.

 

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