In line with the third step of the Victorian Government’s reopening roadmap, VOCAT has advised that its metropolitan venues have resumed the processing of all applications, bringing metropolitan venues back in line with regional venues.
This marks a welcome change from Melbourne’s stage 4 restrictions, under which metropolitan VOCAT venues were processing only applications for urgent interim awards and urgent variations.
Across regional and metropolitan Tribunal venues, hearings will continue to occur online using Webex, or via telephone. However, an in-court hearing may now be possible, if requested.
Delays with processing VOCAT applications at metropolitan venues have been routine since Melbourne went into stage 4 lockdown. These delays should start to ease now that step 3 of the roadmap is in place. However, VOCAT continues to operate at reduced capacity to ensure social distancing polices can be followed, and is receiving an increased volume of correspondence. As has become commonplace in 2020, patience is required.
Before COVID restrictions were imposed the Tribunal was maintaining high processing rates but, even so, they were not able to reduce the backlog. The last six months has seen that backlog grow. Unfortunately, until the Tribunal is allocated more resources we must acknowledge the reality that victims will be facing even longer waiting times for the foreseeable future.