Victoria’s roads and traffic authority has accepted it needs to do better and is “looking for solutions” after a report revealed a barrage of complaints were made against it last year.
Victorians lodged more than 800 complaints, mainly relating to administrative problems, about VicRoads in the last financial year, the Ombudsman’s report released on Wednesday reveals.
Complaints related to registration transferal processes, renewal notices being sent to the wrong addresses and people having to wait months to recoup overpaid funds.
There were also complaints about concession card holders not receiving concessions on their fees.
“People have had cars, caravans and motorbikes transferred out of their name without their knowledge or consent,” Ombudsman Deborah Glass says in the report.
“Some people spent large sums of money improving cars they bought, to then have those cars seized by Victoria Police because unknown to them, the car was stolen. Other people have incurred fines and demerit points as a result of driving unregistered vehicles, not having received a renewal notice through no fault of their own.”
VicRoads said it welcomed the release of the report and was committed to improving the service it offered to customers.
“VicRoads processes over 26 million transactions simply and efficiently each year but we accept, in a small number of cases, we can do better,” it said in a statement to Government News.
“We will work closely with the government to address the issues identified and ensure all Victorians can have confidence in our services. “
Dodgy registration transfers ‘enabling theft’
Some complaints identified in the report related to vehicles being transferred out of a person’s name without their knowledge or consent, sometimes enabling a third party to steal the vehicle.
In some cases VicRoads processed transfers where owner details didn’t match the register and where other information, including signatures, was missing.
“On some occasions, VicRoads transferred registration that enabled fraud and theft, and VicRoads had information that should have prompted an enquiry,” the report said.
In correspondence with Ombudsman, VicRoads CEO Michael Malouf said the authority would introduce a policy of not accepting incomplete transfer applications.
But he said VicRoads was “proceeding carefully” and being guided by the experience of Queensland, which he said had a similar regulatory framework and had addressed similar “difficult scenarios”.
It was also reviewing staff guidelines on vehicle transfers.
VicRoads ordered to improve administration of Alcohol Interlock Program
The report also identified problems with administration of the alcohol interlock program, where people convicted of drink driving offences are required to provide data from an electronic breath testing device that prevents a vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected.
In some cases interlock violations were mistakenly recorded.
“We saw cases where VicRoads maintained violations in circumstances were there person… wasn’t even in the car and subsequently gave a clean sample,” the report said.
“VicRoads needs to ask itself more often: Is this fair?”
Ms Glass said VicRoads had accepted all of her proposals for improvement.
“I am pleased that VicRoads acknowledges improvements are needed and has worked with us to resolve many of these complaints,” Ms Glass said.
“But given the number of people affected by these issues, and the human cost of VicRoads’ shortcomings, we have encouraged them to look for interim solutions as well as long-term ones.
“Some of these issues will not be fixed properly without major investment in systems, which will take time and money.”
Read the full report here.
Comment below to have your say on this story.
If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sign up to the Government News newsletter.