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Kew Cottages Coalition Reg # A0044698H


December 2003

12th December 2003.. Arthur Rogers, Executive Director, Disability Services Division, DHS writes to Kew Cottages Parents Association saying that:

"Planning for the Kew Residential Services (KRS) redevelopment has progressed to a point where the Department of Human Services (DHS) is now in a position to undertake consultations on some of the principles to inform site planning... It is intended that a small group of key stakeholders representig residents and their families will be consulted through this forum between now and March of next year..."

6th December 2003... Victorian State Labor Conference delegates met Kew Cottages Coalition protestors as they arrived at Moonee Valley this morning...


6th December 2003..As more details emerged on the Federal Governement's public lands in private hands  deal at Point Nepean.[More...]

New Federal Labor leader Mark Latham promised Victorian State Labor Conference delegates at Moonee Valley that  a Labor Government would  launch a national program for early childhood development..[More..]

November 2003


30th November 2003... Fact and Opinion...

Criteria-22 or Catch-22...  ?

The Minister for Planning's  reasons for intervening in the Kew Cottages planning process make strange reading. [More..]

The Minister may intervene, but she must explain her intervention according to a series of criteria. [More.. ]

Criteria 1 of her explanation goes to the question of  arguing that the future of Kew Cottages is of "genuine State significance", rather than just local significance.

As a consequence, if priority is now to be given to State significance, then  it might be expected that the planning consultation process would  need to be extended from covering  Local issues such as traffic, and building heights and envelopes for blocks of flats, to  State and Regional issues such as:

a) The needs of the thousands of disabled Victorians on supported accommodation waiting lists ?

b) The nature and form of  special accommodation options and services, such as respite care, training, and research, provided at Kew Cottages ?

c) The Government's  commitment to getting intellectually disabled Victorians off urgent waiting lists and into suitable accommodation ?

d) The need for a Centre of Excellence at Kew Cottages to help advance new solutions for long standing problems in providing the intellectually disabled with a full range of accommodation choices and services ?

Not a bit of it.

On Tuesday 11th November the Minister for Planning  aborted all of the relevant consultation processes provided for in the Act.

She said that she had intervened on the basis of a Wednesday 5th November request  in a letter from the Minister for Community Services.

If that is an accurate account, then she certainly acted with some considerable haste. Because, between Wednesday the 5th and Tuesday 11th of November  she managed to research, prepare, and publish a completely new planning scheme amendment "of genuine State significance" - all within less than a week !

Not surprisingly, given the shortness of time devoted to the task some elements of the resulting work, don't yet appear to be completely leak proof.

For example, Ministerial Intervention Criteria 2 deals directly with the need for consultation and whether "the issues have been reasonably considered and the views of affected parties are known.."

The Minister's bucket definitely appears to have a hole in it on this one. At face value it looks like she has attempted the "two bucket" or 'pea-and-thimble' solution. Sir Humphrey would no doubt have called it, 'A brave decision ..."

Her explanation goes to the question of when " An Urban Design Framework" is not necessarily  the  same as "THE Urban Design Framework".

The Minister for Planning claims to have satisfied Criteria 2 on the basis of the consultation undertaken to date. She says, "The development of an Urban Design Framework (UDF) for the future redevelopment of the site coordinated by the Boroondara City Council, has been a public process, with community representatives on the Working group preparing the UDF." (Commonly known as the August 2003 UDF.)

However, she did not actually use her "power of intervention" to incorporate the latter document - the August 2003 UDF - into Amendment C53.

The Minister has  incorporated a quite different document - one subsequently prepared for the Government by VicUrban - and referred to as "the Kew Residential Services Urban Design Framework, October 2003" in C53.

There has been no formal public consultation process  undertaken with respect to the VicUrban October 2003 UDF. And under C53 there can be no consultation, because the VicUrban document is now part of the amendment, and the amendment was approved without public exhibition on 11th November.

It was not always expected to turn out that way. Only last month the Government was proposing a time frame to Council that provided for Public Exhibition of a new Planning Scheme Amendment from mid-November to mid-December 2003.

The Government's October comfort with the latter time frame makes their November turn-around and current protestations about Council's 'extensive delays' hard to believe.  Unfortunately for the Government the Council chose to call their bluff, and put Council Amendment C38 on Public Exhibition without any delay at all.

So C38 was on Public Exhibition within the Government's specified time frame, but with content that was obviously less than acceptable to Government. How then should the Minister deal with the hurdle presented by Criteria 4 ?

Criteria 4 is a two-edged sword.

Criteria 4 raises issues of fairness, or public interest.  For example it gives the Minister power to addresses the need for speed  and to intervene - "where there is a need for urgency and the public interest would be served by immediate action."

So in the first instance the Minister for Planning could give the Minister for Community Affairs the bulldozer to push aside Boroondara Council if Council was shown to be too slow.

However, Criteria 4 also sanctions  intervention by the Minister for Planning where "the mechanisms of the planning process have created a situation that is unjust, unreasonably causes hardship or is clearly in error."

So having now intervened, and effectively removed the 'protective planning buffer' previously afforded by Boroondara Council, Mary Delahunty, will  have to be particularly careful that neither her own ministerial  actions, nor those of her fellow Ministers are seen to be in any way:

" creating a situation that is unjust, unreasonably causes hardship, or is clearly in error.."

29th November 2003...  "We are yet to see whether child protection reform is the major priority it needs to be for the Bracks Government"writes  Dorothy Scott in The Age.

Today Dorothy is Associate Professor of Social Work at Melbourne University. Thirty years ago she was a child care worker at a State institution, and remembers making a commitment to do what she could to keep children out of such places.

She now holds a somewhat different view... I now reflect and say, 'Well, we threw the baby out with the bathwater when we completely de-institutionalised Child Welfare, and we now have overloaded a fragile foster care system to a point that it's actually breaking under the strain, and we don't have really any stable residential care left in our system, which is probably the more appropriate form of care for some children... [More..]

28th November 2003... Boroondara Council considers  legal advice on Planning Scheme Amendment C53.

27th November 2003... The Victorian Auditor General says,"the State Government has substantially underfunded the State's Hospital system.."Jon Faine, ABC Radio 774, Melbourne

Minister for Health, Bronwyn Pike, tells ABC radio: "..I think the public know the record of this Government has been to re-build our public services... lets look at the other measures of success in our hospital system.. bypass is down, waiting lists are down... so the system is trending in the right direction... "

However, Faine's audience later hears that the "waiting list measure of success" is no success at all if applied to the State Government's Accommodation Services for the disabled . "We've got the biggest waiting list we have ever had..." [More.. Real Audio or MP3]

26th November 2003... ABC talkback radio continues to air more compelling stories about the difficulties people are experiencing as a consequence of the Government's de-institutionalisation policies.

"We have heard many many stories on the program over the past week. It would seem there is just a glaring gap in the sort of accommodation and facilities available since the de-instituitionalisation of the mentally ill 15 or so years ago... We will continue to ask the questions of the various authorities... particularly the State Government." [More.. ABC Media On Demand - 'Mental Health Care Inadequate' - Audio Starts at 19':24"]

Jon Faine, ABC Radio 774, Melbourne

25th November 2003... The power of radio today ... will the following comments just add to the problems of the two politicians closest to the Kew Cottages affair .. ? Or are the Minister for Planning, and the Minister for Community Services  already planning to vote with their feet ?

"Mr. Haermeyer, Mary Delahunty, Sherryl Garbutt.. There are three names floated around as possibly looking for new jobs.."

Neil Mitchell, 3AW. 9.30am

"I have got no plans for a re-shuffle."
Steve Bracks, Premier of Victoria.

[More.. .Dur: 1 min, Download 500k mp3 audio file]

24th November 2003... "There's a terrible crisis in housing for people with mental illness in Boroondara..... in last 2 years - 170 beds have been lost..." [More.. Audio, MP3 Download ] Natalie.. Jon Faine, ABC Radio, Melbourne

23rd November 2003... "Without shelter without hope." A study released last week reveals that homelessness in Victoria jumped 14 per cent in the five years to 2001... one factor in the rise was the closure of psychiatric care centres and the lack of alternative centres and supports to replace them..." [More..] Editorial, The Sunday Age.

22nd November 2003..."Hundreds more children with disabilities could have received early intervention if...." [More..] Robert Clark, Shadow Treasurer of Victoria

21st November 2003... "Its just not good enough that the facilities are not there...  Its the job of the health system to manage the needs of the community rather than just say, "Sorry, .. not there.."[More..6min. Real Audio or MP3]] Jon Faine, ABC Radio, Melbourne


20th November 2003 KCC Response to Age Letters (19/11)


20th November 2003... "Where no Council is the people fall but in the multitude of Counsellors there is safety..."

Victorian politicians have had a long time to consider the truth of the above words, for the motto was set into the tiled floor of their vestibule - the entrance hall - of Parliament House when it was built by their 'Victorian' forbears in the 1870's - the same enlightened Victorian politicians in fact who first established Kew Cottages as a refuge, offering asylum to Victoria's intellectually disabled asylum seekers on the banks of the Yarra River.

Today's 'Counsellors' may well  wish to give some thought to their motto again  this week in the few sitting days remaining before  the Christmas recess.

It would appear to be a  particularly bad week for the Brack's Government in terms of democratic 'safety', and a shadow has fallen across that part of the motto in the entrance hall of Parliament.

As the Brack's Government rushes to crush Kew Cottages its bureaucratic and penny-pinching approach  to a wide range of public services and revenue raising is now being brought into serious question.

The Government's  absurd choice, and/or use of  some of  its advisers on critically important matters such as health and human services has already brought major disruptions, including the resignation yesterday of the Chairwoman of the Children's Hospital.

At the very same time the Brack's Government  has been seriously criticised for their cavalier and controversial  treatment of  local Municipal Councils such as Boroondara and Yarra who have dared to remind Spring Street of the truth in the words "Where no Council is the people fall...

The Emperor's clothes it would appear are starting to  unravel.

Now politicians of all ages and persuasions have a choice.

They can sit idly by, and ring their hands,  while the Brack's Government rushes to crush Kew Cottages , or they can stand up and be counted.

Victorians  have asked their politicians:

" Where will  the safety net  provided by your  forebears be if  Brack's  implements C53, and finally removes the Cottages from the banks of the Yarra ?"

Who among the "multitude of Counsellors" will now stand up to answer them in the Parliament ?

19th November 2003.... The Secrecy Surrounding  C53 ....

One of the benefits of Open Government in Victoria currently appears to be that Ministers who may be perceived by their opponents  to be trying to fool all of the people all of the time can sometimes at least be required to tell parliament a small part of how they actually go about doing it - albeit after the event !

At face value the process can  look a bit like  the political equivalent of very early attempts at dope testing in sport... whereas an athlete was asked to give a urine sample, a politician is asked to fill out a form.... and table it in Parliament.

Yesterday the State Minister for Planning Mary Delahunty explained to parliament some of the tricks of her trade by way of "Planning and Environment Regulations 1998 Form 2 which explains how on 11th November, when she signed C53, she exempted herself from the requirements of Sections 17, 18 and 19 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 and the requirements of the Planning and Environment Regulations 1998 [More.. With Our emphasis added...]

18th November 2003... The political plot thickens....

Garbutt's spokesperson  tells community group, "The Age got it wrong.. "

Community Services Minister, Sherryl Garbutt's office, finally claimed late yesterday, after numerous phone calls,  that the Minister was misquoted when the press reported last Friday (14/11) that: " Ms Garbutt has invited public submissions on the redevelopment during the next 28 days."

However, "The Age" stands by its story. Age journalist Carol Nader confirmed today that she had checked her story with the Minister's Media Adviser, and they "had not asked her to change anything".

Kew Cottages Coalition, President, Brian Walsh said that the matter was a very serious one. "Our understanding is that in the normal course of events the Government would have certainly  invited public submissions, but  as they have now categorised Kew Cottages as a project of 'statewide significance' , then the Government  would also have been expected to allow at least three (3)  months for the public to make their submissions - not 28 days! "

Mr. Walsh said, "The fact of the matter is that the Kew Cottages Planning Scheme Amendment C53  was approved by the State Government last week on November 11th behind a smokescreen of secrecy, excuses, and innuendo, and with absolutely no public submission period whatsoever !

"  If the press got it wrong, and if the Community Services Minister is acting in good faith, then she should have acted immediately last week to get a correction published.

"She does not appear to have done that," Mr. Walsh said.

17th November 2003 ......  What is really best for the Kew Cottages people?

Kenneth Davidson writes in today's Age:
"The way to deal with the waiting list is the construction of additional cluster housing at Kew.." [More..]

15th November 2003 ......  Truth overboard at Kew Cottages too ?

Keynote speaker at the "Save our Suburbs  Melbourne 2030 Forum"  at RMIT today was State Minister for Planning, Mary Delahunty.

Challenged to explain why she had acted in secrecy on 11th November to prevent the State Government's new plans for Kew Cottages being put on public exhibition , Delahunty claimed in her defense that community groups representing some of the 3,000 people on Government's Disabled Waiting lists for Accommodation had asked the Government to act promptly on Kew Cottages...

She failed, however, to identify a single organisation that had actually  asked her to intervene and take the draconian step of preventing the Government's plans being put on public exhibition ...

Kew Cottages Coalition, President, Brian Walsh, said the Government suddenly appeared to be panic stricken that the Kew Cottages issue was getting out of control politically, and worried that private property developers would pull out of bidding for the Government's multi-million dollar private residential development project at Kew.

Mr. Walsh, said he did not believe the Minister was silly enough to expect the public to actually believe her suggestion that community based groups had recommended Government abandon  community consultation . "But", he said," the truth is probably even more unpalatable."

"Because of its own ineptitude the State Government still has a very large number of disabled people who have been stuck on "Urgent Waiting Lists' for supported accommodation for years - and that same Government is now effectively saying to those people and their families:

"Yes, you are all on our Waiting List, and your needs are urgent - but not urgent enough to warrant you getting a single new house, not a single new unit, not a single new Cottage, not even a single new bed, not even respite care,  on that land at Kew - and as for 'Cluster Housing', well you can forget that completely. "No, you won't even get a few dollars from the land  sale out of Kew Cottages

Because, as Sherryl Garbutt, Minister for Community Services,  said in her media release last week, "Every cent raised from the redevelopment will go towards providing high quality housing for KRS residents in the community."

In other words it appears that the Brack's Government now expects that just getting the existing disabled residents out of Kew, and off the land, and out of the way of the private developers is going to use up all the money from the land sale.

"This must be causing them significant consternation", said Mr. Walsh,  because successive Victorian Governments since 1864 have  effectively held  the public land in trust as an asset for future generations of  ALL Victoria's intellectually disabled - not just for the few hundred residents who happen to be living on the land at any one time.

"So now they have got to explain to not only the thousands on the disability waiting lists, but also to all their families, why they should not feel bad about  being short-changed in the Government's latest public land deal with private developers... "

"I do not envy Mr. Brack's his  task", Mr. Walsh said. "I guess it would be a bit like trying to explain to  'missing' brothers back from the war, that the family farm has been sold off, and that "every cent raised went towards providing high quality housing just for those who were lucky enough to be on the property at the time..."

"No wonder the private developers now want 'certainty', as the Minister called it today, in the new Kew Cottages Planning Scheme Amendment", said Mr. Walsh.

13th November 2003. C53 - the State Government's 'hidden amendment'

On the same day that:

GARBUTT  tells the disabled that they will be consulted on amendment C53 [More..]

DELAHUNTY tells developers that she has already approved C53 without putting it on exhibition, and without consultation  [More..]

Victoria Government Gazette
No. S 211 Thursday 13 November 2003
By Authority. Victorian Government Printer
Planning and Environment Act 1987
Notice of Approval of Amendment
Amendment C53
The Minister for Planning has approved
Amendment C53 to the Boroondara Planning
The Amendment comes into operation on the
date this notice is published...
.[More......1MB C53 zipped files download.]

13th November 2003 State Government seizes control of Kew Cottages redevelopment.


12th November 2003  KCC Media Release "Kew Cottages and the Disability Waiting List in Victoria"


7th November 2003.  Sherryl Garbutt, Minister for Community Services, admits "urgent waiting list is too long..." (ABC Radio, 774 Melbourne, Jon Faine, 9.15 am,  Dur: 3:42 min, Download 1MB mp3 audio file).


4th November. The Community Visitors Board of the Public Advocate  urges the redevelopment of the Kew Cottages site be completed no later than 2006.   "Urgent attention needed for Kew Cottages: report" The Age,  Melbourne, 4th November 2003 http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/11/03/1067708137317.html


3rd November. Kew Cottages Coalition calls for a moratorium on further development at the Cottages, and an independent inquiry into the future of disability services in Victoria. Turf war over prime site,  Kate Uebergang , Urban affairs reporter, The Herald Sun, Melbourne, 3rd November 2003

2nd November.  Royal Park Protection Group Protest at Royal Park


1st November.  2003 KCC writes  to VicUrban re: Closure Kew Cottages


October 2003

31st October 2003 KCPA meets with Victorian Minister for Community Services, Sherryl Garbutt

Monday 27th October..  Boroondara Council rejects the Government's 'new plan., and a bitter battle begins....

Bureaucratic speak terms such  as "Certainty' and 'a timely fashion'  it appears can mean very different things to different people.

Friday 17th October.... A week is certainly a long time in politics....

Like a rabbit out of a hat.... the Government suddenly releases with a press embargo until 6am on the following Saturday morning 18th October ....

A 'new' UDF plan for Kew Cottages, that no one else outside of Government has even heard about.

A 'new' plan, even the idea of which, the Minister  had completely failed to mention only four (4) days previously in her answers to Parliamentary Questions on Notice (903/904) - questions that specifically called for answers with full details of the current status of the Government's own plans for Kew Cottages.

The Honourable Minister for Community Services says that::

 "The new redevelopment of Kew Residential Services is a project of statewide significance and we want the planning process to move in a timely fashion to give certainty to the residents, their families and the local community."

Boroondara Council, we understand, however, hears nothing about the Government's 'new Kew Cottages UDF plan' until, after the press,  late on Friday 17th October.

The Government assures residents that, "The next phase of the development involves the approval of a Planning Scheme Amendment for the site which will provide an opportunity for a further round of public comment on the details of the development."
(see: http://www.dhs.vic.gov.au/regional/eastern/docs/krs/krs_redevelopment_20031017.pdf p.4)
Tueday 14th October.  The Government re-iterates word for word, its reply to to Questions on Notice 903 and 904, by way of now finally replying to Q.223 in the Legislative Assembly (More.. )

Monday 13th October.

After over four months of gestation the Government finally answers Questions on Notice Nos.903 and 904. First asked in June in the Legislative Assembly (Q.223), the questions about the status of the Government's plans have simply been ignored until now.

    The "Urban Design Framework is publicly available from the City of Boroondara...." replies the Honourable Minister for Community Services.

8th October The Upper House Debate  in State Parliament on Kew Cottages (Kew Residential Services) also provides official statistics of Disability Waiting List numbers as at the end of 2002.

The debate may be found on the Parliamentary website::

    1. The Hansard Daily Index for the Legislative Council Spring 2003 Sesion is at:


    2. The Hansard PDF file is at:


September 2003

Boroondara Council continues its 'My Neighbourhood'  Residential Development Strategy Workshops throughout September.  However, Council staff and consultants  appears unable to answer residents questions as to why the Workshops are ignoring the issue of Council's  proposed multi-unit  and high rise development on the  Kew Cottages site.

Government continues to ignore Questions on Notice in the Legislative Assembly of State  Parliament about the status of its plans to sell Kew Cottages for private residential development.  So,  the Member for East Yarra in the Upper House, Richard Dalla-Riva asks the same questions in the Legislative Council, to pressure the Government to finally answer within a prescribed  thirty day limit.

August 2003

Government spin doctors meet to prepare arguments to counter success of KCC Campaign.

Kew Cottages Coalition Protest attracts widespread public support and media coverage

Boroondara Council 12.30am UPC Meeting Approves controversial  Kew Cottages Urban Design Framework with Amendments

Government continues to ignore Questions on Notice in Parliament about the status of its Kew Cottage plans.

July 2003

29th July KCC Public Meeting condemns State Government and Council policy on proposed Kew Cottages sale and high rise development.

17th July Kew Cottages Coalition Submission to Boroondara Council August 2003:

Government fails to reply to Questions on Notice (223(a)/223(b)) in Parliament about the status of its Kew Cottage plans.

June 2003

Questions put on Notice in the Legislative Assembly by the Member for Kew, Andrew McIntosh, request the State Government provide details to Parliament of  the precise status of the Government (URLC/VicUrban) plans for Kew Cottages. (Q.223(a)/223(b))

May 2003

22nd May Inaugural Public Meeting on the Future of Kew Cottages, St Paul's Anglican Church Hall, Kew,  resolves that a group be formed to represent the community's concerns about the proposed redevelopment by the State Government of the Kew Cottages site...

  1. You will require Adobe Acrobat Reader software or equivalent to read a number of the following documents in .pdf file format. The latter software is available online from http://www.adobe.com

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