Manage Incidents and Claims by HC120831103615

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									   6. Managing Incidents and Claims




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6.1        Purpose and Scope


Purpose                       This chapter outlines the process for reporting certain property
                              related incidents as defined below, as well as managing claims
                              made against the Office of Housing (OOH), which may arise in the
                              course of service delivery.

                              Included are definitions of the types of incidents and claims which
                              are to be captured using the Housing Integrated Information
                              Program (HiiP), as well as details regarding procedural
                              considerations, access to screens and information, and the use of
                              enabling technologies to store and manage documents and
                              correspondence.



Scope                         The first section of policy and procedures in this chapter relates to
                              property related incidents. It is intended to operate within the
                              broader Department of Human Services (DHS) Incident Reporting
                              Instructions 2008, and the Disease, Injury, Near Miss, Accident
                              (DINMA) procedure.

                              The second section relates to claims made against the OOH where
                              the claimant believes they have suffered injury, loss or damage
                              due to an act or omission (a failure to act) by the OOH, where it is
                              alleged that the OOH had a duty of care towards the claimant.
                              Cases of minor claims below $5,000 are generally managed by the
                              Region responsible, whilst claims at or over this amount are
                              referred to Legal Services to manage. A claim may be made by an
                              OOH client or another party, such as a neighbouring occupant.

                              The information in this document applies to the OOH and DHS
                              funded housing providers in the community housing sector.



How to use this               The procedures should be read in association with the policy. This
chapter                       document should also be used in conjunction with other OOH and
                              DHS policy and procedure documents and guidelines which are
                              currently in use, and other relevant Acts of Parliament, to ensure
                              the intent of the policy is achieved when administering the
                              procedures. These include:
                                     DHS Incident Reporting Instructions 2008;
                                     Disease Injury Near Miss Accident Reporting Procedures;
                                     H&CB Incident Reporting Guidelines 2009;
                                     Information Privacy Act 2000;
                                     Residential Tenancies Act 1997.




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            Definitions




6.2         Definitions

 Term                     Definition

 Client                   Any person who utilises a service provided by the OOH, for example
                          tenants, applicants on the waiting list, Bond Loan Scheme
                          applicants.

 Community Service        A community based organisation which receives funding from, or
 Organisation (CSO)       has a service agreement or lease with the Director of Housing.

 Deed of Mutual           A legal document signed by parties to a transaction or dispute,
 Release                  which releases the parties from liability to each other under a claim,
                          suit or action by the opposing party.

 External Agencies        Any Federal, State or local government department, organisation,
                          company or charity outside of the Department of Human Services.

 External Party           Any person or group (which is not a client) which has a relationship
                          with the Office of Housing (e.g. via a transaction, a request
                          (excluding a request for a service), or an event such as an incident
                          or claim).

 Residential              The Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Victoria), which sets out
 Tenancies Act (RTA)      legislation in relation to residential tenancies within Victoria,
 1997                     including rooming houses and caravan parks. This Act sets out the
                          obligations of both tenants and landlords under these agreements.

 Household Member         Any person included on an OOH rebate for an OOH property.
                          Household members can include tenants, dependants, spouse of
                          tenants, residents, spouse of residents and dependants of
                          residents.

 Records                  Information created, received, and maintained as evidence and
                          information by an organisation or person, in pursuance of legal
                          obligations or in the transaction of business. This is usually the
                          responsibility of a designated person or persons within an agency.

 Resident                 A member of a household who is not party to the tenancy
                          agreement and lives with a tenant in an OOH rented property for
                          three or more nights per week. The resident must be included in
                          the household rental rebate application and their income and assets
                          included in the rental rebate assessment.

 Superintendent           A person appointed by the Principal of a Contract to perform any
                          function delegated to him under the Contract and any other
                          function delegated to him by the Principal. The Manager, Contract
                          Management Services has this responsibility for Schedule of Rates
                          and Service Contracts.

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                                                                                 Definitions




 Term                       Definition


 Tenant                     A person who has signed a tenancy agreement with the Director of
                            Housing and who therefore has all the tenancy rights and
                            responsibilities as specified in the tenancy agreement.

 Tenant in                  A person who has signed a tenancy agreement with a community
 community                  agency and who therefore has all the tenancy rights and
 managed housing            responsibilities as specified in the tenancy agreement.


 Visitor                    A person who is permitted by the tenant or other household
                            member to enter the rented premises and/or common area.
                            Permission may be actually given, or implied from the
                            circumstances (e.g. the visitor is not asked to leave or refused
                            entry).

                            For rebate purposes, a visitor is a person who has their own
                            accommodation but is residing in the household for less than a four
                            week period, or for less than three nights per week, or is in the
                            country on a restricted visa (such as a tourist visa). These persons
                            are not included as part of the household and their income is not
                            taken into account when calculating the rebated rent.




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     Key Responsibilities




6.3 Key Responsibilities

 Role/Title             Responsibility

 Client Services Unit    Provides operational support to Housing Services
 (CSU)                   Prepares draft ministerial correspondence replies
                         Writes operational material (ie. Application Forms, Information
                          Sheets and Handbooks)

 Field Services          Provides technical support on a range of property issues
 Officer (FSO)           Conducts property condition audits of housing stock
                         Prepares specification      and   tender   documents     for   ‘not   on
                          schedule’ works
                         Inspects properties for acquisition and disposal purposes
                         Carries out pre and final handover inspections for newly
                          constructed properties

 Finance and            The Office of Housing business unit responsible for supporting internal
 Business Services      and external stakeholders through the provision of corporate
 (F&BS)                 support and direct client services, including financial and
                        performance reporting, business support services and delivery of
                        the Director of Housing’s Home Loan Programs.

 Good Practice Unit      Develops detailed procedures that reflect policy intent
 (GPU)                   Writes policy and procedure manuals/guidelines
                         Co-ordinates state-wide policy and procedure changes
                         Provides policy and procedure advice
                         Develops and implements pilot projects for a range of policy
                          initiatives

 Housing Manager        Exercises delegated authority in accordance with this chapter and
 (HM)                   as outlined in the OOH Delegations document.

 Public Housing         Provides information, material and operational support to OOH staff
 Client Services        in relation to service development and delivery, planning and
                        budgets.

 Housing Services       Exercises delegated authority in accordance with this chapter and
 Manager (HSM)          as outlined in the OOH Delegations document.

 Housing Services       Applies policy and procedures as outlined in this chapter in
 Officer (HSO)          accordance with their delegated authority.




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                                                                             Key Responsibilities




    Role/Title                   Responsibility

    Legal Services               Provides legal advice, advocacy and assistance services to the
                                 Department, including in relation to housing matters, for example
                                 Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) hearings (Residential
                                 Tenancies List).

    Media Unit                   Liaises with members of the media when issues of public interest
                                 arise or are promoted / advertised.

    Program and Service          The Department of Human Services Officer responsible for
    Adviser (PASA)               strengthening ongoing working relationships with agencies and the
                                 broader service sector through regular monitoring and leading
                                 change management.

    Property Services and        The Office of Housing business unit responsible for the provision of a
    Asset Management             range of property related services including managing property and
    (PSAM)                       maintenance contracts, property upgrades, major redevelopments,
                                 acquisition and compliance audits.

    Team Manager (TM)            Applies policy and procedures as outlined in this chapter in
                                 accordance with their delegated authority.




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           References




6.4        References

 References                                                   Abbreviation          Symbol

 Code of Conduct for the Victorian Public Sector 1995         COC 1995

 DHS Incident Reporting Instructions 2008

 Disease Injury    Near    Miss    Accident    Reporting      DINMA
 Procedures

 Housing & Community Building Incident Reporting
 Guidelines 2009

 Information Privacy Act 2000                                 IPA 2000

 Residential Tenancies Act 1997                               RTA 1997

 Refers to    another   Human     Services    manual   or
 document

 Refers to a legal document




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                                                                                 Introduction




6.5        Introduction


                             Under the DHS Incident Reporting Instructions, all incidents and
                             alleged incidents within the scope as outlined in that document must
                             be reported. This enables the Department to understand the detailed
                             causes of adverse events, to improve strategies to prevent adverse
                             incidents, and improve service delivery to clients and training of staff
                             on the basis of this analysis. Reporting of incidents also assists the
                             Department to comply with the requirements and expectations
                             associated with public accountability, its legal obligations and
                             insurance requirements. The system aims to encourage the full and
                             frank reporting of adverse events, and learning from incidents to
                             prevent a recurrence.

                             Whilst the DHS Incident Reporting Instructions encompasses all
                             incidents, this policy chapter focuses on incidents which have a
                             specific relationship with an OOH owned or managed property.

                             A claim may be made against the OOH where a person alleges that
                             they have suffered loss or damage as a result of the negligence of
                             the DOH or her delegates for which some form of recompense is
                             sought. Written details of the claim must be received in order for
                             the OOH to properly investigate and assess whether to accept the
                             claim.

                             A claim may also be made by the OOH against an external party
                             where loss or damage is incurred to a DOH owned property due to
                             the negligence of that party.

                              Note: As with the Department’s Duty of Care handbook, HSO’s
                                    should note that this manual is not meant to represent a
                                    comprehensive analysis of the law. Any queries in relation
                                    to particular points of law should immediately be referred to
                                    Legal Services.



                             Key objectives

                             H&CB staff at all levels should be aware of the importance of
                             identifying, recording and managing incidents and claims. The key
                             objectives of implementing this process include:
                              To ensure incidents and claims are identified, captured and
                               managed:
                                   -   according to H&CB and DHS policies and guidelines, and
                                   -   within acceptable timeframes.
                              To minimise risk to H&CB and the DHS.
                              To capture consistent information related to incidents and
                               claims.


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           Introduction




                             To understand the causes of incidents, and circumstances giving
                              rise to claims.
                             To enable the OOH and the DHS to learn from incidents and
                              claims, and adopt strategies for their prevention or a reduction
                              in their incidence and effect.
                             To improve service delivery through a consistent process for
                              identifying, recording, monitoring and evaluating incidents and
                              claims.
                             To ensure compliance with the DHS’s legal obligations and
                              insurance requirements.
                             To ensure the OOH and the DHS meet public accountability
                              requirements and expectations.
                             To maintain and protect assets owned and managed by the
                              OOH.



                            Benefits

                            There are significant benefits to be gained for the OOH and for staff
                            through the systematic recording and management of incidents
                            and claims. These include:
                             Having a central and consistent tool for capturing and accessing
                              the required information about an incident or claim.
                             Increased clarity regarding what information should be captured
                              to manage an incident or claim.
                             The ability of various users including Regional Managers,
                              Program Managers and Directors to view information and take
                              further action as required.
                             Improved transparency regarding the management of the
                              incident or claim by identifying persons involved and their role,
                              and by keeping a more accurate record of the process used to
                              manage the incident or claim.
                             An ability to generate reports to analyse incidents and claims
                              data on an office, regional or state-wide basis.
                             The ability to automatically notify the required persons within
                              the OOH and the DHS of an incident or claim once the details
                              are submitted in HiiP.*
                             Improved communication amongst relevant OOH Branches
                              regarding their involvement in the incident or claim.*



                            * Proposed for future HiiP release




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                                                                        Incidents and Claims - Policy




6.6        Incidents and Claims - Policy


6.6.1 Definition of
an ‘Incident’                ‘Incident’

                             An incident may be described as an individual occurrence or event
                             which may require a range of responses by the OOH or a
                             Community Service Organisation (CSO) providing housing services,
                             including investigation, monitoring, action, referral and notification.


                             ‘Property related’ incidents recorded in HiiP

                             Only incidents that are associated with or that affect an OOH or
                             CSO managed property or tenancy are captured and managed in
                             HiiP. Therefore, at the time an incident is created in HiiP, an
                             existing property identification number (PIN) must be linked to the
                             incident.

                             Examples of incidents which are created in HiiP Manage Incidents
                             and Claims include:
                                 all fire related incidents, including minor fire damage and arson,
                                 the death of a person which involves falling or jumping from an
                                  OOH building,
                                 damage caused to a property (including a privately owned
                                  neighbouring residence) by a falling object such as a tree branch
                                  or by flooding where structural damage occurs and / or the
                                  occupants goods are damaged,
                                 a death or personal injury caused (or allegedly caused) as a
                                  result of a fault with the property such as a defective power point
                                  or uneven path, and
                                 a vehicle colliding with a H&CB property causing damage for
                                  which the driver or vehicle owner may be responsible.

                             Repairs carried out using the insurance or vandalism category of
                             works may be an indication that an incident has occurred.

                              Note: For incidents which are not property-related, a ‘Note’ should
                                    be entered in HiiP against a client or external party, but not
                                    created within Incidents and Claims in HiiP. This may
                                    include an argument between neighbouring tenants (which
                                    is managed via the Tenancy Management Policy and
                                    Procedures), or a police search conducted of an OOH
                                    premises (which may lead to action being taken under the
                                    Residential Tenancies Act 1997).




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 Incidents and Claims - Policy




                                Allegation in relation to an incident

                                Often, when the OOH or a funded CSO becomes aware of an
                                incident, the circumstances or cause may not be clear, and further
                                investigation will be required.

                                Regardless of whether the incident is alleged to have occurred, or
                                alleged to have been caused in a certain way, it must be created
                                and managed in HiiP. The subsequent steps taken to investigate
                                the incident will determine whether the incident or its cause can be
                                substantiated and what response should be provided.

6.6.2 Relation-
ship with the DHS               Property related incidents may occur which overlap with other DHS
                                incident reporting procedures. It is important to note that this
Incident Reporting              Policy and Procedure does not replace the DHS Incident Reporting
Instructions 2008               Instructions 2008. Rather, this Chapter is intended to operate in
                                conjunction with the broader DHS Guidelines for reporting and
                                managing incidents.

                                Under the DHS Guidelines, an incident may include (in respect of a
                                tenant, client, visitor or staff member) a death, serious injury,
                                serious sexual or physical assault, physical harm and injury,
        DHS Incident
                                serious threats, behaviour with potential to result in risk to a
Reporting Instructions 2008     person, near misses which could have resulted in serious injury or
                                death, and criminal behaviour. An incident may be reported as a
                                Category 1, 2 or 3 incident depending on the type of incident
                                involved. The DHS Incident Reporting Instructions 2008 require an
         H&CB Incident
Reporting Guidelines 2009       incident report to be completed when an incident occurs “at the
(link to be inserted)           service” or “during service delivery”. (Also see Housing &
                                Community Building Incident Reporting Guidelines 2009)

                                These incidents continue to be reported through the existing
                                procedures such as the DHS Incident Reporting Instructions 2008,
                                or the DINMA procedure.

                                Whilst the definition of the types of incidents which must be
                                reported and managed in HiiP is narrower than those reported
                                under the DHS Guidelines, there will be cases where an overlap
                                between the two procedures exists. That is, an incident may fit the
                                definition as one which must be recorded in HiiP, however, it may
                                also fit the criteria requiring the incident to be reported through the
                                DHS Guidelines.

                                Example: A fire which resulted in the death or serious injury of a
                                         tenant, or where a property related incident may attract
                                         media or legal scrutiny must be captured in hip and
                                         reported as required under the DHS Incident Reporting
                                         Instructions. The context of an incident must be
                                         considered when determining the appropriate action
                                         required.



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                                                                        Incidents and Claims - Policy




                               The HiiP Manage Incidents and Claims space includes a field to
                               register the incident as a Category 1, 2 or 3 as per the DHS
                               Incident Reporting Instruction 2008. It also includes a field to
                               indicate whether a DINMA (Disease, Injury, Near Miss, Accident)
                               form was completed. These fields are completed in HiiP only if a
                               report was submitted under these procedures.


                               Roles and responsibilities
                               As per the DHS Incident Reporting Instruction 2008, incident
           DHS      Incident   management and reporting is primarily a regional responsibility.
Reporting Instructions 2008    The Divisional Program area’s role is primarily to review incident
                               data in consultation with regions, to inform policy development,
                               practice and policy implementation.
                               On occasions, the effective management of an incident may require
                               responses from both the local service area and the Divisional
                               Program area. Where this is necessary, communication must occur
                               between the manager of the local service provider, the Regional
                               Program Manager, the Regional Director and the Divisional
                               Program Manager.

6.6.3 Death or
serious injury in              Scenario A: An Incident ID is not created in HiiP
an OOH or CSO                  Incidents and Claims space, but the incident is
property                       noted in HiiP as a client or tenancy note
                               A death or serious injury of a tenant or resident in an OOH
                               property or CSO managed property in which the property itself
                               played no part and has no effect on the tenancy is recorded as a
                               note against the client space in HiiP, but is not captured as an
                               ‘incident’ within the Incidents and Claims space in HiiP.
                               Additionally, if there were no suspicious circumstances, the
                               incident is generally not reported using the DHS Incident Reporting
                               Instructions.

                               As a further illustration, where a client assaults or threatens a staff
                               member at a housing office, CSO or a property managed by either
                               service, this will be registered against the client’s record in HiiP,
                               however, is not created as an incident related to the property. The
                               incident is reported as outlined in the DHS Incident Reporting
                               Instruction as a Category 1 or 2 Incident (depending on the
                               severity) and also through the DINMA procedure.


                               Scenario B: An Incident ID is created in HiiP
                               Incidents and Claims space
                               Where the property was a factor in the person’s death or serious
                               injury, the incident is created in the HiiP Incidents and Claims
                               space. This may involve a death due to a fall from an OOH high-
                               rise building, or a defect in the property such as a gas leak.
                               Therefore, the context is relevant in determining whether: 1. an
                               incident ID is to be created in HiiP; 2. reported using another DHS
                               process, and / or 3. merely noted within another part of HiiP, such
                               as registering a filenote against a client record or tenancy.


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Incidents and Claims - Policy




                        The incident for which an ID is created in HiiP may also need to be
                        reported and managed using other DHS procedures including
                        DINMA and the DHS Incident Reporting Instruction 2008 (which
                        would be the case in the above examples where a death results
                        from a fall from an OOH high-rise building, or due to a gas leak, or
                        where a staff member was present when the incident occurred or
                        discovered the deceased person). Creating an incident ID in HiiP
                        does not replace these other procedures.

                        However, where there are suspicious circumstances, or the incident
                        is likely to involve the Minister or attract media, legal or public
                        scrutiny, it is reported via the DHS Incident Reporting Instructions.

                        Examples of such circumstances are given below:

                            A client dies or is seriously injured while in attendance at a
                             Housing Office or in the office of a DHS CSO.
                            A client dies or is seriously injured while a HSO, FSO or other
                             DHS staff member, contractor or DHS CSO representative is in
                             attendance at the residence.
                            A client dies or is seriously injured while being shown a
                             prospective property by a staff member or DHS CSO
                             representative.
                            A client dies within an OOH property or CSO managed property in
                             unusual circumstances or there is a suspicion that the person has
                             been deceased in the property for a period of time.
                            A client dies and the death is discovered by a H&CB employee,
                             contractor or DHS CSO representative.
                            All deaths or serious injuries involving falls or jumps from DoH
                             high rise buildings.
                            A contractor or visitor to a CSO managed property or project
                             construction site dies or is seriously injured as a result of failure
                             of the CSO to undertake urgent maintenance to rectify an
                             identified hazard, or to ensure relevant site safety arrangements
                             are in place.

6.6.4 Relation-
ship with the           Whilst incidents involving employees alone are not required to be
                        included in HiiP, a field exists to flag a DINMA if a DHS employee is
DINMA Reporting         injured or personally affected as a result of a property related
Procedure               incident for which an incident ID is created in HiiP.

                        As described in the previous section, a property related incident
                        may occur which overlaps with other DHS incident reporting
                        procedures. An incident may also involve the health, safety or
                        wellbeing of an employee, thereby giving rise to a requirement to
                        report the incident using the DINMA procedures and possibly
                        requiring notification to be given to WorkSafe.

                        Where this occurs, the incident must be captured in HiiP Managing
                        Incidents and Claims, as well as reported by completing the DINMA
                        register at the workplace as required under the Accident
                        Compensation Act 1985 (the Act). A facility is available to indicate
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                                                                        Incidents and Claims - Policy




                               in HiiP whether the incident involves a workplace safety or
                               wellbeing issue. The DINMA flag in HiiP should only be marked on
                               completion of the DINMA report.

6.6.5 Relation-
ship with                      An incident or claim, on its own, does not give rise to a complaint
                               or appeal. The latter are managed through separate processes.
Complaints,                    However, a complaint or appeal may be related to an incident or
Appeals and                    claim e.g. as a result of dissatisfaction with the manner in which
tenancy matters                the incident or claim was handled.

                               (See the Housing Complaints Policy & Procedure Chapter and the
                               Housing Appeals Policy & Procedure Chapter).
       Residential tenancies
Act 1997                       Similarly, tenancy related incidents such as neighbourhood
                               disputes, illegal activity, dangerous behaviour and tenancy
                               breaches are managed using the OOH Tenancy Management Policy
      Tenancy                  and Procedure and the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.
Management Manual
                               (See the Tenancy Breaches and Dispute Resolution Chapter –
                               Tenancy Management Policy & Procedure Manual)

                               Where two or more processes have been commenced (e.g. an
                               incident followed by a complaint), a note should be entered within
                               the incident ID in HiiP flagging that a separate process is also being
                               managed in relation to a client or external party.

6.6.6 Relation-
ship with a                    When an incident comes to the attention of the OOH, other action
                               may be required by a housing staff member, such as arranging for
request for a                  urgent works to be carried out. This may occur where a fault in the
service                        wiring caused electrocution or a minor fire, or a plumbing fault
                               caused flooding which damaged the tenant’s furniture.

                               In these circumstances, the normal process is followed for
                               arranging responsive maintenance works to be carried out,
                               requesting an inspection by the FSO or referral to Engineering
                               Services where advice is required regarding a structural or
                               technical issue with the building. This action should also be
                               recorded as a ‘Note’ under the HiiP Incident.

6.6.7 Definition of
a ‘Claim’                      ‘Claim’

                               A claim arises where a person alleges that they have suffered loss
                               or damage as a result of the negligence of the DOH or his
                               delegates for which some form of recompense is sought (i.e. that
                               the OOH is responsible for the loss or damage due to a breach of
                               its duty of care owed to the claimant).

                               A claim may also be made by the OOH against a third party, such
                               as where a vehicle collision involves damage caused to an OOH
                               property. In this situation, the OOH may make a claim against the
                               driver, a company (if a commercial vehicle was involved) or their
                               insurer. Basic details of these types of claims may be captured in
                               HiiP, however, are not managed using HiiP for compensation
                               recovery purposes etc..

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                                 The OOH is not responsible for loss or damage allegedly suffered
                                 due to the actions or behaviour of an OOH tenant, household
                                 member or visitor. Where a claim is received in relation to the
                                 above, the claimant is informed that they may bring their claim
                                 against the person who is allegedly responsible. Unless the
                                 claimant can identify a breach by the OOH of a duty of care owed
                                 to the claimant, the OOH will reject the claim.



      Information    Privacy
Act 2000                         Note: The OOH does not release details regarding an OOH
                                       tenancy, unless disclosure is permitted under the
                                       Information Privacy Principles.
         Business Practice
Manual

                                 A claim does not need to be property related or related to an
                                 incident, to be created in the HiiP Manage Incidents and Claims
                                 space.

                                 Maintenance claims against a tenant (MCATs) are not managed in HiiP
         Debt Management         Manage Incidents and Claims space. They are raised in the HiiP
Manual                           Repairs space and pursued in the Debt Management component of the
                                 HiiP Tenancy space.

                                 Note: When receiving or discussing an enquiry regarding a claim,
                                       Housing Office staff should emphasise that the OOH does
                                       not accept liability or indemnify for any damage or
                                       financial loss incurred by the claimant. HSO’s are advised
                                       to inform the claimant that the OOH is required to
                                       investigate the matter before any recommendation of
                                       liability or payment is reached.

                                 The Department’s liability for loss or damage is based on a claim in
                                 law that the Department, (or one of its delegates for which it is
                                 responsible, such as the Director of Housing) is negligent.

                                 The Department’s handbook Duty of Care provides a summary of
         DHS Duty of Care        the law of negligence and duty of care and should be read in
Manual                           conjunction with this manual.

                                 Negligence in the legal sense consists of all of the following three
                                 elements and a link between all of them:
                                  duty of care;
                                  breach of duty of care; and
                                  injury, harm, or financial loss occurring as a consequence of the
                                   duty of care owed and a breach of the duty of care. These
                                   elements are considered below.

                                 The OOH owes a duty of care to all persons who may reasonably be
                                 affected by its activities. The duty of care owed by a landlord to
                                 the tenant is generally non-delegable. This means that where the
                                 OOH becomes liable to perform the duty it is immaterial whether
                                 the OOH performs it or employs a contractor to perform it. The

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                             OOH can manage this liability by for instance, including a term in
                             the contract between the OOH and the contractor for the contractor
                             to indemnify the OOH for any loss caused.

                             The following groups of people are examples of persons within the
                             community to whom the OOH may owe a duty of care with respect
                             to property. The list is not exhaustive. It demonstrates the far
                             reaching effect and implications of the duty of care owed by the
                             OOH in the context of minor property damage claims:

                             Clients: ranging from public housing tenants, occupants of
                             women’s refuges, users of programs operating at neighbourhood
                             houses owned by the OOH.

                             Families, visitors, carers of clients and individuals delivering
                             services to clients: None of these persons necessarily occupy an
                             OOH property. For example, the district nurse or meals on wheels
                             service attending elderly public housing tenants or maintenance
                             and cleaning contractors who are on the premises pursuant to OOH
                             instructions.

                             Neighbours occupying non-OOH property and passers-by:
                             who potentially may suffer damage as a consequence of the OOH
                             breaching a duty of care.

                             Critical to the concept of duty of care is the legal standard to
                             determine what is reasonable. In brief, it is the foresight and
                             caution of the ordinary or average person. In other words,
                             what would a reasonable person have done to prevent the problem
                             occurring under the same or similar circumstances?

                             The reasonable person will be assumed to be a person with the
                             same skills and training required to do the relevant job.

                             The “reasonable person” test recognises the difference in the levels
                             of responsibility and skills which are involved in different jobs. It is
                             a flexible test.



                             Breach of duty of care

                             OoH breaches its duty of care when it does something or omits to
                             do something which a reasonable person would not have done to
                             the person to whom it owes the duty of care.



                             Injury, Harm or Financial loss

                             The loss must have occurred as a consequence of a duty of care
                             being owed to the person who has incurred the loss. There must
                             have been a breach of that duty.

                              Note: As with the Department’s Duty of Care handbook, HSO’s
                                    should note that this manual is not meant to represent a
                                    comprehensive analysis of the law. Any queries in relation
                                    to particular points of law should immediately be referred to

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Incidents and Claims - Policy




                                Legal Services.



                        Case Studies

                        One of the most effective ways of understanding the nature and
                        consequences of the OOH’s duty of care is to consider some
                        hypothetical examples where property damage has occurred and
                        the OOH’s liability has been established in public housing.



                        Case Study 1

                          On the 1 July 2008, a resident of a public housing estate at 25
                          Commission Road, Centerville, contacted the local housing office
                          and complained; “I was watching my T.V. when it blew up!” The
                          tenant further complained of other electrical equipment suffering
                          a similar fate, but cannot explain how or why the damage
                          occurred. One thing of which the tenant was certain was that
                          OoH should meet the cost associated with replacing the damaged
                          equipment. The tenant claims the replacement bill for the
                          television, VCR, and microwave will be about $2,500.

                          Circumstances
                         What were the precise circumstances in which the electrical
                          equipment was damaged?
                         If damage was due to a power surge, what was the cause?
                         Which power authority is responsible for the distribution of
                          power in this area?
                         Was the tenant the only person to suffer damage?
                         Were there any other witnesses to the incident?
                         Does the tenant have contents insurance cover?
                         If the tenant has contents insurance, and the damage was
                          caused by a power surge, does the tenant’s policy extend to
                          cover fusion damage? If so then the claim should be referred to
                          their own Insurer.

                          Cause
                         Request the FSO to provide a report on cause.
                         If the FSO is unable to provide a report on cause, then engage
                          an expert to provide a report on cause.

                          Damage
                         What is the nature and extent of damage to the electrical
                          equipment?
                         Obtain a description of the damaged electrical equipment. Ask
                          the tenant to provide the make and model numbers. If they
                          can’t do that, ask them to provide a detailed description of the
                          items.
                         How old is the electrical equipment? If the tenant can not
                          advise exactly when it was purchased, then confirm the
                          approximate age.
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                              What are the costs of repairs and/or replacement? Ask the
                               tenant to provide a replacement quotation for the same or
                               equivalent make and model.

                               Loss/Mitigation
                              Could or should the tenant have done anything to either prevent
                               or minimise the damage?

                               Other enquiries
                               Had the tenant had previously suffered similar damage as a
                                result of a power surge and complained to the Housing Office?
                                 You will need to check the tenant’s maintenance file and
                                 tenancy file to verify the previous complaint.
                               If in fact the tenant had previously complained and the
                                complaint was recorded, but nothing was done, then OOH may
                                have a liability towards the tenant for failing to have
                                maintained the premises in good repair.
                               If there is no record of the tenant’s complaint, then liability may
                                not arise unless the tenant can prove that they made the
                                complaint and OOH failed to act on it.
                              If Mrs Smith did complain, what could OOH have done?
                               OOH could have installed a power surge detection device, or,
                               depending on cause, referred the complaint to the power
                               distribution company.
                               Was the equipment supposedly damaged by the power surge is
                                either obsolete or in such poor condition that its value was
                                negligible.
                                If the electrical equipment was obsolete or in poor condition,
                                and its value therefore negligible, then theoretically the tenant
                                will have no claim. However, if the tenant was continuing to
                                derive benefit from the equipment, then a token offer may be
                                warranted if liability can be established.
                               The power surge was caused by the negligence of the power
                                distribution company.
                                If this is the case OOH would be justified in denying liability and
                                advising the tenant to refer the claim to the local power
                                distribution company.
                               Other tenants have suffered similar damage as a result of the
                                power surge incident, but they have yet to lodge complaints?
                                Only respond if and when claims are received.

                              How to deal with the claim?

                               If a power surge was responsible for damaging the electrical
                                equipment, ascertain whether any blame can be attributed to
                                OOH. In other words, has OOH done anything or failed to do
                                anything that may have caused or contributed to the occurrence
                                of the power surge?
                               If no, then a denial of liability may be justified. If the power
                                surge was caused by something OOH did or failed to do, then
                                OOH may be liable (e.g. failing to maintain the power
                                connection to the property).
                               If damage to the equipment was not caused by a power surge,
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                           the cause of damage to the electrical equipment must be
                           determined. Request the tenant to obtain a technician’s report
                           commenting on cause. If necessary, independently verify the
                           findings of the technician.
                         Forward all details of the claim to the loss adjuster and instruct
                          them to assess the claim.

                        Outcome
                        Depending on the factual circumstances, the OOH may:
                         Deny liability and send a letter to the tenant denying liability;
                          or
                         Accept the claim with no admission of liability and offer to make
                          an ex gratia payment to the tenant provided they sign a release
                          form. Once the tenant has signed a release, arrange for
                          payment of the claim to be processed.


                        Case Study 2

                        At 1:00 am on 4 November 2008, the tenant at 1/5 Powlett Street,
                        Ascot Vale, contacted the after hours number and requested a
                        plumber immediately attend as there was sewerage backflowing
                        out of their kitchen sink.

                        About two hours later, a plumber arrived on site to clear the
                        blocked pipe. Unfortunately, some sewerage backflow flooded out
                        of the sink onto the kitchen floor and into adjacent kitchen
                        cupboards.

                        The following day, the tenant attended the Housing Office and
                        advised that they were unable to use any of their crockery, cutlery
                        or kitchen appliances, as they were damaged by the sewerage
                        backflow. The tenant claimed a total replacement bill for the
                        damaged items of about $5,000 and expected the OOH to
                        reimburse them for this cost.

                          Circumstances
                         Obtain a report from the plumber who attended advising what
                          caused the sewerage backflow/blocked pipe.
                         If necessary, obtain a FSO’s report commenting on cause.

                          Damage
                         Does the tenant have contents insurance cover? If so, then the
                          claim should be referred to their own insurer. If not –
                         Obtain a description of the damaged items. Ask the tenant to
                          provide a detailed description of the make and model numbers
                          of electrical appliances that may be damaged. Also obtain the
                          approximate age of each item being claimed.
                         Ask the tenant to provide written quotes on replacing the
                          damaged items.

                          Loss/Mitigation
                         Could the tenant have done anything to either prevent or
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                                minimize the damage from occurring?
                              Did the tenant attempt to remove any of the items out of the
                               kitchen cupboards as soon as they noticed the sewerage
                               backflow?

                               Other enquiries
                              Has the tenant previously suffered similar damage as a result of
                               a blocked pipe or sewerage backflow and/or have they
                               complained of similar type of problems occurring before?
                                Check the maintenance file and tenancy file for the property.

                              How to deal with the claim?
                              If the sewerage backflow was due to a blocked pipe which was
                               caused by other tenants in the same block of flats flushing items
                               down the toilet and/or kitchen sink, e.g. sanitary items, then the
                               OOH may be in a position to deny liability as it has not done
                               anything or failed to do anything that may have caused or
                               contributed to the incident.
                              If the maintenance file and/or tenancy file for the property
                               shows that there have been numerous sewerage backflows at
                               this property on previous occasions, then the OOH may have
                               liability towards the tenant for failing to have acted to prevent
                               this occurrence.
                              If the OOH has a liability, the claim will need to be assessed.
                               Forward all details of the claim to the loss adjuster and instruct
                               them to assess the claim.

                              Additional facts
                             According to the plumber’s report, the cause of the blocked pipe or
                             sewerage overflow was due to items being flushed down toilets by
                             other tenants. This is the first time it has happened at this address.
                             Enquires with the tenant have also determined that they did
                             nothing to help prevent or minimise the damage. In the two hours
                             that it took the plumber to arrive to clear the blockage, the tenant
                             could have started removing items from their kitchen cupboards, in
                             order to prevent them from becoming damaged. The tenant did
                             not do so and has therefore failed to take any action to prevent or
                             minimise the loss from occurring.

                              Outcome
                             In this instance it would be recommended that the claim should be
                             denied for two reasons.
                              OOH is not liable because it has not done anything or failed to
                               do anything that caused or contributed to the loss occurring.
                               The tenant has failed to mitigate their loss by taking the items
                                out of the kitchen cupboards in order to prevent them from
                                becoming damaged. In other words the tenant failed to take
                                reasonable steps to prevent the damage from occurring.

                              Send a letter of denial to the tenant.




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                        Case Study 3

                        On Tuesday 26 October 2008, at approximately 1:45 pm several
                        tenants from a high-rise property contacted the Maintenance Call
                        Centre and complained that water was entering their premises,
                        saturating carpet and other contents. It is believed that a fire hose
                        located on the 16th Floor was vandalised. The Metropolitan Fire
                        Brigade (MFB) were called to the scene and were able to repair the
                        damaged fire hose. The MFB also carried out a salvage operation to
                        clean up the large volume of water.

                        As a result of the incident, water damage had been sustained to
                        tenants’ property in several flats. The tenants were looking to the
                        OoH to compensate them for the cost to replace carpet and other
                        water damaged items.

                          Circumstances
                         What were the precise circumstances in which the fire hose was
                          damaged?
                         Determine who is the owner of the fire hose and who is
                          responsible for maintaining it?
                         Has the tenant replaced the carpet in the property which was
                          provided by OoH?

                          Cause
                         Confirm the cause of damage to the fire hose by obtaining a
                          copy of the MFB report on the incident.
                           If the MFB will not provide a copy of its report, request the FSO
                           to provide a report on cause.

                        How to deal with the claim?
                         Once the circumstances of the incident have been investigated
                          and cause is confirmed, determine whether OoH has any
                          liability.
                         According to the FSO Report and the MFB report, it would
                          appear that unknown persons have vandalised the hose. It has
                          also been confirmed that the MFB is the owner of the fire hose
                          and is responsible for its maintenance.

                        Outcome
                         In these circumstances, OoH is not liable for the damage caused
                          to the tenant’s items as there is no negligence on the part of
                          OoH. If the tenant has replaced the carpet supplied by OoH, OoH
                          is not required to replace the tenant’s carpet as the carpet is an
                          improvement made by the tenant. In other words, OoH has not
                          done anything or failed to do anything that could have caused or
                          contributed to the incident.
                         In this case, a letter should be sent to the tenant denying
                          liability for damage to the carpet and the tenant’s items
                         However, if OoH laid the carpet and it has not been replaced by
                          the tenant, OoH is required to replace the carpet as this carpet
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                                was in the premises when the tenancy commenced. If OoH fails
                                to replace the carpet, it will breach its duty to maintain the
                                premises in good repair as required by s.68 of the Residential
                                Tenancies Act 1997.
                              Send a letter to the tenant denying liability in relation to the
                               tenant items and advise the tenant that OoH will arrange for the
                               carpet to be replaced.


                             Case Study 4
                             A tenant within an OOH estate parked their vehicle in the on site
                             carpark provided for tenants and visitors. Although it was a little
                             windy, the tenant thought nothing more of the weather conditions
                             and left their car. Some hours later, the tenant returned to their
                             car and discovered that while it had been left unattended, a large
                             gum tree branch had fallen onto it.

                             The gum tree was about 22 metres away, but in the abnormally
                             high winds, the branch had carried across the carpark.

                             The tenant’s car sustained denting to its bonnet as well as a
                             cracked windscreen.

                              The tenant has Third Party Fire and Theft Insurance cover on their
                              vehicle and cannot afford the repairs to their vehicle. The tenant
                              believes they have no option but to hold OOH responsible for the
                              damage to their car.

                               Cause
                              Did OOH plant the tree?
                              Is OOH responsible for maintenance of the tree?
                              (If the tenant had a Comprehensive Motor Vehicle Policy, they
                               should be advised to refer the claim to their insurer.)
                              Obtain a description of the motor vehicle. Ask the tenant to
                               provide the make and model number as well as the registration
                               number and year of manufacture of the vehicle.

                               Damage
                              What is the nature and extent of damage to the tenant’s motor
                               vehicle?
                              What are the costs of repairs?

                               Loss/Mitigation
                              Could the tenant have done anything to prevent the damage to
                               the vehicle?
                              Other tenants on Langley Estate have previously suffered similar
                               damage as a result of branches falling from estate trees?

                               Other enquiries
                              Had complaints been made to the Housing Office about the
                               branches falling?
                              Check the maintenance file for the estate and ascertain if there
                               are records of the previous complaints. This can be expedited by
                               asking the tenants for copies of their letters (this will depend on
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                           the size of the claim).
                         The tenant’s vehicle was in such poor condition that its value
                          was negligible. If the OOH is liable to the tenant for the damage
                          to their vehicle, then the tenant is entitled to have their
                          vehicle put back to its condition, prior to the branch damage.

                        How to deal with the claim?
                        Tree Ownership and Maintenance:
                         If OOH planted the tree, OOH owns it and it is therefore its
                          responsibility to ensure adequate maintenance is carried out on
                          the trees of the estate.
                         If OOH did not plant the trees, but the trees have been on the
                          estate for a significant period of time, it can be assumed OOH
                          owns the trees.
                         If OOH has an adequate maintenance program on the trees and
                          they have shown no prior signs of disease or weakness, liability
                          would appear low.
                         On the other hand, if maintenance of OOH’s trees is
                          questionable and the trees showed signs of weakness or
                          disease, OOH’s liability may be high.

                        Previous Complaints:

                         If OOH owns the trees and has had previous complaints from
                          tenants and has failed to act on these complaints, OOH will be
                          liable.
                         If OOH can prove that on all occasions where a complaint from a
                          tenant was received, it acted quickly and professionally to
                          prevent any damage occurring, then OOH may not be liable.
                         The tenant should provide quotes for the work to their vehicle.
                          These may need to be verified by an independent vehicle
                          assessor if the repairs are of considerable cost.
                         Forward all details of the claim to the loss adjusters and instruct
                          them to assess the claim.

                        Outcome
                         Send a letter of denial to the tenant (if you can prove OOH is
                          not liable); or
                         Accept the claim with no admission of liability and offer to make
                          an ex-gratia payment. Once the tenant has signed a release,
                          arrange for the payment of the claim to be processed.

                        Case Study 5

                        On the evening of Saturday, 4 July 2008, at approximately
                        7:20pm, the MFB were called to a fire at Flat 12/220 Coleman
                        Street, Collingwood. At the same time Security contacted the
                        stand-by HSO who attended the property. The fire was
                        extinguished by the MFB. The tenants on the second floor were
                        evacuated. The stand-by HSO arranged for the contractors, ABC,
                        to attend to change the locks to Flat 12 and secure the windows
                        with metal sheeting.

                        On 5 July 2008, Flat 12 at 220 Coleman Street, Collingwood was
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                             burgled and a number of items were stolen. The security
                             surveillance video depicted two people entering the lift with the
                             alleged stolen goods.

                             The tenants of Flat 12, sought compensation for replacement of all
                             fire-damaged items in addition to compensation for replacement of
                             the stolen goods. The total replacement bill for the damaged items
                             was about $20,000 and for the stolen items was about $5,000.
                              As there are two separate incidents, it is necessary to
                             examine each incident separately in order to determine
                             liability.

                               Incident 1

                               Circumstances
                              What were the precise circumstances in which the fire occurred?

                               Cause
                              What was the cause of the fire?
                              Request the Emergency Unit to obtain the MFB report. This
                               report should provide you with details on cause, including where
                               the fire started, what time it started and what the cause of the
                               fire was.

                                The MFB report indicates that the fire broke out in the kitchen.
                                The report suggests there may have been a gas leak and
                                confirms that there was a V-burn pattern emanating from
                                behind the stove in the area of the gas piping. The tenants
                                have advised that there was a smell of gas in the flat prior to
                                the fire. It is also noted in the report that the smoke alarm had
                                been covered over with what appeared to be glad wrap and that
                                the tenants had just completed cooking their evening meal
                                before the fire started.

                               Other enquiries
                               Check the tenancy file to see whether the tenants had
                                complained about the gas stove.
                               Check maintenance file to see when the stove was last repaired
                                and if any work has been done on the gas pipes in the
                                immediate vicinity of the fire.

                               Incident 2

                               Circumstances and cause

                              What were the precise circumstances in which the fire occurred.
                              Contact ABC contractors and confirm what time they attended to
                               secure Flat 12 and confirm that this work was actually carried
                               out. Obtain a report from ABC contractors confirming the work
                               they carried out.
                              Obtain a written report from the stand-by HSO confirming the
                               arrangement made between the HSO and the contractor.
                              Make enquires with the security guards. Confirm with them in
                               writing whether they had patrolled the second floor, how often
                               and when was the last time they had patrolled it prior to the
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                           burglary.
                         Contact the Police and confirm the method of entry used by the
                          thieves, ie. are there signs of forcible entry?

                        How to deal with the claim?
                         Do the tenants have their own contents insurance cover? If so,
                          then the claim should be referred to their insurer.
                         Obtain a description of the damaged items. Ask the tenants to
                          provide a detailed description of the make and model numbers
                          of items that have been fire damaged and of the items which
                          had been stolen. Also obtain the approximate age of each item
                          being claimed and how much they paid for them.
                         Determine what the cost of replacement is by asking the tenants
                          to provide quotations for the cost of replacing the damaged and
                          stolen items.
                         Were stolen items damaged in the fire, either by smoke or
                          water? If they were damaged in the fire, then their value may be
                          negligible.

                        Additional Facts
                        After making the above enquires, you have confirmed that in
                        relation to Incident 1, there were no prior complaints or
                        maintenance requests from the tenants in relation to the alleged
                        gas leak from the stove at Flat 12, 220 Coleman Street,
                        Collingwood. You have also confirmed from the maintenance
                        records that ABC contractors serviced the gas stove approximately
                        2 months prior to the incident and the gas stove was found to be in
                        perfect working order.

                        Your investigations into the circumstances of the burglary have
                        confirmed that ABC contractors did change the locks on the flat
                        and secured it with metal sheeting on the night of the incident. At
                        the same time you have confirmed with the security guards that
                        they patrolled the second floor on 3 occasions immediately prior to
                        the burglary.



                        Outcome
                        INCIDENT 1
                         Based on the facts you have obtained from your enquiries you
                          have determined that OOH has not done anything or failed to do
                          anything which may have caused or contributed to the incident.
                         It could be argued that the tenants may have forgotten to turn
                          the stove off or may not have turned the stove off properly. At
                          the same time it could also be argued that if the smoke detector
                          had not been covered with glad wrap, the fire would have been
                          detected a lot sooner and may have been extinguished without
                          causing substantial damage.

                        INCIDENT 2
                         You have determined that ABC did change the locks on the flat
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                                and made it secure shortly after the incident. According to your
                                information, unknown persons kicked the door in to gain entry
                                into the apartment and stole a number of items. You have also
                                confirmed that your security guards did patrol the floor on 3
                                separate occasions immediately prior to the burglary. According
                                to this information, you may have grounds on which to deny
                                liability as it may be argued that it was not the actions or lack of
                                actions of the OOH or its contractors which caused the burglary.
                             Send a letter to the tenants advising that liability for each incident
                             is denied.




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    Incidents and Claims -
         Procedures




6.7         Incidents and Claims - Procedures


6.7.1 Capturing an
incident in HiiP           Who captures an incident in HiiP?

                           An incident may come to the attention of the OOH in a number
                           of ways. It may be received as a telephone or counter enquiry or
                           report. The incident may be reported by a member of the
                           emergency services by provision of a written report via fax or e-
                           mail. It may be witnessed by or reported to an OOH staff
                           member while conducting a home visit.

                           The incident is captured in HiiP by the most senior witness to the
                           incident, or the person to whom the incident is reported.

                           This person is also responsible for reporting the incident to their
                           TM or supervisor where the incident must be reported to senior
                           managers or directors at the regional and program level.

6.7.2 Notification
of incidents within        Notification of incidents created in HiiP
DHS
                           Until HiiP is fully deployed, staff will need to continue to send
                           notifications of incidents to relevant managers and executive
                           staff using the manual system currently in place for notification
                           (ie. by facsimile). The persons notified of the incident will
                           depend on the type and category of incident captured.

                           For Category 1 incidents, notification must also occur
                           immediately (eg. via telephone) to ensure that the relevant
                           person receives the communication regarding the incident. This
                           is in addition to completing and sending the Incident Report by
                           fax.

                           The regional Director will verify the Category 1 incident and
                           determine whether it has the potential to involve the Minister or
                           produce a high level of public or legal scrutiny. Where this
                           potential exists, the Regional Director immediately notifies the
                           Program Executive Director.

                           The following table is a summary of the notification procedures
                           for incidents under the DHS Incident Reporting Instruction 2008.


Table 1: Notification procedure for incidents under the DHS Incident Reporting Instruction
2008:

 Incident type     DHS Program                            Community Service
                                                          Organisation

 Category 1        Supervisor and line manager            Supervisor and line manager are
 incident *        are immediately notified in            immediately notified in order to
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                                                                                 Procedures



                       order to respond to the                respond to the incident, record the
                       incident, record the response          response and prevent a recurrence
                       and     prevent a   recurrence         (Supervisor,    Program    Manager,
                       (Team Mgr, HSM, HM notified in         PASA in person or via telephone,
                       person or via telephone, with          with     follow   up    by   e-mail
                       follow      up   by     e-mail         notification). The Program Manager
                       notification).    The      HM          or PASA determines whether to
                       determines whether to notify           notify the Regional Director and
                       the Regional Director and              Program ED.
                       Program ED.
                                                              Incident    report   is  sent    to
                       Incident report is sent by             nominated regional officer no later
                       Regional Director to relevant          than next working day, and a copy
                       Program Director and Executive         to Regional Director within 1 hour
                       Director,    ED     Operations,        thereafter. A copy of the report is
                       Director Legal Services no later       sent to the relevant Program
                       than next working day. The             Manager and the PASA at this time.
                       Incident report is recorded on         The Incident report is recorded on
                       the database within 1 week.            the database within 1 week.

 Category 2            Supervisor and line manager            Supervisor and line manager are
 incident *            are immediately notified (using        immediately notified (using same
                       same methods as Category 1)            methods as Category 1) in order to
                       in order to respond to the             respond to the incident, record the
                       incident, record the response          response and prevent a recurrence.
                       and prevent a recurrence.              Community Service Org (CSO)/
                       Incident report is sent to             Funded agency submits incident
                       Program Manager within 2               report to PASA within 2 working
                       working days. The incident             days. PASA submits report to
                       report is recorded on the              relevant Program Manager within 1
                       database within 2 weeks.               working day. The Incident report is
                                                              recorded on the database within 2
                                                              weeks.

 Category 3            Supervisor and line manager            CSO / Funded agency completes an
 incident              are immediately notified (using        incident report and files this on its
                       same methods as Category 1).           locally  maintained register or
                       The Incident is recorded on the        database      within     1      week
                       database    within    1   week         (recommended).
                       (recommended).

 Serious               Work Safe       to be notified         Work   Safe    to   be   notified
 incident              immediately      (Consult Work         immediately (Consult Work health
 within a              health Unit).                          Unit).
 workplace
 under control
 of employer
 *

* without potential to involve Minister or produce a high level of public or legal scrutiny. Where a
Category 1 incident has the potential to involve the Minister or produce a high level of public or
legal scrutiny, the Regional Director must immediately contact the Program Executive Director.

NOTE: Refer to the DINMA Reporting Procedures and the DHS Incident Reporting Instructions
2008 for the reporting procedure where an incident involves DHS clients or staff at the service or
during service delivery, or the health, safety or wellbeing of an employee.


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6.7.3 Fire incidents
                         Creating a ‘fire’ incident in HiiP
                         H&CB may become aware of a fire incident by various means:

                                Notification from the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) or
                                 the Country Fire Authority (CFA)
                                Notification by other emergency services such as the
                                 Police or State Emergency Services (SES)
                                Reported by a tenant or other person
                                The After Hours service calls the staff member on call
                                Via the media (e.g. newspaper article)

                         Regional staff must capture the details of the fire incident in HiiP
                         immediately. All available information is entered in HiiP
                         including scanning any documents, reports and photographs.
                         The time the fire was reported should be captured as a note.

                         Until HiiP is fully deployed, staff will need to continue to send
                         notifications of ‘fire’ incidents to the Emergency Unit, PSAM by
                         e-mailing the Incident ID number created in HiiP to
                         EmergencyBranch.Housing@dhs.vic.gov.au. Relevant managers
                         and executive staff are notified by the local Housing Office by
                         faxing a HiiP screen print of the saved incident. The persons
                         notified of the incident remain as per current practice and will
                         depend on the type and category of incident.

                         For Category 1 incidents, notification must also occur
                         immediately via telephone to ensure that the relevant person
                         receives the communication regarding the incident. This is in
                         addition to completing and sending the DHS Incident Report via
                         facsimile.

                         Where some of the fire details are missing or unknown, the
                         incident record must still be created in HiiP. Upon receipt of the
                         Fire Incident notification by e-mail, Emergency Unit staff will
                         follow up the incident to obtain further details from the relevant
                         authority if necessary. In some cases the Emergency Unit may
                         obtain additional information through the Freedom of
                         Information (FOI) process from the MFB or CFA.

                         Any incident involving a fire is to be captured in HiiP using the
                         ‘fire’ code, regardless of the size of the fire or whether any
                         emergency services attended (e.g. a small fire extinguished by a
                         tenant must still be captured in HiiP regardless of whether any
                         maintenance work to rectify the damage is required).



                         Referrals to  Property Services                         &     Asset
                         Management Branch (PSAM)
                         Where a fire incident results in substantial damage to an OOH
                         owned or managed property, a referral may be required to PSAM
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                               to carry out further assessment.

       Responsive              This may include a referral by the FSO to the Asset Development
Maintenance Chapter,           and Innovation Group (ADIG) or Engineering Services to
Maintenance Manual
                               determine whether a property should be added to a current
                               maintenance program or to assess structural works which may
                               be required. See Section 3.2.18 of the Responsive Maintenance
                               Chapter in the Maintenance Policy and Procedure Manual.


6.7.4 Transitional
arrangements for               During implementation of the HiiP Manage Incidents and Claims
                               space, the following arrangements will apply:
Fire incidents
                                   Existing fire incidents are to be managed and closed off by
                                    the Emergency Unit using the current procedure.

                                   All new fire incidents which occur after the release of the
                                    HiiP Incidents and Claims space are to be recorded and
                                    managed in HiiP. Fire incidents will be closed off by the
                                    Emergency Unit.

6.7.5 Capturing a
claim in HiiP                  When is a claim captured in HiiP?

                               Written details of a claim must be received before it is captured
                               in HiiP.

                               If a person contacts the OOH to discuss their intention to lodge a
                               claim, or informing the OOH of damage or loss they have
                               allegedly suffered for which they will be holding the OOH
                               responsible, an enquiry must be registered in HiiP recording
                               details of the conversation. The person is informed that written
                               details must be received in order to investigate the claim.
 Appendix 2.8.1
Acknowledgement letter for
receipt of an enquiry          A letter is sent to the claimant once an enquiry regarding a claim
                               is captured in HiiP. The letter is scanned and attached to the
                               claim ID in HiiP before it is sent to the claimant.

                               Note: Housing Office staff are to note that the OOH will not
                                     accept liability or indemnify for any damage or financial
                                     loss incurred by the claimant. HSO’s are advised to
                                     inform the claimant that the OOH is required to
                                     investigate the matter before any recommendation of
                                     liability or payment is reached.


                               Who captures a claim in HiiP?

                               The recipient of the claim is to create the claim record in HiiP upon
                               receipt of the relevant correspondence or documents. Written
                               details of a claim must be received before it is registered in HiiP as
                               a claim. Where a claim relates to a particular OOH owned or
                               managed property, the claim is referred to the relevant officer,
                               team or unit responsible for managing the property. For example, if
                               the claim relates to a leased property, it is referred to the Lease
                               Management Unit. If the property is managed by a particular

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                         Tenancy and Property Team (TPT), the claim is referred to the
                         Team Manager for allocation to an appropriate Housing Services
                         Officer to manage. Referral of the claim is made by sending an e-
                         mail with a HiiP screen print of the Claim Details page and the HiiP
                         Claim ID number. Claims in relation to COMAC properties should be
                         referred to the regional Program & Service Advisor (PASA).


6.7.6 Investigate
the claim                Request information and documentation

                         The OOH requests written information from the claimant or their
                         authorised representative in order to investigate and assess the
                         claim. This information enables the OOH to:
                                properly understand the nature of the claim;
                                determine whether there is any liability on its part; and
                                assess whether it should settle the claim and on what
                                 terms.

                         Contact the tenant in writing as soon as practicable to:
                          Obtain evidence from the tenant to determine their version of
                           events; and
                          Obtain evidence from the tenant which establishes that OoH
                           caused the loss.

                         The details and documentation requested should include the
                         following:

                         Mandatory information:
                                the claimant’s details (name, address, contact details);
                                details of the circumstances giving rise to the claim e.g.
                                 when, why and how it happened;
                                written details or evidence of the alleged loss (e.g.
                                 quotations for replacement/ repairs);
                                reasons why the claimant believes the OoH is responsible,
                                 and in what way the OOH breached a duty it owed to the
                                 claimant;
                                what response the claimant is seeking (e.g. monetary
                                 compensation for damage to, or loss of, an item; an
                                 apology etc.), and
                                if compensation is sought, the monetary the amount.

                         Other details may include:
                                the claimant’s legal or authorised representative (if any)
                                 and their contact details;
                                the Insurer’s details (if any);
                                Emergency services reports (if attended);
                                details of the claimant’s solicitor (if represented);

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                                   details of any witnesses able to verify the facts;
                                   photos of damaged goods or property, preferably with date
                                    imprint;
                                   receipts or quotations;
                                   proof of purchase of goods;
                                   contractor/ expert reports regarding the cause and extent of
                                    damage.


                               Acknowledging receipt of the claim

                               Once the claim is created in HiiP, a letter must be sent to the
                               claimant or their authorised representative:
                                   acknowledging receipt of the claim and general timeline for
                                    a response;
                                   requesting any further documentation required to assess
                                    the claim;
                                   informing them that the claim will be investigated;
                                   informing them that information they supply may be
                                    provided to other organisations involved in investigating or
                                    providing advice in relation to the claim, such as insurance
                                    loss adjusters or legal services;
                                   informing them that information they supply may be used
                                    in the process of research or the compilation or analysis of
                                    statistics;
                                   providing the name of a contact person for enquiries in
 Appendix 2.8.1                    relation to the claim.
Acknowledgement letter for
receipt of an enquiry          The letter is scanned and attached to the claim ID in HiiP before
                               it is sent to the claimant.

6.7.7 Managing
minor claims                   Very minor claims may arise where the claim can be assessed
                               and settled at the local service level (e.g. a tenant who is
                               claiming $10 from contractor for use of power, or broken lamp).
                               In these cases there may be no documentation available to
                               substantiate the claim, and a letter from the claimant explaining
                               the circumstances is generally sufficient.


                               Managing minor claims made in relation to a
                               maintenance contractor

                               Occasionally, the OOH receives a claim from a tenant regarding
                               allegations of damage or loss caused by a maintenance
                               contractor who entered the premises to carry out works at the
                               request of the tenant.

                               Where this occurs, the minor property claim is captured in HiiP
                               and is investigated by the local Housing Office to determine
                               whether the claim has merit. This includes consulting the
                               contractor to give them an opportunity to consider the

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                         allegations and provide their response. Where the claim is
                         accepted by the contractor, the contractor is requested to
                         confirm this in writing (eg. details of their acceptance of the
                         claim and the monetary payment to be made, apology to be
                         given, rectification to be undertaken). The claimant is sent a
                         letter advising them of the outcome of the investigation and
                         proposed offer of settlement, including the Deed of Mutual
                         Release for the claimant to complete and return. Once the
                         signed Form of Release is received, arrangements are made for
                         the contractor to proceed with the payment or other agreed
                         action.

                         All correspondence including the Deed of Mutual Release is
                         scanned and attached to the claim in HiiP

                         Where the OOH determines that the contractor is responsible,
                         however the contractor disagrees, a dispute arises under the
                         contract which is then referred to the Superintendent, who will
                         investigate and follow up the incident/ claim with the Head
                         Contractor concerned. The referral is made by sending an email
                         to the Superintendent noting the HiiP Claim ID number.

6.7.8 Claims under
$1,000                   If the claim is for an amount under $1,000 in value, the HSO
                         investigates the claim by reviewing the information and
                         documentation provided and seeking further information if
                         required. An interview may be arranged to discuss the
                         circumstances and clarify any details. This may be particularly
                         useful where an interpreter is required by the claimant. Take
                         detailed file-notes of all written or verbal conversations with the
                         tenant. These notes must be captured in HiiP.

                         The HSO may seek supporting evidence from the FSO, where the
                         loss or damage alleged is related to the property, such as where
                         the tenant’s goods were damaged due to flooding caused by a
                         faulty water pipe. Instruct the FSO to provide a detailed
                         breakdown of the cause of the incident. FSO’s should engage an
                         expert to provide advice where the cause is outside the FSO’s
                         expertise. These requests can be made via HiiP under the
                         tenant’s property identification number. The FSO should prepare
                         a written explanation of the problem and its cause, photographic
                         evidence that is signed and dated by the FSO as well as any
                         other attachments which may include OOH contractor
                         attendance reports, quality audit reports (if necessary), police
                         and fire attendance reports (if available) as well as any expert
                         advice that is arranged by the FSO.

                         Once the investigation is carried out, the HSO prepares a
                         detailed briefing note to the HSM noting the background to the
                         claim, the findings of the investigation and recommending
                         whether or not the claim should be approved and the reasons.
                         Any key issues in relation to the tenant’s claim should be
                         identified. All information and documentation relevant to the
                         claim must be attached to the briefing note. This includes any
                         evidence from ISIP, HiiP or the tenant’s file which relates to the
                         incident. Evidence should include all file-notes of conversations
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                               with the tenant that are recorded electronically and on the
                               tenants files, history of maintenance orders raised against the
                               property and the property condition report.

                               The HSM decides whether to approve or reject the claim based
                               on this information, and whether a loss adjuster (currently
                               Freemans) is required for a settlement calculation (this will be in
                               cases where the value of the claim is difficult to quantify.)

                                  If the claim is approved and easy to quantify, the HSM will
                                   organise disbursement to the claimant through their finance
                                   team, and ask the claimant to sign a release form.

                                  If the claim is approved and difficult to quantify, the HSM
                                   will send the supporting evidence together with a covering
                                   instruction letter to Freemans seeking a settlement
                                   calculation. This must be sent via mail or email.

                               Freemans will provide a recommendation via email or mail as
                               per the instruction letter, and the HSM will organise
                               disbursement to the claimant based on the recommendation.

                               If the circumstances and cause of the loss or damage is not
                               clear, the HSM can also elect to seek a full investigation and
                               assessment as per the directions for claims between $2,000 and
                               $5,000.

 Appendix 2.8.2
Instruction letter to loss     Sending instruction letters to the loss adjuster
adjuster
                               The instruction letter should provide a summary of the claim,
                               any relevant background, a summary of the supporting
                               documentation, and instructions regarding what service is
                               required i.e. investigate, assess and provide a report OR provide
                               a settlement calculation.

6.7.9 Claims
between $1,000 and             The procedure is the same as for claims under $1,000, however,
                               the HSM must refer all claims to the loss adjuster for a
$2,000                         settlement calculation.

                               If the circumstances and cause of the damage is not clear, the
                               HSM can elect to seek a full investigation and assessment as per
                               the directions for claims between $2,000 and $5,000.

6.7.10   Claims
between $2,000 and             The procedure is the same as for claims under $1,000, however,
                               the HSM must refer all claims to the loss adjuster for a
$5,000                         settlement calculation.

                               The HSM sends the supporting evidence together with a covering
                               instruction letter to the loss adjuster seeking an investigation
                               and assessment.

                               The loss adjusters conduct their own investigation and
                               assessment, and produce an initial report within 21 days of
                               receiving instruction, detailing their recommendation.


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                                If the matter is of an urgent nature, the HSM must detail this
                                 in the instruction letter and Freemans will liaise with the
                                 HSM to negotiate a tighter time frame.

                                If the Loss Adjuster is having difficulty contacting the
                                 claimant, this will be communicated to the HSM for further
                                 action.

                             Subsequent reports more than 21 days from receiving
                             instruction may be necessary if the investigation is being held
                             up beyond the Loss Adjuster’s control.

                             The HSM asks the claimant to sign a release form, and requests
                             the regional Finance team to issue payment based on the
                             recommendation provided by Freemans.




6.7.11    Claims
over $5,000              The HSO investigates the claim by reviewing the information
                         and documentation provided and seeking further information if
                         required.

                         The HSO may seek supporting evidence from the FSO, where the
                         loss or damage alleged is related to the property, such as where
                         the tenant’s goods were damaged due to flooding caused by a
                         faulty water pipe.

                             Once the investigation is carried out, the HSO prepares a
                             briefing note to the HSM noting the findings of the investigation
                             and seeking referral to Legal Services.

                             The HSM approves the referral to Legal Services and provides all
                             documentation together with a briefing note to the Director,
                             Legal Services Branch for action.

                             Legal Services contact the HSM indicating who will be managing
                             the case, and engage the loss adjuster to conduct an
                             investigation   and   assessment,    and   to   provide   their
                             recommendation.

                             The HSM sends a letter to the claimant stating that the case has
                             been referred to Legal Services branch, providing contact details
                             of the officer handling the case.

                             The loss adjusters provide Legal Services with a report detailing
                             their recommendation.

                             Legal Services organise disbursements, and inform the region of
                             the outcome.




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6.7.12      Claims
involving litigation           Referral to Legal Services

                               If the claim involves litigation, the claim is referred to Legal
                               Services by the end of the next working day. The HSO prepares
                               a briefing note to the HSM recommending the referral, which is
                               approved by the HSM. Legal Services are to be notified of the
                               referral immediately by telephone.

                               The correspondence and documentation received from the
                               claimant, as well as the briefing note is scanned into HiiP, with
                               the originals sent to Legal Services via the internal mail service.

                               The above procedure also applies to class actions (ie. litigation
                               involving several claimants who have the same interests), or
                               where the claimant is represented by a solicitor, barrister or
                               other legal advocate.


                               Further updates after referral to Legal Services

                               Housing staff will have the ability to capture further details
                               about a claim after referral to Legal Services. That is, further
                               information can be entered or documents attached using the
                               Document Management System (DMS). Any further details are
                               to be registered within 24 hours of receipt. Additional
                               documentation is scanned into HiiP as it comes to hand.

                               An email must be sent immediately to the Claims Officer at
                               Legal Services to notify them that further details of the claim
                               have been entered in HiiP. The HiiP claim ID must also be noted
                               in the email.


                               Where claimant seeks compensation in VCAT

                               A tenant may seek compensation in VCAT for loss which they
                               allege the OOH is responsible for as a result of a breach of the
                               RTA 1997 or of the tenancy agreement. For example, a tenant
                               may seek compensation for power or water usage due to a fault
                               with the property which they allege occurred due to the OOH’s
                               failure to carry out repairs. Another example may be where a
                               tenant who vacated or was evicted from an OOH premises claims
                               compensation for goods which they allege were wrongfully
                               removed from the premises and disposed of.

                               The responsible HSO investigates the allegations and prepares
                               material to respond to the tenant’s VCAT application including
                               the tenancy file, details of repairs carried out to the premises,
                               Property Condition Reports, Tenancy Condition Reports, reports
                               by Consumer Affairs Victoria, contractor or FSO inspection
                               reports, photographs, quotations and any other relevant
                               documents or evidence. The FSO and/ or Engineering Services,
                               PSAM are requested to inspect the premises and investigate any
                               issues related to maintenance of the premises or its structure.

                               If the tenant is represented at the VCAT hearing by a solicitor or
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                                 legal advocate, determine whether an adjournment should be
         Tenancy Management      requested. Where an adjournment is granted, contact Legal
Manual                           Services Branch for advice regarding the further conduct of the
                                 proceeding.

                                 For further information regarding preparing for a VCAT hearing,
                                 refer to Chapter 2 of the Tenancy Management Policy and
                                 Procedure Manual.

6.7.13                           Where VCAT                       orders          compensation                   to     the
                                 claimant

                                 Where VCAT orders the OOH to pay compensation to the
                                 claimant, discuss the outcome with the HSM. Depending on the
                                 circumstances, the HSM may decide to refer the matter to Legal
                                 Services Branch to decide whether application should be made
                                 for a review of the determination, or whether the decision should
                                 be appealed.
                                 If the HSM decides that the compensation should be paid,
                                 arrange payment to the claimant using a general claim form.


                                 NOTE: Any compensation to a tenant ordered by the Tribunal is
                                 paid out of the following account.

                                  Entity (2 )   Cost centre (4)   Activity (5)   Fund (3)   Account (5)   Prod (2)    Identifier (5)



                                    20         ****         91177         025                86514          01          X****
                                  **** Housing Office Cost Centre 4 digit number



                                 A general claim form is used to access funds from this account.
                                 Insert the above numbers in the relevant section of the general
                                 claim form. The four digit local housing office cost centre is entered
                                 in the spaces defined by asterisks. Request the HSM or Team
                                 Manager’s signature for approval of the claim.

6.7.14
Transitional                     For existing claims (received prior to the release of HiiP Manage
                                 Incidents and Claims):
arrangements for
existing Claims                            If the claim is greater than $5,000 or involves litigation,
                                            the claim is created in the HiiP Claims space and
                                            managed until it is resolved and closed off in HiiP.
                                           If the claim is $5,000 or less, the claim is managed and
                                            closed off using the existing system in place.

                                 All new claims received after the release of HiiP Incidents and
                                 Claims Manage Incidents and Claims are created and managed
                                 in HiiP.




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6.7.15    Finalising
claims and making               Accepted claims
payment to a
                                When a claim is accepted by the OOH and payment to a claimant
claimant                        is approved, a letter is sent to the claimant offering to settle the
                                claim for the determined monetary amount.
   Appendix 2.8.3 Cover
    letter offering to settle
    claim                       A Deed of Release completed with the relevant details of the
                                proposed settlement is enclosed for the claimant to sign and
   Appendix 2.8.4 Deed of      return, to acknowledge their acceptance of the settlement offer
    Mutual Release              and to release the OOH and DHS from all liability with respect to
                                the claim. The Deed is not signed by the DOH before sending to
                                the claimant.

                                Once the signed Deed of Release is received, a General Claim
                                Form is completed to arrange payment to the claimant.

                                Note: Check that the contents of the Deed of Mutual Release
                                      received from the claimant have not been altered in any
                                      way.


                                Rejected claims

                                When a claim is rejected by the OOH, the reasons for rejecting
                                the claim must be documented in a memorandum signed by the
                                HSM and placed on the file. A letter is sent to the claimant
                                informing them that the claim has been declined.          HiiP is
   Appendix 2.8.7 Letter       updated to reflect the outcome and the claim is closed off by the
    rejecting the claim         HSM or HM.

6.7.16                          No response from claimant

                                Where correspondence is sent to a claimant (e.g. offering to
                                settle a claim), however, no contact or response is received
                                within 28 days, the claim is closed off by the HSM or HM. A note
                                is entered in HiiP to record the claimant’s lack of response.

                                If the signed Deed of Mutual Release is returned at a later date
                                or contact is made by the claimant, the claim can be re-opened
                                in HiiP by the for the process of investigation and assessment to
                                continue.

6.7.17     Incidents
or claims related to            Properties and land owned by the OOH
a common area of
                                Where the incident occurred on a common area which is owned
the property                    by the OOH, the incident or a related claim is to be created with
                                a link to the land or floor (site) ID and also to the relevant
                                individual property concerned (e.g. where a tenant’s or visitor’s
                                car parked in the common area is damaged). If a person
                                involved in the incident or making a claim is not a H&CB or CSO
                                client, they must be registered as an external party.



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                         Properties managed by Owners Corporations

                         An incident or claim may be related to a property which is
                         subject to management under an Owners Corporation (OC)
                         (formerly known as a Body Corporate).

                         Where an incident occurred or claim arose in relation to a
                         common area which is managed under an Owners Corporation,
                         the incident or claim details are to be created and linked to the
                         OOH property. The claim (or incident if it is determined to be an
                         issue for the OC to manage) is referred to the OC for
                         investigation and assessment of the claim under its insurance
                         policy, or action to be taken in relation to the incident. The OC is
                         created as an external party and linked to the incident.

                         Where an Owners Corporation is not active, refer to the Owners
                         Corporation Chapter 4 in the OOH Tenancy Management Policy &
                         Procedure Manual.

6.7.18     Incidents
or claims related to     Properties leased by the OOH
other properties
                         Where the incident or claim is in relation to a leased property,
                         the incident or claim is created with a link to the property PIN in
                         HiiP. An incident or claim is investigated and managed
                         consistent with existing policies and guidelines. Depending on
                         the nature of an incident or claim lodged, other parties may be
                         informed of the incident where they will be required to take
                         some action.

                         For example, where a tree situated on the land of a leased
                         property falls across a boundary fence between the leased
                         property and a neighbouring property causing damage to the
                         neighbour’s house or car, the landlord (or their agent) is
                         contacted by H&CB to inform them of the incident. This will
                         enable the landlord to negotiate with the private owner, arrange
                         an inspection and contact their insurer.

                         Another example is where the tenant of a leased property
                         reports a fire which occurred accidentally (such as placing a
                         clothes drying rack too close to a heater). The incident is created
                         in HiiP and Emergency Unit notified of the fire. The Lease
                         Management Branch is notified of the incident in order to contact
                         the landlord of the property. If the landlord subsequently lodged
                         a claim against H&CB for the damage to the premises, the claim
                         would be managed and assessed as any other claim, however, it
                         is possible that the claim will be rejected as the landlord would
                         ordinarily be responsible for arranging insurance to cover
                         accidental damage to the property caused by fire. However
                         where a fire is caused deliberately or negligently by the tenant
                         such as by the tenant undertaking illegal electrical works to the
                         property, H&CB may be required to settle the landlord’s claim
                         and then seek the repair costs to the property from the tenant
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                               under the Tenant Responsibility Policy.

6.7.19   Privately
owned properties               Where an incident or claim involves a privately owned property
                               (e.g. a tree branch from an OOH property falls on a
                               neighbouring property causing damage or visa versa), the OOH
                               property is linked to the incident or claim. The private owner
                               involved will be created as an external party in HiiP and linked to
                               the incident or claim. The privately owned property address and
                               details are captured using ‘Notes’.

                               Note that the private owner may be the party reporting the
                               incident or making a claim. However, a claim may also be made
                               by the OOH against a private occupier or owner, and an incident
                               caused by a private occupier or owner may also be registered
                               and managed in HiiP.




Business Practice Manual : Manage Incidents and Claims : Version 4.2 June 2011              Page 6-39
               Appendix




6.8          Appendix
6.8.1 Acknowledgement Letter for Receipt of Enquiry / Claim




           Department of Human Services
            Incorporating: Health, Senior Victorians, Housing and Community Services

<date>

<Claimant’s Name>
<Claimant’s Address>
<SUBURB and POSTCODE>



Dear <CLAIMANT’S NAME>

We refer to your recent contact with the <Housing Office> regarding your enquiry in relation to:
lodging a claim for compensation for loss allegedly incurred by you for <Insert brief details of claim>.
<if claim involves another form of restitution e.g. replacement of an item, apology etc., insert details of claim>.

Please note, that if your enquiry relates to:
   a complaint you would like to make about a service, policy or procedure and is of a general nature, or
   a decision made by the Office of Housing which has affected you personally,
you should contact the Manager, Housing Appeals and Complaints on 1300 650 172.

In order to investigate the allegations you have raised in your enquiry, the Office of Housing requests that you provide
written details of your claim including the following:
   your details (name, address, contact details);
   details of the circumstances giving rise to the claim (e.g. when, why and how it happened);
   reasons why you believe the Office of Housing is responsible, and in what way if any, you believe that the Office of
     Housing breached a duty it owed to you;
   what you are seeking from the Office of Housing (e.g. a monetary amount for damage to or loss of an item; an
    investigation and apology etc.),
   the amount sought (if your claim is for a monetary amount),
   photographs of damaged goods or property, preferably with date imprint;
   proof of purchase of goods that relate to your claim;
   any quotations you have obtained to repair alleged damage or replace an item;
   any contractor or expert reports regarding the cause and extent of the alleged damage or loss;
   details of your insurer and your insurance policy (if any);
   details of any witnesses able to verify the facts;
   any reports completed by Emergency Services who may have attended (e.g. for a fire);
   the name of your legal or authorised representative (if any) and their contact details.

Without some or all of this information, the Office of Housing will be unable to properly investigate, and if necessary,
assess your claim.

You should send or take the information and documents requested above to:
      <Housing Office>
      <Street Address>
      <Housing Office Postal Address>
      <Suburb and Post code>

If written details of your claim are not received by the Office of Housing within 28 days of the date of this letter, we will
assume that you do not wish to proceed with a claim, and no further action will be taken by us.

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                                                                                                Appendix




Whilst the Office of Housing will attempt to respond to your claim within 28 days of receiving the above information,
this time may vary depending on factors involved in investigating and assessing your claim.

It is important for you to know that whilst the Office of Housing takes steps to protect your personal information, the
information and documentation you supply may be provided to other organisations involved in investigating, assessing
or providing advice in relation to the claim. Further, this personal information may be used for planning, funding,
monitoring and evaluating our services and functions. By requesting that the Office of Housing consider your claim, you
acknowledge that you are providing consent for the disclosure of your personal information for the abovementioned
purposes or a related purpose.

If you have any questions in relation to this letter, please contact <Housing Officer> at the <Housing Office> on
<Phone Number>.


Yours sincerely


<Housing Officer>
<Housing Office>




NOTE: Where written details have been received from the claimant, the above letter can be
modified by deleting paragraph 3 (“In order to investigate…”) to paragraph 6 (“If written details
of your claim…”) inclusive.




Business Practice Manual : Manage Incidents and Claims : Version 4.2 June 2011                               Page 6-41
              Appendix




Instruction Letter to Loss Adjuster seeking a settlement calculation




           Department of Human Services
           Incorporating: Health, Senior Victorians, Housing and Community Services

<date>

LKAGroup
Att: David Pockett
72 Faraday Street
Carlton VIC 3053

                                                                               Via email to: dpockett@lkagroup.com.au

                                                                                 <Delete the above if sending via post>


Dear Mr Pockett

I refer to the claim made by <Claimant’s Name> against the Director of Housing for <insert brief details of claim>.

Attached for your reference are the following documents: <The following list is an example only>

   1. Letter of demand from the claimant;

   2. Quotation for repairs to <the item>;

   3. Details of insurer and insurance policy;

   4. Field Services Officer report detailing the cause of the <describe incident e.g. burst water pipe>;

   5. <List other documents here>;

If you have any questions in relation to this letter, please contact <Housing Services Manager> at the <Housing
Office> on <Phone Number>.


Yours sincerely


<Housing Services Manager>
<Housing Office>




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                                                                                                Appendix




6.8.2 Cover letter offering to settle a claim




           Department of Human Services
           Incorporating: Health, Senior Victorians, Housing and Community Services

<date>

<Claimant’s Name>
<Claimant’s Address>
<SUBURB and POSTCODE>


                                              “WITHOUT PREJUDICE”


Dear < Claimant’s Name >

We refer to your letter dated <date> received by this Office on <date> regarding your claim for <Insert brief
description of claim>(“the claim).

On behalf of the Director of Housing (“the Director”), I am prepared to offer you the amount of <Amount> in full and
final satisfaction of your claim.

This offer is made without any admission of liability whatsoever, and the Office of Housing and the Director reserve
their rights in respect of the claim.

This offer is open for acceptance by you for 14 days from the date of this letter. To accept this offer, please complete
the enclosed Deed of Mutual Release and return it by post.

If you have any questions in relation to this letter, please contact <Housing Services Manager> at the <Housing
Office> on <Phone Number>.


Yours sincerely


<Housing Services Manager>
<Housing Office>




Business Practice Manual : Manage Incidents and Claims : Version 4.2 June 2011                                Page 6-43
            Appendix




6.8.3 Deed of Mutual Release - Template



                                     DEED OF MUTUAL RELEASE



      THIS DEED OF MUTUAL RELEASE is made the                     day of         200#

      BETWEEN

      <Claimant’s Name> of <Claimant’s Address> in the State of Victoria (“the claimant”)

      AND

      DIRECTOR OF HOUSING of 50 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne in the State of Victoria (“the
      Landlord”)

      RECITALS:

       A. <Insert brief factual details of the incident which led to the claim. Use further
          paragraphs below as required> (“the accident”).
       B. <Additional factual details as required>
       C. <Additional factual details as required>


            *** Delete this text box ***
            EXAMPLE:
            The claimant was the tenant residing at premises owned by the Landlord, at
            <Address> on <Date> when she tripped on an uneven concrete path in the
            carpark of the common area of the premises.
            The claimant had reported the uneven concrete path to the Landlord’s delegate
            approximately 6 months prior to the accident and the land lord repaired the
            uneven concrete within 14 days of the accident.

       D. <Insert details of the alleged loss or damage suffered by the claimant>
            *** Delete this text box ***
            EXAMPLE:
            In the accident, the claimant broke her spectacles valued at $###.00 and
            incurred medical expenses directly attributable to the accident of $###.00.
            NOTE: The amount of a claim that can be approved at the local level without
            referral to the loss adjuster for a settlement calculation must be less than $1,000.

       E. <Insert details of the proposed offer to be made to the claimant>
            *** Delete this text box ***
            EXAMPLE:
            The Landlord has agreed to reimburse the claimant $###.00 on the basis that
            both parties sign this Mutual release and on the basis that the Landlord does not
            admit any liability for the accident to the claimant.



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                                                                                    Appendix




       OPERATIVE PART:

        1. This Mutual Release shall be binding upon the parties and each of their heirs, executors,
           administrators and assigns.
        2. The Landlord shall pay the claimant the sum of $###.00 within 30 days of the
           Landlord signing this Deed.
        3. Each party agrees to accept the above provisions made by them in full and final
           satisfaction of and in substitution of any rights which they have or either of them may
           now have or may hereafter have to seek any claim, declaration or relief in respect of
           any damage or personal injury caused by the accident and any medical consequences
           that may manifest in the future for the claimant.
   4. Both parties undertake and agree not to commence any action, suit or proceeding of any
      kind against the other party and in the case of the claimant against any agents, assignees,
      contractors, subcontractors or licencees of the Landlord, in respect of any rights,
      entitlements or claims howsoever arising which either may have or might have had as a
      result of the accident save and except in respect to the other for non-compliance with the
      terms of this Deed.
   5. This Deed of Mutual Release contains the entire understanding of the agreement between
      the parties.

   IN WITNESS whereof the parties have hereunto set their hands and seals this day and year
   first hereinbefore written.

   SIGNED SEALED AND DELIVERED                )
   by the said <Claimant’s name> in the       )
   presence of:                               )



   SIGNED SEALED AND DELIVERED                )
   by the said DIRECTOR OF HOUSING )
   in the presence of:             )




………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………...

CLAIMANT’S BANK ACCOUNT DETAILS
(Complete details below to receive payment via direct credit into your nominated bank account)

NAME OF ACCOUNT HOLDER(S):

BSB / ACCOUNT NUMBER:                                 /

NAME OF BANK:




Business Practice Manual : Manage Incidents and Claims : Version 4.2 June 2011                   Page 6-45
              Appendix




6.8.4 Letter to advise that claim has been referred to an owner’s
corporation




           Department of Human Services
           Incorporating: Health, Senior Victorians, Housing and Community Services

<date>

<Claimant’s Name>
<Claimant’s Address>
<SUBURB and POSTCODE>




Dear <Claimant’s Name >

We refer to your letter dated <date> received by this Office on <date> regarding your claim for <Insert brief
description of claim> (“the claim).

From the information you have provided and enquiries made by Office of Housing (OOH) staff, it has been determined
that the incident which you allege resulted in your loss or damage occurred within or as a result of the common area of
the property and not the OOH owned or managed property. Therefore, the OOH denies any liability for your claim.

Your claim has been referred to the following owner’s corporation:

      <Owner’s Corporation Name>
      <Att: Contact Person (if available)>
      <Address>
      <Suburb and Postcode>
      <Phone number>

If you have any questions in relation to this letter, please contact <Housing Services Manager> at the <Housing
Office> on <Phone Number>.


Yours sincerely


<Housing Services Manager>
<Housing Office>




Page 6-46                      Business Practice Manual : Manage Incidents and Claims : Version 4.2 June 2011
                                                                                                 Appendix




6.8.5 Letter to refer claim to an owner’s corporation




           Department of Human Services
           Incorporating: Health, Senior Victorians, Housing and Community Services

<date>

<Owner’s Corporation Name>
<Address>
<SUBURB and POSTCODE>




Dear <Contact person>

We refer to a claim received by this Office on <date> regarding <Insert brief description of claim> (“the claim).

From the information provided and enquiries made by the Office of Housing (OOH), it has been determined that the
alleged incident occurred within or as a result of the common area of the property and not the OOH owned or managed
property. Therefore, the OOH denies any liability for the claim.

The claim has been referred to the owner’s corporation to investigate and process as it sees fit. The following
documents are attached for your reference:

   <List documents from claimant here>

If you have any questions in relation to this letter, please contact <Housing Services Manager> at the <Housing
Office> on <Phone Number>.


Yours sincerely


<Housing Services Manager>
<Housing Office>




Business Practice Manual : Manage Incidents and Claims : Version 4.2 June 2011                                 Page 6-47
              Appendix




6.8.6 Letter to claimant rejecting the claim




           Department of Human Services
           Incorporating: Health, Senior Victorians, Housing and Community Services

<date>

<CLAIMANT’S NAME>
<CLAIMANT’S ADDRESS>
<SUBURB and POSTCODE>




Dear <CLAIMANT’S NAME>

We refer to your claim for <INSERT BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF CLAIM> (“the claim) because of the alleged incident on
<date>.

I have perused the documentation you provided in support of your claim.

After careful consideration, I believe that the evidence does not lead me to conclude that the Director of Housing is
liable in this instance. Therefore, your claim is denied.

If you have any questions in relation to this letter, please contact <Housing Services Manager> at the <Housing
Office> on <Phone Number>.


Yours sincerely


<Housing Services Manager>
<Housing Office>




Page 6-48                      Business Practice Manual : Manage Incidents and Claims : Version 4.2 June 2011
                                                                                  Appendix




6.8.7 Model Litigant Obligations

The Model Litigant Guidelines ensure that Victorian Government Departments, whilst acting
firmly and properly to protect their interests, act fairly in litigation in accordance with generally
accepted principles.


                             DIRECTIONS ON THE COMMONWEALTH’s
                            OBLIGATION TO ACT AS A MODEL LITIGANT

            1. Consistently with the Attorney-General’s responsibility for the maintenance of
                proper standards in litigation, the Commonwealth and its agencies must behave
                as a model litigant in the conduct of litigation.
            Nature of the obligation

             2. The obligation requires that the Commonwealth and its agencies act honestly
                and fairly in handling claims and litigation brought by or against the
                Commonwealth or an agency by:
                a. dealing with claims promptly and not causing unnecessary delay in the
                   handling of claims and litigation,
                b. paying legitimate claims without litigation, including making partial
                  settlements of claims or interim payments, where it is clear that liability is at
                  least as much as the amount to be paid,
                c. acting consistently in the handling of claims and litigation
                d. endeavouring to avoid litigation, wherever possible,
                e. where it is not possible to avoid litigation, keeping the costs of litigation to a
                   minimum, including by;
                      i.   not requiring the other party to prove a matter               which   the
                           Commonwealth or the agency knows to be true, and
                      ii. not contesting liability if the Commonwealth or the agency knows that
                          the dispute is really about quantum
                  f. not taking advantage of a claimant who lacks the resources to litigate a
                     legitimate claim,
                  g. not relying on technical defences unless the Commonwealth’s or the
                     Agency’s interests would be prejudiced by the failure to comply with a
                     particular requirement,
                  h. not undertaking and pursuing appeals unless the Commonwealth’s or the
                     agency believes that it has reasonable prospects for success or the appeal
                     is otherwise justified in the public interest, and
                  i. apologising where the Commonwealth or the agency is aware that it or its
                      lawyers have acted wrongly or improperly.
    NOTES: 1. The obligation applies to litigation (including before courts, tribunals, inquiries,
              and in arbitration and other alternative dispute resolution processes) involving
              Commonwealth Departments and agencies, as well as Ministers and officers
              where the Commonwealth provides a full indemnity in respect of an action for
              damages brought against them personally. Ensuring compliance with the
              obligation is primarily the responsibility of the agency which has responsibility
              for the litigation. In addition, lawyers engaged in such litigation, whether
              Australian Government Solicitor, in-house or private, will need to act in
              accordance with the obligation and to assist their client agency to do so.

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            Appendix




            2. In essence, being a model litigant requires that the Commonwealth and its
               agencies, as parties to litigation, act with complete propriety, fairly and in
               accordance with the highest professional standards. The expectation that the
               Commonwealth and its agencies will act as a model litigant has been
               recognised by the Courts. See, for example, Melbourne Steamship Limited v
               Moorehead (1912) 15 CLR 133 at 342; Kenny v State of South Australia (1987)
               46 SASR 265 at 273; Yong Jun Qin v The Minister for Immigration and Ethnic
               Affairs (1997) 75 FCR 155.
            3. The obligation to act as a model litigant may require more than merely acting
               honestly and in accordance with the law and court rules. It also goes beyond
               the requirement for lawyers to act in accordance with their ethical obligations.
            4. The obligation does not prevent the Commonwealth and its agencies from
               acting firmly and properly to protect their interests. It does not therefore
               preclude all legitimate steps being taken to pursue claims by the
               Commonwealth and its agencies and attesting or defending claims against
               them. The commencement of an appeal may be justified in the public interest
               where it is necessary to avoid prejudice to the interests of the Commonwealth
               or an agency pending the receipt or proper consideration of legal advice,
               provided that a decision whether to continue the appeal is made as soon as
               practicable.
            5. The obligation does not prevent the Commonwealth from enforcing costs orders
               or seeking to recover its costs.

       Commonwealth Legal Services Directions
       Federal Attorney-General: February 2000




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                                                                                                                    Appendix




6.8.8 Flowchart - Processing minor claims

                                      Did claim occur in common area                                 Refer claim to Owners Corporation for
                                           of Owners Corporation                   Yes               processing and send letter informing
                                              managed units?                                                        claimant
              Claim
            received
                                                          No

                                           Did claim arise from the                              If unable to resolve at regional level,
                                              action of an OOH                     Yes           refer claim to Superintendant, PSAM
                                                  contractor?                                                 for decision

                                                           No


                                                                                                                              NOTE:
              Check if                  Capture                         Written          No          Enquiry is
               written                 enquiry in                       details/                     updated to              If documents
                             No                                                                                              are provided
             details of                 HiiP and                      documents                       resolved
             claim and                 send letter                     received                        status                   at a later
            documents                  to request                      within 28                                                date, the
             included?                 documents                         days?                                               claim can be
                                                                                                                                captured



            Yes                                                            Yes
                             Capture claim and
                       documentation in HiiP and send
                          acknowledgement letter




                            Investigate Claim                                            If claim:

             Interview claimant if required / appropriate                               o    is $5,000 or over,
             Obtain further evidence (e.g. FSO report)                                  o    involves litigation, or
             Refer to supporting evidence/ photographs etc.                             o    claimant has legal representation




                    Prepare briefing note to HSM                                              Prepare briefing note to HSM

             Include background (Claimant details, alleged                         Include background (Claimant details, alleged
              cause of claim, remedy sought)                                         cause of claim, remedy sought)
             Summarise conclusions from supporting evidence                        Summarise conclusions from supporting evidence
              (e.g. FSO report, expert opinion, quotes,                              (e.g. FSO report, expert opinion, quotes,
              photographs) etc.                                                      photographs) etc.
             Recommend action including whether or not claim                       Recommend referral of claim to Legal Services
              should be approved and reasons                                        Attach tenancy and property file, and supporting
             Attach tenancy and property file, and supporting                       documents to briefing note
              documents to briefing note




            HSM refers to loss adjusters if settlement calculation                               HSM refers file to Legal
             required or if claim is between $1,000 and $5,000                                  Services to manage claim




                     Claim approved by HSM?                                      No            Notify claimant of decision
                                                                                                in writing. Update HiiP

                           Yes


             Notify claimant of offer in                 Deed of Mutual                       Refer claim to                    Update and
            writing and include Deed of                   Release signed                        FBSB for                      close off claim
                 Mutual Release for                      and returned by                       payment to                         in HiiP
                claimant’s signature                         claimant                           claimant




Business Practice Manual : Manage Incidents and Claims : Version 4.2 June 2011                                                      Page 6-51
            Appendix




6.8.9    Frequently asked Questions
How are claims referred to Legal Services Branch?

Claims of $5,000 or over and claims involving litigation are referred to Legal Services Branch.
Once the investigation is carried out, the HSO prepares a briefing note to the HSM noting the
findings of the investigation and seeking referral to Legal Services. The HSM approves the
referral and provides all documentation together with a briefing note to the Director, Legal
Services Branch for action.

The contact person is:
John Ayres – Claims Officer
Legal Services Branch
Level 27
50 Lonsdale Street
Melbourne Vic 3000
Ph: (03) 9096 0799
DX 210081




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