You can’t beat City Hall… or can you?

Rita v City Hall . . . and the winner is??

I had successfully completed my rehabilitation goals in Austin Hospital. It was time for me to move on. Victorian Department of Health wanted to place me in aged care. Rita, my social worker in the Austin Hospital, had other ideas.

Sue and I had run our own business for 15 years. Even though I was severely injured I continued to be involved as much as I could with our business. Rita recognised that this involvement was critically important to both Sue and I. So while I was completing my rehabilitation goals she organised for me to move, from a four bed room, into a single room, giving me the opportunity to have a hospital-based “office”.

Rita then determined that there was only one place for me to move to from hospital-335 Clarendon Street, Thornbury, also known as VASS- Ventilator Accommodation Support Service 1. The only problem with Rita’s plan was that the Department of Health insisted on aged care and, because of my age, I was denied access to VASS anyway. So began the battle-Rita v City Hall.

There were weeks, then months, of phone calls, negotiations and letter writing. Still no resolution. Rita is a well-connected, experienced and knowledgeable social worker. Best of all, she is resolute. When she believes in something she doesn’t take “NO” for an answer. Finally, she asked me if I would submit to a test to see if I was suitable for aged care accommodation. I agreed to take the test, hoping that this was one test I would fail.

The test only took a few minutes. The examiner saw me being moved from the bed to the wheelchair and promptly declared that there was no nursing home capable of looking after me satisfactorily. Phase I completed!

It was now time to apply political pressure. Rita asked Sue and I to contact Hon. Phil Honeywell, our local Victorian government member. We also contacted Jenny Macklin, Federal Shadow Minister for Health. Thanks to their political pressure and Rita‘s tenacity I was granted a permanent spot at 335 Clarendon Street within weeks.

. . . and the winner is?? Why, me, of course!

Note 1: VASS provides accommodation and high-level 24-hour support for people who are chronically dependent on mechanical ventilation. Located in Thornbury, Yooralla’s VASS features three long-term residential houses, and one house for people who require either planned or emergency respite support.. Residents at VASS are encouraged to treat it as their home.


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