Resident evictions looming closer

Permanent residents at the park are living in fear that they will be evicted from their homes. Photo: Dylan Burns
Permanent residents at the park are living in fear that they will be evicted from their homes. Photo: Dylan Burns

Permanent residents at Daylesford Holiday Park are living in fear as an agreement is yet to be reached between the park’s owners and the council, with the March 23 deadline for their eviction creeping closer.

It has been more than eight months since 11 residents at the park were given notices to vacate to make room for tourists.

During this period the community has shared its distress at the actions of the owners and a community group was formed titled “Let Them Stay”. 

Suburban Development minister Lily D’Ambrosio changed the law around how Victorian caravan parks on crown land are managed in late 2017 after she was sent letters by the Hepburn Shire community.

The change allows for existing residents to stay, but prevents new residents from moving in permanently.

Councillor Kate Redwood says the shire has negotiated in good faith with the owners, believing the change in law would allow the residents to remain.

One elderly couple in their 90s has been living at the park for more than 30 years.

Lawyer Kym Fraser, from legal firm Clayton Utz, is representing nine of the residents, who live on six separate sites at the holiday park.

Mr Fraser was put in contact with the residents through the not-for-profit group Justice Connect, which makes legal advice accessible to all Australians. Mr Fraser is working on the case on a pro-bono basis. 

“This strikes at the heart of injustice. These notices were given to people who are not only elderly, but to people who had been living there a long time and expected to do so permanently,” he said.

Despite council’s requests for the owner’s to withdraw the requests in November, the park’s propriety did not respond to council’s contact until recently. 

The owners stated they would allow the residents to stay if council met their requests, including paying for the residents caravans to be unstumped and moved to one corner of the park, lengthening the park’s lease and paying for improvements to general park infrastructure. 

Ms Redwood called these requests “extraordinary and unreasonable”.

“These residents are living peaceably and there are no grounds for their evictions,” Ms Redwood said.

The owners of Daylesford Holiday Park declined to comment. 

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