The Community Visitor Scheme is now part of the NSW Ageing and Disability Commission, and no longer sits with the NSW Ombudsman.The NSW Ageing and Disability Commissioner has a vision for every older person and adult with disability to feel safe, respected and dignified in their home, and in the community. The Commissioner will work closely with other government and non-government services to better protect older people and adults with disability from abuse, neglect and exploitation from someone they know. This could be from a friend, family member, neighbour or someone in the community.
Community Visitors are appointed by the Minister for Families Communities and Disability Services, under the Community Services Act and the Ageing and Disability Commissioner Act. Community Visitors come from a wide cross-section of the community, including people who have direct experience and expertise in areas such as disability services and supports, mental health, child protection, out-of-home care, advocacy and health care.
Official Community Visitors visit government and non-government accommodation services providing full-time care in NSW. The focus of the scheme is on:
children and young people in residential out-of-home care
people with a disability in supported accommodation
people in assisted boarding houses.
Priority is given to visiting residents who are at greatest risk. Official Community Visitors may:
inform the Ministers and the Ombudsman on matters relating to the conduct of a service, and matters affecting the welfare, interests and conditions of residents
promote the legal and human rights of residents
consider matters raised by residents, staff and others
provide information to residents about advocacy services
help to resolve issues of concern, by raising those matters with the provider or other appropriate bodies
In carrying out their role, Community Visitors may:
enter and inspect a service at any reasonable time
talk privately with residents and staff at the service location
inspect any documents relating to the operation of the service
Community Visitors actively encourage the speedy resolution of issues at a local level. When visiting services, Community Visitors will;
Listen to what residents have to say about their accommodation and support, and any issues affecting them
Give information and support to residents wanting to raise matters with their service provider about the support they are receiving
Support services to improve the quality of residents’ care and resolve matters of concern by identifying issues and bringing them to the attention of staff and management.
Bring a fresh pair of eyes to situations and provide a voice to those living in supported accommodation who may be unable to speak up and raise issues of concern on their own behalf.
Apply a ‘community standard’ and look at what is reasonable.
Document issues in a visit report, which is completed after each visit.
Through these reports, Community Visitors inform the service provider about particular issues that have identified during a visit, and seek information and advice from the service provider about the issues, and the actions that are being taken to resolve them. Community Visitors are not auditors, investigators, complaint handlers or case workers. Community Visitors will always;
Respect the privacy of individuals.
Take all reasonable steps to consider the wishes of the person, before inspecting any document directly relating to them; however, we are not bound by their wishes.
Ensure the confidentiality of any information obtained during a visit, and not disclose information without good cause.
Find out more about the Community Visitor Scheme by clicking the web link here